Zzzzz-don’t let your reader fall asleep #AtoZChallenge

ZToday is the last day of the A to Z blogging challenge. Whew! I hope you have enjoyed the last 25 days of blog posts. And to wrap up our challenge with the letter Z, I have decided to write about what you don’t want to hear from your readers. Zzzzzzz. Yep – that is right. You don’t want them to fall asleep while reading!

reading asleepMany times advice is given about the beginning of your book and the fact that you need to make it interesting and draw the reader in. And this is so true. No one wants to spend the first 50 pages trying to get into the book. Some readers won’t make it past the first few lines or the first page if they aren’t intrigued.

I have already written before about the opening scenes of your novel but here are a few tips.

  • Don’t begin with dialogue. We don’t know who is speaking or why we should care.
  • Don’t start with a dream sequence. No one wants to read something only to find out it didn’t really happen. If you do use a dream (and I did in my first book Summoned), then make it obvious to the reader that they are reading a dream sequence.
  • Don’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. And don’t include too much back story into the beginning. Start with a pivotal moment in your character’s life.
  • Don’t go overboard with descriptive prose. Stick with some sort of action.

But beyond the opening scene, after you have already hooked the reader, you need them to stick around to the conclusion of your story.

So what keeps readers reading?

  • Characters that they like, care for or can relate to. Or they can perhaps not like the character but be intrigued enough to want to keep reading.
  • Varying the scenes also helps. You can’t have every scene riddled with tension or action. You need to vary the pace of the story and keep the reader guessing as to what comes next.

Some things that can turn off readers…

  • Poor grammar is always a turnoff. And I am not talking a few mistakes here. Books riddled with bad grammar are what give independent author a bad name.
  • Mismatched tone to the genre. If you promise a light-hearted romantic romp, then that is what you need to deliver.
  • Flat, one-dimensional characters are another big turnoff. Characters need flaws. They need to feel real. They must have problems.
  • Too many characters are also a problem. The reader will struggle to remember who everyone is and what they are doing. Especially if they are introduced at the beginning, the reader won’t know who is important.

Remember that you are competing with not just other books on the market, but all the other things such as movies, TV, the Internet, or even just enjoying being outside that clamor for reader attention. And once you hook your reader you need to keep them enthralled.

For other tips and things to look out for, check out this post.

X is for The X-Files #AtoZChallenge

XFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

Xfiles-med1Today the letter is X which is for the Fox series The X-files. This science fiction drama aired from September 1993 to May 2002. The series revolved around FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. They investigated cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the supernatural while Scully is the sceptic.

The TV show was wildly popular and the longest running science fiction series at the time. It also spawned two movies – The X-Files (1998) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008).

The series was awesome in the beginning but as with many series, the appeal and storyline declined as time went on. But I think the series and the movies are both worth checking out.

#NewRelease – PAY DAY by ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Richelle Denise

Just released on Monday, here is a look at the latest from ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Richelle Denise.

Pay Day: Book Synopsis

Pay DayOne little ticket is about to change their lives. . .

but is it for better or for worse?

When the office lotto pool lands the winning ticket for four friends, each will embark on journeys that change their lives forever.

After years of stringing her along, Terrance has reluctantly married his longtime girlfriend, Sheray. . . just days before winning the lottery. Now, that he’s a rich newlywed, the former playboy is dreaming of what life would’ve been like as a rich bachelor. When the money drives a wedge between them, Sheray leaves and Terrance learns the hard way to be careful what you wish for.

Angelique has been overweight since she was young. Despite her insecurities, her boyfriend, Marcus, gives her his love and affection without reservation. When she uses some of her winnings to get weight loss surgery, her new body and new attitude gets her some new attention, and could cost her the man she loves.

After twelve years of marriage, Janine’s husband announces that he’s leaving her for another woman. When she realizes he could possibly get a portion of her prize, she devises a scheme to keep it from him. But when her plan backfires, will she lose it all?

Raquelle’s life has just been turned upside down when she’s caught embezzling money, which she started doing to support her sick son. With a boss bent on making her pay, Raquelle is facing hard time and about to discover there are some things her lotto winnings can’t buy…or can it?

With a bitter former coworker lurking in the background, these friends are discovering their big payday will definitely change their lives…just not in the ways they expected.

