Friday, February 27, 2015

What makes a book REALLY good?

Believe it or not, that is an honest question. I am curious. I mean, I know what I like, but I am just one person. Much like food, music, politics, and religion, there are a number of different tastes and preferences out there in the wide world.

I have read a few books that feel like the author believes people have to use expletives as every other word in their dialog. Now, I'm no Puritan, but after a while, doesn't it get a little old? Sure, we are all grown-ups (technically, if not in our behavior), but don't you want something more than F-bombs every few words?

And what about stand alone novels versus a series. That is something I am really interested in as I set off on a stand-alone binge for the next few years as the proper part of the DEAD series wraps up.

I hear some folks say that they will read anything by an author once they like him or her. That is a VERY small number. If that were true, then some of my other books would release to much bigger numbers. (Yeah, I am talking about my That Ghoul Ava series.) It does about .5 percent of what my DEAD books do. That is DECIMAL FIVE if you missed the tiny dot or thought that you had a speck on the screen. And don't get me started on Dakota. If that book sells one or two a month, I am blown away.

So what do you look for? And does it have to be zombies or you pass it by? 

The next question is even more difficult. Where is the line crossed? I have already shared the fact that I have received hate mail and death threats due to a certain character in my DEAD series. Imagine if I had actually gone into any real detail?

For me, it has always been about feeling something. Good or bad, if you can give me true emotion, then you are hitting the jackpot. And I read a lot of stuff that is not zombie fiction. Right now, I am reading Kim Harrison's new book (actually, it is Kim Harrison as Dawn Cook--that is something else that I don't get, but maybe we can touch on that another day) and Janet Evanovich along with a pair of picture books, one about biking through China and the other about Paris. Are your tastes eclectic, or do you prefer to stick with one thing and ride it until you get burned out? And if so, how long does that usually take?

I know that I do go on binges of certain things, but I am finding that I like to spread out into other things and see what is out in the big, wide world. You never know what you might be missing.

Last little query. Do you push your friends to read what you read? Do you rant and rave about how great it is and then try to get them to come along for the ride? I ask this because that is exactly what I did the first time that I read The Stand. And my buddy and I spent the next three nights talking on walkie-talkies as we read late at night that summer before my freshman year. We always did a "What page are you on?" check in before we would get into a discussion about what was going on. That made it so much fun.

Oh well, back to work. Have a great weekend.


  1. In response:

    A good book is one that I can delve into and really get lost. I come to have feelings about the characters, and sometimes I laugh, cry, get angry, or start talking to the characters. It is a book I think of often, find inspiration in, or remember quotes from. My biggest peeve is when someone makes a movie or t.v. show from one of my favorite books, because something is always lost on the big screen.

    Expletives have their place, but I will not read anything that is juvenile in language use, including excessive swearing or unnecessary sexism, racism, hate speech. I want to be challenged to think critically even by my pleasure reading. I read, therefore I think.

    I have read some stand-alone novels, but I do not care for them. I want to know what happens to the characters to the very end. I also cannot stand it when a series I enjoy ends. I want my authors to continue a series unto their death, kind of like it seems Piers Anthony is attempting to do with Xanth. If I like an author I will try their stand-alone works, but inevitably I just become frustrated that there is not more. I highly recommend you avoid that stand-alone binge and keep going with series, but that is just my opinion 

    I will try other things by an author once I like them, if it is a similar genre. For instance, I discovered Zomblog, and loved it, so I tried Dead, and loved it. When I finish with Dead I plan to check out That Ghoul Ava because it looks interesting. I am not actually, or maybe was not actually, a Zombie genre fan. In fact Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory was the first zombie book I ever read, about 2 years ago, and I’ve never looked to see if this story was part of a series. It was good, but not my thing. Then my brother purchased Zomblog on my Audible account and between good narration and a unique story I was hooked. I will admit, I have not “read” any of Zomblog or Dead, I have listened to them instead (thank you for dropping the sound effect in Dead, it was horrible).

    What do I look for in a book? Fantasy or alt-fiction is my thing. Some of my favorite authors are Kim Harrison, Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Corriea, Jim Butcher, Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, Katherine Kerr, Kate Elliott, and Kevin Hearne. Notice, these are not “zombie authors”, at least I assume they were not undead when they wrote their various books. I have also read Kim Harrison as Dawn Cook, and Janet Evanovich. I will even admit to reading some Nora Roberts and John Sandford.

    My brother and I share my Audible account and discuss what we “read”/listen to. It is interesting because I am an almost 40 year old woman and he is a 19 year old man (boy? Male?) We have some good discussions, and sometimes disagree about things and mostly talk about how I think Harry Dresden should hook up with Molly and he is all about Murphey 

    Hope hearing an “old” lady’s perspective is helpful.

    1. Holy cow. Okay, It is a rare treat when a reply is longer than my actual post, but you gave me some excellent points to consider. Also...ouch on the old since this September is my big 5-0. Anyways, if you email me, I will hook you up with free audio copies of all four of the That Ghoul Ava books. I love my Audio "readers" just as much as I do my digital or physical copy ones.

    2. Sharon your post hit the nail right on the head! for the most part thanks for saving me a lot of time and misspellings:)
      I do like stand alone books. but like a series better and off shoot books like dead snapshot i am all for.
      i do try to pimp the books i listen to if i like them. i to share my wife's audible account.
      Sharon i just started that ghoul Ava books (thank you MR brown for the free copy's) have listen to book 1 and 1/3 of book 2 have to wait for time when wife and i are home together . to sum it up in a few words TIGHT LIKE A TIGER whit a bit of laughing (think this is mainly for 40+ crowd )

    3. I agree on the Ava humor age. I actually was inspired to hone her jokes based on 80s stuff while watching the TV show "Psyche".

