If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our May author interviews: Marla Cooper-5/3, Rhys Bowen-5/10, Cindy Brown-5/17, Martha Reed-5/24, Sherry Harris--5/31.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in May--Paty Jager-5/6 and Maren Anderson-5/13. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 5/20--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 5/27--Kait Carson. E. B. Davis blogs this month on 5/30.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Would You Buy This?


Before I started revising my novel, I considered myself as a consumer. After all, I buy lots of books. What attracted me to the books I’ve bought? What caused me to reject buying a book? I developed quite a list, which I share with you. Keep in mind that most of my list is subjective.

Pros                                                                            

A fun or intriguing book hook-It can be anything as long as it catches my interest. When I find a page turner, I’m in heaven. (Lisa Lutz or Nancy Atherton)

Topic of Interest-It could be a hobby, a main character’s career, history or other academic puzzle, or a situation. (Winspear or Spencer-Fleming)

Setting-Beach anywhere or cozy town usually in New England, Mid-Atlantic, South or in anywhere in England.


Compelling characters- Those characters with moral issues, who think about themselves in the context of their world and situations, I find interesting. They try to figure out what is going on around them and who they encounter. When there are two characters trying to figure it out together, it’s even better.

Concise language-Think Robert Parker’s dialog, Robert Crais’s observations or Ann B. Ross’s conclusions. Yes, I like various subgenres within mystery.

Well plotted and realistic-Plots must flow with logic and be well researched. Even paranormal or supernatural plots must be grounded in reality for the plot to work. If the bad guy’s identified in a crystal ball where’s the mystery and sleuthing?

Fool me or charm me-Too often I figure out plots on page five. But if the story charms me, I may not care.

The Cover-I’ll admit it. I can be suckered into buying a book if the cover is awesome. Most of the time, the artist knows the book’s plot when they create a cover. Not always, but I hope that if the cover artist is good, the author will be too.

Cons

Too many hooks-God love Donald Maas, but there is such a thing as too many hooks. When each chapter ends with a hook, I get bothered. Yes, I want a reason to turn the page and read the next chapter, but if the author feels obligated to end every chapter with a trumped up spicy tidbit, I get annoyed.

Unappealing topic-For me, spy and government agency books hold no favor (perhaps because I’ve worked with government agencies). When a character flies off somewhere, I’m wondering how they substantiated the expense, how many forms they filled out and wonder why the character isn’t eating fast food because on government per diem, that’s all they’ll be able to afford. Also—reality TV shows—don’t watch them, don’t read them.

Setting-Desert anywhere holds no interest for me—I’m a fish out of water—or a foreign country such as the Middle East, Africa or South America—sorry, aside from The Kite Runner, those areas hold little appeal.

Trendy Characters-Ones, who talk like they are texting, use the latest slang and are very sure of themselves. I wouldn’t want them for friends so why would I spend hours reading about them.

Flowery Language-Using too many adjectives to describe something in too much detail, which I skim. I also hate when an author uses so many Collegiate Dictionary words that I must look up, taking me out of the story.

Magical thinking-I read a book that demonstrated the author’s laziness. Instead of showing the reader how the main character came by her listening devices, she told us that the main character broke into an apartment and stole them. Oh, how convenient. Had she shown this scene, I’m sure she would have had massive revisions. I’m also not happy when real historical characters are used and the author changes their well-documented life. Sorry, I have a problem with changing reality.

I hope in revising my book, I don’t end up with a book that falls into my “Con” list. What compels you to buy a book?


33 comments:

susan furlong-bolliger said...

Great post, Elaine! The first thing that draws me to the book is the cover--if it's a cozy, I want it to look like a cozy. Also, I prefer a strong female protagonist and a mystery with an interesting premise. I also love a twist ending ... something that sticks with me long after the last page.

E. B. Davis said...

You added elements I missed, Susan. A strong protagonist is a must, but I don't absolutely need the protagonist to be female. Wouldn't it be fun to read a cozy that had a male protagonist?

Jon Katz who doesn't seem to write mystery anymore, wrote a cozy series for a while. His MC got caught in the Wall Street fallout and he becomes a PI working out of his home while being Mr. Mom. It was a hoot, and I wish he'd continued the series.

Twist endings are hard to write in novels. I see more of it in shorts, but I like them if the author can pull it off.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I only read 75-100 books a year, which includes about 1/3 non-fiction. I have favorite authors that I continue to read, so when I am picking up a new author, I am picky.

