AH: 4 Questions to Ask Before Shelving Your Book

Hullo, world! 

It’s so great to be able to be back writing this post. Now that summer is creeping up on us (although it still feels like winter!!) time is speeding past me and I can’t believe how many things are right around the corner. I feel so underprepared. 

But worries aside, there’s been something that has been on my mind for the past few weeks…and it is on shelving books

As authors, I think we feel conflicted whenever we have to set aside our beloved WIPs. It’s even harder when your identity as an author is tied to that book. For me, I came to the tough decision of “permanently shelving” a WIP I’ve been working on for the past five years–and went right back to it this week. (I know, indecisiveness is key to all writers. Or maybe it’s just me, IDK.)

So for today’s Author Health, I’ll be looking at 4 Questions to Ask Before Shelving Your Book

Without further ado, let us commence!

A. Are you hungry? (Or simply tired?)

Yup. That’s a legitimate question to be asking yourself. I find that when I’m physically running on empty, I tend to get cranky and moody. Everything is falling apart!  My book is falling apart! Wahhhh!! 

That automatically makes me sound like a toddler, but are we actually that different from adolescents? Like, really?  

So take a break and eat real food. Boil pasta, bake bread, eat curry-on-rice, what have you. Chances are, you’ll be able to make a better decision after that. 

Food is life. Be more like Sasha.

B. Does this story matter to you?

This sounds obvious, but take a deep look at yourself and ask, Does this story matter to me? 

One of the biggest reasons I thought I had to “shelve” my WIP was because I didn’t feel like this story mattered to me anymore. My siblings kept cheering me on (in fact, this was the only story they were waiting for me to write) but I didn’t think it mattered as much to me as it did back when I started. A lot of this was due to question A–I was probably hungry. (Okay, that’s oversimplifying the matter but it’s true! I wasn’t eating well.)

If you don’t know why the story matters to you, then it’s a big warning to take a pause and list all the reasons it matters to you. When you know the story matters to you and why, you can keep going on even when it gets tough. 

Mikasa’s reason for everything.

C. Do you love any of these characters?

A big tell to shelve a book temporarily or permanently (hopefully never) is if you, the author, do not love any of the characters you write about. Now, I’d say this is probably rare. However, I did have instances when the plot took superiority and just dragged the characters away. This spells disaster because characters are what makes your story come alive. I know some people may disagree with me over plot over character over prose (sometimes), but if you don’t care about your characters, neither will the reader. 

Contrarily, if you love your characters to pieces no matter how terrible the story seems to be, there’s hope. Take a moment to reflect on each of your character’s stories and listen to how they play off each other. 

How can you not love this boy??

D. Can you stop thinking about your book?

Lastly, even if you’ve answered no to all of the above, if your answer is yes to this last question, don’t shelve your book just yet! I have so many ideas and I often don’t know where to start  (or stop). That’s just because they’re all in different stages of creation. 

One WIP has been on my mind for four years and I’ve written a third of the story and have it stewing. 

One WIP takes a long time to write, but when I do write, I can pound as many word counts in it as I need. 

One WIP is still brewing in the clouds although I know perfectly how the story begins and ends. 

Sometimes, all you need to do is to sit back and let your mind roam free. Try not to think about your book. If you can’t, then it’s still probably dying to be told. 

IDK, I’m nostalgic for Narnia…

Practical steps to take:

  1. Eat real food. 
  2. List out all the reasons the story matters to you.
  3. Listen to your character’s stories. 
  4. Try to stop thinking about your book. 

NOTE: Also, shelving books doesn’t have to be permanent. It can always be temporary!

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! What did you think? How do you find out if you need to shelve a book? Have you shelved books before? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below; I’d love to chat with you!

Finding God in Anime & Capsule Review

Hullo, world! 

I’m so excited for today, not simply because I get an excuse to ramble on about my favourite things, but also because I get to share with you some of the awesome things I’ve been able to be a part of. 

The first of those is…*inserts drumroll*

THE FINDING GOD IN ANIME DEVOTIONAL!!!

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Yes, you heard it right. There’s a brand new devotional feat. manga & anime and it’s the one thing you didn’t know was missing from your life ™. 

About Finding God in Anime

Being a Christian can be tough. Being an otaku can be tough. But being both at once?

