Quit or continue: What to do if you don’t like the book you’re reading

so many books

At the beginning of this month, I joined thousands of readers to read Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick of the month. From what I could tell, Reese chooses a lot of fun novels that her reader fans love reading together. I thought it would be fun to turn my passion for reading into one that includes community, so I bought the February pick and started reading. It started out well enough, introducing all the characters and presenting a few issues that would become the theme of the book. But when I reached the middle of the book, I realized it wasn’t going to get any better. The conversations were too cute. The issues all felt fabricated. And it seemed like the author was just throwing things in to give the story diversity, but still lacked originality or depth. I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, since a glance at the comments on Reese’s Instagram revealed a lot of the same issues I was having with this book.

I felt cheated. I really wanted to read a book I could discuss with others who felt the same kind of passion I did. But more than that, I’m on a mission to read 100 books this year. This book had already taken 4 days of my reading time, and I was only 50% of the way through. To read 100 books in a year, my average reading time needs to be 3 days per book (I said “average.” Some books I breeze through—*hello, romance*—so that I have time to savor deeper stories). I was in a conundrum. If I finished this book, I would use up more of my precious reading time on a book I didn’t love. If I put it down and started over, that was 4 reading days wasted on a book I couldn’t count toward my goal.

Side note: I’m not naming the book, even though a quick search will tell you what book it is. My feelings are my own, and I don’t want to include my thoughts on this book to an internet search of the book. I recognize the hard work of any author who writes a book, regardless of whether I liked it or not. Her traditional publisher thought this book was good enough to be published and promoted. I am just the voice of one reader, and there are plenty of readers who felt differently and love the book.

I put this dilemma out there to those who follow me on Facebook and Instagram, and here’s what some people said:

  • I used to always finish every book I started, but there are so many books I want to read and so little time to do it in.
  • Stop reading it for a while, go back, read a chapter. If I can get that far, it is very difficult to stop. Each circumstance or book is unique.
  • Sad to say I quit. It’s tough to continue something that isn’t grasping your attention.
  • I used to keep going. These days I am just too busy to spend my life on something that I don’t find beneficial. I mean, if I don’t have another book at hand, I keep going though, because reading.
  • Life is too short and there are too many books to waste another minute!
  • I very rarely quit. Sometimes it pays off at the end and sometimes I’m just glad it’s over.
  • Far too many GREAT books to struggle through weak ones.
  • I actually POSTPONE. Sometimes, a really great book just needs a particular mindset and I may not have it when I first read it. I’ve had a number of books that I just couldn’t get into when I first attempted and weeks/months/years later have picked up and thoroughly enjoyed. There are, of course, others that I just couldn’t stand so I simply stopped.
  • In the same boat and still I keep going even though I am not remembering or even caring about what I’m reading. It’s all about powering thru.
  • I started skimming it, reading a sentence here and there to get the flavor of the story or topic.

As you can see, most of these commenters think you should quit if a book isn’t grasping you the way you should. In the end, I powered through the book to reach the end. My feelings over my reading investment overruled my desire to give up on the book. I felt slightly better having reached the conclusion, though no less frustrated with the lacking depth of the story.

However, I have come to the realization that if I truly don’t like a book, the best thing I can do is put it down and start another. Like one person wrote, I can always pick it up later when I’m in the space to read it. Like another person wrote, there are too many great books out there to struggle with one I don’t find that great.

My friend Becky, who blogs for The Page Sage and The Bookworm, advises readers to give books to page 100 to decide whether a book is good or not. If it’s not, put it down and start another. “If you’re not enjoying it, don’t force yourself to finish it,” she says. “Reading is a time to unwind in another world for a while, not a time to suffer through something.”

How about you? What do you do if you don’t enjoy the book you’re reading? And what book would you absolutely recommend everyone read?


Goodreads yanks giveaways from small-time authors, and I’m mad

GoodreadsWhen I first became an author, one of the most vital resources I found to get my books out there and connect with readers was Goodreads. I loved that you could join or create groups to connect with other readers who liked the same kinds of books, find new books through friend suggestions, review books, and so on. I found this platform awesome for book lovers, and I made a lot of friends there.

