Thursday, June 27, 2013

To Book Club or Not to Book Club

So one of the many invitations you may get as a published writer is to come to book club meetings after the club has read your book.  Now if you've written some thought-provoking, life-changing, Pulitzer Prize-winning tome of literary genius, this is a great idea!  If you're a genre writer, it gets a little weird.

In my experience, most book clubs are made up of people who only want to read thought-provoking, life-changing, Pulitzer Prize winning tomes of literary genius.  They're not interested in merely being entertained.  They can go to the movies for that.  So for a genre writer like myself, this whole book club thing seems a bit dicey.
Apparently there are book clubs that are devoted to mysteries and crime thrillers (ahh . . . these are my people!).  But on the whole I've found these groups to be very rare.

Here's the thing:  if you've got 10 or 12 people who only enjoy thought-provoking, life-changing, Pulitzer Prize-winning tomes of literary genius, they're not going to like your down and dirty little crime thriller.  So whenever someone says to me that they are going to recommend my book to their book club, I always cringe a little.  Then I ask, "Well, does the club ever read thrillers?" and if the answer is no, I'm in a full-out wince.  If the answer is yes, I think well, all hope is not lost.

Don't get me wrong, I'm exceptionally, eternally grateful for the people who have done this for me--even if the outcome was not as I or they had hoped.  But I've seen it go both ways.

Take my friend, Writer Joe, for example.  Writer Joe writes crime thrillers.  Writer Joe's friend Sandy said, "Hey, I asked my book club to read your book.  Would you come to the meeting after we've read it as a guest?"  Writer Joe was terribly flattered and he eagerly agreed.  He asked Sandy, "How many people are in the club?" and Sandy said, "Oh about ten people.  You know Jane, Joan, Cindy, Darla, Rose, Sophie, Bob and Tim, right?  They're in it."  Writer Joe was thrilled!  He couldn't wait for the meeting.  Then in the month before the meeting, Writer Joe stalked himself on Amazon and Goodreads and one by one, the bad reviews appeared:  Jane - 2 stars; Joan - 2 stars; Cindy - 2 stars; Darla - 2 stars; Rose - 3 stars but in the review she rounded it down to 2.5.  The list goes on.  Now just about every person in the book club has given Writer Joe bad reviews, and Sandy, who invited him, hasn't said anything one way or the other about how she feels.  So Writer Joe doesn't even know if the person who invited him liked it!  Writer Joe doesn't think that anything good can come of him going to a meeting where at least 8 out of the 10 people there hated his book.  And I do mean HATED it.  Worst case:  Writer Joe is going to his own roast, but none of it will be in good fun.  Best case:  no one there will be comfortable telling Writer Joe how much they abhor his book to his face so they'll either say nothing or lie--and Writer Joe will know they're lying cause he's read all their shitty reviews online already.  Being a crime thriller writer, Writer Joe began to wonder if said book club was actually planning to kill and dismember him and dispose of his body parts in a Taco Bell dumpster.  Writer Joe tried feeling Sandy out about the situation.  Sandy assured him it would be fine, but still said nothing about whether she had even enjoyed the book.  Ultimately, Writer Joe declined this book club invitation.  And he lived to see another day.

Now I've had two book club invites from people who told me they loved the book.  What I've asked is that at some point close in time to the meeting, for the person who invited me to feel the members out.  I really don't want to go unless there is at least a 50/50 split--half hated it and half loved it.  This will give us something to talk about!  Because quite frankly, I don't want to end up in the Taco Bell dumpster.  The first invitation I ended up having to bail on because it was the evening before my wedding anniversary, and as many of you know, that is on Valentine's Day.  Try getting a decent reservation on Valentine's Day!  Forget it.  So the husband planned something grand on the evening before (without checking the calendar.  You know, moms and wives have those community calendars for a reason . . . but whatever) so I couldn't very well tell the hubs sorry, I've got a book club meeting.  Had to choose the hubs over the book.  This was wise.

But then a friend I went to grade school with contacted me about a friend of hers whose book club was reading it and asked if I'd attend.  I said sure, I'd love to.  She said they read all kinds of books, thrillers included.  She felt them out in the month beforehand and it appeared that the majority of the members liked it.

