indie publishing, Reading, Reading preferences, Uncategorized, writing fiction

No one loves every book

book.loverYou don’t have to love my book, or read it. I understand completely. If you’re a writer, I hope it’s okay that I may not love your book or poem or even choose to read it. I trust somebody will, and I hope your work will find the audience it deserves.

Seldom does a book come along that everyone loves. We might be surprised if we could know what works published today will be read 50 years from now. Probably not the best-sellers. I don’t expect them to be mine. Possibly something obscure, a book that was ahead of its time. Sometimes art is like that–when it’s unique, it takes the public a long time to catch on. Or catch up.

The variety and amount of available fiction reminds me of the cereal aisle in a large supermarket, or an eight-page menu that allows each diner to have his favorite food. If we were truly hungry, we’d be grateful to eat anything. Long ago, with less choice, more hunger, and maybe a less well-developed palate, I read anything.

Since I’ve devoted so much time to writing, I’ve lost my ability to read for pleasure. I’m sad about that. Most of the time I read like an editor, either marveling at the excellence of word choices and sentence construction or wanting to rewrite the whole thing.

Today I get enthusiastic about a story only if it’s different, not a new twist in a plot I’ve read too many times. It must be well written, and I like it even better if it illuminates cultures, concepts, settings, periods, or technologies I don’t know about. I love extraordinary writing; there’s never enough of it. I like to connect emotionally with characters and their stories. I dislike some genres, even when written extremely well. I envy people who enjoy almost any story. I love finding a book that inspires me to write better.

The fact that all writers can now put their work up for sale without the backing of a publishing house has resulted in a lot of poorly-crafted books on the market. A blogger who reviews books under the name “Read 4 Fun” reported on one of these recently, under the headline “Please Do Not Publish Such Annoying Work.”  The review is kind of humorous, but I feel sorry for the author, who may have erred only in not seeking the advice of an editor. The reviewer says it could have been a good book. Maybe the writer will learn from this review and do better the next time.

Though I seem to have lost the ability to lose myself in a good book, I’ve been rewarded with hours of enjoyment (and angst) in crafting my own, and I’ve made many friends of indie authors as well as readers. I’m certain that one day our freedom to publish will result in the emergence of extraordinary products, and maybe a few of those will still be read in 50 years. Best wishes to all.

Downsizing, Reading, Uncategorized

Parting with old friends…


I’ve been a hoarder of books all my life, each year giving away a few to make space for new ones. Then I converted to ebooks, and realized that I would never read most of that small print again. So this year I gave most to the library, some to the recycling center, and a few to the trash. The photo shows the bulk of what’s left:

  1. Four volumes of poetry (an anthology plus collections of Walt Whitman, Robert Frost (not shown), and T.S. Eliot.
  2. Armageddon (WW II history) and The Odyssey, which I hope to finish someday.
  3. The Complete Works of Shakespeare (the last of my college texts)–the one volume I’ll need if I’m ever stranded on a deserted island.
  4. The Shipping News, a novel I’ve read three times and may read again. (I’d say the same about The Great Gatsby, but though I’ve read it three times I’ve never owned a copy).
  5. One of the Foxfire volumes, a series dedicated to mountain heritage and crafts. I’m glad I don’t own all of them, because I’d have to keep them too.
  6. And finally, Tumult on the Mountain, by Roy B. Clarkson, which details lumbering in West Virginia from 1770 to 1920. This is the book that inspired the setting of the first book in my historical series, The Girl on the Mountain. 

Tumult on the Mountain was first published in 1964 by McClain Printing of Parsons, West Virginia. The book is still in print, with a current book rank on Amazon of 517,123. This rank may not seem high, but if it’s true that Amazon has close to 2,000,000 books, it’s very respectable. It means people are still reading it. Maybe they’re also keeping it, like me.

More than anything else, I value the more than 250 pages of photos in this book, though one Amazon reviewer gave the book only one star, saying it was boring and had only 97 pages of text. It does contain many definitions and lists of statistics, useful to some, I’m sure. Most readers know the book is a treasure of our history. leadmine.tree

So though I’ve parted with many old book friends, I’ll be keeping these. How about you–are any of my keepers your favorites too?


historical fiction, Kindle, Reading

Do you know about this Audible bargain?

“Add Audiobook for $1.99” add audible

Audible (recorded) books do not come on tape or compact disc–you listen on your Kindle, phone, or computer. A subscription currently costs $14.95 per month, with the first month free. But many Audible books are available at a small added cost when you buy the Kindle ebook. I think this is also true if you bought it earlier.

If there’s an Audible version, a notice appears at the right of the ebook page.

I checked a number of online forums to make certain you don’t have to be an Audible subscriber to get this special price. For me, this seems like a great deal. Of course the producers and authors don’t get much out of it–my royalty for The Girl on the Mountain audiobook sold this way is less than 50 cents.

Audible edition

Lots of people say they like to listen to the narration as they read. That may be similar to my preference for having English subtitles on video–seeing as well as listening improves the experience. My oldest Kindle has a text to speech feature, but it’s a machine-made robot voice, not the real-person narration you get in an audiobook.

I am not an Audible subscriber, though if I had a long commute every day I’d definitely pay for this kind of entertainment, and I may subscribe someday if my eyes get worse.

Meanwhile, getting a recorded version for $1.99 sounds like a great deal.