Thursday, March 30, 2017

5 Reasons Readers Put Books Down

I've been posting book reviews for years, but I decided a long time ago that I'd never write a review for a book I didn't finish. That said, there's been plenty of books that I didn't finish. So, in this post I wanted to write about why I put those books down. Below are five reasons readers put books down with examples of books that I didn't finish for those reasons.



1. Your reader doesn't relate to your characters. Your main character isn't going to be like every  one of your readers, but there should be something about them they can relate to or root for. When reading Falling Under by Gwen Hayes I found  I just didn't connect with the characters. Theia is British, and moved to California with her very overprotective father. I liked her personality but I just didn't have much in common with her, and there wasn't anything about her that made me want to root for her. Her best friend was her polar opposite, loud, reckless, and the man from her dreams felt a little too proper compared to the first glance we get of him in one of Theia's dreams. Despite feeling like Gwen had an interesting concept for the book it just wasn't something I could relate to.

Another example is Poison Princess by Kresley Cole. I normally am a huge fan of paranormal as well as dystopian stories, but this book immediately sucks you into this extremely dark post-apocalyptic future. After reading the first few chapters I  found myself unable to keep reading. The main character Evie seemed well written, and this book certainly had a very unique style, but it was being told through the POV of a character named Arthur. Arthur was beyond creepy and I didn't like being in his head.

2. Your book reads like a first draft. Don't publish your book until it's really ready. Make sure you've taken the time to develop your characters, their relationship and tie up any plot holes. After that, edit, edit, edit. A great story will have a hard time keeping readers until the end if it's riddled with grammatical or spelling mistakes. A lack of editing is distracting, it's like watching a movie on your laptop with a poor wifi signal and every few minutes it cuts out to buffer. Make sure your novel's ideas are fully fleshed out and that you've gone through it with a fine tooth comb. After that hire an editor and a proofreader to do the same. When I read Miss Underworld by Racquel Kechagias I had a hard time getting sucked in to the story because it felt unfinished. The interesting combination of vampires and Greek mythology fell flat because I felt like I was reading an early draft of a novel that had yet to completely come together instead of a finished project. To be fair, I did finish this book (unlike the others on this list) but I didn't leave a review for the above reasons. This novel may have been updated since I read it years ago.

3. Your book opens with a scene that your reader has seen before. It's impossible to avoid all cliches. Everything has been done before, but if you can't show your reader something new in your opening chapters they'll wonder why they should continue. When I picked up Dark Lover by JR Ward I was really feeling like reading a vampire novel, but Dark Lover just wasn't what I was looking for. Ward seemed to be trying to create his own world, but there were just too many things about this book that had been done before. Ex: Main character, vampire, long black hair with a widow's peak. Ex: Main character, female, nearly gets raped in an alley. Ex: Vampire names like "Thorment" and "Wrath". I suppose for me the 'vampire' world of it was a little cheesy.

4. You don't have a good enough hook. You need to catch your reader's attention asap. Fill the beginning of your book with boring backstory or take too long to jump into the action and you risk losing your readers. When I started reading Existence by Abbi Glines I had high hopes that I would love this book. It sounded like it was right up my alley and had great reviews, but it just didn't pull me in. There wasn't anything in particular that bothered me, but also nothing that really hooked me either. After the first chapter or so I put it down and simply never picked it back up. It started out with a typical high school scene and a girl with an ability, but nothing stood out to me as different. Also, I hated the name "Dank," maybe a small thing, but it was a big turnoff. Your readers need to know from the beginning what makes your book worth reading.

5. Your story takes a left hand turn after a few chapters. Readers  go into a story with certain expectations based on your blurb and the first few chapters. Twists and turns are great, but change directions too radically and your readers will feel tricked. This is what happened when I started reading Seers of Light by Jennifer DeLucy. I loved the first chapter or so of this book. it had me hooked. It seemed different and, it was scary. I could tell that it was going to be a little darker of a read and that had me interested as well. But, what started out as a story that possibly revolved around ghosts or maybe demons and an eerie, mysterious forest radically shifted gears and went in a totally different direction. Suddenly, there were blue veined vampires and a handsome British character that was dragging my main character away from this wonderful world  Jennifer had created. Maybe it would have been a good read had I had a better idea of what it was about, but after having my hopes for what this book would be shatter I had to put it down.


It's important to keep in mind that what "makes a book good" will be different from one reader to the next. The books I listed above may not have been my cup of tea, but they could be someone else's favorites. That said, I think these suggestions to create relate-able characters, open with an exciting hook and set up your reader's expectations can help writer's keep their reader's reading.

Why did you stop reading the last book you put down?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review for Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2) by Kaitlin Bevis

4 Stars. Well written plot and characters. I wanted to see more of Hades and Persephone’s relationship. But, the parts we do see are awesome. Their excursion to the beach at the beginning of the book was great, and the scene where Persephone <spoiler> broke up with him was actually one of my favorites, </spoiler>. The author really nailed their emotions and it brought all of their scenes to life. They grow a lot as a couple in this book and I really enjoyed seeing Hades open up.