Sometimes it seems easier to become Hokage rather than explaining your faith and passions to others. That is why we otaku have united in this devotional: To encourage otaku like you spiritually and through a medium we all cherish.

In this devotional, you will find God in the animes you know and love. Each devotional presents spiritual lessons found in animes ranging from the world-famous Attack on Titan to fan-favorite Haikyu!! to beloved classics like Cowboy Bebop. Each piece will feature a different theme such as:

  • Human Will vs. The Holy Spirit in Yona of the Dawn
  • Choosing to be Free in Free! Swim Club
  • Not by My Might in My Hero Academia

…and many others! We believe that God can be seen throughout His creation—even in places where people might not intend! So pull out your cosplay and snuggle close with your plushies as you join us in Finding God in Anime.

About the Organizers

Laura and Moriah’s life consists of giving each other manga recommendations until they see whose TBR pile will fall on them first. Rest assured they’re both still safe…until another manga releases. In the meantime, they enjoy sharing beautiful pictures of Japan and trying to make each other laugh with anime memes. They both have an appreciation for cute stickers, samurai, and pins. If they’re not chatting about all things otaku, you can find them trying to write their next story or surviving on ramen and pocky after their latest manga order. 

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MY REVIEW:

First off, how cool is it that you get your devotions done and spend time reminiscing about your favourite manga & anime?? I spent this week and the last reading from FGiA, and it has been a blast…and let me explain why you should be using this devotional as well. 

Reason #1: My mum and I have recently reached the conclusion that it’s impossible not to see biblical themes reciprocated in certain manga/anime, starting from Ghibli and extending to AoT, TPN, &c. We often spend time discussing aspects of our favourite manga & anime and tying it into our personal devotions. So, if you don’t have someone like my Mum, you can still have this discussion with FGiA!

Reason #2: As an anthology, FGiA consists of short devotional entries that’s easy to follow and enjoy even if you don’t know the specific story. It’s a great pick-me-up first thing in the morning (even if you slept in) or the go-to for those small snippets of time you might have on hand

Reason #3: All of the stories featured in FGiA are certified to be clean and God-honouring, even if some of them are darker than the others. It’s a great way to find out more about other manga & anime you were interested in but weren’t sure. I for one was reminded I was really into Yona of the Dawn a few years back and am thinking of giving Naruto Shippuden another read. 

And lastly, just a personal side note: I was super hyped Renée Le Vine included Precure. I basically grew up watching Precure since it started and it has a special place in my heart! I also love Nausicaa (esp. the manga), so I was pleasantly surprised it was featured on more than one occasion. 🙂

So, if you’re an avid manga-reader or anime-lover and would love to explore biblical themes within them, this devotional is absolutely for you!

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 31st

–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Kick-Off

–       C.O. Bonham | Special Feature

–       Author E.E. Rawls | Book Spotlight

Tuesday, June 1st

–       Angela R. Watts | Special Feature

–       Jenna Terese | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 2nd

–       The Clean Fiction Blog | Book Spotlight

Thursday, June 3rd

–       Author Hannah Carter | Book Spotlight

Friday, June 4th

–       Deeply Shallow | Book Spotlight

Saturday, June 5th

–       SJ Barnard | Book Review

Monday, June 7th

–       The Artist Librarian | Book Review

–       K.A. Cummins, Exploring Possibilities | Behind-the-Scenes Interview

Tuesday, June 8th

–       Tabitha Caplinger | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 9th

–       Piper Bee Blog | Book Review

Thursday, June 10th

–       Erudessa Gentian Blog | Book Review

Friday, June 11th

–       Bigger on the Inside | Special Feature & Review

Saturday, June 12th–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Wrap-Up


I also got to be a part of the Capsule ARC team! Mel Torrefranca’s first novel, Leaving Wishville, has been one of my highlight reads of 2021 and I’m super excited for her second book to come out on July 10th! 

Capsule

Rating: 4.5/5 stars, PG13

Contents: Thematic elements, mild romance, crime, accident, some swearing (no f-words)

Two students from Brookwood High School mysteriously go missing on the same night.

The first is Peter Moon, a heartless pescatarian who bashes students from Brookwood on his blog, turning everyone against him. The second is the adored Kat Pike, an audacious girl desperate to boost her adrenaline. Three days pass. No leads.

