Guest Blogger Carmen Stefanescu: The Qualities of a Good Book

Today, I’m delighted to welcome my good friend, Carmen Stefanescu back to my blog with a post about the qualities that go into a good book. I’d love to get your opinion in the comments, and I know Carmen would too. So….

To be or not to be a good book?
By Carmen Stefanescu

The question What makes a good book? has been popping up in my head quite a bit lately while reading, and especially, writing my own books.

I stop writing only to reread what I’ve written and wonder, “Is this good?”

Now, what is a good book? I think it’s a legitimate question to ask ourselves. What defines good? Should it be my own definition, someone else’s, or based on popular opinion? The opinion of what makes a good book is almost entirely subjective.
Think of an old favorite book you’ve read again and again. Can you picture it in your head, almost as if you had a copy in your hands, ready to open and start reading right now?

A woman sitting on the beach reading a book. Her back is to the camera, with ocean in front. Done in a wash of faded colors

Think about it for a while. Pick the story apart and mull it over a bit. What makes  you love the story? What makes you keep coming back to it time and again? What makes your mind wander back to the story and muse about it? What qualities of that book do you love and cherish?

What are the elements of a good book for me? Well, here’s what I have in mind, speaking from a reader’s POV:

PLOT
The best kind of plot is one that keeps people reading because they are so engrossed and intrigued that they just can’t put the book down. Personally, I like when I don’t know what’s going to happen in a plot. Predictability is something I tend to dislike because, in my eyes, nothing kills a story faster than too much predictability. Predictability in small doses is fine – but readers don’t want to be right all the time. Unnecessary scenes that don’t add to the plot or character growth in any way, shape, or form should be edited – or cut out completely.

ELEMENTS YOU RELATE TO
It doesn’t matter whether I’m reading  mystery, paranormal or fantasy as long as there are realistic and relatable elements to the plot and characters. Realism may not apply to realms of fiction, but elements of realism always should. Nothing is perfect, not even in a utopian setting, because people are not perfect. The imperfections add a relatable element whatever story is being told.

Emotion is probably the highest relatable factor for me when I’m reading. I may never have met a vampire or kissed a shapeshifter, but I know the tugs of love and the irrational thoughts and passions that come with it. The circumstances don’t matter as long as readers feel along with the characters. It’s a challenge for writers, yes, but it leads to more of a deep and meaningful story.

CONSISTENCY
Storytelling needs to have a flow to the writing – and there’s nothing that breaks a flow in storytelling like inconsistencies in characters, backstories, or the writing style itself.

Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a book that’s keeping you guessing – only to hit a snag and get thrown out of the story completely because you read something that just didn’t make sense?  Writers need to know their worlds, the worlds’ rules, and the characters inhabiting said worlds. Readers will settle for the  easy resolution but they don’t like them because they don’t reflect real life, which almost always bears struggle and conflict. Happily ever afters are preferred by readers, but they’re much more meaningful if the characters have ‘paid their dues’ to earn the HEA.

conceptual idea with an open book standing on a hillside, with clouds above and 3D images of a chair and trees within the bookWRITING
I often know a book will be good if I am envious of the writing. While that sounds a weird thing to say, keep in mind that I am a writer myself. If I can read a first passage in a book and think, “Wow, I wish I could write like this,” then that’s saying something, isn’t it?

Though tastes vary, descriptions aren’t a bad thing since a writing style can help give a book its own specific kind of atmosphere. The point, is less is more. Not many readers like to barrel through paragraphs of description, no matter how beautifully written, because it slogs down the story.

CHARACTERS
I may be a bit critical, but I always fall hard for characters. I look at it this way: why read about characters I don’t like? I want to root for that character no matter what. I want to stand behind him/her and his/her decisions. I want to follow him/her on whatever journey is unfolding in his/her life.

Flaws  and ambiguity. They’re necessary. Why did so many of us Pride and Prejudice fans come out loving  Darcy, arrogant man that he could be? Because he was flawed and ambiguous only to show greater depth and emotion than any reader had likely imagined.

To conclude – I leave the question to all your followers: what makes a good book for you? Make it a big question of the day, because, honestly, isn’t a good book what anyone is hoping for any time they sit down and open a book to read?

