Yesterday, I tackled a project that I’d been ignoring for eons — paring down some of the several hundred books I’d collected over the last two decades.
The final straw came when I looked around my living room one day and noticed that the bookshelves were overflowing and mysterious piles of fiction had sprouted on my kitchen table, writing desk, and other available flat surfaces.
Fellow bibliophiles will understand. There is nothing harder than culling your book
collection. Each has a backstory or overpowering impulse behind its purchase. The
copy of Religions of MesoAmerica you bought at a secondhand bookshop in Chicago
where the owner chain-smoked and drank Coke out of a can, causes a tangible pang
when you think of getting rid of it, even though you haven’t cracked it in five years.
Besides, you never know when you will need to know more about ancient Mayan religions … at least that’s the way I justify it.
Once I realized I was running out of places to sit, the reality sank in that no matter
how unpleasant the task, I had to do something at last. So, on the first day of spring I set to work, culling my collection into two piles, the books I’d keep and
those that would be donated.
The process was relatively painless, once I was honest (Did I need three copies of
The Windup Bird Chronicle?) and set ground rules: 1.) Was the book a gift or did it
have some meaningful attachment 2.)Would I reread the book? 3.) Was the book by
a favorite author or did it have “literary” merit? 4.) Would I read the book if I hadn’t? 5.) Did I want to keep the book … just because?
Four hours later, I had cleared out almost a hundred books, not as much as I wanted, but not a shabby start. While I was cleaning I ran across several novels that had been given to me as a teenager that had made a favorable impression.
My grandmother on my father’s side fostered an early love in reading by giving me Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines as a kid and later introduced me to Ed McBain,
Agatha Christie, Issac Asimov and others. While I was cleaning I discovered a couple of battered copies of Michael McDowell’s Blackwater series she had passed along to
me. McDowell is probably best known now for writing the screenplay for Beetlejuice.
For anyone who hasn’t read the series, imagine William Faulkner gothic ambiance combined with the horror of HP Lovecraft. I moved those books to my keep stack
and plan on hopefully digging back into them at some point. I see that the entire series is back in print including the volumes I was never able to get my hands on.
All of this got me thinking about great books that have fallen through the cracks, never attained the status that they should or aren’t widely known. Are there any books in your collection that you wish were better well known?
It’s been months since I’ve posted regularly to this page.
What’s happened in that time? The usual stuff: a new job, spending additional time
with family, reading more, and attempting to recharge my batteries.
Sometimes it’s necessary to unplug from the Internet and reconnect with living in
After that much needed decompression time I’m happy to say that I’m hard at work
on my new series.
Book 1 of the Elyuum series just went through a final round of edits and is close to
being completed. The only question is whether I release it in December or wait until
I have more of the series completed so I can shotgun them back to back.
As readers would you rather an author release a string of books in a series within a
short time frame (so you don’t have to wait) or as each one is completed?
The illustrator Colleen Beauchamp-Stiles has outdone herself on “The Shadow of All
Things” and the print copies will contain her beautiful drawings. I’ll be posting some
of these as we inch closer to the publication date. It’s really stellar stuff.
“Nightfall Gardens” continues to gather reviews and build momentum. I
have a soon-to-be released novella (excerpted in “The Labyrinth”) that contains the
full story of Villon and how he came to be trapped in the White Garden. The tragic
love story/monster epic had to be severely edited for “The Labyrinth” and I plan on
giving it to people who sign up or are signed up for my email list.
I’m going to make every effort to post to my blog and social media more regularly.
Until next week, thanks for your patience and I hope you have a great start of fall.
February has to be the coldest month in New York City. The temperature dropped to 3 degrees last night and it’s been a dodge of snow and freezing cold weather since the start of the New Year. Everyone here is way over it.
All that indoor time has given me the chance to polish the first book in my Elyuum series. I’ll be dribbing more information about that in the weeks ahead, I’m able to announce the name of the book today (cue trumpet horns), but you have to sign up to my mailing list to receive it (sneaky). I also plan on giving out the first four chapters of the book (shortly before publication) and other freebies so sign up today.
The novel will be released in late spring and I can’t wait to share it with my readers. I just got the first sketches from Colleen Beauchamp Stiles and we are working out the cover and other cool stuff that will go along with it.
February has also given me the chance to do more spreading the word about “Nightfall Gardens”. In addition to a ton of reviews that are forthcoming from fantastic book blogs, I’m dropping the first book in the series to 99 cents for one day on Monday, February 23. If you have any friends who might enjoy the series, let them know. As always, it’s much appreciated from me.
The “Nightfall Gardens” album is also shaping up nicely. More information about whether it will be available on Vinyl or how people can purchase it will soon be forthcoming. I’m also close to finalizing the details on the long-awaited “Nightfall Gardens” book bash in Brooklyn. Again, sign up to my email blast to learn more about that.
Until next time, stay warm, stay safe and read a good book.
A review of Nightfall Gardens by TMBA Corbett Tries to Write blog.
"Honestly everyone is talking about the Red Rising Series book series by Pierce Brown right now, but I feel they should be talking about the Nightfall Gardens series!"
For the complete review, please visit TMBA Corbett Tries to Write.
The Bookaholic Fairies gives Nightfall Gardens 4.5 fairy wings.
For the complete review, please visit The Bookaholic Fairies
A review of "Nightfall Gardens" by the Read to my Heart's Content blog.
"Mr. Houston wove an exciting tale that flows smoothly throughout the story. I really had a hard time putting the book down. I am pretty much obsessed with this series now."
For the complete review, please visit Read To My Heart's Content
A review of the "Nightfall Gardens" trilogy from The BookShelf Gargoyle.
"By the time I left Nightfall Gardens I had garnered a deep respect for Houston’s abilities as a storyteller, but more so for his incredible commitment to the world he has built. The construction and population of Nightfall Gardens is vastly imaginative, undisputedly arresting and something that will no doubt be greatly appreciated and devoured with relish by those hoping to discover a fantasy tale that touches on the classic themes of the genre in a downright refreshing environment."
For the complete review, please visit The BookShelf Gargoyle.
A review of The Shadow Garden from Scarlet's Web
"The story was as imaginative, dark and full of wonders and horrors as the first one. "
For the complete review, please visit Scarlet's Web