There’s one really great steamy scene, but I was disappointed that <spoiler> when they do have sex for the first time the author fades to black a little faster than I would have liked</spoiler>, still it was a nice scene and fit well into the flow of the story.

The plot was well thought out and intense. I loved seeing Persephone fight and work to figure out how to overcome Thanatos, and when Hades does step in to help her it doesn’t feel like he just swoops in and saves the day. I think the author gave these two characters a nice balance of power. Even though Hades is older and more powerful he and Persephone feel like a team.

There were nice twists and turns and surprises and like the first book felt complete and also ended with a cliffhanger that sucked me right into the third book.

Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #1
Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #3

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review for Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis


4 Stars. A great take on a classic myth with a modern twist. The author did a great job of keeping all the classic story elements of the Persephone myth but still made the story feel modern and new. I liked that she used the story of Boreas to set the scene at the beginning of the book and I loved how she interpreted Persephone’s abduction. While Hades still technically brought her to the Underworld against her will, he did so to save her life and protect her.

All of the characters in this book were well developed. I liked that they had their own wants and needs and that each one felt real. I thought that Demeter was represented well and I loved that more minor mythological character like Orpheus and Eurydice made it into the story as well. I thought the author did a good job with the push and pull of Persephone and Hades’ relationship. She managed to make Hades feel young and thousands of years old at the same time. I also thought she addressed the age difference between these two characters well and did as well as explaining the “sibling” relationship between the gods. And, I loved seeing Hades struggle with his growing feelings for Persephone considering that age difference and the fact that she was Demeter’s daughter.

The plot was well written. Hades rescues Persephone a few times, but she was clearly the hero of her own story. She was strong and independent and she didn’t let people push her around. I thought she was a little foolish at the end when she took on Boreas by herself, but I was glad that she was able to hold her own and otherwise made thought-out decisions. I was also glad that while the “big-bad” of this book was defeated, the author set up the plot for the next story right away allowing this book to end with a bit of a cliffhanger that pulled me straight into the next one.

Overall this was a really solid story and I would highly recommend it. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #2
Read my Review for Daughters of Zeus #3

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Canceled TV Shows: What Writers can Learn from Them

Stories come in many different forms including, books, movies, and TV shows. And, while I may only work in one of those mediums I think all writers can learn from any kind of story, regardless of if it's written or watched. So, today I'm writing about TV shows and how we can be better writers from watching them.

TV shows get cancelled for many different reasons. Sometimes great shows get the axe simply for falling in a bad time slot. But, often there are mistakes the writers make regarding the show's plot. In this post, I'll discuss some shows I loved, where I think the writers lost their viewers, and how you can learn from their mistakes.


Terra Nova - Premise: A family living in a dystopian world travels "back in time" to the land of the dinosaurs to give humanity a second chance. It was a great mix of science fiction and family drama.

Where they went wrong: They waited too long to explain what the show was really about. The last episode revealed this show was less "Jurassic Park" and more "Land of the Lost." Knowing this, there were so many more places they could have gone with the plot, and had they reveled it sooner I think viewers may have been more interested in a second season.

What to take away from this: Twists are great and exciting, but if your twist reveals something important about what your book is about, revealing it too late may mean your readers never get to it because you've bored them for too long. Or, worse, you leave your readers feeling duped that your novel took a left hand turn and became something they weren't expecting. Terra Nova may have done better if they'd left more clues to their big twist along the way.

Resurrection - Premise: The dead return to be reunited with their families.

Where they went wrong: They went too big. I loved the first season of this show, and the beginning of the second, but the last few episodes of the second season took the story in a direction that I didn't like. What I loved about the show was that it was about people, their lives, their deaths, family, friends and love. I think I cried at some point watching nearly ever episode in season one. Seeing how the loss of a loved one affected these people struck a cord with me, and seeing them being reunited with lost loves was beautiful. At the end of the second season, it stopped being about the people. Instead, the resurrection phenomenon went global and so did the story. They also added a story line about a character's baby with religious undertones that suggested he may be the Antichrist. Suddenly, the story was about good and evil, God and the devil, overpopulation, and the apocalypse; gone were the heartwarming moments between families. The show just got too big.

What to take away from this: Your characters are what make your book great. Don't let your plot run away on you. Resurrection would have been better if they kept the phenomenon local. They lost a lot by making it global. What made the show work was that it felt close to your heart. When the phenomenon went global it became distant and I didn't feel connected to the plot anymore.

Beauty and the Beast: Premise: Soldier turned science experiment looks after local cop from the shadows and falls in love with her.

What went wrong: This show had so much promise and I loved the first season. But the show quickly diverted from all the things that made it great. The caring yet quiet male lead that hid away in the shadows became an arrogant asshole who reveals himself to the world. His relationship with Cat took strange and unrealistic turns and she became unlikeable as well. The writers went to the extremes to push them apart and then when they got back together everything felt too easy. Their relationship became boring.

