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Monday, June 3, 2013

Authors: give lots of books away. You might get unexpected recommendations, like this one


I was at Book Expo America in Manhattan last week. I searched for the 'booth' of Xulon Press, a Christian publishing company, where I wanted to meet someone I had become friendly with online.

"Friend" introduced me to Xulon novelist Carol Watson, who was holding a pile of her Secrets in the Tidewater paperbacks.

She offered me a copy and I accepted it with all the grace I could muster, even though I have probably read just one novel in 40-plus years, and don't understand why Christian publishing exists. I kidded her about her title, pointing out that no secret is a secret once it has been published. In retrospect, I should have been nicer. I hereby apologize.

On the train ride home, I flipped through the show guide and brochures I had accumulated and then opened Carol's book. I expected it to be, at best, uninteresting, and, at worst, crap.

It was neither.

To use an overused phrase that I've never used before, it was a page-turner. I was instantly captivated. Carol is an extremely gifted author (and has a master's degree in education and is a recipient of the Educational Press Association of America's award in journalism).

Although I've never been to a leper colony in the Roman empire (and I doubt that Carol has, either) her portrayal of the scenes and characters seemed absolutely accurate. Carol's experience in journalism enhances her fiction. The narrative was gripping (another overused word I've never used before). I read quickly because I did not want to wait to learn what happened next.

Carol's book is in a genre I have little interest in. Its title is one I would have made fun of. I would never have bought the book. If it was not the only book I had with me on the train, I probably would not have opened it.

But, several unlikely scenarios came together and I read and enjoyed a book I had no logical reason to read or enjoy. 
I predict that if you'll read it, you'll enjoy it.

Lessons:
  1. For authors -- if you can afford to, give lots of books away, even to people who are unlikely to become fans. 
  2. For book readers -- try reading books you would normally reject.
  3. For readers of this blog -- SURPRISE! Sometimes I do write positive reviews.



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