Book Clubs for Writers

By | January 27, 2014

One of my speaking topics is “Book Clubs for Writers,” a topic that brings together two passions of novelists.  Stephen King proclaims, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: you must read a lot and write a lot.”

Reading another’s works expands a writer’s knowledge, often inspires new ideas and is a writing course within a story.  How did this author keep you in suspense? Did you identify with the main character? Did he or she irritate you as you read? Reading someone else’s work whether you like it or hate is a productive venture.

I belong to two reading groups and moderate a third. We read varied books, chosen by the members. Many I would not pick up on my own, some I don’t like. Some I am blown away by the writing or the ideas. They may not be the type of book I might write, but I learn a great deal from the writers’ craft.  As readers/writers, we always need to be aware of craft.

A book category, labeled “book club” books, has surfaced. My WF series fits the category. Each presents a strong female whose choices or decisions lead to a different lifestyle, a change in outlook, maybe a change in setting. The woman’s decisions/choices lead to a new viewpoint/outlook. Each book lends itself to discussion.

In my own reading selections, I gravitate to fiction with strong, yet flawed characters who take control of their destinies through the choices they make. Strong characters who elicit what would I have done were that me? I also really love books which present an issue an idea which I ponder long after I have read the last page. Hopefully, my WIP series succeeds in making the readers think and discuss.

In Levels of Truth, Caroline is forced to reexamine her past when she inherits the house in which she was born. The twist is she inherits it from her adoptive mother who has visited it regularly. Until her inheritance, she didn’t know the house existed nor did she know about Annabelle’s, her adoptive mother’s trips.

Caroline must delve into the past to discover her roots, learn more about Annabelle and think about what she knows about families and the definition of family. Each decision she makes learns her to unraveling her truth. Would you want to know about your adoption and would you like to meet the natural parents? Or if you were content with your adoptive parents and always felt their love, what would you do if contacted by your natural mother? What if you learned that parts of your life history were not the stories your mother told you, but those stories were bold faced lies? How do you distinguish between truth and falsehoods?

In the second book in the series, the wrath of Hurricane Sandy affects Tina. The main character gets caught in the turmoil left behind by Hurricane Sandy. I live in NJ; the eye of the hurricane passed directly over, but we did not have the damage that those 10 minutes away had. Our friends and other families were permanently altered.

When I viewed the effects of Katrina, I overwhelmed by damage and loss. How do you survive the effects of so much destruction and loss? Viewing that devastation first hand changes those reactions. Swept Away traces a woman’s reaction and decisions as she deals and learns from the aftermath of that Hurricane Sandy.

I have learned a great deal about developing an emotional impact in my writing from the books I have read in my book groups. My love for books that pull the reader in and make that reader think was fostered in book groups.

Two recent favorite reads from my book clubs were Light Between Oceans and Orphan Train. Neither are WF or romance, but they were great for discussion.

What books have influenced your writing?