One of my favorite features on Goodreads was the giveaway section. As a reader, I could enter giveaways with hopes to win (haven’t yet), or just discover new reads. I’ve even bought several of the books I’ve entered to win.

But this section was even more valuable to me as an author. It was my most valuable asset to get my book in front of other people who may not have known about it. I used it to encourage people to put it on their “To Read” list, to test out new descriptions, to gauge how well my books do compared to each other (when I did simultaneous giveaways), and so on. Plus, it just feels good to give your book away to someone who wants it. It was a fabulous marketing tool, and I utilized it with every book launch. Plus, those people who shelved my books (which are in the thousands for some of my titles) are notified whenever I publish a new book. The Goodreads Giveaway was the perfect way to spread the word about my books.

That all changed this year. In January, Goodreads did away with free giveaways and now charges a minimum of $119 for each giveaway. As a small-time author, I was already feeling the pinch giving my books away, plus paying shipping and handling. Each free book runs me around $15, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but each book adds up when you’re still struggling to turn a profit. So to add $119 onto this feels like a slap in the face, and a clear message to those of us who aren’t making thousands off our books – we’re not wanted.

I get it. Goodreads is a business, and an Amazon-owned business, at that. The service they provided for authors with these giveaways was incredibly valuable, and it was quite generous that we could do it for free for as long as we’d been allowed. However, to go from $0 to $119 is a bit high, especially since I don’t believe the outcome will be profitable. I mean, I’ve been disappointed before by giving my money to Goodreads ads. Just look at their poor excuse for advertising. Spend all you want on those little tiny self-serve ads; if you’re not shelling out major bucks for banner ads, you might as well give Goodreads your wallet for nothing and call it a day.

So it looks like my Goodreads giveaway days are over. However, I am due for another giveaway, and would love your suggestions. If you’re an author, what have been some of your favorite ways to give your books away to readers? If you’re a reader, what kind of contest would you like to see? Your answer could result in a new contest, and you’ll get a mention!

P.S. J. L. Greger guest-blogged about this topic on Thonie Hevron’s blog, “Just the Facts, Ma’am,” and offered a few alternative contest ideas. Check it out here.

What I did in 2015

In 2015:

– I wrote 3 books

– I published 1 book

– I read 21 books

– I grew stronger in my faith

– I grew deeper in love with my husband

– I became an auntie (due in 2016!)

– I became a homeowner 😊

– I found peace at work

– I found peace with my age (hello, 50 shades of sparkling grey)

– My firstborn became a driver and a high school senior 😳

– My lastborn became a high school freshman 😳

– I gained some weight

– I gained some perspective

– I enjoyed a really, really great year.

I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for me. ❤️

I leave you with this video of the ocean surrounding the Point Reyes lighthouse, where my husband and I trekked down 308 stars to visit, then back up those stairs to leave. Wow, my legs were wobbly! But it was worth it. I mean, look at the view! Plus, there were tons of whales spouting in the water. It was a great way to end the year. 

Forever Thirteen giveaway – last chance!

4Ever13 Giveaway copy

Have you entered my Rafflecopter giveaway yet? You could win an advance copy of Forever Thirteen, as well as a $20 gift card to Starbucks, and a copy of the first book in the series, A Symphony of Cicadas. But if you wait to enter, you may miss your chance. I’m picking winners on Monday, March 3. So go enter today!

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Forever Thirteen cover reveal!

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been working closely with my friend, Liz Carrasco, to create a cover that would perfectly embody what Forever Thirteen is all about. She read the story, and I gave her a vision of what I hoped the cover would look like. Well, she took that vision, and she created something much better than I ever could have imagined. You all have Liz to thank for this book being born (she’s also the one that suggested a sequel to A Symphony of Cicadas was in order), and for the beautiful cover it will have.

Are you ready?