If the story does not strike me early on as interesting or if I find an egregious grammar error or typo in the first few pages, the author has lost the opportunity to have me read the rest.

However, I don't care whether the protagonist is male or female, nor do I care about the locale as long as I can fall into the story.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Interesting is part of that whole subjective thing that authors will never be able to change. Writers whose setting is in the Southwest won't appeal to me, but that's not to say their books are good. We're I to chose, reading about that area just isn't my thing. So when it comes to buying due to "interest," no author will please everyone.

But, I think you may be a bit tough on typos. The author often has no control over something in the publisher's domain. As aggravating as typos are, I'm sure they vex the authors too. Grammar is another matter. When I've noticed bad grammar, I think, who edited this? Was it edited at all? Ultimately on grammar, I blame the author. But I still think that (especially with traditional press) editing is part of the publishing process. When I see traditionally published books with bad grammar, I think--the author was ripped off.

Pauline Alldred said...

I don't rush out and buy books on best-seller lists but I do listen to the opinions of my friends. Many of them are voracious readers who are looking for something new and mentally as well as emotionally satisfying.

I'm not sure a grammar error or a typo in the first few pages means such errors will show up everywhere in the story.

And I don't care about the sex of the main character. It's what they do and how they think that counts.

Polly said...

A good cover is always a plus but I know most of the time its selection is out of the realm of the author. For me, I keep going back to authors who write compelling and complicated characters, think Crais's Joe Pike, Slaughter's Will Trent, and Silva's Daniel Alon. I'm not a cozy reader, so right away I know I won't care for that kind of book. I prefer dark to light, cops and intrigue to craft-type stories. I can overlook a lot if the story grabs me and the H/h is/are interesting.

E. B. Davis said...

Pauline, I too ask friends for book recommendations. But, I screen their responses because I know them. For example, a friend of mine favors books that feature dysfunctional families. I'm not always in the mood for that type of book, so I may put it on a future book list for when I'm in that mood.

Although there are exceptions, I'm not one to buy best sellers either. Shades of Gray doesn't interest me, but again, that's subjective.

E. B. Davis said...

Polly, What elements of cozies turn you off?

I think the appeal of subgenres fulfills some emotional need of the reader. In cozies, I think people want continuity, order and security. They want to know that good will always be stronger that evil. But those who like thrillers, are vicarious thrill-seekers like wanting an emotional challenge to overcome. I see readers of thrillers as those who would ride on roller coasters. Would you agree with that?

Polly said...

Elaine, I NEVER ride roller coasters and am not a thrill-seeker. I live for a good page-turning thriller, but I like a good well-drawn mystery, though I admit I prefer them on the dark side.

As to what elements of cozies turn me off--I think it's the cutesy ones I find most unappealing. I also find it takes great skill to write an amateur sleuth who isn't invasive and annoying. Since I mentioned I prefer my characters complicated, you can see that cozies wouldn't be for me. Nothing against them. They sell well because people like them for the reasons you mentioned. They're just not my cup of tea. I'm sure my books wouldn't appeal to cozy lovers, so we're even.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Good, thoughtful post, Elaine!

I don't know that I agree with your categorization of cozy readers versus thrillers. What about those of us--and we're numerous--who like both?

For a good cozy with a male protagonist, you might try G.M. Malliet's new series. Wicked Autumn is the start of a cozy series with a male protagonist who's a former MI5 agent turned vicar.

Covers are usually out of the hands of authors. I was lucky. My publisher gave me and my agent lots of input into EVERY LAST SECRET's beautiful cover, and they're doing the same with EVERY BROKEN TRUST. I'm grateful for that because I've heard from other (even bestselling) authors that they don't get that kind of consideration.

Grammar and typos are a problem, but often out of the author's control. My publisher, St. Martin's/Minotaur, is very good about painstaking copy-editing and proofreading. Still, the last name of one of my writing group members was slightly misspelled in the acknowledgements in the typesetting and, though I tried, it somehow never got fixed.

I'm like Polly. I want compelling, complicated characters. That's my first criteria.

Patg said...

The book has to concern something I find interesting. Needless to say backcover blurbs help a lot in rejections. Mystery is my main interest, with traditional being my favorite. Don't want much romance, do want twists and turns and a satisfying ending where I can go back and discover the neat clues the author dropped.
Agree with most of your cons. Not a thriller lover especially political, male macho violence fests where the usually drunk protag has sex with anything that isn't nailed down.
Areas of the world are iffy as an incentive. I've traveled too much and a lot of it as a 'class' in my career as a travel agent, so I don't think of any place as exotic. And there is much of the world I'd never want to go to.
I find paranormal mysteries intersting, but not if they are too cozy.
Nice topic.
Patg

E. B. Davis said...

LOL! Polly, I like various subgenries. I HATE roller coasters. So, perhaps that was a spurious conclusion on my part. I think there is room for all subgenres, which is the beauty writing and readership. But, I also think that page-turners can occur in every subgenre, not just thrillers.

