While I was putting together my posts for this week, I realized something: I discovered many of the writers in my soul medicine chest by picking up books at random while browsing through book stores, flea markets and even some rummage sales. I think I acquired that habit from when I was a kid and had to borrow books from the public library; I didn't know what to read so I'd take five or six books from one shelf. Occasionally I'd end up with some real clunkers, but most of the time the universe stepped in and guided my hand to someone I needed to read.
Like this one time about fifteen years ago, when I was on my way home from a doctor's appointment. I stopped at a Jewish temple that was having a big garage sale in their parking lot. There were tables upon tables of books, and at that particular moment I needed something to read in the worst way. While sorting through the stacks, I found this old Silhouette romance with rather awful cover art. Never heard of the author, either, but I liked the title: Loving Evangeline. Plus it only cost a quarter.
A few authors sometimes complain about not profiting from used book sales, but I don't. I know better. Because two days after I bought that old book for a quarter, I went out to all three new book stores in town and bought every single title by Linda Howard that I could find on the shelves. And have kept buying them ever since.
Linda Howard brings so much to the reader it's hard to choose what to highlight. There's the powerful writing, the heroic protagonists, the emotional impact of her stories, the shock and awe moments -- I've never been able to put aside one of her books once I start reading it. All of these things are just a few of the reasons why she gets much better cover art these days.
But for me I think what her novels do best is remind me why we shouldn't give up. That no matter how bad things are, we can survive them and get past them and move on with our lives and find a better place. That's what her characters do; there are never any quitters in her stories. If you're open to it, that kind of courage is very contagious.
In the great Pandora's box of romantic fiction, Linda Howard's work is always about hope.
Today I have to give away three brand new copies of Linda's latest hardcover release. If you'd like a chance to win one of them, in comments to this post name a writer or a book that helped you get through a particularly tough time by midnight EST on Friday, September 23, 2011. I will draw three names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners an unsigned hardcover copy of Prey by Linda Howard, along with a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.