Forever Thirteen

Isn’t it gorgeous??? You can see what the back cover looks like over at my Facebook fan page. You can also enter for a chance to win a copy (and more) in my Rafflecopter giveaway.

Forever Thirteen is a Young Adult Fantasy novel about a boy in the afterlife seeking to save his best friend in life from self-destruction, will be available at Amazon and a few other online outlets on March 15, 2014. It is the follow-up story to my first novel, A Symphony of Cicadas. Read more about it HERE.

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How to launch a book

A year ago, I was gearing up for the release of “A Symphony of Cicadas.” And the anticipation to actually publish the book was killing me. In fact, my patience was so thin, I published it a week before the date I announced it would be released.

Here was my official announcement. Isn’t that newbie author just adorable (and so naive)?

The truth was, there was no reason for me to wait that extra week. Besides my friends and family, no one else really knew anything about my book at all, or that this really awesome story was about to be revealed to the world. I don’t fault myself, I just didn’t know how to get the word out there.

A year later, and I’m still learning that process. However, this past year I’ve had a few new ways to market my book come to my attention. And because of this, I have actually created a list of things to do from now until the day the book publishes. With a lot of determination (and a little luck), my book should be properly launched by the time March 15th gets here.

For those of you who are curious about my timeline (or if you’re an author looking for an example of what another author might be doing as they prepare for their book release), here’s my proposed calendar for the next month or so. I hope I don’t take too much of the mystique out of my process by divulging all this, lol! The dates are when I’d like each task to be done by. As you can see, I’m early with my blogging schedule. 🙂  (Note: this list will likely change as I remember other things I’ve forgotten to add)

Forever Thirteen to-do list

Feb 1 – Redesign newsletter
Feb 3 – Blog – How to Launch a Book
Feb 3 – Write Feb 6 newsletter
Feb 3 – Finalize cover
Feb 3 – Finalize back
Feb 5 – Upload to Goodreads
Feb 5 – Create Goodreads giveaway
Feb 8 – Create postcards
Feb 9 – Press Release
Feb 9 – Blog
Feb 10 – Write Feb 13 newsletter
Feb 10 – Write acknowledgements, about the author
Feb 14 – Buy $20 Starbucks card
Feb 15 – Re-format edited book
Feb 15 – Order ARCs (advance reader copies) for beta readers, contest winners
Feb 15 – Create ePub, Mobi files of book
Feb 15 – Upload to Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Kobo
Feb 15 – Advance readers?
Feb 15 – Book blog tour (proposed March 24-28)
Feb 16 – Blog
Feb 17 – Write Feb 20 newsletter
Feb 17 – Create blog book page
Feb 23 – Blog
Feb 24 – Write Feb 27 newsletter
Feb 25 – Create blog banner
Feb 25 – Create FB banner
Mar 2 – Blog
Mar 3 – Pick Rafflecopter winner, send out ARC
Mar 3 – Write Mar 6 newsletter
Mar 9 – Contact local bookstore about release party
Mar 9 – Blog
Mar 10 – Write Mar 13 newsletter (reminder about release day, links to sneak peeks)
Mar 10 – Write Mar 15 newsletter (release day!)
Mar 15 – Publish day!
Mar 15 – Add to Amazon FB store
Mar 15 – Announce on FB, Twitter, blog
Mar 16 – Relish in the glory of another published novel. You did it! 🙂
Mar 22 – Blog – Announce blog tour stops
Mar 24-28 – Reblog tour
April – Bookstore release party

P.S. If you’re an author, and there are things you’ve done that you swear by as you prepare for your book’s release, please help an author out (me and anyone reading this) by leaving your tips in the comments. Thank you!

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December book news

I just sent out my 2nd newsletter today. Didn’t get it? That means you’re not on my mailing list!  Click on the “Subscribe to Newsletter” link above to get on my mailing list and not miss anything.

