So you can read my books

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Or what makes a book good?

What is the criteria you use to gauge whether a book is worth the read?

Does a book have to be good to make a difference in someone’s life? Why or why not?

Victor Standish:

"For me, if it grabs my interest, makes me think, or helps me learn something then it is a good book."

Samuel McCord:

"A good book is a treasure trove of humanity so that no matter where you open a page and start reading, there is something new to be discovered."

Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace:

" I can more easily say why I don’t like certain books and to be honest, it is often the result of the author.

Of the most recent books that come to mind: one author I simply don’t like due to her style of writing and how her characters are always women who can’t take care of themselves."

So?  What do you think makes for a good book?

Action.  No action.  Romance.  No romance.  A bit of both?

I believe there are some universal facets that make a book good and a good book (the two are sometimes not the same.)


If you don't connect to the voice, then no matter how spell-binding the plot, you will drift away from the book ...

that is if you even buy the book at all.


Because the Voice, like the wind in a ship's sails, is what carries you through the book's journey. 

Like an aroma, it permeates each page, each word of the book.

The voice is what will make a page detailing even a train ride something memorable or witty or both.


The sparkling character of Tony Stark made IRON MAN.  Hannibal Lector dominates each page he is on.

The characters in the world of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz kept me turning the pages to meet more of his one-of-a-kind neighbors.

Memorable characters bring the story to life.  They make you itch to get back to their banter when the world draws you away from their adventures.

In a way, they become friends you can come back to.  They let us see and feel the world in a new way, expanding our minds, enriching our lives.


It doesn't have to be a fantasy setting.  No matter the genre, however, the world around the characters must feel "real." 

Great settings "ground" the story.  They highlight in the larger world, the tragic or comic elements in the smaller world of the lead characters.

Settings in good books become actual characters in the story either nourishing or preying, sometimes doing both.

After Katrina, New Orleans' streets killed the children/teens who roamed them.  Their souls went before their lives.

Take 1895 Cairo:

 the common man fared even worse.  Their servitude was to multiple masters: taxes, poverty, landed aristrocrats, British prejudice.  They were always in the crossfire of conflicting demands.

A well done setting breathes life into the story you are reading.


In essence, the plot has the reader asking, "What happens next?"

What is riveting to you may not be riveting to me. 

But the bottom line to the gripping plot must be PERSONAL and PRIMAL to the reader.

The neighbor of a police detective has her baby kidnapped.  The child is being returned to her one finger, one toe at a time.  No ransom demand.

Did the cleaning lady see something she shouldn't have?  Did she throw away the wrong thing?  Or is it about the detective's past, something to punish him?

Whatever the plot, the reader is invested in it and is staying up longer than she should to see what happens next.

What do you think is essential in a good book?

Inger Wiltz wrote me that my latest book was good -- which made my day.

"Reading helps me so much. I felt that The Stars Bleed at Midnight is the best of your books I have read to date.

So full of wisdom, less battles with creepy critters, and marvelous conversations and bantering back and forth between your characters.

I loved it and I'm looking forward to the continuation."

Why not go to my book's Amazon page 
and try the LOOK INSIDE feature
and see if it interests you?


  1. Personal, primal, and grounded - got it! Will work on that.

  2. Alex:
    It's something we all have to work on -- I bet even Shakespeare had to work on it! :-)

  3. I judge by the storyline.

    I like subtle plots, interaction between characters and details that show the author did his research. The voice indeed does have to capture my imagination, too. (for me McCord does that better than Victor)No offense, Victor and Alice. . .I'd like to keep my fingers.

  4. D.G.:
    Victor's ego is akin to the Agean Sea so your fingers are safe!

    Speaking of Victor, I am in his latest adventure. It occurs just before his arrival in New Orleans.

    It details his time with Oddman's Carnival. And yes, it is THAT Oddman, and Princess Shert Nebti is Victor's nemesis this time as she was his father in 1895.

    Victor's voice is fun for me as a counterbalance to McCord's, easier for me since seven years on the streets has deepened Victor's understanding of life.

    I am 22,000 words in and may finish CARNIVAL OF THE DAMNED before I take on McCord's journey to Ancient Egypt.

    I hope you enjoy THE STARS BLEED AST MIDNIGHT. :-)

  5. Hi Roland,

    I agree with all your points and I think that an author should strive to achieve them all. But for the reader, it is perhaps more difficult to define the precise reasons why he falls in love with a book. It's most certainly a combination of all these but on a subconscious level. Just like love for a person... What do you think? :-)

  6. A good book makes me think AND makes me feel.
    And a good book is one that stays with me, and one that I will reread.

  7. I'm with Linda Lovelace. It's much easier to say what makes a bad book vs a good one. But I am staunchly opposed to sappy romance (unless it's my own personal sappy romance). Smiles.

    Be well, Roland.

  8. Vesper:
    Yes, liking a book stems a lot from our unconscious needs and desires ... just like our falling in love with a person. :-)

    Elephant's Child:
    Definitely, a book that speaks to me is one I will re-read like coming back to an old friend.

    Yes, like the judge who said he couldn't define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it!

    Sappy romance is not sappy when it happens to us, right? :-)