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

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Friday, July 20, 2012

So Many Books; So Little Time Part 2

So Many Books; Some Little Time Part Two

Assuming a book passes the three rules of thumb I mentioned before, if a book captures and holds my interest into the first chapter, there are other rules that I use to see if I want to continue reading.

The Pages Versus Characters Equation: In chapter one I apply the writing equation: The number of characters > the number of pages = confusion for the reader.  Consider that Julia Spencer-Fleming did not introduce Linda Van Alstyne, who figures prominently in the larger story arc, until the third book in her series. I almost always I stop reading because most of the time in the past when I have continued with the book I discovered the confusion reflected a lack of either writing skills or thoughtful editing.  Twice, because I had faith in the author, I continued reading in spite on my confusion and ended up liking the books very much.  But as a reader I had to work harder than I do in most books.  I’m not willing to do that unless I know the author well.

Too Many Paper Dolls: I don’t much care if characters who “walk on” for one page or two are not fully developed characters. I find it annoying when a continuing character shows only one dimension. In an otherwise pretty well written novel I read recently one important character showed only one emotion — rage —for nearly 200 pages. Nobody is enraged all the time; it takes too much energy. After a while I got bored with the anger. In another work that showed elements of quality writing every living character with one characteristic (having a Y chromosome) was stupid, sexist, corrupt and passive-aggressive or brutal or both.  One male character was described as benign but he died before the story started. Apparently in this author’s universe empathy was fatal to men.

Too Much Like A “B” Monster Movie Plot: “Golly gee, there’s a monster loose in this haunted house/summer camp/spaceship. Let’s split up and explore the creepy dark spaces so we can almost all get killed in bloody, frightening way.” The equivalent cliché in murder mysteries is when the heroine/hero goes alone into the dark parking lot knowing the killer who has been stalking her/him all day could be waiting there. I am so tired of the intrepid, reckless protagonists, I’m about to start rooting for killers.

What convinces you to stop reading a book you have begun?


E. B. Davis said...

I've read books that initially grabbed me, didn't have exclamation points all over the page and that were written well (grammar, etc.), but that were predictable. That's another aspect that makes me put the book down. In romance, that inevitably happens because you have to have a HEA ending. In mystery, that's worse. An ending with a twist or something unexpected happening (a change of heart, going back on a decision or that quirk of character dominates) makes me want to read the author again.

The problem is that you have to read to the end to find out if what you have predicted actually happens. When it's predictable, you want to kick yourself for wasting your time. When it has that twist, you're happy you were fooled. Like I said in my blog last week--fool me or charm me. And that's the key--if you don't fool me than at least make me want to read to the end without having to kick myself.

susan furlong-bolliger said...

One reason I might not finish a book is over-the-top cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. Sometimes this technique is done well and keeps me turning pages. However, if cliffhangers aren’t done well, I quickly get irritated. I recently read a book where the heroine’s life was in peril at the end of every chapter. The cliffhangers seemed forced and contrived. Seven chapters into the book, I found myself wishing that she would just go ahead and die!

VR Barkowski said...

Predictability is definitely the kiss of death, as are a TSTL protagonist, and poor writing.

I recently read the first fifty pages of a well-reviewed mystery but was so bored, I didn't finish. There was nothing to engage me as a reader. The prose, while well-wrought, was emotionless, the story flat, character and setting descriptions generic. I don't believe writers have to "show" everything. If we did our novels would all be 900+ pages. But for a story to hold my attention, characters must be brought to life on the page—shown not told. It's a shame, too, because the author in question is a fine writer.

On the other hand, many readers enjoyed the book, so maybe it's my problem?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

We do want to read books that offer some originality of plot and character. That's what makes novels memorable for me. I also enjoy humor in any book.

I agree, Warren, that cardboard characters make for a dull book, and particularly when there are too many characters that remain undeveloped.

Linda Rodriguez said...

If the protagonist of the story is TSTL, I have to put it down. Perhaps one of the lesser characters might be. That still bothers me, but it can work if written well. I can't take it with the character through whose eyes I'm seeing and with whom I'm supposed to identify.

Gloria Alden said...

