Tuesday, December 10, 2013





Sunday, December 8, 2013

Apartment Hunter's Boot Camp is now live!

Check it out here: Apartment Hunter's Boot Camp

If you or anyone you know has, is or will be renting an apartment, this book is for you. It contains practical advice with an interactive Table of Contents.

Get this for your Kindle TODAY!

Don't have a Kindle? Download the FREE Kindle software in the Google Play Store or for your PC!

When renting an apartment you should never go it alone. Get this handy guide and find your new home!
Our 'Apartment hunter's Boot Camp' launch has been postponed but should be released next week. In the meantime, check out 'College Boot Camp' at: http://www.amazon.com/College-Boot-Camp-M-S-Johnson-ebook/dp/B00DXXGH5I. Don't forget to bookmark us and share 'The Shaky Shelf' with friends!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

College? Don't even think about it!

Before you do, read this first. It is an invaluable resource that will help you or someone you know be able to pay for school as well as finish quickly. Check it out at:


You will thank me for it later.

Also, be sure to check back soon for my new Ebook entitled 'Apartment Hunter's Boot Camp'. This nifty guide will help you navigate the daunting process of renting an apartment in any market. The expected launch date is December 2, 2013.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review/Interview with "DA Roberts" (Ragnorak Series)

DA Roberts has strewn together an incredible Zombie series that will make your head spin in many different directions all at once. The first book will have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what the main character Wiley will do next and the second book of this series is even better. Wiley brings nothing to the table that will disappoint!
These books deserve 5 STARS and that is just what I gave them. Listen to the interviews and watch the videos of my interviews with DA Roberts.
Initial reports of rioting and chaos begin to appear in the news, slowly spreading east from California. As the unusual "riots" come closer and closer however, the first hints of their true nature begin to emerge. Internet videos show rioters eating those they overtake. When the disturbances finally reach Springfield Missouri, all law enforcement officers are called to field duty. Officer Wylie Grant finds himself manning a remote checkpoint. There the true nature of the "rioters" becomes terrifyingly clear, and only Wylie and Corporal Chrissy Wilder survive the revelation. Their new goal becomes to survive the trip back to the Nathanael County Sheriff's Office, where the few remaining officers are attempting to regroup. Thinking ahead, Wylie and Corporal Wilder attempt to rescue as many survivors as they can and gather as many resources as possible along the way. Upon their arrival, Wiley finds himself the leader of the rescue efforts, as many officers are stranded throughout the city. During his repeated forays into the zombie infested streets, he discovers that the zombies are not the only enemy humanity is facing. In some cases, they are the lesser evil. As he struggles to cope with the loss of friends and innocents, he discovers that the Evacuation Centers that had been their last hope are part of a government "containment protocol". No one is being evacuated. Wylie and his team are faced with the realization that no one is coming for them, and the government that they had thought to be their ally has become yet another enemy in an increasingly hostile world.  
First Interview:
Second Interview:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"The Write Characters"

     Sometimes it is difficult to come up with likeable characters for you novel or story--it is all in the imagination that us writers hone them to perfection, or at least close to perfect. Our characters make the story believable or unbelievable. If they feel more like flat personalities then the reader will not like them or they will give a writer a bad review. Round out those characters and see where they go.

     Characters, whether female or male need to have characteristics, which means they need to have issues, and many of them. With many different back stories that go along with these characters enhance them by adding something they must do, like a habit. One character in my book has a habit of rubbing envelopes before opening them. Believable right? Yes, people do have habits, no matter good, bad, or ugly. Insert one into your book before it is through.

     Good characters bring a story together and enable the reader to finish the book from front to back almost in one sitting. Horrible characters are challenging for the reader to wade through and at times, readers put the book down and never pick it up again. There have been too many icky characters written out there. It is up to us writers to make them awesome!

     Keep writing that book even know it is terrible right now--that is what editing is for. When a writer edits, we blow up our characters into something majestic and flowing. "They walked into a room filled with multi-colored balloons and happy smiles." A character with a debt is what readers want to scan, and not a character that is all balloons and smiles on every page. That is just not real-life.

     Let's keep it real for the reader. Write not only what you know but what you are in the process of learning. Life is one huge learning experience and by adding something new to you, you are adding something new to the character. Make him or her something special to you and your reader. Keep this character grounded in reality or any other place, if they are too much of a loose cannon then readers exit the scene.

     Love what you write. If you don't, neither will your readers. Always edit and edit again whenever something is finished or almost completed. And always write your characters well....