As it turned out, going to that book club meeting was one of the best nights of my life.  Yes, my life.  Like birth of my child, wedding, day I met my hubs, day my books came out, day I signed my contracts, college graduations, day I got my black belt, Bouchercon 2012, night I went to awesome book club meeting--this kind of night.  Of course I got lucky because all of the members gave me a 4 or 5 star rating.  They didn't know I was coming so they had all given their ratings before I got there.  That way none of them could lie to my face about what they'd given it or they'd get called out, and believe me, these were the kind of no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is kind of ladies who would call their fellow members out.  Which I loved.

Anyway, was it so awesome because I got to hear how great my book was for 3 hours?  Well, yeah, but it was more than that.  They had questions.  They had criticisms.  They had theories.  Here were people who were really, truly, deeply, passionately interested in the very thing I'd spent almost a decade of my life laboring over.  To get to talk about the story that has consumed all of my days and nights for nearly ten years with people who actually gave a crap about it--this was the most amazing feeling.  They had taken in every detail.  They had really thought about the book.  Also they were extremely candid about what they liked and what they didn't like--what they thought was brilliant and what they thought was total bullshit.  They told me where I succeeded and where I failed in the book, and you know what?  It was incredible.  Sure, I needed a vat of butter to grease my giant head up so I could get it through my front door when I got home, but it was also very constructive.  I learned a lot about what I did right and what I did wrong.  Stuff I can actually use next time around.  These ladies were intelligent, discerning readers.  All of them were funny, witty, warm and down-to-earth and they all had the same sense of humor that I do.  It was a match made in heaven.

In fact, when we took this photo of all of us, instead of "Cheese!", they yelled out the name of the bad guy in my book.  It was hilarious.

So to close this dreadfully long post, I invite you to tell me:  what are your thoughts about book clubs?  Any experience with them?  What would you do in Writer Joe's situation?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shameless Promotion of My Fellow Writers: Michael Infinito, Jr.

Just wanted to bring to your attention a newly released book by my good friend, Michael Infinito, Jr.  Mike is, in a word, awesome.  We have the same agent, and we were on submissions pretty much the entire time together and every time I wanted to crawl into bed, cry my head off and never come out again, Mike would send me an email that would make me laugh and sigh with relief that I wasn't alone.  Anyway, I had the privilege of reading his new book way, way back before he even had a contract with our agent for it, and I remember even then, before it was all revised, edited and polished up that I could not stop reading.  It was late, late, late at night and my husband woke up long enough to tell me, "You better go to bed or you won't be able to function tomorrow" and I said, "Sure, sure, just one more chapter."  Yeah, right.  Anyway, this is a fast, short, suspenseful, shocking read.

In fact, the very first chapter will make your toes curl.  I just love when that happens!

So here's the skinny:

The book is called 12:19

12:19…The time has been set…

Violet and Johnny Dotson pull up stakes and relocate to the beautiful countryside near Asheville, North Carolina in an attempt at starting their lives over after series of miscarriages. Unbeknownst to them they have actually been summoned there by a higher power.

Locked away in a mountaintop mental institution, J.C., a mysterious man who was the only survivor found at the scene of a brutal murder/suicide, will only utter five words… “I am the son of God.”

Strange events centered around the unknown patient spur Detective Tom Drayton to connect several bizarre deaths to the time of 12:19.

Armed with an old priest’s advice and a touch of new found faith, Tom follows a path that could very well lead him to the destruction of all mankind. But is he doing God’s bidding, or could he in fact be the dreaded serpent himself?

12:19…The clock is ticking….

So check it out!  You won't be sorry!

You can get it here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cassie Mae's How To Date a Nerd Cover Reveal and the Blog Hop Winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the Aberration blog hop!  It was so much fun seeing all the aberrant characters people came up with.  I'll list the winners of all the prizes below but first:

It's Cover Reveal Day for the lovely and brilliant, Cassie Mae's How to Date a Nerd.

Zoe has a great pair of legs, perky boobs, and wears exactly what she needs to show it all off. She works hard for the easy sleazy ‘you only wish you were me’ reputation, burying who she really is—an all-out nerd.

The only time Zoe gets to be herself is when she hides under her comforter to read X-Men comics, sending jealousy stabs at everyone who attends Comic-Con. Keeping up her popular rep is too important, and she’s too insecure to care about the consequences. But when Zoe’s sister takes her car for a ‘crash and burn into a tree’ joyride, her parents get her a replacement. A manual. Something she doesn’t know how to operate, but her next door neighbor Zak sure as heck does.