I couldn't continue with a mystery from a writer I've met and liked because not much was happening after she found a body. In every chapter, she kept wondering about who could have done it, or was it suicide? Could it have been X? Maybe it was Y because Y might have a motive, etc. on and on. It's okay for a protag to have questions, but couldn't some clues be left up to the reader to pick up on?

I couldn't finish with Sophie's Choice, although I know it's a highly reguarded book, because the main character for way too many pages and maybe chapters obsessed about sex. Maybe it was because he was a young guy and that was normal. It wasn't that I was offended by it, it was just that I got bored.

Two mysteries I read recently had things that annoyed me; three characters talking, and half the time I didn't know which one it was, and in another book the murder weapon, a gun, was traced to the owner, a minister, and he had no idea how it could have gotten out of his locked safe. And yet he was never a suspect, nor was his daughter.

PamelaTurner said...

I had to stop reading a book three chapters in because every other page the author kept describing how special her heroine was. By that point, I didn't care.

I'll also put down books for the reasons other commenters have mentioned.

Warren Bull said...

Good point, EB. I read that in the movie "War of the Roses" the actors had to stand together and refuse to shoot a happy ending that would have weakened the movie.

Warren Bull said...

Susan, I had not thought about that one.Thanks.

Warren Bull said...

VR, I have a similar reaction to a writer whose works are considered classics. If I don't get pulled in emotionally, I won't finish the book.

Warren Bull said...


For me humor and/or surprises will keep me reading.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks Linda,

Warren Bull said...

Gloria, Yep, a mystery should have clues.

Warren Bull said...

Pamela, If the heroine was so freaking special, the writer could have just shown it and stopped talking about it.

Alyx Morgan said...

It's unusual that I'll stop reading a book once I've started. I slogged through the middle third of The Count of Monte Cristo because I had enjoyed the first third so much, & the last third was just as good as the first. It was just the middle that meandered nowhere for me.

I also stopped reading The Hobbit, because I don't enjoy overly-verbose descriptions of places. Yes, let me know the overall look & feel of a forest, but don't go into such minute detail describing a tree. *yawn* I put the book down after page 20, I think, & haven't read any of his stuff since.

Otherwise, I generally try to get through a book once I've started reading it. Though, I will go into skim mode when a book drags on too much for me.

Anonymous said...
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Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, another book-killer for me is a tense dangerous situation, maybe one requiring instant action or silence and sneakiness--and the protagonist goes into a passionate clinch with love interest, maybe even has a quickie. NO!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Too Stupid To Live, Warren. TSTL

Anonymous said...

And here I'm starting a new work in progress, so thanks for an entertaining reminder of what not to do!

I had to comment on Alyx Morgan's comment of THE HOBBIT, with an addendum that sometimes we need to give books a second chance. Maybe we're not in the right mood, spirit, who knows. If a book receives rave reviews and I can't get into it the first time, I will often put it back on my shelf and try again in the future. I've found some great books that way, and kicked myself for not reading them sooner! (And sometimes, I still couldn't get into them, often for the reasons Warren stated, and back they go.)

As for THE HOBBIT, I also put that one down. It was written in a time when you didn't need that quick one-two punch to grab a reader. You described the trees to the nth degree, because you could. But my stepmother insisted I try it again, bought me the set, and so I forced myself to sit down with THE HOBBIT and read for her sake. Once I got past that slow beginning, it was pure bliss, and I eagerly read the tree descriptions right along with the other stuff. Same with LOTRs. I've re-read all of them many times, (skipping over the boring stuff , which I noticed wasn't included in the movies.

Some of my favorite current authors today were on my TBR chance #2 shelf, found and savored later when I was apparently in the right frame of mind.

E. B. Davis said...

LOL! Linda. I'll have to remember that one. Thanks for tipping us.

GBPool said...

It's usually a thriller that turns me off when the writer dumps so much story up front. If he/she expects me to remember who's on first that early with no reason to really care, he/she is wrong. I'll take time to smell the roses, if the writer gives me something to smell. A great build up to a bang still works for me.

Anita Page said...

Stilted dialogue and flat characters, which often go together.

Also, I don't read books written in the present tense with very rare exceptions. Actually, genre writers tend to do that less frequently than literary writers.