~Author Candy O'Donnell


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes

Admittedly, I have a heart for animals. Regardless of its appearance and attitude, I want to learn about it. In The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes, I did just that and more. It’s a collaboration of short stories about zoo vets and their patients; and all true.

Learning about a fawn white-tailed deer, a black bear cub whose bones were dissolving, a rhino with a hoofing condition, a camel in the Gobi desert, and the menstrual cycle of a panda were among my favorites. I found it astounding the similarities between the medicine we use for ourselves and the animals that are treated. Lucy H. Spelman and Ted Y. Mashima are co-editors and brought this book to life, an great read for those of us who love animals but aren't given the chance to be so hands-on and personal with all of them.

It’s the type of first-hand book that takes you behind the scenes of modern medicine and the behavior of animals, touching briefly on biology, ecology, and zoology. If it sounds like it’s up your alley, check it out!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When You Write?

     Where is it does a writer find themselves when the mood strikes them? Is it at work, before they go to bed or perhaps at anytime during the day? I have discovered that writing does not follow a time piece but rather flows whenever the mood strikes. It is when this creative architecture takes place as it bows down and releases words for the writer to grasp then write in such a loving manner.

     Writing is not always sporadic or indecisive. I can continuously move along in such a way that the writer themselves does not have an apparent reason why characters, plot, or meaning is the way it is. Accept it and write at night, during the day, or in the morning. I myself write anytime I feel like it. Writing is one of those wonderful insights that comes and goes and when it comes, be prepared to exhaust your brain.

     The morning hours are usually best for writers just after a morning walk. It inspires the mind to take hold of ideas that had been stirring within. A good jog loosens many good stories ready to leap from the writer's hands. Exercise in the morning wakens the mind and prepares it to write what simmered during the night. Early writing is blurted out so the writer can move forward with their day to do whatever is waiting for them after the words have flowed.

     Day writing can be very soothing too. During the day, the morning is through and the children have gone to school so there is no excuse not to write unless you have a job to attend to. This time can be set aside for you, your mind, and your creativity. Let to move outward where words can distinguish themselves from what transpired during the morning. Release them! Don't hold back. I find that I can receive a headache if I do not write.

     Night writing is especially grand. Many writers are without distractions and feel their outward movement clutch their minds. Write your heart out and do so with integrity and honor. Allow this time to spew your sentences of the day. Sometimes we come up with great concepts for future books and can rehash what we thought about. The main premise is to write, write, write!

~ Author Candy O'Donnell


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Heart of the Writer

Writing can be compulsive, complicated and overall exasperating, and if performed according to ones specks, it can be very rewarding. A writer does not just sit down and begin writing each day without a predetermined thought; thought must grow over time and accumulate what it is the writer intends to flow from their minds. Each thought does not blossom upon command; no never at the spur of the moment does an entire novel spout out quickly.

It takes time for a writer to hone their endeavors ever so carefully and with much thought. The reader is always in mind, and whenever a writer does decide a thought is worth revealing they sit quietly and ever so quickly let go of that particular thought, no matter if it is short or long.

Writers work in different ways. Some categorize their characters, situations, and even their minute thoughts. To discuss how a writer operates, it varies from person to person. Writing can become a religion for one human while it has become tedious for another. It was so often assumed that writing always comes from the heart; it can flow from the mind too.

In-depth writing that conforms to the human heart takes time and meticulous thought that must come from inside where no key has ever unlocked it unless the writer grants accessibility. Some of the greatest stories have been pulled from inside the heart and the writer has finally decided to release it. What a tremendous thing to have happen. Profound stories can sometimes cause the writer’s tears to flow along with their words.

That beating organ in the center of our chest is what drags the writer along the path of pebbles, sorrows, and blood-red anger that encourages words to be cast out. Is it natural? At times it is completely natural for a writer to produce extravagant settings from fiction to non-fiction that cause such a rukus that even the reader must pause before continuing. That is what makes a great writer.

All writers contain thoughts that twist and turn within, and sometimes they spew them outward for the world to read. Then there are those writers that covet their work like a charmed amulet and refuse to allow outside eyes to see it. This is sad to hear of—when so many distinguished writers are not fee to show their work because feelings play a lot into a writer and their ability to be open with it.

Please, please, please, be free with your work and show it to others so it can be appreciated. Writing never should be judged or scorned, it comes from the heart and when someone informs a writer that they do not appreciate it, are they really saying they do not appreciate the writer? What a concept to ingest. Our writer friends need to feel free enough to allow for criticisms as well. Everyone has an opinion and it may not reflect the character of the writer. Take it as a learning experience and move on to the next piece simmering beneath.