Keep your reader reading.

Author, Carmen Stefanescu smiling for cameraAUTHOR BIO
Carmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

High school teacher of English and German in her native country, and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world that of the books.

Several of her poems were successfully published in a collection of Contemporary English Poems, Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication, in 2001 and 2002.

Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.

Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.

Books by Carmen Stefanescu

shadowsofthepastbkBook cover for Till Life Do Us Part by Carmen Stefanescu shows a trees at night framing a full moonShadows of the Past
Paranormal/light romance/light historical/light mystery

Till Life Do Us Part
Paranormal/light romance/light historical/light mystery


You can stalk the author at the following haunts:
Blog | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon

BONUS THOUGHT:
I don’t know about where you live, but here, in Romania we experienced a heat wave this past summer with temperature over 45 Celsius degrees. Hot! The weather brought thunderstorms and lightening strikes. Did I say I was happy for summer to end, even though I don’t really like autumn? Here are my feelings about autumn:

AUTUMN AGAIN 

Autumn has turned up

on my doorstep.

Again !

country lane on a wet rainy autumn day,Drenched, tempestuous, frowned.

Rusted leaves are coiled

in her dripping hair,

a gray, foggy cape

wrapping her to the ground.

She pierces my soul with

cold, distant eyes.

Her breath smells of

rottenness and rain.

Dejected I bend my head,

and I sigh.

My hopes she forgot

where I lived were in vain.

Guest Author Carmen Stefanescu with Till Life Do Us Part #NewRelease #Paranormal

I’m doing the hippity-hop-happy-Snoopy dance for my dear friend, Carmen Stefanescu, who is celebrating a book birthday with her new release, Till Life Do Us Part.  She’s brought along a thought-pondering post with a topic that plays into her novel. Garb a cup of coffee or tea and mull it over. And while you’re pondering, be sure to check out Carmen’s release through the links below!

~ooOOoo~

Mae, thank you so much for having me as your guest today.  I’m thrilled to be here, and excited to share my latest release.

Book cover for Till Life Do Us Part by Carmen Stefanescu shows a trees at night framing a full moon

Till Life Do Us Part

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Mystery, Suspense, Reincarnation,

Release date: 9th June 2016

It’s not my intention to lecture on a complicated topic but I’m sure there is no one who, having a sense of personal or collective responsibility, won’t wonder, at a certain moment in their life, what will happen to them after their physical death— why they were born and why must they die. Why life is so unfair for some and easy for others.

Is there or is there not a spirit? What is it? Is it mortal as our physical body or immortal?  At one time or another we will be touched by the passing of of our mother, father or some other beloved person. We want to know if we will meet them again and, if we do, when and how—their physical body was left in a flower-covered grave in a cemetery, or was burned to ashes.

Since ancient times people have wondered if something remains of a human being after physical death. Philosophers divide into two categories according to their beliefs. One is that of materialists, who believe all we have is our life here on Earth. Nothing follows after we pass. Our name lives on in the memories of others.

The second category includes idealists. They believe there’s more than the physical body—an immortal component that doesn’t disappear when we die. They call this component the spirit or soul and have tried, unsuccessfully, to find the place it resides in the human body.

I, too, have pondered these questions regarding the mystery of our lives. The immortality of the soul is the topic of my writing. Shadows of the Past, Till Life Do Us Part, as well as the upcoming Dracula’s Mistress, all tackle this idea.

Is it my fear of death, the fear of  “nothingness?”  Perhaps. But I am sure Antoine Lavoisier’s statement that “nothing is lost, nothing is gained, all is changed and transformed continually,” can apply to immortality of our soul, too.

BLURB:
Barbara Heyer can hear the voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.

Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together?

Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.

Excerpt:
Barbara drove home in a state of utter mental and physical exhaustion. So many things had piled up on her in only one day. Her head throbbed and her soul was heavy. What had the spirit, Kathleen, wanted to tell her? Why did she mention Colin’s name?

Coincidence nagged at the back of her mind. The time when the girl had regained consciousness, according to the doctor, seemed to fit the moment when the spirit stopped talking to her in the car.

