Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Soul Medicine Week: Linda Howard

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.

30 comments:

  1. In romance, I love the works of LaVryle Spencer. She was the first romantic fiction author I read when I started writing, and I'm still inspired by her genius in crafting multi-dimensional characters.

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  2. The book I have turned to many times in the past is an oldie: LM Montgomery's The Blue Castle. It's a more adult book than her Anne of Green Gables books, all about overcoming fear.

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  3. Anonymous5:03 AM

    Books by Lindsay McKenna are comfort reads for me - previously they had a strong female lead in a Military setting but more recently they have a stong Native American theme so that you can read about healing while getting comfort and healing

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  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows got me through my grandmother's death.

    Also, Karen Rose books...any of them.

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  5. Hey, LOVING EVANGELINE is one of my all time favorite romance novels. :D

    I can't remember all the titles, but the books that got me through when I was having a tough time some years ago were Harlequin Presents romance novels. They were just cracktastic and short enough that I could read them in 1-2 hours before going to bed, after long difficult days.

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  6. FRAN KANE6:32 AM

    I read your post then thought long and hard about this. I am lucky enough not to have had many hard times, but I nearly lost my son in 2005 and while in hospital with him, I read a fantastic book called The Road To Elizabeth by John Ridgway. This book followed the story of John & his wife as they travelled in Peru to visit a man who'd saved him life on an expedition 15 years previously. The book was awe-inspiring and uplifting at a time when I needed the hope that it would all be better in the end. It also called to me as I lived in Peru for 2 years before my kids were born. Its not fiction, so I don't know if it qualifies, but it was just what I needed at that time.

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  7. I will always be grateful that the final Harry Potter book happened to be released the same week that my ex announced he wanted a divorce. I locked myself in the bedroom for hours at a time and just read. It was the perfect escape.

    I would also like to echo Ayse above and say that The Blue Castle is my all-time fave of L.M. Montgomery's, which is saying a lot considering I have ready everything that's been published by her, including all the short story collections!

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  8. ggggaaahhhh!!!! Loving Evangeline! love that one. um. excuse me. yes, she's definitely soul medicine. I love this one and Dream Man are two of my faves from her.

    I can't think of one specific title that has helped me through bad time-it's more like my keeper shelf. When I hit rough times, I go to my die-hard faves. Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay series, Mercedes Lackey's Winds of Fate books, and the Stardoc books.

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  9. I love all of Linda Howards's books.
    I think my favorites to read when I'm down and need a pick me up are Until You by Judith McNaught and The Wedding by Julie Garwood. I love those authors!

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  10. When my mother was dying, I picked up (of all things!) the first book in Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's series about Iskryne, "A Companion to Wolves".
    It was so different from everything else I could have read and a fine world to bury myself in. It helped, so much.

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  11. Anne V.9:33 AM

    I agree with Shiloh Walker above. Sounds like her shelf and mine are pretty similar! I would also like to add Will Shakespeare to my list. I was struggling with a cross country move, a job I wasn't happy in, and a severe financial hardship and these characters really helped!

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  12. Susanne9:56 AM

    Whenever I am troubled I re-read Lord Of The Rings. Even thought I must have read it a dozen times now the writing, the story, the characters ... the world that is developing while I am turning the pages never ceases to distract me from the real world

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  13. I'm throwing my name in the hat :)

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  14. Sandra Hill's Viking series cheered me up when I was feeling down.

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  15. When my mother died suddenly I was lost. The book which helped me at that time was Frenchman's Creek. Any Daphne Du Maurier book can keep me enthralled.

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  16. What a great post today. Sometimes when life gets to be too much I read The Scalpel, The Sword by Ted Allen.

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  17. After my husband unexpectedly passed away at Easter, I spent weeks not being able to stop spinning, in mind and body. The worst thing was not being able to settle down long enough to read. Reading is my joy, my solace, my passion and losing the ability to read was another devastation.

    A few months later, while browsing in a used book store (if I couldn't read them, at least I could still be around them!), I picked up a copy of Christina Dodd's Trouble in High Heels.

    That night I sat down and read from beginning to end. When I finished the book in the wee hours of the night, I cried, not because of the story--which I loved--but because I'd been able to escape into a book again.

    I went back to the used book store the next day and bought the next three books in this series and have since purchased several of her titles at the regular book shop.

    As far as I'm concerned, Christina Dodd saved the day.

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  18. I've read a few of Linda Howard's books and have really enjoyed them. Buying used first and then switching to buying new when i find someone I like and want to support is one of the ways I buy lots of books without living with them in a cardboard box, haha. Tossing my name in the hat!

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  19. too many to list.....reading anything helps lift my mood. Throwing my name into the hat!

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  20. I found the first Darkyn book at a library book sale, along with a handful of Patricia Briggs and a couple of Kelly Armstrong books. I'd been avoiding series of any sort for almost 15 years (except for the occasional writer. It took me a while to find the rest because Borders shelved them in romance and I never looked at romance.
    Anyway, I picked up the series because I was feeling down, and I was cheered up, although poorer later.

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  21. Like Kelly, reading lifts my mood. I'd like to throw my name into the hat as well.

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  22. When I need a boost, I pick up a romantic comedy by Susan Andersen or Rachel Gibson.

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  23. I'm a new follower - #1147!! What a day to stop in to! I've never read a book by her *hides head in shame*

    However if I had to choose someone who's changed my life it'd have to be Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She teaches you to be strong, independent, and most of all -- to fall in love!

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  24. clairecherven6:47 PM

    I think that reading the oldest non-vampire J.R. Ward books gives me a lift. I know what is going to happen but I still am "surprised" somewhere in every book.

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  25. 'What's the Worst that could Happen' by Donald Westlake got me through the death of my grandfather. I laughed until I cried and that was what I needed most. 'Fast Women' by Jennifer Cruisie gave me a hand up from bottom after the break-up of my marriage. For more typical bad days nothing beats Georgette Heyer.

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  26. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Jen, I'm hanging my head in shame as well. I've never tried Linda Howard. I'd like to!

    I moved constantly as a kid, attending 11 schools in 12 years. Books were the only constant in my life and I tore through them. A friend introduced me to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Piers Anthony at the end of grade school, and the huge backlists of those authors kept me going for a long time, through a lot of moves. Soul medicine, indeed.

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  27. Tammy S11:40 AM

    Linda Howard has gotten me through some tough times, as has Jude Deveraux, Jayne Castle and you. I've found that it depends on what the circumstances are that directs my reading. Five bookshelves and counting, really need six and seven :-)

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  28. I loved both of Marisa de los Santos' books, especially "Belong to Me." They really touched me!!

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  29. I like Linda Howard but my comfort novels, tried and true, are "my Julie's"--the medieval and regency Julie Garwood books.

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  30. Anonymous5:57 PM

    I agree with many of the books listed and I would throw Sharon Shinn The Twelve Houses into the mix as well.

    Regards,
    Ruth (Co)

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