Stories & Updates

Events, Giveaways

WOTR & Epic Swag Giveaway!

I don’t know about all of you, but I had an AMAZING weekend! I spent the weekend with my bestie at Writers on the River. This is an annual event that takes place in Peoria, Illinois and it such fun for authors and readers of romance. This is the second year I have attended, and it is always a blast.

But the fun doesn’t start with the event—oh no. My bestie and I make a whole weekend of it! We start out by shopping at a few different local book stores. We hit a few different ones: Tails of a Bookworm (Pekin, Il.), the Book Rack (Peoria, Il.), and the Book Nook (Peoria, Il.). Tails of the Bookworm is by far my favorite. Not only does it have an amazing selection of books and bookish items…not only does it have amazingly friendly staff…but it also serves as a cat adoption! They have cats looking to be adopted either in their little homes or running about the store. It is such chaos and fun. This year there were three kittens (two waiting for adoption, one waiting to be picked up later that day). If you live in the area and are taken with one of the kittens, give them a call!

We also make sure to hit a very special place for lunch on Friday…LA GONDOLA! Seriously, if you’re ever in Peoria, try the Torpedo (get a half size, trust me). It’s delicious and their bread is so sweet. My bestie and I always stop for lunch, as not only is it delicious, but it’s close by all of the stores we visit.

Between the shopping, the good food (sans dinner where we ordered salad and got no dressing), the first day was fantastic! Here are some pictures of the fun items I purchased at the stores!

Then Saturday was the event. I don’t have too many pictures, as there really isn’t time to take too many (there are so many authors I want to chat with!). Even still, the event was fun. I bought so many new books – y’all my TBR pile has gotten OUT OF CONTROL! There were games and raffle baskets GALORE. I donated 5, and it was just the tip of what they had available to do raffles on. By the end of the event, my bestie and I each won a prize and we had time to relax before the afterparty.

And by relax…of course I mean organize my swag and take a nap.

The afterparty is a wonderful addition to the event. They provide a glorious buffet of tacos and mashed potato bar. It’s an odd combination to hear, but I promise it is delicious. Then they have dancing, photo booths, and we brought games and tarot cards this year.

The weekend was amazing, though now it’s the work week and I’m exhausted. But even still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Genuinely, if you are ever interested in attending an event, I can’t recommend Writers on the River enough. I’ve attended quite a few events and it is by far one of the best I’ve attended – right up there with North Iowa Book Bash and Romance Rendezvous Book Blast.

With Writers on the River over, there is only one event left on my roster for 2022 – Romance Rendezvous Book Blast! It will be August 20, 2022 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. This is important for two reasons…

One, it will be my last author event for the year! So, if you haven’t yet stopped by to say hi and purchase books, be sure to do so! I promise, RRBB is so fun and has amazing authors in attendance.

Two, that means my swag collection will be finished. Each event you attend, you always leave with so many swag items: stickers, bookmarks, keychains, magnets, cups, pens, and so much more. Usually, I have a bunch of swag by the end of the year accumulated in a big bag with nothing to do with. This year, I decided to do a special giveaway for the followers of my blog! If you are following my blog (meaning you get email notifications when I post), you will be entered to win a box of swag at the end of August!

You can see from the pictures below, it has A LOT of fun items in it. Just be sure to follow my blog (storiesbyshannap.com) and you will be entered to win!

Until then, I wish you all happy reading and hope to see you at RRBB in August!

~Shanna Pikora

Uncategorized

New Swag (THANK YOU, CRICUT!)

So, if it wasn’t blatantly obvious from the text above, I have a new crafting hobby – THE CRICUT! I have heard about these before, but never had the opportunity to use one until I received mine as a holiday gift. It has been so wonderful!

I have started to experiment a bit, making swag for my table, and learned a bit about myself in the process – mainly that I don’t transfer permanent vinyl so well…it was a bit of a challenge (and a patience issue). I did some drinkware originally, but I was worried about it breaking, so I won’t be doing any more of those.

I recently started doing door hangs!

I’m always a big fan of these when I get them as swag, so I was really excited. I started with the wooden ones — and quickly learned I should not be trusted with spray paint (there is pink an white all over our garage now). So, we tried out the resin ones. They are SUPER cool looking, but they take so much resin — so we will be getting door hangs printed in the future – sorry! But, I will have these ones until they run out, so be sure to stop by my next event, Romance Rendezvous (Cedar Falls, IA) if you want one!

Another resin/cricut/paint hybrid my husband and I have tried are keychains!

