Monday, December 12, 2005


In Which I Am Witness to the Awesome...

Well, I had this perfectly maudlin, sentimental post all cued up and ready to go today. But then I got home and my somber mood was shot all to hell by an unassuming little padded envelope. I'm on the media list for lots of people wanting to send me review DVDs and first proofs and unbound galleys, but they all come to my work address, not home.

I opened the envelope and out came this.

If you don't yet know Jessica Stover through her writing, your ass must be nailed to a board...a board that's just out of reach of your computer. That's pretty much your only excuse not to be reading her.

Like the writer herself, Aidmheil (which the author urges you to pronounce however you like) is a little hard to pin down, to pigeon-hole, to characterize. I could call it a collection or prose and poetry from a young writer on the cusp of the Big Time, but that's not nearly specific enough to be useful. I could call it a sampler of the exploits and poetry and fiction of one of the freshest voices in the 'sphere which, while true, doesn't quite do it justice either.

Maybe the simplest way is the best. And quite simply, this is an adventure book. Not a traditional adventure book, in which the writer concocts a series of fights and rescues and escapes. It's not that kind of adventure.

The adventure is for you, the reader.

If you dare, you can follow J.Sto into the valley of Death. You can eavesdrop while she acts as a receptionist at the payphone of the Jedi. Or you can read "Greyfeather" a more traditional fantasy story that I can only hope is a taste of the honking big banana split that is to come.

Ever since I found my way to J.Sto from (where else?) Nickerblog, I've been impressed with Jessica's writing. But what truly astounds me is how well, how clearly, how undeniably she telegraphs her passion, her enthusiasm. Great writers, I'm sorry to say, are a dime a dozen. I've worked with many many great writers and most of them were a major pain, ass-wise and not worth the paper their checks were printed on. These "great" writers were living off of one or two bon mots or stylistic gimmicks that fooled the masses and sometimes, the critics. They never pushed themselves to do more than the bare minimum, to transcend the repetition of the same old tricks that kept bosses happy and kept paying the rent.

In my line of work, we have another word for these "great" writers. We call them hacks. These are the lost boys (and girls), the folks bereft of ambition, of burning desire, of perseverance, of, in short, the engines that drive truly great writing. They're just punching a clock, writing wise.

I get the distinct impression that Jessica Stover would never punch a clock; she'd punch it out.

Reading this little gem of a book, embarking on this 150-some page adventure, took me through lands strange and familiar, gave me moments of rest in a page or two of poetry. As a rule, by the way, I feel about poetry the way I feel about fish sticks. They're okay, but not exactly the first thing I reach for when I'm hungry. Well, Jessica can serve me fish sticks any time. "Speak of the Weather" steals my breath like a Virginia storm, a reference you'll get when you buy the book.

But what I liked most about this book is that it felt, for the briefest of moments, as though I had a WiFi connection into the mind of a writer who knows she has work to do, who has rolled up her sleeves and taken her fighting stance and is ready to do the work, but who also already foresees the outcome. She has just begun her adventure, but she knows that she will prevail.

And now, having read this merest taste of what's to come, I know she will prevail too.

To me, it boils down to a choice: buy the book and support a brilliant young writer, or don't buy it...and then kick yourself in a few years because you had the chance to say "I knew her when..." but you totally blew it.

So, what's it gonna be:

The safe path?

Or the more interesting and unusual one that you can choose, dare I say it, in the name of adventure?

You decide. As for me, I have a little more yet to read (and re-read) and then this book is going on my special signed-copy shelf, right between Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams.

But I'll also leave a little space on the shelf there.

For future works by Jessica Mae Stover. Believe it, friends and neighbors, they're coming.

And I for one can't wait.

Oh, and by the way:

Beard: Day 4

From Somewhere on the Masthead

You've got me all aquiver with excitement for my signed copy to arrive!! Like you, I will also be placing it on my modest (but cherished) shelf of signed books - with Nick Hornby, Stephen King and Wil Wheaton. Pretty good company, I figure.
I got mine, today! So prettttty.
Mine came too!! I had it signed and love her signature. She even didn't laugh at what I asked her to sign. So, MM, what embelishment did you have the fair JSto sign in your book? Can you share?

I loved the Death Valley story and hope to provide some fresh feedback to Jessica once I've finished it all.

For me, this is my ONLY book signed by the author. I hope it's the beginning of a collection.
what a recomendation.

Will wait for her to get into paperbacks ... :P
Thanks for the recommendation! I'm always looking for challenging new authors....
I guess I have been nailed to a board. But I took your word and now will be looking for hers. It looks very interesting. Thanks for the referral- I am always looking for something new to read.
Thanks, MM.

I'm going to pretend I've earned all of the above.

J. Sto is teh awesome! I hope that she can maintain the discipline to stay wild after the big money rolls her way.

Also, for those who read Wil and Shane's blogs,
is way more hawesome, bippity boo!!
Seriously, I love the guys, but Annie Sertich writes head and shoulders above those guys. I'll be keeping an eye out for her future writing, best you believe it!
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