Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Clubs Rock! by DL Larson

Visiting book clubs tends to be a daring adventure for me. I've attended ones where all the folks stare at me as if I might perform some daring act before their eyes. Others appear disappointed that I look so ordinary. Some seem doubtful that I could have my facts straight, or that I researched diligently in order to write my books. I've traveled many miles to present my story, only to discover the local library only had one copy and not everyone has had the chance to read the novel. So, no, they don't want to discuss the plot, don't want to ruin it for those yet to read it. I shake my head, wondering why someone couldn't have purchased another copy, why the library didn't use their inter-library loan system and in less than a week a dozen copies would have been in the hands of their patrons. But alas, not many do this. So, you see my experience with book clubs has been dubious on occassion.

Then there are the clubs who actually intend to read one of my novels, and in a timely fashion. Oh, how I love these groups. To invite an author to discuss the written words within the pages should be a wonderful experience for all. And when it actually happens, when the book club members have read every word cover to cover and are eager to share they're insight thrills me. It's exhilarating and I get a little light-headed when the discussion is in full swing about my characters and their actions. I want to jump up and do the happy dance.

Last January I was asked to mark my calendar for a visit with the Geneva Book Club. They wanted ten copies of Memories Trail, my first novel, a love story and war story set in and around the War of 1812. The exchange of books and money was made and I marked my calendar for a Tuesday night in April.

We actually met on a Monday, but the important thing, the really thrilling, goose-bump experience was listening to these gals pick scenes from by book and discuss it with a passion, wanting to know more about the way of things in the early 1800's. They wanted to know what movie star would play which character. I laughed. I couldn't help it. I was honored these gals thought my book was worthy of turning into a movie. And so we discussed who might play Tecumseh, the Shawnee warrior (a real person in our history) and then my characters Will and Elizabeth, a frontier couple. And the old man, Devon, a lovable rascal.

We talked for over three hours and still hadn't discussed the entire book. Our topics ranged from the research involved, the way of the times, the plot and characters, to the bitersweet ending. Their sincerity moved me. Once again I was glad I ventured out to share my story with a book club. So my advice if you belong to a book club and are contemplating asking an author to visit, or do a talk on the phone, here are some tips to make your experience a great one.

- Set a date well in advance with the writer.
- Scheduling will help book members have ample time to read the book.
- Buy or borrow enough books for every member to have for their own.
- Did I mention every book member should have their own book????
- Ask the author if they have a set of interview questions they would like to use.
- Let the author know what you intend for the evening:
discussing the current book
how they spend their day writing
The plot and characters
Are there writers looking for advice?
(This happens all the time and too many times they take up
precious time with these type of questions, usually to the
distraction of others.)
- Allow time for the author to promote her/his next book
- Inform your group if the author has another book for sale so they can come prepared to purchase a book.
- If the author is traveling a great distance to join your group, offer to pay for gas. It's a nice gesture and lets the writer know her time spent is appreciated.
- Enjoy the evening.
- Be sure each club member has had the chance to voice their opinion or ask a question. (Again, too many times one person takes over and although what they say may be of everyone's interest, could be others wanting to speak up too but are too timid.)

The Geneva Book Club did a wonderful job allowing each of their members to bring up topics in whatever fashion they wanted. We didn't discuss the book chronologically,
rather one aspect led us from one scene to another. It worked beautifully.

With this last visit to a book club, my enthusiasm is restored. I'm ready to attend more. So if you have a book club and would like to discuss one of my books, write me a note at this blog or visit my website at I'd love to visit or chat on the phone with you.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

DL will be at the SpringFling Writers Conference, Hyatt Deerfield, April 25-26. Stop by and visit, buy a book!!

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