These are pretty fun, especially the tarot and zodiac keychains. They are based in resin and then I paint in the grooves; even I can’t mess that up! Though full disclosure, I ended up wearing as much paint as went on the keychains. It’s pretty obvious which ones were the first trial (looking at those strange wooden planks), but these will definitely be an ongoing item you will see at future events!

Next we have some iron on and infusible projects!

These three items are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE to make. Not only are they easy to transfer, but I get to bust out my ironing board as well! We have pencil bags (variety of sizes), tote bags, and coasters! Some items (pencil bags and tote bags) are made with basic iron on fabrics, but the coasters (all but the dark green one) are made with infusible ink! They are so sharp, and in my opinion, the most fun. You can’t tell how it turns out until the very end, so it’s such an exciting time to reveal the items!

As you can see, I also learned how to make stickers! This was a bit of a process, as I still haven’t figured out how to “color in” the images, but I’m making progress! These stickers, and many more (I’ve made over 100 individual style stickers) will be freebies at my table, so be sure to stop by!

Lastly, we have a bookmarks, made by my amazing husband, and stress balls – a fun item we found on a website! They are cute and fun, also available through my swag prize wheel at events!

I hope you enjoyed these sneak peeks at my table swag for this year! We have some other fun ideas in the works (my ttrpg friends will love it!), but that will have to wait for another time.

Which ones are your favorite? Which ones would you want to win when you spin the prize wheel? What other swag items would you like to see?

Let me know, and maybe they will be available next year!

Happy reading – and crafting!

~Shanna

Book Review

“The Lion’s Fake Wife” by Sophie Stern (Book Review)

Have you heard of the amazing author Sophie Stern? If not, be sure to check her out!

I know, what an incredibly biased way to start a book review, but I truly do adore Sophie Stern! Not only are her books always wonderful reads, but she is also an all around awesome person. If you ever have a chance to meet her in person, be sure to stop her table/booth and say “hi”!

Okay, enough fangirling…let’s talk about this book!

“The Lion’s Fake Wife” is the second book in Shifter’s of Rawr County Series (hilarious series name). It follows the story of Basil and Melinda. Basil is a supposed playboy looking to solidify his position in his company, and to do that he needs one thing…a wife! Meanwhile, Melinda is looking for a new start in a secluded place to start recovering from her past. Luckily for her, a sexy Lion shifter is just what the doctor ordered.

I’ve always been a fan of shifters in romance, though I have to say Basil is one of my favorites. Although he is a shifter, he is one with his inner animal and doesn’t exude the more animalistic traits all the time. In fact, he passes very well as a regular guy with some hidden secrets. His inner Lion isn’t one of loud roars and the hunt, but more so the comfort of home and the call of love. And he can be an absolute dork!

I adore a specific scene between Basil (in his lion form) and Melinda — I can’t tell to much because of spoilers — but it was adorable and sweet, in all of the right ways. This book does great at keeping a lovely story going while also showing some wonderful character growth!

Just like the first in the series (“The Polar Bear’s Fake Mate”), this was a wonderful read for a late evening/rainy day. If you are looking to dive into the world of sexy shifters, check out this series! While each book is rather standalone, I would recommend reading them in order, as you do get introduced to characters as you go along.

While you’re waiting for your copy to ship, enjoy this interview by the amazing author herself, Sophie Stern!


SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SOPHIE STERN

Question 1: “The Lion’s Fake Wife” is the second in a fantastic series about shifters finding love. What inspired the series and the story? What made you choose shifters? (Sorry, two questions in one!) 

I LOVE fake relationship stories and hadn’t seen any with shifters, so I decided to try a new series. Polar bears are one of my favorite shifters to write about, so the series launches with polar bears. The second book is Basil’s story, book two, and I actually let a reader choose his name! I’m glad I did because it’s a great one! I love shapeshifters because they’re so wild and passionate, but also a lot of fun.

Question 2: This story was absolutely adorable. I loved how the characters interacted with each other and had their own voices and styles. Which character was your favorite (or least favorite) to write?

Basil is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. I really like how clever he thinks he is, and I love that his mate figures everything out!

Question 3: “The Lion’s Fake Wife” has a few side characters that are previewed, and I loved them all! Are any of them by chance going to be the lead in a later book in the series? 

Yes! Cosmo and Athena just got their story in book six, which recently released. Lincoln also gets his story in book three!

Question 4: You have so many amazing books out, and series. How do you keep everything going and keep the plots organized? Essentially, what is your secret to your amazing stories and success?

