What’s So Fun about a Book Club?

pens-fiction-9-2016-pens-of-praise-book-clubWhat’s so fun about a book club? Apparently plenty!

I interviewed two friends about their respective groups. Shelly Zraik’s meets in Michigan. Becky McLafferty’s meets in Wisconsin. (That’s Becky on the left standing next to Susan Marlene Kinney and Kathy Leist.)

So, girls,what do you love about belonging to your book club?
BECKY: We so look forward to our meetings. What can be better than combining godly friends, godly books, and prayer? It just doesn’t get any better!

SHELLY: I love getting together to talk with my book club friends. The books are always interesting, and I hear and gain insights and new perspectives I had not thought about before.

Who started your group? Who leads it?

BECKY: Sue and I co-founded the Pens of Praise Christian Writers Fiction Book Club. We take turns leading, and everyone chimes in.

SHELLY: Amy Corron (an author herself) leads our book club and its discussions. It’s called the Bedford Alliance Church Book Club or BAC Book Club, for short.

How do you decide on the books you want to read and discuss?
BECKY: Often by word-of-mouth suggestions. We read the “blurb” on a novel, and possible author bio or reviews. Did I mention COVERS? Book covers are so important, and yours is fantastic! Then we choose by general consensus. We vary genres so everyone enjoys their favorites.

SHELLY: Amy chooses the book, although she is open to suggestions and usually takes them as long as she feels it would be appropriate. Most often it is a non-fiction book, but she usually chooses something fiction or lighter in subject matter for the summer meeting.

What is your group meeting like?
BECKY: We open the discussion with general questions about “major likes and dislikes.” Our members usually highlight passages or jot notes as they read, and then we comment on things that came to our attention. Usually those were noticed by a number of readers, which is fun! We compare notes and then discuss those questions that catch our attention. In addition to those you provided, we asked what points members really liked or found thought-provoking. We looked quite thoroughly at plotting and characterization, and also what wasn’t liked…in your case, there was absolutely nothing!! We had a lively discussion about the characters in great detail, including depth of character and character traits. We also examined character arcs and story plotting. You generously provided discussion questions for our group, which proved to be a valuable resource.
SHELLY: Amy emails discussion questions ahead of time so we are familiar with them. When available, she uses all or some of the author-provided questions and maybe adds a few of her own. She reads the questions, and we share as we feel led. Oftentimes we go off on a “rabbit trail” and have to re-center. <smiling here> We had such a wonderful discussion about Her Deadly Inheritance. We shared if/how we could relate to the various characters and situations based on our own life experiences, how we might have acted/reacted under the various circumstances, and how we felt about the plot twists and who were the villains, including when we figured it out. Everyone said how much they loved Her Deadly Inheritance and hoped there was another book in the series.
Where do you meet and for how long?
BECKY: Our meetings last about 2 hours, and as much of it goes toward the book discussion/review as naturally occurs. We usually meet at Kathy’s house, and she always provides a scrumptious treat.

SHELLY: We meet in someone’s home, whomever offers to host. Everyone usually bring some sort of snack to share. Discussion is approximately 2 hrs, with fellowship either before or after. Typically we are together for about 2.5 – 3 hrs total.

How often do you meet?
BECKY: About every six weeks, depending on members schedules.

SHELLY: Every other month, the odd numbered ones.

How many participants?
BECKY: It varies, but five regulars and sometimes more.

SHELLY: Participation varies, but typically between 5-10.

As you can see, book club groups are not all the same. If you’re in a book club now, what do you find most fun about it?

“I Don’t Have Diabetes!”

The day after the Write-to-Publish Conference in June, I got the news.

“I don’t have diabetes!” I insisted.

My nurse practitioner grinned at me and my spunky audacity. “So now, you’re the doctor?”

“Well, no,” I said, “but if you and I agree that I don’t have diabetes, then I don’t.”

Charmaine was’t buying it. She packed me off to another nurse who specializes in coaching new diabetics.

My writing life was about to acquire a new distraction. One that would challenge me and gobble a good chunk of time each day while I tried to understand and do what was necessary.

No more grabbing snacks and eating anything I pleased, whenever I pleased. Time to stock lots of fruits and veggies and start making meals again. Oh, byosemite-1646512__180 Yosemite National Park mountainsother!

But I did it.

Time to stop making excuses and start exercising regularly. Good grief!

But I did it.

The good news?

  • When the nurse tested my blood sugar, it was 102 (60-99 is normal). She said I only had to test my blood sugar three times a week when I woke in the morning.
  • Because the wellness tests indicated my A1C was 6.7 (kissing close to 7), no medical bracelet and no medications necessary
  • Colleen told me I could beat this by losing the weight, eating right, and exercising.

She sent me home with a blood glucose monitoring kit and my Healthy Living with Diabetes manual. I enrolled in a six-week hospital course by the same name.

Over the last three months, the confusion lifted, and I learned how to fit this new distraction into my writer’s life. In the meantime, I’m always looking for better ways to manage my blood sugar.

What did you find helpful in controlling blood sugar?

Such Is a Novel Writer’s Life!

