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


July Interviews













7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets


Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson

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Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!


Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Makes a Book Good?


We are enjoying the company of our grandchildren. Each summer they visit us for a week or so without their parents. Lola, who will be nine about the time school starts, and I were talking about books. She’s a reader, and I abet her by giving her lots of books for Christmas. She started our conversation on this topic by exclaiming, “This is such a good book. It’s only the second chapter and already something really bad has happened.”

Aha, I thought, a chance to learn what makes a book good from a nascent reader—Lola hasn’t yet had a teacher like Mrs. Zarroli who Ramona talked about on Friday to learn from, so hers is an unadulterated experience. I asked Lola a bunch of questions and here’s what she said.

What’s a good beginning? I like bad things to happen at the beginning, even if I don’t understand them. And a good book has to have a mystery.

What makes interesting characters? The people in the book have to take risks. They have to be sneaky and stuff like that. In this book they had to break into the principal’s office. They take on a lot of stuff that we do not. If something goes wrong then something really bad is going to happen to them.

There is a pair of sisters that are so unalike. One is grouchy and the other is very nice. One likes fairy tales and the other doesn’t. Sometimes one is nice and sometimes the other isn’t. But they have to do stuff together. A good character in my opinion is brave and smart; they can trust people; they can take a lot of risk. If they’re funny that’s good too.

And I don’t like it when (for example) Sabrina magically pulled out of her pants pocket a whistle called the wind and blew away the problem.

What makes a good book’s ending? Usually it ends well, but sometimes the best books don’t end well and that can be good too.

There you have it from an eight-year old. We don’t need to graduate from high school, be an English Lit major in college or earn an MFA degree. Kids know good stories when they hear or read one: You need a good early hook and there has to be a mystery. You need interesting characters; they can’t be all alike and there has to be conflict. The characters need to be larger than life and take risks—risks that we wouldn’t normally take.

The plot has to make sense. Deus ex machina is a big no-no, and the ending can be either a good thing or a bad thing as long as it’s satisfying.

What’s so hard about that?

~ Jim

6 comments:

Ramona said...

Young Lola could teach writing workshops. Her comments are terrific.

Kadi Easley said...

That was great. She covered all the points. You may have a future writer on your hands.

Jim Jackson said...

Lola is a writer, although she thinks of herself as more of an artist because she illustrates her stories and prefers to verbalize her stories rather than to write them. (Who can blame her when she's at an age where her verbal vocabulary far exceeds her spelling vocabulary.)

The only question is what she'll choose to do with her talents. It will be fun to watch them mature.

~Jim

Polly Iyer said...

Absolutely loved your granddaughter's comments, Jim. Makes me want to start some of my books over. What a smart young lady.

Annette said...

As a former school librarian, I really appreciate this post.

Anonymous said...

Lola has positively nailed it. I think I need her help on my WIP.