About the Authors

ReShonda_Tate_Billingsley_publicityphotoblueReShonda Tate Billingsley is a former news reporter and anchor, who now writes books full-time.  She is the author of 35-plus books and a mother to three. Her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, has been made into a movie, directed by actress Regina King and produced by Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit, Royal Ties Productions and Bobcat Films. (Oh, and she did make my film debut as well! Look for her in the church scene!)Honored to have won the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Say Amen, Again and been nominated again in 2013. She is also the cofounder of Brown Girls Books, a boutique publishing company with over 20 authors. She is also a proud University of Texas at Austin graduate. Not only does she love writing, she love reading almost as much!

Richelle DeniseRichelle Denise is a contributor of the Dating Game Anthology.  The title of her story is called mixing business with pleasure.  She loves to entertain readers with her style of writing. She is passionate about the reading. You can generally find her spending time with her two sons.

You can purchase Pay Day on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

 

Parenting websites to check out #AtoZChallenge

WToday we are up to the letter W on the A to Z Challenge. As it is Monday, I typically cover a parenting issue and thought it might be a good idea to share some Parenting Websites for today’s post.

Now I don’t necessarily go to a lot of parenting website now as much as I did when the kids were younger but here are some good ones.

Kidshealth.org

This site has a section for kids/teens and adults. It covers everything about kids’ health and development. From pregnancy, to school and family life, to emotions and behaviors and more this site is a wealth of information. There is even a Q&A section that answers some of the most asked questions.

WebMD 

This is one of the sites I rountinely go to when I have a medical question. They do an excellent job of going over treatments, when to see the doctor and question to ask. It may not go in-depth into your topic but at least will give you an overview of whatever ailment you are looking up.

It also offers a symptom checker where you enter in your symptoms and it suggests possible ailments. Of course this is only to be used to help you decide what to do next. It is not meant to replace going to the doctor.

When I was pregnant and right after having my son, I really enjoyed the community forums on WebMD. It was a great place to connect with people in the same situation or get advice from other parents.

Parenting.com

Basically an online version of Parents magazine, this website has up-to-date articles on pretty much every parenting topic. You can find craft ideas and get advice on parenting issues all in one place.  Looking for fun ideas to do with the kids? Check out the Family Fun Magazine.

If you are looking for a site to print your own custom bingo card or awards and certificates. I suggest checking out DLTK. I used this site a lot when the kids were in preschool. It has great things for their preschool class parties.

Most of the websites I have bookmarked are no longer on parenting issues but on activities for the kids: the library, children’s museum, play centers, the zoo, and of course their school and school district’s websites.

If you have a parenting website that you think people should check out, please leave it in the comment section.

V is for Voltron: Defender of the Universe #AtoZChallenge

VFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

Today the letter is V, which is for the 80’s cartoon, Voltron: Defender of the Universe. (And how appropriate that it lands on a Saturday morning!)

voltornVoltron: Defenders of the Universe was an animated series about a group that piloted a giant super robot known as Voltron. It ran from September 1984 to November 1985. And as I have come to learn by talking to my husband who remembers this cartoon far better than I do, there were two different versions of this cartoon.

The first season featured the Lion Force Voltron where the five young pilots commanded five robot lions that formed Voltron. The second season changed the storyline considerably. There were then three groups of five divided into the Sea Team, The Land Team and the Air team. These 15 vehicles then could turn into Voltron.

dungeons-dragons-cartoon-movie-adaptationHonestly, I only have vague recollections of this show from the first season. But my husband has fond memories of it. Now I am kind of wishing I had picked the cartoon Dungeons & Dragons for my letter D instead of Dukes of Hazzard. Now that was a cartoon I remember watching and my kids even love watching now.

U is for The Universe #AtoZChallenge

UFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

universeToday the letter is U, which is the History Channel’s The Universe. (Yes, both U and V were a bit of a struggle.) Actually, this isn’t a show I typically watch but my husband does so I have caught parts of several episodes.

The Universe debuted in May 2007 and is now on its 8th season. This is a documentary-style show that uses computer-generated images of astronomical objects in the universe. It is filled with interviews of experts as they talk about space exploration and the solar system.  Topics include extraterrestrials, the chances of an asteroid ending life on Earth, the theory of dark matter, and many other space or science-related topics.

The format is really easy to follow, and they explain everything in pretty simple terms. Now it isn’t my type of show to watch, but I have sat down and watched a few segments with my husband and found it quite fascinating. If you are into science or space (or perhaps a science fiction author), it is something worth checking out.