~Author Candy O’Donnell


Monday, June 24, 2013

Creative Writing: A learning process for writers

If you look at the famous authors, you will find that very few ever attended a college or university, let alone the handful that actually majored in composition and literature. In all honesty, the majority of them would not have told you they were writers because frankly they did not know it themselves! 

You see, being creative and imaginative and inspirational is vital to being a creative author. It is more than sitting at your desk with that breath-taking setting, that realistic character, that mind-blowing plot, and so on. It is merely about using your own experiences and writing them out the same way an artist would paint. 

I have come to the conclusion that there are three distinct types of writers. Firstly, we have the “dreamers” that spend a lot of time thinking and entertaining themselves with their own ideas but never bother to jot them down. Secondly, we have the “commenters” who spend their time outlining and making plans for success but lack the motivation to finish. And thirdly, we have the “achievers” that are committed to their ideas and work at them daily. It’s interesting the different kinds of writers I have encountered in my young life. I notice that a lot of us are “commenter’s” in that we are all about the story and the trail that will launch us into fandom. 

I will keep it real with you by listing all the books that I have attempted to write and fail: 

The Guardian
The Finding
Blue Bird
Wishing Wall

You see, I have tried to write a total of seven novels. If you think I have failed, that is your opinion. I think the greatest thing about creative writing is that you do not have to continue or finish your work in order to learn from it. Currently, I am working on this list. It has taken the other six to teach me things like aspiration, commitment, and determination. It is also changing the way in which I write. Not everyone has a first-person point of view, which can shape the way you look at characters and plots when you find out what works for you and what does not. 

Creative writing is a learn-as-you-go kind of process. 

-Matthew Benton

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review of “Of Bees and Mist” by Erick Setiawan

“Of Bees and Mist” by Erick Setiawan is an enthralling read from the first page. It was first recommended to me through Amazon and Good-Reads. I have reread it a great deal and enjoyed it every time. It is a young adult story and also Setiawan’s debut novel which may come as a surprise because the language reads like it was written by a distinguished author. The book is told in the third-person but the main focus is on the life of Meridia.

The story begins with Meridia as a child. Her father, Gabriel, is presented as a cold and numbing character who is impossible to win attention or love from. It is shortly revealed that every night he leaves in a cloud of mist and returns home the following morning in the mist; he having a long-standing affair with another woman. Her mother, Ravenna, is no exception with her private dark language and obsessive behavior. The house, like the parents, is always filled with a bitter coldness to where Meridia can never remain warm for very long. Needless to say, she lives a very abnormal childhood.

The story transitions into Meridia’s life as a young adult where she meets Daniel. It seems unreal when she finds herself taken by his charm. She then learns to cherish his mother, Eva, whose laughter brings her warmth, appearing to be everything her own mother is not. Later in the story, Meridia realizes that Eva is the one responsible for keeping people awake durring the night, torturing them with the sound of a thousand buzzing bees. Daniel’s two sisters, Malin who is spiteful, and Peremony who is gentle and kind, are the family she envies. Meridia becomes Daniel’s bride through a sacrifice on her own mother’s part.

After having married Daniel, the plot of the book begins to take an unmistakable turn. For the remainder of the story, Meridia spends a majority of her time arguing with Daniel, feuding with Eva, re-establishing her relationship with her mother, protecting her sister-in-laws, and finding the answer to Gabriel’s secret.

The setting of the book is a mystery in that Setiawan never gives the reader a name, only the title of streets, estates, markets, and festivals; however, the language makes-up for it. It truly is an outstanding novel for those who enjoy fiction, literary, fantasy, young-adult, or those who enjoy stories with a fairytale-esque ending to it.

by Matthew Benton 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Buying


Going into a bookstore is like entering a new world, one scented with ink and paper, coffee and tea, dust and wood. I could browse the literary and young-adult sections forever but at the end of the day, I could never purchase any of them. The trip usually results in me buying something from the clearance or the bargain bin. However, I have gone into a Barnes & Nobles or a Books-A-Million and walked out feeling angry about the prices. For all who buy books, we know that at the end of the day it all comes down to money. How much are we willing to spend on a book when we can buy it elsewhere for a better price?

Below, I have ranked the order in which I purchase my books as well as the sites and stores I frequently visit or find the best deals:

You can find free books at your local library and online through give-a-way sites and e-books:

Free Book Friday- It is site that gives you the option to enter a “raffle” to win a free book in any of the four categories.