A lot of coffee and a lot of time! Generally, I spend at least 40-50 hours each week writing, but to be honest, it’s sometimes more. I often tell people that the secret to writing a lot of books is not having a life. I stand by that!

Question 5: I hope you know, my TBR pile grows every year as I purchase more of your books…so I hesitate to ask (for my sanity and the strength of my bookshelves), but what future projects can we look forward to seeing from you in the future and do you have any events coming up where readers can meet you? 

The last Shifters of Rawr County book will be coming out in July of this year, followed by a really cool series called GRIMALKIN NEEDS BRIDES! That’s going to be part of the Intergalatic Dating Series world, so I’m really excited about it! As for events, I’ll be at Writers on the River and Romance Rendezvous Book Blast, and I’d love to see people at both of those incredible events!

Be sure to check out all of Sophie’s works and platforms! And if you are in the area for Writers on the River and Romance Rendezvous Book Blast, be sure to stop by and purchase a copy (and get it signed) by Sophie herself!

Events

Indie Author Book Expo (Peoria, Il)

This Saturday is the Indie Author Book Expo in Peoria, Illinois! I can’t wait for the event, especially since it is so close to my hometown. I know a few family and friends will be stopping by and it will be so great to see everyone, since I haven’t had a chance to go back home for a while.

There will be so many amazing authors at the event, so I’m really excited to meet them all. I actually don’t think I’ve met any of the other authors before, so perhaps I will leave with more writing friends! I’m also pretty excited as there seems to be a good mix of genres, so it should have something for everyone and perhaps something for my table assistant — my husband. Sadly, he isn’t a big reader of the romance genre, so we will see if he finds something to read while there!

I don’t have any prep pictures to share with you this time. Sorry! Admittedly, I kinda just kept things packed up as I knew the turn around on the event dates was pretty quick. I will, of course, have all of my books present and many, many fun swag items.

And a bonus incentive to attend…I will have deals and discounts for those of you who come to purchase the books in person! As well as new swag items and fun activities at my table. Like the new prize wheel — which we will all cross our fingers and hope it spins something other than a 5 (I only have so many heart shaped stress balls!).

I hope you all will consider attending. It will surely be a great event with lots of fun new books to add to your TBR pile! Be sure to check out the authors (listed below) and see if there are any books you are interested in!

Until next time, happy reading!

~Shanna

General News and Updates

New Swag Items

I’m so excited author season has kicked off! I have so many fun events I’ll be attending (either as an author or a reader) and I can’t wait to meet some new bookish friends. As we went into the season, my husband and I got to brainstorming about swag and giveaways.

My table at Indie Author Book Expo, Mason City.

Those of you who have been at my table in the past have probably seen the “raffle basket”, where if you purchase a book or sign-up for my newsletter, you get entered for a raffle. We decided to do things a little differently this year for two reasons:

One: What if people don’t like the raffle basket?

Two: Not everyone gets a fun item.

So, we decided to do… A Prize Wheel!

This is a picture of the “old” prize wheel. You’ll have to wait for the next event to see the new one!

My husband decided to handmake a prize wheel for me. It was cute and I loved it…but it only spun the number 5. It was really funny — and we went through A LOT of stress balls! So we broke down and bough a professional one.

But of course, having a prize wheel means having more prize options. So what can you expect at the event?

As you can see, I have had to organize a few things. We have reusable totes and pencil bags (which I made with my cricut), stress balls, door hangs, coasters, bookmarks, and keychains (just to name a few)! We are working on adding a few new things too, but haven’t gotten them finalized yet. Most of the items my husband and I are making by hand, which is a lot of fun (though it can be time intensive).

In addition, we are making items to sell, like runes, tarot cards, and meditation stones. We have really enjoyed doing resin pouring, but don’t have an outlet for items we make, so we decided to sell them!

This last long weekend, we spent doing MASSIVE resin pours to get ahead of the game a little bit. It was my first big pour–which was fun but man did my arm feel like falling off afterwards! We tried out a lot of new molds and techniques. All we need to do now is sand edges and paint things.

Some of the items won’t be as prize wheel items or at my table, as they are too big or we feel they are too niche of an item (Like the little potion bottles), so we decided to reopen our etsy store (it’s open but nothing is listed yet)! The other items will be swag items — such as those fancy new book holders, pens, and cool keychains!

Needless to say, I have been crafting most nights when I get home from work in preparation for my next event (which is in two weeks!). I’ll be sure to post more pictures on my social media of the items once they are finished, so be sure to check them out!

Until next time, happy reading and happy crafting!

Shanna Pikora