Ever wondered what your favorite novel writer’s life is like aside from the actual writing?

hydrangea-1635541__180 blue hydrangeaThe truth is, we’re often involved in mind-boggling tons of promotion. Speaking, answering interview questions, keeping up with our websites, writing guest blogs, posting on Facebook–the list is endless. Such is a novelist’s life. But it’s also fun!

Because those are the ways we get to chat with and to know you, our dear readers. What could be better than that?

So, in case you missed these two behind-the-scenes glimpses into my novel writer’s life, Anne Garboczi Evans and Sandra Ardoin each posted these guest blogs this week:

Did anything in these posts surprise you? If so, what and why? (Please don’t be shy. I’d love to hear what you have to say!)

Neglected Blog? No More–Let’s Have Fun!

The main speaker startled me in August at the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference. When Wendy K. Walters said, “A neglected blog tells visitors you don’t care” …

I thought my heart would stop._20160826_105519 - 2016 GLCWC

Please accept my apology! I never meant to send you any such message. Not to excuse myself, but I stopped posting only because I didn’t want to waste your time.

Posts should offer you something with meaning and value–something to enrich your life, right?

So, here’s the good news, dear readers! After much searching of my heart, I finally discovered what I truly want to share with you. Things to satisfy your curiosity and, hopefully, spark real conversations between us.

I value you, my novel’s readers. You’ve been so wonderful–buying Her Deadly Inheritance, telling me how much you love it, and sharing your enthusiasm with others. You are a huge blessing! And a huge encouragement. I can’t thank you enough.

Now I want to bless you, too. Obviously, you love reading fiction and are curious about a novelist’s life. When we meet in person, you quickly ask when to expect my next novel and what my life is like now. (Pretty much like yours except that I also write.) And you ask so many interesting questions.

So, what can you look forward to as we chat on my new blog?

  • updates on the progress of my next novel–a lot is happening!
  • behind-the-scenes glimpses of what it’s like to____
  • reviews of terrific new novels by other authors along with my interviews with them

I’ll also:

  • post fun online games we can enjoy together
  • ask your opinion on topics related to writing and reading
  • schedule occasional one-hour Q & A sessions where you can ask me anything about my novels and writing life

And so much more!

But first, here’s your chance to “influence the author.” This blog is for you, so …

What would you like me to write about as an author of Christian romantic suspense?

Living in Daily Love

Living in daily love (1 Corinthians 13) is one of my top goals in life. So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is tune in to Curt Landry’s “Power Points.”

His 30 second online teaching sessions help to keep me centered in my daily walk with our Lord Jesus. His perspective as a Messianic Jew adds such  a wonderful element, and he ends his nuggets of truth from God’s Word with a prayer for his listeners.

You will find him by tuning in at http://www.curtlandry.com/power-points-curt-landry/. Be blessed!

Falling in Love

Here’s a question for you: Is there such a thing as falling in love with someone after only knowing him or her a short time?

If the stories in our family are any evidence–then I’d say yes.

Mom& Dad wedding 2Mom and Dad: My dad first laid eyes on my beautiful mom at the Cinderella Ballroom in Appleton in 1942. He asked her to dance and, while they were dancing, told her that he was going to marry her. Mom said she thought he was nuts–but three months later, they were married.

Jim and me: Jim told me that as soon as he asked me out the first time, he knew I was the one for him. On our second date, my father answered the door and asked Jim to wait in the living room. Then Dad took me upstairs and said, “When are you two getting married?” He had just seen Jim for the first time, and they hardly exchanged more than a few words between them. I thought Dad was nuts. But three months later, Jim and I were engaged, and five months after that, we married.

Okay, and I’ll confess. When Jim brought me home from that aforementioned second date, we sat in his car, mesmerized by each other and quietly talking for so long that the birds started singing their morning songs before I went inside. By that time, were Jim and I in love? Oh, yes.

So what do you think? Can a couple fall in love even though they’ve only known one another a short time? What’s your experience?

Memorial Day Memories

While I was growing up in Kaukauna, Memorial Day was always a special event. Early in the morning, my father–a WWII veteran–left the house in his American Legion blues with his bugle tucked under his arm. While the rest of the city prepared for the big parade, Dad and a few other vets made their faithful rounds at the cemeteries. Once they had marked each U.S. serviceman’s grave with a small flag and delivered a three-gun salute, Dad raised his bugle to play TAPS.

By ten o’clock, the entire town turned out either to march in or watch the parade.The moment it stretched over the Lawe Street Bridge with my father and the honor guard at its center, the parade paused. The honor guard fired their guns to salute our war dead. Then someone sent the memorial wreath sailing over the the railing. As it hit the waters of the Fox River and began floating downstream, my father lifted his bugle, and the clear, mournful notes of TAPS drifted out over the hushed crowd.

Someone rightly said that we learn more through what is caught than what is taught. By watching my father, not only on Memorial Day but each day of the year, I learned patriotism. I learned to love and appreciate our wonderful Land of the Free, those who risked their lives to keep it so, and our high-flying flag that proudly represents its ideals.

How about you? What Memorial Day memories do you carry in your heart? Please share. We can all use the inspiration.