Zak’s a geek to the core, shunned by everyone in school for playing Dungeons and Dragons at lunch and wearing “Use the Force” t-shirts. And Zoe’s got it bad for the boy. Only Zak doesn’t want Popular Zoe. He wants Geek Zoe.

She has to shove her insecurities and the fear of dropping a few rungs on the social ladder aside to prove to Zak who she really is and who she wants to be… if she can figure it out herself.

HOW TO DATE A NERD will be released November 5, 2013 bySwoon Romance Publishing.

Sounds so fun!  Even to me, a thriller reader!  Voila!

And finally, the winners!

Amazon Gift Card $25.00 - Elizabeth Seckman
Amazon Gift Card $15.00 - K. Nowinsky (Faith Warrior)
Amazon Gift Card $10.00 - Jeff O (The Doubting Writer)
Signed Copy of paperback Aberration - Melissa Sugar
Signed Copy of paperback Aberration - LG Keltner (Writing Off the Edge
Signed Copy of paperback Aberration - QueendSheena 
Ebook copy of Aberration - L.G. Smith (Bards & Prophets)
Ebook copy of Aberration - Dana Mason
Ebook copy of Aberration - Constantine
Ebook copy of Aberration - Unikorna
Ebook copy of Aberration - Trisha (Words & Stuff)

Ebook winners:  I need to know what kind of e-reader you have.

Paperback winners:  I need your addresses.

Please email me your info (i.e. type of ereader or address) to

Thank you again everyone!  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Aberration Blog Hop and It's here! It's here! Release Day is here!

Hello all!  Thanks for stopping by.  As you may know, today is the release of my second novel, Aberration.  Very quickly let me give you the skinny:

FBI analyst Kassidy Bishop is assigned to the “For You” Killer’s Task Force after a series of sadistic murders bearing the same signature arise in different parts of the country, but when the investigation leads directly back to her, she is forced to delve into her own past. To find the killer, Kassidy must confront the painful memories of her twin sister's mysterious death or risk losing everything to a ruthless madman—including her own life.

You can buy it right now on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Definition of ABERRATION
1 : the fact or an instance of deviating or being aberrant especially from a moral standard or normal state
2 : unsoundness or disorder of the mind
3 : an aberrant individual
— ab·er·ra·tion·al  adjective
From the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

Anyway, why is the book called Aberration?  Well because the "For You" Killer, aka Wyatt, is an aberration even among serial killers.  He's a freak.  He's abnormal.  He doesn't fit the typical profile for a serial killer.  So in keeping with that theme, this blog hop is dedicated to finding the most aberrant characters in fiction, television and movies!

I'm asking all participants to list their top 5 choices and if they want to, discuss in one short paragraph an aberrant character from their own work.  

Prizes are as such and the winners will be chosen at random from the list of participants:

Amazon Gift Card $25.00
Amazon Gift Card $15.00
Amazon Gift Card $10.00
Signed copy of the paperback, Aberration (3 copies for giveaway)
Aberration the ebook (5 copies for giveaway)

Winners will be chosen at random and announced on June 10, 2013.

So now that that's out of the way, here are my Top 5 Choices for Most Aberrant Characters in Fiction, TV or Movies (in no particular order):

1.  J.C. from Michael Infinito's second novel, 12:19 (which is due out tomorrow, woo hoo!)  Read it, it will blow your mind and for months afterward you'll be trying to figure out just who or what JC was as well as his significance.

2.  Amy from Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.  I really can't say much without spoiling the entire novel for anyone who hasn't read it.  Just read it, you'll see why I've picked her.

3.  Jacob from the show LOST.  What was the deal with that dude?!

4.  Bartleby the Scrivener from Herman Melville's short story of the same name.  Who tells their boss they prefer not to and gets away with it--all the time?!  He's a mystery.

5.  The character Birdy in the 1984 movie starring Matthew Modine by the same name (which was actually based on a book by William Wharton.)  The dude is sexually attracted to birds.  Need I say more?

I'm off to check out everyone else's entries!  Can't wait to see who everyone picked!  Thanks for signing up and if you haven't, it's not too late!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated!