From time to time people ask me if I have ever written a book or if I intend to. The answer is that I did “ghostwrite” three documentaries and an autobiography for The Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) around the turn of the century, but I am not sure if they are still available. The second part of the answer is that I have no real plans to write another because I am too lazy to do all the work that such an undertaking entails.
Writing, from my observation, is one thing. Getting a book published and sold is a horse of an entirely different color. I was paid quite well to write the CAP books, but I had absolutely nothing to do with their publication and distribution. Getting the attention of a major, or even minor for that matter, publishing company for one’s manuscript is more akin to winning the lottery than it is to having a publisher actually read and like what one has written.
Self publishing involves shelling out a bunch of cash to get a book printed between covers and then spending another ton of time, energy and $ trying to sell it or otherwise make it available to the public.
On the other hand, one of the top three best novels that I have read this year is a semi-self published (Xlibris) and distributed work that is far, far better than almost all the 200+ other titles (at least two dozen of them, “bestsellers”) I have perused since the first of the year.
I read too much to have time for writing anything more serious than this column. The best thing about retirement is that I now have almost as much time as I want to read. It is not unusual for me to get so wrapped up in a good novel that I will complete it in one day without ever laying it down.
Such was the case with Alfred Patrick’s newest and anxiously anticipated offering, entitled Clinch Valley Pursuit, the third book in his “Clinch” series that was preceded by Clinch River Justice and Clinch Mountain Echoes. I read Pursuit twice in one weekend early last month then dug around the house until I found the first two so that I could reread them for the third time.
As is the case with many other writers when they decide to get serious about the craft, Al’s books are noticeably more complex and more cleverly plotted as they advance chronologically. Both Echoes and Pursuit will be far more meaningful to readers who have read the preceding titles simply because all three feature several of the same major characters and the same general location/ setting in rural, mountainous, southwestern Virginia. The time frame is the 1940s with the first book taking place during the World War II years and the third one in 1948. Reading all three in order enables readers to watch the two main characters grow up together.
While Pursuit can be best described as crime/