Polly said...

Elaine, you're right. A page-turner doesn't have to be a thriller. I just read--actually listened to--The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, and loved it. I'm sure it was because the lead character was very damaged, a specialty of mine in reading choices. What we want as readers is a good story that holds our interest. That is not genre specific. Great post, by the way, as evidenced by the thoughtful responses of your posters.

E. B. Davis said...

Schizoid, Linda? Just kidding. I like many genres. But I admit to sometimes feeling out of sorts and needing a cozy read to make the world safe again. When I'm not feeling that way, romantic mystery, thriller or supernatural/paranormal may strike me.

I think I have read one or two of G.M Malliet's books and like them (she's a Chesapeake Guppy).

Can't wait to read your second book, Linda--do you have a release date?

VR Barkowski said...

Wonderful post, Elaine.

Like Polly, I'm not a cozy reader. I prefer edgier tales, morally challenged characters, heavy on the psychological. Nor am I a fan of series, regardless of genre. Doesn't matter how well written the cozy, procedural, or thriller series, I'm seldom surprised after the first two or three books. Example: Steve Hamilton's stand alone The Lock Artist was probably the finest mystery I read last year, but his Alex McKnight series, equally well written, holds zero interest for me.

My preference is for male protags, but I read both. Female protags, no matter how strong, resourceful, and witty, always seem to carry a wearying matched set of baggage—even my own female protagonists—how embarrassing is that? Maybe this reflects reality, but I don't want to read about it.

E. B. Davis said...

Pat--I didn't understand what you meant by backcover blurbs helping rejection? Do they help you choose or hinder?

Sue Ann Jaffarian has a new paranormal series out that isn't sweet. She's such a good writer. I've enjoyed her books enormously. I may even break down and buy her elevated Kindle prices. (set my the publisher) How do they hope to compete?

VR Barkowski said...

Oops, sorry I didn't see your post before posting mine, Polly. The Lock Artist: exactly!

E. B. Davis said...

OH--I'm so sorry, VR. I can't write what I don't want to read. But with Polly and your recommendation, I'll have to read The Lock Artist. I love it when there is a consensus about a book. I too like morally challenged characters. Legal and moral justice are two of my favorite themes, but legal justice is usually flawed. I guess that's why I'm writing a supernatural mystery. Can't go wrong with moral justice when the judge isn't human.

Warren Bull said...

In real estate the first three considerations are location, location and location. For me what immediately sells a book is character, character and character. I don't have to like the main character, Gregory House, MD is a jerk, but I have to be interested in what happens to the character.

PS Back cover blurbs are usually brief reviews of the book by other authors. They are meant to be positive but if I found one stating something like "the heroine wades through bloody body parts..." that might convince me not to buy the book.

E. B. Davis said...

I agree that characters sell the book. But I also like interesting situation too, Warren. Of course, the most interesting of situations doesn't keep readers if the characters don't meet or exceed my expectations or better surprise me in a good way.

I usually don't read the blurbs. No one will post a bad blurb. But if the blurb is superlative, then I know that the writer 1. actually read the book and 2. liked it. Reason number 1 is why I don't read the blurbs. Sometimes you can just tell the blurb is gratuitous.

Gloria Alden said...

Fascinating topic, E.B. From belonging to two book clubs, I often read books I wouldn't choose, and just as often find much to like about them. There is almost never a total consensus about any book we read, but on a rare occasion, everyone in the club loves the book.

I write cozies/traditional and I think the characters can have depth to them. I want a good plot and interesting characters in the books I read. Setting doesn't matter if I feel the author knows the place they're writing about. If it doesn't ring true, I get annoyed and usually won't read any more of their books.

Like you, EB, I liked The Kite Runner, but for awhile it seemed the book clubs were picking a lot of books that took place in Afghanistan or Pakistan showing the horrid way women are treated. I don't ever one to read another book like that, to tell the truth.

As a rule I don't like thrillers, either, but I have read a few I've enjoyed. Paranormal with ghosts are sometimes fun, but spare me the vampire books.

