One of the books I bought at my first convention was Nobody Gets The Girl by James Maxey. Obviously, I thought it was fantastic and grew very optimistic about books that I discovered at cons. Interestingly, there were two other books I bought at that con and they were not fantastic. They were fine.
Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve made it a goal to buy at least one book from each convention I attend. I look for interesting ideas from non-marketing machine authors, usually found sitting alone in the dealer room or in writers ally. I’m happy buying indie art from indie artists, and will continue doing so, but I have come to a sad conclusion. Most of these books are not fantastic.I have read some not-fantastic books that were self-published, small press, and big 6 products. Books written by people I know fairly well, kind of well, and not at all. Each time a book changes from could-be-awesome to not-quite-there, I get a little sad. We all want everything to be fantastic and unfortunately, there are some awfully big misses that began to grow in me a fear of books.I have learned something about my own literary preferences over the last year. I hate internal monologue. Remember that I spent 6 years as a playwright. For me, Plot + Character – Musing about what just happened – 2 pages describing an unimportant room = engaging story.
I spent 9 months or so reading, sometimes slogging, through the non-fantastic wondering if James Maxey was a fluke. Nothing else was comparing well to my go-to’s of Robert E. Howard, Connie Willis, Jasper Fforde, and William Browning Spencer. Imagine then my delight at once again discovering something fantastic.
I am 2 chapters into Leona Wisoker’s Secrets Of The Sands and am very happy. I’m not the biggest Dune fan, so after meeting Leona a year ago and seeing the desert scape on the cover, I avoided picking up the book. But as fate would have it, we are co-guests of honor at Madicon this March. I felt that I should read one of her books so we could have at least a polite chat about it. But it’s actually so great that 2 chapters in I want to talk about it. At MarsCon this year she told me that her editor, Barbara Friend Ish, kicked her third book back 2 times for rewrites. This might have something to do with the quality.
And it’s not just Leona that makes me optimistic. I have Shadow Ops: Control Point, the new book by Myke Cole, The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett, and The Blood Of Ambrose by James Enge sitting by my bed. All of these look fantastic and are quelling my fear of books.