Indifferent to the disappearances, sixteen-year-old Jackie Mendoza remains immersed in her virtual world of video games and online friends.

When a menacing app by the name of Capsule downloads itself onto Jackie’s phone, she enters a game interlaced with reality. A game threatening to erase Peter and Kat forever. Only Jackie can save them now—but Capsule is the most ruthless game she’s ever played.

Mel Torrefranca delivers a heart-wrenching thriller about unlikely friendships, bittersweet memories, and a never-ending search for answers best left forgotten.

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MY REVIEW:

I was super excited to be able to ARC read this book as I enjoyed Mel Torrefranca’s first book, and needless to say, I was not disappointed!!!

Note: I received an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

1. Theme–It’s honestly refreshing how Capsule visits the themes of family, siblings, friendships, and being present in your life. I just loved how streamlined the themes were in the sense it was completely natural. I also loved the way it subtly made me think of my online presence and IRL friends.

2. Prose–Again, I’m super picky about prose, but with Mel’s books I never have to worry about it. 😉 It’s vivid and imaginative, setting a clear tone to the story as well as offering an insightful narrative.

3. Characters–I usually like “unlikeable” characters, and I found I was really drawn to all three of the main cast–Jackie, Peter, and Kat. Jackie is into online games, something I’m not interested in, but I could feel her seclusion. (Not to mention I adored the brother-sister relationship between Jay and Jackie.) Also, her character arch was really encouraging. Peter was probably my favourite character because…(trying to think of all the good things about him)…he’s human? IRL, I think he would be the type of person I’d avoid, but it made me reconsider people who might look one way but are really another. Also, I shouldn’t be laughing, but some of his comebacks and remarks about other characters were funny. I initially thought I wouldn’t like Kat, but I think three chapters in about her made me reconsider everything and she also became another character I rooted for. Or not. But I did love the way the characters all blossomed!

4. Plot–The plot is straightforward, and I was expecting it to be more sci-fi but Capsule reads like a contemporary. (I know, sorry I keep saying *insert book title* reads like contemporary. It just does!) Where Leaving Wishville had a decided dystopian/sci-fi undertone vibe, Capsule was lighter on the genre expectation which I think was refreshing because TBH, I wouldn’t have connected to the story as much as I did if it was all about gaming. #sorrynotsorry I personally love countdowns since they give a clear visual of the story. I think that although the story is simple, the ending gives it a nice twist and sharpens the focus. (Open-endings are the way to go!!)

5. Execution–Overall, Mel Torrefranca did an excellent job with Capsule’s composition. I think I would have liked one more thing, but it’s really emotionally gutting and thrilling.

If you like:

a) Contemporary with soft sci-fi elements

b) Strong relationship between characters

c) An alternate look at life vibes

This book is for you! 

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And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Are you a manga and/or anime lover? What are some of your favourite manga/anime? Are you excited for Capsule to come out? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

May Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon, and welcome to Afternoon Tea with SJ!

Today is uncharacteristically sunny and I just love typing at my desk with the sun on my hands. I had an amazing month and I can’t wait to share it with you…

-May ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Cottage in a forest

Tea: Lavender, Editor’s Blend, Strawberry Vanilla

Offered with: Lemon cheese cake, Chocolate banana chiffon cake, Matcha tiramisu

So, without further ado, let the party commence!


I suffered from a reading block towards the end of April to mid May, so I read significantly less books than the previous months. I also took up books outside the Omnibus syllabus and read more nonfiction than usual. 

May Reads 

  1. Story Genius -Lisa Cron (Nfic)
  2. The Book of Hygge -Louisa Thomsen Brits (Nfic)
  3. Want -Cindy Pon (YA sci-fi)
  4. Ignite -Jenna Terese (ARC, YA sci-fi)
  5. Wildwood -Colin Meloy (Jfic/MG)
  6. Holy Sexulaity and the Gospel -Christopher Yuan (Nfic)
  7. The Iliad -Homer (O4)
  8. Blessed Monsters -Emily A. Duncan (YA fantasy)

Currently Reading: Capsule, The House of Government, Catch-22

Overall, it’s been a slow reading month, but I finally conquered the Iliad and that to me has been a greater win. 🙂 

More tea or cake, anyone? I really adore the lemon cheese cake, do try it out!

