It seems not a week goes by we don't have customers mention they would love to consign their self-published book to us, and it is so hard to say no!
So, if you haven't noticed, to the right of the cash register are a number of books of local, self-published or small press authors. We are proud to have these authors on display, but we think perhaps not enough customers are taking the time to browse through this section. So we're going to tell you about a few. It is remarkable the talent and range of subjects you didn't even know was there!
1. Magic: The Crest ~ by Rena Marthaler
|Magic: The Crest|
We'll use the old rule that youngest goes first. And Rena Marthaler beats our other authors by decades. Only in the 4th grade, Marthaler participated in the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program, and has written a fantastical first novel. This is a fast-paced adventure story of four friends who discover they have magical powers and follow a prophecy to Oregon, fighting all sorts of fantastical creatures along the way (their first encounter is with a dragon, and the stakes only go up from there).
Kids will fall under the spell much the way they have with Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling; adults will sit back and enjoy how the childhood imagination can take off at cheetah-speed, basking in the nostalgia when they wrote their first fantasy novel (mine was about a twin boy & girl who ran away from their wealthy but oppressive father and fell into a band of noble thieves), and thoroughly enjoy how smart-aleky the main character, Rachel can be (e.g., "I'm starting to bore you, aren't I? Well, suck it up. It's about to get interesting.").
Hopefully Rena won't stop at just one. Let's wish that this writerly impulse will continue her whole life.
2. Without Boundaries: My Life During the Viet Nam War ~ by Dieu Bao
|Dieu Bao's Memoir|
It's understandable why we, as consumers of books, are not so interested in the self-published word. Publishers and editors help us feel like what we're going to buy (and hopefully read, and hopefully enjoy) has passed a test of sorts. The self-published world, by stepping away from the publishers (not necessarily the editors), is seen as a little more raw, the consumer feels a little closer to bad writing. I think we fear the best we can say is, it's amateur.
For Bao's book, that sentiment is unfair. She has written a heartfelt memoir, and has worked in a second language to put into words the oftentimes inexpressible horrors of war. It is my sentiment, that Bao's testimony, although the style may not be to the caliber of Patchett's or Quindlin's, is powerful. It offers to us new insights to those affected by a war that very much affected our country and culture, because it is more than just about war, but about life. It has as much happiness in it as it does tragedy. Bao writes honestly, and for that I say she deserves patronage.
Just pick up Without Boundaries, and see how well its honesty can pull you in.
3. Bentari ~ by Timothy Brown
What we also need for this post is an adventure story. Bentari is just that story. Specifically, Nazi treasure hunters in the Belgian congo. Anyone? Yes. Bentari, the Swift Climber, our hero, is a resourceful young man fighting to defend his people against--who else?--Nazis.
But this is done deliberately and in control. Here's the first paragraph, to give you a sense of Brown's ability:
Sometimes the calm occurs as the sun first breaks across the eastern sky. Some days it happens after an hour or so when the sun's heat begins to scald the jungle air. The calm settles like coincidence and, for that still moment, all the birds and morning talkers hush together. The rising heat and humid air melt into an intoxicating perfume. Movements of the briefly silent fauna become majestic and graceful in the calm. The forest and its children paint the timeless and mystifying tableaux.
Brown moves to the allure of the jungle setting, and, after our title character Bentari experiences this calm, the tension rises, ending in murder. It propels forward from there, but always deliberately. This is the mature outcome of what Bao and Marthaler started. Whereas the other two authors write with a glibness that is nevertheless a compelling read, Brown's prose is more controlled. Still, the imagination is always at work. We move from deliberate writing to tensions and adventure. It's worth a read.
[We'll follow up next week with three more CreateSpace authors, including some nonfiction. If you have a book that you'd like to consign to Wallace Books, please contact us personally at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the store.]
~ James Maynard, January 2014