    4. Thanks Graham :-) I am very excited to start Ava, and might put Dead # 5 on hold to start it this evening. Especially now that I see "Psyche" was part of the inspiration. I mean, honestly, who among us doesn't love some good 80's humor?!

  2. Wow! Sharon hit just about all of my points as well. I need to care about the characters and what happens to them. The plot needs to make sense. And it needs to be fast-paced. I get bored if the action isn't moving.

    I know some people don't like first person, but I don't care if it's first or third as long as I connect.

    I read a lot! .And fast. I can usually finish a book in a couple of days. I read horror, paranormal, suspense, romantic suspense, young adult, sci-fi, and urban fantasy. I love to read zombie stories, but just like with anything else -- I need a break from a particular type of story or a particular genre and I read something else and then I'm back. :-) I also enjoy humor in books.

    I do tell my friends about really great reads and I share books on social media that I've found entertaining.

    1. ANd can I just add (again) that if you have not read Rhonda's book Survival, then you are missing what I would say is my favorite read from last year. (Also, if you have read sure to leave a review and let her know how freaking amazing she is!)

    2. It is now on my "to read" list. Along with a few books from the review section here.

    3. Thank you so much, Todd! I appreciate your support. :-)

      Thanks for adding it to your list, Sharon. I hope you enjoy it! :-)

  3. I send an email with my answers. Why not post them here? Dunno. Email seemed like the thing to do at the time. ^-^

    1. And you said some great stuff that you should share with the others! You had a GREAT reply.

    2. And I swear I typed sent. Ugh, my brain is getting as bad as the cell spell.

    3. (Sent this in email earlier, but decided to share it here as well. I also added another thought or two that I missed earlier. Don't judge me! I didn't have my daily dose of chocolate yet!)

      I read anything that catches my attention. I also read things that I had no intentions of reading because it did NOT catch my attention. Confused? Well, it's kind of the principle of the old saying about books and covers. So out of about every five books I read I pick one that has absolutely no appeal to me. Sometimes it turns out awesome, sometimes it's a dud.

      I'm also an eclectic reader. I enjoy tons of different genres. I have several things that appeal more than others though. When I was a child, I enjoyed Werewolves over the other monster-mash types. For about four years out of every five books I read, two were Werewolves. Then I went into a faze where it wasn't just Werewolves. It was Were-anything.

      Then my tastes morphed into Romance. So two out of five was Romance. Those Romance novels bored me pretty quickly and that faze only lasted about two years. So it morphed into Horror-Romance. That lasted a few more years.

      For the next four years or so my favorites were Vampires. But it switched from being two out of five into three out of five.

      Once I hit my twenties, anything was fair game. I like the Zombie genre, a great deal. I also like any type of book that has a nice pulse. It's the story that draws me in. During all of those fazes I also read the HP series.

      Now, do not misunderstand, I read ridiculously absolutely absurd amounts of books per year. I am not a traditionalist that sticks straight to paper paged books. If I were, my house would be over flowed with books....again. As it is, I think I have five Kindles on my Amazon account. (I have a couple of thousand books in my Amazon cloud. I have some I haven't read yet, but that number is thinning daily. Seriously.)

      With that all being said, I also have my favorite authors. (They number in the double digits. You, TW Brown, can be happy to count yourself as one of them.) When I find an author or a book that I enjoy above the others at that time, I do tell others about it. I do try to get my friends to read them. And I do tell random strangers about it. (They should not ask me what I am reading if they did not want to know.)

      Out of the monsters, That Ghoul Ava is my current favorite. She has been since I found her. Maybe it is her A. D. H. D. tendencies that appeal to me. Maybe it's because of her snarky witty humor. Maybe I'm just odd. Who knows. I do know one day she will catch her right audience. And when she does, she's going to become really popular really fast. Till then I'm content to get people addicted one soul at a time.

      My line in the sand is complicated. There are times that line gets a little fuzzy from the wind, but it is still pretty much there. It's complicated though. Sometimes I might stumble into a scene in a book that repulses me to my soul. I enjoyed the rest of the book and can understand why a scene like that would be in there. Doesn't mean I like it. Doesn't mean I will read that scene again if I re-read the book.

      There are some books that are nothing but one giant wound to the soul to read. Those books I will not read. Ever. In my lifetime I have only destroyed one book willingly by fire. To this day I still cannot recall the title. The only thing I do really remember about it is that it horrified me completely from the very first page on. It is also the only book I never finished once I started. Weird, huh?

  4. I sent you a facebook message. It is easier to type out then to try and use my phone to do it so check your facebook or have your wife check the May December Publication facebook page (I dont know who runs it you or her) and congrats on the renewing of vows in Vegas

  5. I'd say, as a first step, you should get your book proofread by more than one person. Your first 6 or 7 books of the DEAD series had so many woeful spelling errors (to stop a car, you use your "brakes", not "breaks"; you even spelled a main character's name wrong on occasion), and even use sayings incorrectly (it is "I couldn't care less", not "I could care less").

    You also say that you welcome all comments and criticisms, but then say in your author introductions in your books that you don't care what people want. Time to make up your mind.

    1. I guess you can't please everybody.