Anyhow…this month has been saturated with various media that I re-discovered and discovered, so let’s take a look at some of them. 

Music 

I finally figured out Spotify and *blushes* have been spending way too much time there while I was working. Well, that’s what it’s there for, right??

Practising: Mozart’s Rondo in D-dur K485, Brahms Viola Sonata Op. 120 No.2 first movement, Mozart’s Requiem–Lacrimosa by Thalberg, AoT Ops. 1-5

Listening to: AoT lo-fi, TG lo-fi, Kuhlau Piano Sonatinas Op. 20 & 55, Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence

Movie 

We only watched one movie this month, and *drumrolls*….it’s 1917!!

If you’ve been on SJ Barnard for a while, you might already know, but I’m obsessed with history, especially of the early 20th century. I loved this movie (as I should) and want to watch it again. 

Manga/Anime

This section should probably get a bigger highlight. I finished AoT vol 32 and am officially obsessed with it. (Isayama-sensei is dementedly genius.) Also, I’ve begun to dip my toes in the My Hero Academia fandom (hullo, Deku!) and love that, too. I’m still waiting to read the rest of TPN manga–it’s on order at my library–so just wait a few more weeks until I restart screaming about it. I really want to get into Jujutsu Kaisen…any fans out there? 

Okay. Writing Life…

Um, maybe before that, do you want to try the lavender tea? It’s absolutely celestial, I promise. Or the Strawberry Vanilla tea? That one’s a template for cottage core. 😉

So. WIPs. 

Initially I was planning to edit Juliet. Because, that’s like my headstone project I’ve been working on for the past four or five years. I re-read part 1, I made notes, outlines, began re-writing and yadda yadda yadda, when I had to stop.

It wasn’t working. 

I had all these cool ideas and an actually coherent plot, tons of character analysis and everything, when the floor fell out from underneath me. I had no idea why I was writing this story. Like, for real. 

  1. Goes into existential crisis
  2. Denial
  3. Realisation something is definitely wrong with it
  4. Hides
  5. Cries oceans
  6. Sleeps

Anyhow. So now it’s permanently on hold where it might RIP or might be brought back from the dead once I hide from it long enough. *Sighs*

But there’s good news! In the meantime, I’ve been working on Osthauptstadt, the second-newest WIP on my shelf. I’m almost at the 40K mark, so I wrote around 25K! I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but I’m hoping to write at least 50K in this WIP. 

I’m really excited for university to start! I got accepted into another one with scholarships, this one the number one ranking in Canada, and I’m utterly blown. Because it’s too far for me to attend, I won’t be going there (and I decided on the other one already), but this means a lot to me. I’ve begun creating a timeline and to-do lists to get ready. But yes, college…*grins*

How about another slice of matcha tiramisu? I just love tiramisu! 

I feel like I’ve talked about most of the things that happened this May–wait, I didn’t talk about how I started running!

Prepare for astonishment: I began running tracks in the mornings!

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I know, you’re probably confused. Like, people run all the time. Except, I really hate running. I used to run when I was in elementary, but then my asthma got worse, so I swam more instead. Then COVID happened and all the swimming pools shut down. I had lots of nervous breakdowns, walked a lot, but wasn’t getting enough exercise in. 

Insert brilliant idea no. 109: Running!

About a month ago, I stumbled upon Mel Torrefranca’s video, I followed Haruki Murakami’s strict schedule for a week. And it got me thinking about my health. As I prepare for a new chapter of my life, I definitely didn’t want to repeat my disastrous high school years where I was literally sick every single month. Hence, running. 

I began with 2km, which felt okay, so I slowly worked my way up to 4km. I ran 6km a few days ago, and hope to get to 10km by the end of this challenge. My focus in running is more on breathing technique–I’m using the one I learnt at karate–and so far it’s been working out! Once I got over my paralyzing fear of running, I’m finding out I actually enjoy it! (I know, marvels of marvels.) 

I also wake up consistently around a little before 5 am-6 am routine. We’re also hiking every week as a family which is super fun because we’re literally surrounded by mountains, rivers, oceans, and islands. Summer in BC is breathtaking. 

So, that’s about it! 

Thank you for reading today’s post! What are some things you did this May? Did you meet any great books? (Or join new fandoms?) How was your writing this month? Do tell me all about it; I’d love to chat with you!