E. B. Davis said...

When I started my manuscript, I thought I was writing a a paranormal mystery. What I found out was that anything dealing with ghosts and angels was considered "supernatural" and the vampires, werewolves etc. were considered paranormal Now how's that for sub-sub-genre!

I've read my fair share of thrillers. They're not my first choice, but it depends on the tone of the thriller. Heather Graham writes thrillers with romantic and cozy overtones, so hers with her female protagonists I can enjoy.

I read a book set in the Outer Banks, that no only changed the geography, but treated the Outer Banks as if it were Timbuktu. No fresh produce in the winter. That got me angry. The Food Lion on the Outer Banks stocks the same stuff they stock in VA! Won't read that author again--they must have visited once.

As to all the books depicting horrid treatment of women--I'm glad they are being written and appreciate them. But, they aren't my first choice in entertainment. To me, they are educational.

Maybe that's why I'm not in a book club, Gloria. I want to read my own choices not a compromise that an entire group wants to read. However, my SinC Chesapeake Chapter read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which I wouldn't have read otherwise--and I'm so glad I did. Good read!

James S. Dorr said...

Great post! For me, I can be attracted to exotic locales but they have to be integral to the story, not just there for color, and the author has to give me a feel for the location (not just a bare bones description) as well as, ideally, showing me something I didn't know before. Ultimately though I agree with those who say its character that will sell the book--or at least keep me reading it.

E. B. Davis said...

Interesting locale compels, but I also like learning history through novels. Like in The Kite Runner, I got a sense of the locale, but I also learned a bit about the economic and political history of the place. But yes, if the characters are compelling, I can stomach a lousy setting and a mediocre plot. Thanks for commenting!

Anita Page said...

Compelling characters and the quality of the writing come first.

I don't like thrillers because they tend to be plot-driven. I buy mostly police procedurals,although I have to say I'm getting a little tired of depressed, divorced cops who are recovering alcoholics. John Harvey and Hakan Nesser are two of my favorite writers in this subgenre.

Anita Page said...

Compelling characters and the quality of the writing come first.

I buy mostly police procedurals, though I'm getting a bit tired of depressed divorce cops who are recovering alcoholics. John Harvey and Hakan Nesser are two of my favorite writers in this subgenre.

E. B. Davis said...

Every genre has its cliches, like the divorced middle-age alcoholic detective. For a while every chik lit book I read had a female MC, whose BFF was a gay guy. Then in the cozy genre, every MC had a pet. In the paranormal realm, it's always a regular female teamed with a vampire king with a good guy shape-shifter side-kick. If you think about it, you have to laugh. Thanks for dropping by Anita. I have your book on my list!

Alyx Morgan said...

I tend to stick with authors whose work I've enjoyed before. There have been one or two instances where someone recommends a book that I wind up enjoying, but not too often...guess I'm a creature of habit.

I will say that I LOVE fast-paced books. It bugs me no end when a book takes chapters to build up the suspense.

I also prefer that a story maintain one point of view. When an author starts out talking about "Jane Doe," & then in chapters 3, 5, 8, 10, etc switches to talking about "John Smith," I get confused (at least the first time that happens), & get turned immediately off from the book. Regardless of how well it may be written after that, I've already dismissed the book in my mind, because the author has already lost me every time they make that switch.

E. B. Davis said...

Everyone's different Alyx. I like multiple POVs, not head-hopping, but when the switch is done by chapter. I think that it increases the pace because the additional POV provides the reader with more information, more dimensions and can give insight to the other MCs, but then that's me. I like trying new authors. True, sometimes I'm disappointed, but I like giving new authors a chance to impress me. Usually, writers have a hard time writing more than one book per year. I need lots of authors to fulfill my reading needs (yes needs).

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Elaine, EVERY BROKEN TRUST will launch in late April 2013. My agent and I wanted to launch earlier since it's been finished and in the publishers' hands since very early this year, but they prefer to keep them a year apart. Sorry. :-(

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the information, Linda. Too bad, but I think most publishers expect a book a year from their serial authors. Maybe if you can move it up a month every year, you'll end up with Christmas sales, which I think would be a bonus, enough to push for, but then, readers will look forward to the book whenever it comes out.

Linda Rodriguez said...

No, Elaine. That's going to be its pub date every year. That's why I'm working on the first book of a new series right now since my next Skeet book won't be due for many months. If my agent can sell this new series, it would come out in the later months of the year every year. But I can't really say much more about that yet.

E. B. Davis said...

Oh, I misunderstood. Another series for later in the year--not a bad solution Linda. ;>)