A Book Club Choice

30 Aug

I had the honor of being chosen for the book of the month at a local book/readers group. There was one condition; I must come to the meeting to answer questions and sign books. The secretary of the group said that a couple of the women could be brutally honest about some of the books they’ve read.  My book is not an epic novel, nor literary/general fiction, but a light mystery romance genre, so what did I have to fear?

For the group of women, I recommended A Place to Land, because it was the sexist of my three books. Yet, it is hardly sexy considering many romance novels of our day.

A month flew by and I made every effort to be back in town for the book club meeting. I even brought my sister along. What I saw right away was that the women were all over sixty years old, and while some did swoon over the cowboy in the story, others thought the book too sexy. I kept hearing the phrase, “the pool table incident.” But, there was humor there, too. One lady said, “I bet your husband is happy with you.”

Another brought up the challenges of being an immigrant in America today, as the heroine in the story. I had opposing sides in the room on the wolf issue, which was a large part of the story as well.

One eloquent lady brought up how often things happened to the heroine at the door of her car, or buildings, and how it illustrated to her how many doors the heroine had to go through to get where she wanted to go in life. Beautiful.

The most negative comment of the night came from a woman who mentioned a couple of flaws that my editor should have caught. Also, she wanted more clues so she could guess the villain of the story, yet the others liked being surprised.

The group appreciated the chance to ask me questions about my research and where I got my ideas. I did enjoy myself; who wouldn’t getting a chance to talk about something they love to do?

What would I do different next time? Ask for the range of ages in the group. Don’t take me wrong, I loved the ages of these women, but if I’d known, I probably would have suggested another of my books instead.



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12 responses to “A Book Club Choice

  1. ramblingsfromtheleft

    August 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM

    That must have been an interesting night, Mary … but I think it was better you didn’t know their ages … better to be blind to who might read you and get a really different perception of who you thought would not have read you.

    BTW … my mom lived in senior housing in Brooklyn … average age of about 70. My brother and I always asked what she wanted for Christmas. She told me that she wouldn’t mind a couple of books like the ones in their “book corner” off the lobby. I went in and scanned the shelves and came away with a great idea. See, at that time Publisher’s Clearing House sold Harlequin and Silhouette novels by the carton. I ordered a carton of twenty-five HQ romance … I did that for about four years!! The women at the center ate them up like chocolates. Seems old ladies love category romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy … and they also love mysteries … cozy or Agatha or whoever mysteries.

    About the romance novels, she explained … “A girl can dream at any age, sweetheart.” 🙂

    • maryvine

      August 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Florence, thanks for giving me a clearer picture about readers! You know, I think I will always love a good romance, too. Good for you for taking the books to senior housing! What a great way to give.

  2. Janis McCurry

    August 30, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    It sounds like a great experience, Mary. I think you have to go with a certain amount of “it’s nothing personal” to take feedback on the fly. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. maryvine

    August 30, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Janis, you really do have to take the “it’s nothing personal” attitude with you. I’m really glad no one picked on my writing or my “voice.” That would have been the worst thing to listen to, I think.

  4. Judith Keim

    August 30, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Writing for publication is such a hard thing to do and when it finally happens, another journey awaits you…that of having your work read by people who have many different reactions to them. I say you were brave to go to the reading discussion and learn the reactions of your readers face to face…not always an easy thing to do. But what a great learning experience and I agree, let a book stand as it is, with no apologies.Some will like it and some won’t. I’m waiting for that grand experience! Congrats!

  5. maryvine

    August 30, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Hi Judy! It is good to know I am brave. May we never apologize. 🙂

  6. stephanieberget

    August 30, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    What a fun idea, and I’ll bet the ladies loved to meet a real author. The comment about the doors is interesting. By the way, both my mom and I loved A Place to Land.

    • maryvine

      August 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Thanks for the nice comments, Steph. About the doors, I didn’t intentionally write it that way to help show the heroines journey, but I nodded my head like I did 🙂 It reminded me of English teachers looking at old classic novels and telling what the author meant by stating this and that. Probably half the time the author wrote it literally and not figuratively. 🙂

  7. Peggy Staggs

    August 30, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    You’re brave for facing those women. I’d have been so nervous I would have fainted. I’m glad it turned out well.

    • maryvine

      August 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Hi Peggy! I was nervous just before I went over there. Felt like job interview nervous.

  8. Clarissa Southwick

    September 4, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    This sounds like a wonderful experience. I’m sure they enjoyed having you there as much as you enjoyed talking to them. Keep writing. You’ve got some fans 🙂

  9. Lynn Mapp

    September 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Mary, it’s like wearing a new dress and someone is critical of the design. It’s tough. I know you handled the situation with grace, because that’s who you are.


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