Get Free Books- It is a site that allows you to legally download free books.

Online Alternatives

You can find a multitude of discounted books! I use this to find a majority of my books (I almost never use any e-book format but I do own a kindle for schooling purposes). I would consider these the best options for those who like to have a physical copy of the book:

Best Bargain Books- It is a site that guarantee’s each book to start out at 60-80 percent off its original price. The fault is that books are almost always out of stock and you do pay around $3’s in shipping.

Better World Books- It is an organization dedicated to improving literacy world-wide. It has a “bargain bin” where you can find a majority of popular titles and authors for under $3’s per book. For every book you do buy, the organization gives a book to a child or adult in a foreign country. Shipping is free!

Trick-or-Treat Sellers

Barnes & Noble- It is probably the best known bookstore. However, it’s prices can be drastically lowered if you are willing to look around and price elsewhere. I would recommend checking their website for bargain-buys but shelf buying should be prohibited.

Books-A-Million- It is a smaller bookstore but a great place to find bargains. Here, you will find popular titles in each genre for under $5’s on clearance. No shelf buying unless you have a membership and even then, it can cheaper through online alternatives.

Half-Price Books- It sells and buys used books. It is a great place to shop the bargain boxes and clearance shelves. I would recommend browsing the shelves for hidden bargains which cost about the same as a book and its shipping online.

I know that finding a good bookstore is often hard simply because of prices. It is tragic that the publishers and owners must sell at a high rate to make their own profit. Over this past year, Border’s went out of business and I was heart-broken;. However, I never bought books except from the bargain table. It is the sad reality of books; it all comes down to price, quality, and format.


Matthew Benton

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review of “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

“Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen is one of those rare novels that will be read over and over again. It is great entertainment as well as insightful in its portrayal of life in the circus and the on goings in the show-ring. 

It follows the life-story of Jacob Jankowski, dividing the book into two perspectives: the ninety-three year old and twenty-three year old of Gruen’s main character. We learn early on in the plot that Jacob is Polish, orphaned, and an almost-graduate of Cornell University for veterinary science. At the tragic death of his parents, Jacob find himself jumping a locomotive which surprisingly belongs to the Benzini Brothers, a circus in the heart of the American depression-era. Jacob is hired both as the circus’s handyman and personal animal care-taker by August, the owner. He encounters Marlena, the lovely woman that works with the horses in the show’s menagerie; Camel, the manager of sorts of the circus laborers; Barbara, the showgirl, and Rosie, an adult Asian elephant who becomes the central component in the novel. By training with Rosie, Jacob becomes close to Marlena and learns a great deal about August. It is also this elephant the brings about the shocking ending to the novel and alters the lives of those involved for life.

Through a leap of faith, Jacob wins the experience of a lifetime as a traveler, a doctor for exotic animals, and a lover. It is easily one of the top-three favorites on my bookshelf for its beautiful imagery, fluent writing style, and challenging plot.

Rating: 5 * * * * *

By: Matthew Benton

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Welcome Matthew Benton!

The Shaky Shelf would like to welcome our newest blogger Matthew Benton! We can't wait to see what wonderful things you have in store for us!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dusting off the old books at 'The Shaky Shelf'!

Fellow writers, authors, and book lovers:

I am changing the look and feel of  'The Shaky Shelf'! Among the changes are: the layout, features, and there is even an official domain: www.theshakyshelf.com! Go books!

I am extremely excited about the new page launch (any day now). Be sure to bookmark the new site address. The servers are in the process of updating everything yet so it may take a few days to become live. I am in the process of transforming the lives of book lovers, writers and bloggers everywhere. I assure you, there is no place you would rather be than right here!

Join me as I kick this site into orbit!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Hey all,

Sorry it has taken me so long to update the page. I had to do a serious move cross-country from New Jersey to Las Vegas and it has been super hectic. I am in the process of revamping this and all of my blogs to make them bigger and better. Stay tuned and hold on tight because The Shaky Shelf is about to get very shaky!

ATTENTION WRITERS/BLOGGERS: I am looking for other writers to collaborate on this and possibly other blogs. I need a long-term dedicated writer who will help me take this blog to the next level. The only requirement is dedication and a creative mind. If you know SEO that is cool as well. My goal is to turn this into a full-time operation and get dedicated space through funding. Please let me know if you are interested. Post a link to your work here and I will get in touch with you through your blog.