How to avoid turning off your readers

Okay, confession time. I haven’t been writing for the past few weeks. Nothing but cold, wet weather and to top this misery up pops Daylight Savings Time. Yuck. Green sickly emoticon

But, today is sunny so, I’m back at my desk attempting to make some forward progress on my blog in addition to the 2 WIP sitting here.

You may ask what I’ve done all my time…

Ahem, Jean Cogdell BitmojiReading, reading and reading. Devouring books of all types. The good, great, bad and ugly. Some I’ve not been able to finish. Life is too short to spend hours reading junk. So, I may toss a couple of duds in search of a really good read. Found a few.

All this reading got me to thinking. Why do I reject a book after just a couple of chapters? Or even a few pages? And most of all, what can I do to avoid readers rejecting my stories? No writer wants them to run screaming from our books. Not unless we scare the pants off of them. LOL Nils Holgersson statute

Look what I found…


Ms. Hayward gave me a lot suggestions. Some I related to and some I need to chew on but all I want to avoid in my writing. Whether you write, children’s books, novels, flash or short stories these tips will help you tighten up your writing.

My takeaway…

  1. Head Hopping
    • While this may not bother some readers, it drives me nuts. I already striver to avoid this one.
  2. Missing Main Character
    • This happens when a writer fails to introduce the MC within the first few pages.
  3. Too Much Backstory
    • Okay, here is another of my reading pet peeves. Try not to put the reader to sleep with history.
  4. Floating Head Dialog
    • Ground the reader before throwing them in the middle of a conversation. If you must start in the middle of a conversation, make sure the reader understands who is talking.
  5. Action without Grounding.
    • We’ve all heard, start with action. But you still need to ground the reader or they won’t care what’s happening.
  6. The Recap
    • Easy going over past events. Instead of a character going over what led them to a place, show the reader what happened to avoid boring the reader.
  7. Distant Beginnings
    • In an effort to convey a sense of mystery a writer may leave too many details vague. Don’t. You need to let the reader connect to the character.
  8. Overdone Beginnings
    • Don’t start with a cliché. There are no new beginnings, but add something to yours and make it special. Hook the reader with something unique.

Be sure and click on Ms. Hayward’s article (here) and read everything she has to say about engaging your reader.

Which one of these 8 puts you off a book?

Do you have any suggestions to add to Ms. Hayward’s list?








Writers light your fireworks!

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July
English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fourth of July is a great time to set sparks flying and write a sizzling fireworks showstopper of your own.

Light up the sky, and stop those summer blahs from getting to you.



Your muse is gonna love the show.



Here is the website to help get those creative juices flowing and make this your hottest summer ever with a list of Fire Starters.


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Submit your story

Dust off your keyboard and submit all those great stories you slaved over all winter long.

This is May and it is National Short Story Month and the opportunities abound.

Let me know about any contests I’ve missed. There must be a zillion more out there.

Who are you submitting to? Leave me a comment and add your favorite to the list.

Get ready!

Get set!

Select and…

Good Luck!

Publications Accepting Submissions:

  1. Six Words Stories 
  2. Don’t Do It Ezine
  3. NANO short story 31 writing prompts 
  4. Storm Cellar Quarterly  Accepts submissions year round.

Contests Open for Submissions:

  1. Glimmer Train:  1st: $1,500 May 31, 2014 deadline
  2. NANO:  contest The sixth-annual NANO Prize $500, 300 words max, Deadline: September 1, 2014
  3. DECISIONS, DECISIONS This contest offers free critiques.
  4. 53 Press:
  5. Writing Maps Journal:  See website for details.
  6. Writers Village:  The top 50 contestants, whether they win a cash prize or not, will also gain a brief personal critique of their stories.
  7. Short Story Competition:   Cash prize Closing date: 31 July 2014
  8. Narrative Magazine: Cash prize Deadline June 15.
  9. Flavor Wire: Cash Prize.
  10. HHA short story: See website for more details.
  11. Jotters United  Deadline May 31, 2014 See website for details.
  12. Poetry:   Poetry Anthology –Submissions open until June 30, 2014
  13. TIFERET Writing Contest    $1200 in prizes, $15 fee per entry, June 1, 2014 is the Deadline.
  14. Flash Fiction:   Blue Earth Review  Flash Fiction Contest Deadline August 1, 2014, $500 1st place, 2nd-$250, 3rd-$100. Winners will be published in Fall issue. Other admirable submissions may be published. $2 fee Submit here
  15. Crazy Horse    Deadline July 31, 2014 $1000 prize,  All entries will be considered by our editors for publication, and the $15 entry fee includes a one-year subscription