The joy of having brought peace into the hearts and minds of Alfie’s family was shadowed by what the spirit implied. Colin has some explaining to do. I can’t believe he would kill someone, she thought. It’s impossible. He’s a good, quiet kid. It must have been a malicious spirit, pulling my leg. And, what about her own attacker? That despicable man. Could there be a connection? He mentioned the name Kathleen and made threats. She must keep her windows shut and locked from now on.

/././././././././

“Detective, please, don’t  think I’m raving, but I have to ask. Do you know someone called Mabel?”

The man riveted Barbara with his dark blue eyes for a moment.

Barbara cringed inside. He’ll rebuke me.

The man passed a hand over his face and nodding, he answered, “Yes, I know a Mabel. My… my wife.”

“How long ago did she pass away?”

In a voice that was more than a little surprised he asked, “How on earth did you know she’s dead?”

“She’s here,” Barbara replied in a small voice.

His eyebrows shot up in disbelief. The steel in his voice was hard to miss. “What? What are you talking about?” He spun round and looked at the apparently empty space behind him.

Tell him I no longer suffer, Barbara heard Mabel’s voice.

Detective Fisher was still staring blankly around him.

“She wants me to tell you she no longer suffers. She hopes you’ve found in your heart the power to forgive her for committing suicide… for jumping off the bridge.”

The detective looked straight into Barbara’s eyes. The grief she saw in them was almost palpable.

 

Purchase Till Life Do Us Part from:
Solstice Publishing
Amazon 

Author Bio:
Author, Carmen Stefanescu smiling for camera
Carmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country, and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression by escaping in a parallel world, that of books.

Several of her poems were successfully published in a collection of Contemporary English Poems, Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication, in 2001 and 2002. Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.

Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.

You can stalk the author at the following haunts:
Blog 

Twitter 
Pinterest 
Facebook 
Goodreads 
Google+ 
Amazon Author Page 

Purchase Till Life Do Us Part from:
Solstice Publishing 

Amazon 

Cover Reveal: Till Life Do Us Part by Carmen Stefanescu #Paranormal #Mystery

I’m super-excited about my post today! Carmen Stefanescu is a dear friend and one of the most supportive authors I have encountered online. She has a wonderful blog called Shadows of the Past on which she showcases many other authors and shares folklore about her native country, Romania. Yes, Carmen is a native of “Dracula’s Country.” *cue eerie music*

I love the many legends and culture references she shares. She has opened my eyes to a whole new world, vastly different from my little corner of the United States. English is a second language for her, yet she taught it to students in school (Carmen was a teacher) and she writes her novels and blog posts in English.

Novels! In a second language!

As someone who is struggling to learn Spanish, that utterly boggles my mind.

Please check out Shadows of the Past for yourself and consider following Carmen. I am truly grateful to have made her acquaintance.

Which brings me to today’s blog post. *drum roll please*

Carmen is rolling out the cover reveal on her upcoming release Till Life Do Us Part.

Is that an awesome title, or what?

I read this novel in development stages and found it innovative and engrossing. The plot has so much going for it…paranormal elements, family drama, detective fiction, history, and a thread of romance. But don’t take my word for it.

This is what Carmen has to say…

~ooOOoo~
Mae, thank you so much for having me as your guest today.  I also would like to thank you for your constant support and being my critique partner for my novel!

We share the same interest in anything odd—myths and legends, and all that is out of the normal boundaries. Reincarnation and chatting with ghosts can be included, too.

I’m thrilled to be here, and excited to share the cover for my upcoming release Till Life Do Us Part

 Book cover for Till Life Do Us Part by Carmen Stefanescu shows a trees at night framing a full moon

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Magic, Reincarnation, Mystery, Suspense

Release date: 9th June 2016

Blurb:

Barbara Heyer can hear voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.

Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together?

Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Author, Carmen Stefanescu holding an open bookCarmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble—the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world that of the books.

She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Several of her poems were successfully published in a collection of Contemporary English Poems, Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication, in 2001 and 2002.

Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.

Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.

You can stalk the author here:
Blog
Twitter @Carmen_Books
Pinterest
Facebook
Goodreads
Google+
Amazon Author Page