What to take away from this: Know what your story is about. If your readers get angsty star-crossed love in book 1, don't give them an easy going couple living happily ever after in book 2. Pay attention to what's working in your story and bring back those feelings in different ways as the story progresses. Characters change and grow, and sometimes they do out of character things. But, if there isn't at least hope that what we love about them most is still there, your reader will stop caring about them. If you go to the extremes to push them apart, accept that you may not be able to force them back together. An example of writers doing this right can be seen in the SyFy show The 100. At the beginning of season 2 Finn goes too far trying to rescue Clarke. He kills a number of innocent people and it's clear things won't be the same between him and Clarke after this. Instead of trying to force these characters back together Finn's story progresses in a more logical way, ending with his death. Though sad, it felt far more satisfactory than the path Beauty and the Beast took.

Second Chance: Premise: A twist on the classic Frankenstein novel, a retired sheriff with a shady record dies, then is resurrected as a young man. He sought to do right in the world, fix his own mistakes and mend the broken relationship with his son.

What went wrong: I tuned in every week for this show. It was great, and still is. Where they went wrong is that they didn't have anywhere to go after Season 1, and though they tried setting up a new storyline in the last episode, it felt forced. Unlike Terra Nova, that had a lot to explore and just revealed it too late, this show wrapped up an entire concept then tried to introduce a new one too late. They wrapped up all their threads, leaving no mysteries to be reveled in a subsequent season. Viewers want to see a continuation from season 1 to season 2, something needs to carry over.

What to take away from this: If you're writing a series make sure you think about where your second book is going. Think about which characters you're killing off. Would keeping them around make your sequel better? Think about which characters you've introduced. You need to think about where your story is going and writing the elements you need to take it there. Some mysteries should be set up in book 1 to be revealed in book 2. Otherwise you should consider writing a solo book instead of a series. Maybe Second Chance would have been better as a mini-series?

Penny Dreadful: Premise: Classic monsters, including Dracula, the wolf man, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dorian Grey come together in one series that follows Vanessa Ives as she tries to escape the devil.

Where they went wrong: This series wasn't canceled, but instead ended after three seasons, and it shouldn't have. Unlike the other shows on this list whose mistakes may have led to their cancellation; this show's only mistake was ending. This show was well written with interesting characters and dark, twisted story lines. But, they ended the series with stories left to be told. I didn't feel like Vanessa and Ethan's story had been fleshed out as much as it could have. I wanted to know more about Dr. Jekyll, and what would Dorian do now that Lily was gone. Would Ethan ever find out that Dr. Frankenstein brought his former girlfriend back to life? Would John ever find happiness that didn't disappoint him? I expected another season and I was disappointed when this ended where it did.

What to take from this: Don't leave your reader's with lose ends. If you're coming to the end of your book or series make sure you wrap up all your story lines with satisfying ends. Not everyone needs a happy ending, but don't leave them with unfinished business. Otherwise, write another book or you risk your readers being very unhappy with you.



What shows did you love that disappointed you when the writing took a turn? Have you read any books that make any of these mistakes?


Saturday, March 4, 2017

February 2017 Wrap Up

So, here's everything I was up to in February, and I'm excited to say that it includes lots of editing of Unearthed After Sunset! Yay.




READING:

Books Reviewed in February:

Red Fox by Lara Fanning - This book reminded me why I read indies. It was an awesome dystopian novel!

Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins - This was a great way to revisit a series that I loved. Awesome book!


Books Read in February:

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2) by Kaitlin Bevis


Books to-read March:

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis (I'm really liking this series!)

Ethereal by Addison Moore

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (This is one of my New Years Resolution Books!)



WRITING:

I've finished my chapter-by-chapter editing of the last three chapters of Unearthed After Sunset! Next I'll be reading through the entire book to make any final changes and then I'll be shipping it off for professional editing/proofreading. Read more about it here!

Also, I have this little voice in my head suggesting that I re-vamp all my book covers. I downloaded a newer version of PhotoShop than I'd been using and I may tinker that those.



BLOGGING:

I want to say hello and thank you to all my new followers! My blog has gotten a lot more traffic this month than last! You guys rock.

My Favorite Blog Posts in January:

Favorite Post Written: When to Ignore Your Outline - Outlining is an important part of the novel writing process, but your outline can also work against you. Part of why I liked writing this post is because I got to reference Harry Potter and the whole Harry/Hermione (I'm a firm believer that they are better suited for one another than Hermione and Ron).

Favorite Post Read: Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer on Kariny's Boox Frenzy. I read A LOT of reviews this month and added a ton of books to my TBR list, but there's one book that may get pulled up to the top of the list, and that's Heartless thanks to Kariny's review.



PERSONAL:

The kitchen remodel is done, and now that all my appliances are out of my dining room I have space to write again! Also, we had a few random, super-warm days (like 60 degrees) which is really uncommon for Wisconsin in February, and I can't wait for spring. Sadly, the temperature has dropped back into the 40's and it just snowed, again.


How was your February?

Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unearthed After Sunset by Lauryn April

Unearthed After Sunset

by Lauryn April

Giveaway ends November 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway