Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A WINNER AND A NEW CONTEST

Crystal is the winner of the contest just finished! Crystal please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to let me know which book you choose and your mailing address.

It’s a frequently heard complaint that writers outside of Utah are short changed when it comes to publicity for their books. Another complaint is that too many LDS novels are set along the Wasatch Front. Companion to these complaints is that people who want to read LDS fiction can’t find them if they don’t live in the Mountain West. I wonder how valid these complaints really are.

Betsy Brannon Green, Stephanie Black, Sandra Grey, Jason Wright, and Orson Scott Card are just a few well known LDS writers who live in states other than Utah and they seem to do just fine. Pamela Carrington Reed and Anna Jones Buttimore come to mind as LDS writers I enjoy who live in New Zealand and England respectively. There are a few Canadians among our ranks as well.

Can’t find LDS books? The number of bookstores providing online access is growing rapidly. Both Deseret Book and Seagull Book accept online orders. Amazon carries most LDS books. Then too there are bookstores such as LDS Bookcorner which are online only. Almost any bookstore in the United States will order a book for a patron if the patron knows the title, author, publisher, and ISBN number. In many cases they’ll help look up the needed information. Another source is through various authors’ blogs or web pages. Then too, there’s the library. Some libraries may not stock LDS fiction, but almost all libraries in the United States, Canada, and in parts of Europe will do an Interlibrary Loan for one of their patrons. Just look up the information on the title you wish to read and fill out a form at your local library. Some libraries require the patron to pay the postage, but most provide this service free. When the book arrives at your local library, you can check it out on your library card. If you don’t use these services because you don’t know what books are available. Sites such as LDSPublisher keep an up-to-date list of current releases including the backliner blurb. You can also read my review column on Meridian Magazine which is published the third Thursday each month.

And what about novels set beyond the Mountain West? As the LDS book market grows we are seeing an increasing number of writers and settings far from the Church’s heartland. Julie Bellon, a transplanted Canadian sets her books in exotic locals. Betsy Brannon Green’s books are primarily set in the South. Card’s books take in outer space. For this month’s first contest I want to introduce you to three writers who live and set their books in far flung places. First there’s Pamela Carrington Reid’s Something Familiar set in New Zealand. Set on a secluded sheep ranch in the ruggedly beautiful high country of that country, Reid’s book is a “romantic and expressive novel about the destiny between two people, the complicated choices that must be made, the influence of the gospel, and the powerful effects of true love.”

Next we have The White Bedouin by George Potter, a tale as rich and mysterious as Saudi Arabia, the land where Potter has lived and worked for sixteen years as a consultant. “In the first book of its kind, biblical scholar George Potter mixes firsthand knowledge of the Middle Eastern culture and scripture with a carefully woven story of breathtaking beauty and epic proportions. Cross the threshold between reality and legend . . .”


Grave Secrets by Marlene Austin is not so far from Utah as the other two selections, but not many LDS novels are set in New England, especially as far north as Maine. This novel is both a genealogy mystery and a chilling adventure. The heroine learns that discovering the secrets of the past may be the key to saving her life.

Here’s the question to start off our discussion and to add your name to a drawing for any of these three books. The rules of the game are on the sidebar. The contest begins today and runs until April 15. How important is a book’s setting to you and do you prefer settings familiar to you or do you like to discover unfamiliar lands?

18 comments:

Amy Btw M said...

I don't really mind so much where the setting is. I like reading about familiar places, but it is also fun to read about other places. I don't think I'm a very visual reader anyhow, so it doesn't matter much to me. Traci Hunter Abramson uses Northeast U.S. in some of her novels.

Mindi said...

I love to read about new and different places. I am one of those that feels that too many books are set in Utah and really enjoy books that have a different setting. Well, it helps me enjoy them. I'll take a well-written book set in Utah over a poorly written one in Afghanistan any day. I do agree on how difficult it can be to find books outside of the "Mormon Corridor", however. In Indiana it was either buy it or go without, pretty much. The library would do inter-library loan, but there was a fee and if the lending library also had a fee it could cost 5+ dollars to borrow a book.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I so love a good setting! It's usually very important to me- I like a certain feel to the books I read for enjoyment and I think a good setting can make all the difference.

Now, if it's poorly written, all the exotic in the world isn't going to fix it. Unfortunately.

Deanna said...

I like both kinds of sites. I enjoy books when I recognize the country but books with places that I have never visited give me insight into other places and their customs.

I enjoy the books from all LDS authors whether they live in Utah or not. The characters are what make the book, not the location.

An AZ Girl in TX said...

The setting is important to the story; the ambiance can make or break a story. I find that more often than not the setting really helps out; it creates another point of interest beside the plot and characters etc. When it is done well, it doesn’t really matter where or when the book takes place. I will read a book I am interested in regardless of where it takes place, although it is fun to “see” new places through the eyes of the characters.
I understand the complaint about LDS fiction being hard to find outside of the “Mountain West” as you said it. A year ago I moved to Texas from Arizona, and what a difference! I had my pick of where to go and how to buy and access to in store sales etc. And the public library carried books by so many LDS authors.
Once I got here I discovered a few things like: the stores are not located here, it costs more in shipping and handling when buying online, and if you can’t afford to buy every book you’d like to read in the LDS market… the libraries don’t carry a selection to even speak of. Also, the interlibrary loans are often very easily canceled by the library staff, or you have to wait 12 weeks to get the book… wow I just realized this part of my comment is longer than the other and I didn’t mean for it to be, but I wanted to show there is quite a difference when living more east than west ;^)

Liz Zentner said...

The setting of a book is very important to me. I prefer to read books with settings that are unique and unusual. I love to learn about different cultures, both in and outside of the U.S. Books are windows to the world and I love to throw my windows wide open and invite the world in. I think I become a better person when I learn about people who are different from me. I am able to understand them better. Liz

Kelsi Rose said...

Whether or not the setting is important to me depends on the plot. I like books that have settings in places that I have never been. I am a visual reader and picture all the locations. Some books, like ones that take place in Utah, I can just as easily see them taking place in places that I have lived (not all, but some).

Jennie said...

I appreciate all of your comments, but I'm especially disappointed in the information Az Girl in TX shared. I knew some places charged for ILL books, but in the many years I worked for the Salt Lake Library and being somewhat familiar with other Utah libraries found them much the same, I didn't know charges could be so awful. At the library system where I worked there was a 25 cent charge for an ILL when I first started working there, but it was dropped a few years later to no charge. Every day I collected piles of books, many of them LDS novels to ship to ILL patrons all across the country. Many times I checked out ILL books that had traveled from Canada or Europe to a patron and never charged them. And usually the service was fast with most books arriving within a week, though out-of-print or limited edition books took longer. I find that really sad that some libraries rip off their patrons who try to use this nationally sponsored program. I can't speak for other authors, but if anyone in the U.S. who reads my blog wants any of my books, all you have to do is send me a check for the price premarked on the back of the book and your address. I'll pay the postage.

TRIBE'S said...

I love a good setting. If an authors is good they can take me instantly to their location and my mind can do the rest. One reason I don't like movies made from books is that my mind is so much better at creating a scene. I don't mind where the setting is located, I love Utah, so go ahead and take me there.

Randy and Lisa said...

I have always taught my girls that reading books are a way to travel around the world without leaving home. I enjoy reading books which take place in different locations and settings. This allows me to experience different places which I am unable to physically visit. I love to read a book and then find myself in the location described by the author. This happens, especially, when a book is set in Utah or Idaho. Two places I am very familiar with, however if the book is poorly written the setting doesn't really matter. I'm glad to say that most of the LDS authors do not fall under this catagory.
Having spent my life in Utah and Idaho, I haven't experienced problems with getting good LDS books. I did feel left out when I lived in Ontario, OR for a short time. Although, having to drive to Boise, ID, an hour away, doesn't compare to those who live hours away from a good LDS bookstore.

Stephanie said...

I like both. I like settings that are familar and settings that make my imagiantion work. I'm from washington so having the twilight series based in my home state was fun to read. It was also fun reading Code Red Based at fort lewis. It's cool to place things, such as the roads and exits. But I also like the tennis shoes seris and having to try to picture what it was like back then. Or even Jane Austen's books. So I like both. Knowing the area is fun while trying to imagine the area is exciting!

Taffy said...

I wanted to live in Italy after reading "Enchanted April". I want to see a moor even though I didn't like "Wuthering Heights".
Other stories set in places that don't exist still make we want to visit them! Like "Royal Target"! I want to visit the kingdom set in that book. But it is all about the story! It all comes together as part of the story, doesn't it? The setting can be the story. Ok. I'm rambling and not sure I am making sense so I will sign off now. :)

Taffy said...

ME again.
I wonder if getting with a site like "paperback swap" could be a solution to out of Utah readers?

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

I think the setting can be integral to the plot of a story if it's woven in well. I love to read about new places and cultures. I have traveled a bit in my time and have tried to use that in all of my books. I've written about England, France, Turkey, Greece, Uganda, Iraq, and Canada to name a few places. (I have been privileged to meet several wonderful people who lived in the places I've never been to, like Iraq, and hopefully that made my story stronger.) I think it did, anyway.

With seven children I don't travel much anymore, but I still love to use my reading as an escape to exotic locales sometimes. Who needs a travel agent when you have a library card, right? :)

Great post, Jennie!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I like a variety of settings, but honestly get tired of settings in Utah. I love reading books set in other US states, and some in other countries, especially where they also speak English. I sometimes has a difficult time getting into a book when I know they are supposed to be speaking another language, especially if it's a foreign language I know and they use the terminology wrong.

Melanie Goldmund said...

I love reading books that take me to another place. One book that I particularly remember from my youth was "My Side of the Mountain" and I tell you, I was right there in the forest with Sam, practically living in his tree! It was always a bit of a surprise, and even disappointment, to shut the book and realize I was still in my own house in my own city. I didn't want to read about Salt Lake City because I lived there and experienced it every day -- I wanted something new and exciting! And I still do! I absolutely love reading sci fi and fantasy, for instance, because it whips me away from the daily grind to another planet with new and different architecture, street structures, landscapes, native creatures, languages, customs, you name it. And when I read books that are set here on earth, too, I want to read about some place different than the pavement I tread every day. I particularly liked the non-Utah settings of Stephanie Black's novel The Believer, for instance, and the catacombs of Paris in Rob Wells' The Counterfeit, and of course the Arizona described in Kerry Blair's works. That said, however, I have to agree with Nancy Campbell Allen about poorly written books, but when all else is equal, I'll go for the exotic setting every time.

Daley Family said...

This question made me think. I really paid attention when I read the last couple of books to see if the setting made any difference to me. I think it is fun when a book takes palce somewhere that I am familiar with, but I also love to read books in places like Australia and Ireland, where it sounds so beautiful these are now places that I want to visit.

Chantele said...

I love reading about unfamiliar lands. I am a huge fan of fantasy, and whatever new settings the author can dream up, the more I am sucked into the story. I really like a lot of books that are set in Utah, with vivid settings on how the land used to look. Overall though, the characters make the book!:)