Here’s what was sent out today:


Happy December! I hope everything is going smooth as you gear up for the holidays. Here’s what’s happening in my world…

At the beginning of last month, I was just starting on an idea I had for a novel, and gearing up for a month of writing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Fast forward 30 days, and I had a 71,500 word rough draft of a novel staring back at me. I did it! I won NaNoWriMo for the 4th year in a row!

If you’re not sure what NaNoWriMo is, it’s basically a whole month dedicated to writing at least 50,000 words (because that’s how many words a small novel would have) to create a novel. It’s a great way for aspiring novelists to write their very first novel, and maybe even get it published. And it’s always held in November because, well, it’s a cozy month for writing just before the crazy holiday madness of December.

Some of you might remember when I took part in NaNoWriMo last year. I was just coming off the heels of my wedding, and ready to add 50,000 words to a work I had started in the summertime (and had to put down because weddings have a funny way of ruling your life). At the end of last year’s NaNoWriMo, I had a full-length novel that held a lot of promise, and that I was really proud of. I spent the next few months editing it, designing a cover, and working with an editor to clean it up. And in March of 2013, I published my very first novel, titled A Symphony of Cicadas.

That is why I love NaNoWriMo so much – it creates possibilities for those of us who have always dreamed of writing a novel, and even coming up with something worth sharing with others.

This latest book I just finished for NaNoWriMo will sit on the backburner for a while since I have a few projects I am working on now – namely, the follow-up novel to A Symphony of Cicadas, titled Forever Thirteen. I’ve begun the second round of edits, and it should be ready for my editor’s hands come January. It’s an understatement to say I’m super excited about this book!

A few other things worth sharing:

– I have added a discussion guide and the first chapter of Forever Thirteen to A Symphony of Cicadas. If you have a book club, A Symphony of Cicadas is a great book to discuss in your group.

– I have lowered the price of my poetry book, Everything I Am Not Saying, (print) to $15.95 for the month of December (eBook is $3.99). It kills me to have to charge even that much for it, but necessary because of the printing costs for a full-color book. And to keep it this low, I had to take it off sale everywhere but Amazon (oh, how they rule the world!). But it’s worth it, if it allows you to purchase the print version for gifts, or even for yourself. Amazon has even reduced it a tiny bit more, so make sure you take advantage of the price before it goes back up!

– Enter to win a free autographed copy of Everything I Am Not Saying at Goodreads by CLICKING HERE. Contest ends December 8.

My birthday is on Saturday, Dec. 7th. That’s tomorrow! Come on over to my Facebook Fan Page and send me a birthday greeting. And if you really want to shower me with some love, (prepare for shameless plug…) buy one of my books or share news of my books with your friends. You can find them on Amazon at amazon.com/author/crissilangwell, or on my website at crissilangwell.com.

Before I close, I want to thank you for all the support you have given me toward my writing and my books. I began this journey with a love of writing, and a lot of hope as I entered the publishing world. It’s definitely been a time of ups and downs. But when I think about all of you who have stood behind me and cheered me on, who know the stories I’ve written and are eager to share them with your friends, my gratitude meter overflows. That’s what keeps my dream alive – your eagerness to share the news about any of my books with people you know so that they might read it too. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Have a wonderful rest of your December, and a happy holiday season!

Love Crissi

New poetry book released!


Everything I Am Not Saying, my book of poetry, is now available for sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! With this book, I completely recommend getting the print version because, in my personal opinion, it’s a work of art. 🙂 But the eBook is a nice, less expensive way to read it, as well. From now until November 16th, I am keeping the price of the eBook at $2.99 (on Amazon). After that, it is moving to $4.99 on all platforms.

You can buy it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Other book platforms to come soon (like Kobo, iBooks, etc).

Keep up on all news of this book at the book’s page HERE, as well as by subscribing to my mailing list to be informed of any deals, book readings, and more.

And if you buy this book (and I hope you do!), please leave a review at the site where you bought it, as well as at Goodreads. Your review helps other potential readers decide whether this book is worth buying.

Thank you all for your support! I couldn’t keep doing this without you!