 Please check websites for additional rules and details.

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Great Motivation! Thanks FFW

The holidays are over, the decorations are down and it’s time to get back in the groove. I couldn’t have ask for a better motivation to rev up my keyboard than the surprise that awaited me this morning in my inbox.  

Flash Fiction World-Volume 2 Anthology (Kindle edition) was released today with one of my short stories included. I’d no idea that Asleep No More  by J. M. Cogdell (that’s me) had made the cut and even been selected for publication. What a wonderful way to start 2013!

Click on the link above and check it out! A bargain at $4.47, remember to be sure and click the “like” button to give me as well as the other authors a boost it will be much appreciated. Everybody loves a thumbs up.

Book Description

Publication Date: January 4, 2013

Flash Fiction World (FFW) proudly presents its second collection of high quality flash fiction and short stories written by many authors from around the world, including amateur, professional and award winning authors. Each story has been selected for its high level of quality in terms of writing skill and pure reading enjoyment. There are seventy stories of up to 1000 words, in all genres, for the reader to enjoy.

This substantial book is for lovers of flash fiction and short stories. All genres are included – thrillers, romance, comedy, horror, fantasy, crime and more. If your taste is for fiction that leans more to the commercial side, with fast-driven plots and action all the way you won’t be disappointed. At the same time many of our stories are literary in style. They deal with the inner conflicts, fears and dramas that take place within the human being.

To take three examples, Flash Fire by R.A. Savary takes a no-holds barred look at the actions of two strangers, a man and a woman caught up unexpectedly in a restaurant nightmare. The Last Love by Varun Malhotra describes a day in the life of an Indian prostitute, and how her love for a client is doomed to fail. The darkly humorous Keeping the Magic Alive by Cath Barton takes us on an outing with a long-married couple. This wry tale looks at how expectations can lessen as years progress.

Flash Fiction World – Volume 2 is packed with stories about all the facets and dramas of life. Whatever your preference you will find plenty of reading material (over 30,000 words) in these pages to keep you happy and leave you fulfilled. I guarantee that you will enjoy a fiction feast and will be seeking more stories by many of the writers that you discover in these pages.

R.A.Savary, Varun Malhotra, Benjamin Davis, Sally Jenkins, JB Lacaden, Ines Franco Fatzinger, Melanie Taylor Herrera, Thomas Pitre, Matthew J. Metzger, Rob Harris, Mark Allerton, J.M. Cogdell, Doug Donnan, A Goddard, Cath Barton, Keith Davison, Ellie Stewart, Helen Lavall, M Hazzan, Wayne Scheer, Ines Bouhannani, Alex Robinson, Peter Lingard, Elliott Capon, Ciro DiLorenzo, Christian L. Berger, Michael A. Kechula, Natalie Bowers, Billie Louise Jones, John Mulligan, Joseph Kaval, Faith, Bill Rayburn, Kirsty May Grant, Merrick W. Allen, Emily Parry, Taryn, Brian Toller, Richard Hartwell, Unisse Chua, Tanya Keefe, Angela R Sargenti, Michelle Ann King, Alan Balkema, Theresa, Patricia Crandall, Shanon Creeley, Cathy Bryant, Olivia Sadie, Duke Alexander, Duncan Jones, Paula Kennedy, Candy Chilton, Sarah E. Alderman, Kerri Dominique, Chaitali Gawade, Danielle Parker, Sheila Armstrong, Stephen Terry, Christina Murphy.