Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a book club here in Islamorada, FL. The group meets by-weekly at different members homes. I was invited to meet the members, all of whom had read Only Love Twice. This was my first book club appearance and I admit I was not sure exactly what to expect. As an author, you are always hoping everyone loves the book but are afraid everyone hates it. In this case they all loved it!
We talked about when I began writing and what inspires me. We talked about the characters and how I named them. In my case I used the personalities of my friends and family. I explained how I used the internet to find names and to view places I had never been to but my characters went there in the story. We talked about the places I used for the characters, namely Knoxville, TN and Islamorada, FL where I actually live. It is much easier to use places you are familiar with and makes the story feel more personal to the reader.
One of the members told me about an event that happened after she had started reading the book. She had been reading right before she had to drive into town on an errand. As she was driving she observed a couple on the sidewalk holding hands and then they faced each other and hugged. She thought, “Oh it is Madison and Saleem!” She had felt the characters were made so real she could see them. That was a wonderful comment for me as it is what I strive to do when writing. I want the reader to feel they are in the story and right there with the characters.
Another comment that all the members of the club expressed is something other authors who read my blog should think about. They all loved that the characters were older and experiencing what all persons reaching middle age experience. They thought it was great the characters were older and using life’s experiences to make the choices they did. Not enough stories are written from this point on view.
I was asked if I had a motive or moral to writing this. I was happy to hear that question as yes I did and the reader found it. There were two morals in this story. First I wanted to show that women can be strong and excel without a man. Madison built a business and life on her own; even if it was just on the edge of the envelope from the police work she had done most of her life. The second was that we should not stereotype people because of culture and religion. Saleem was Muslim and Madison was Jewish. They both took the time to learn about the other and accept each other on their own merits. They were also open minded to the others point of view.
I signed books for those who brought them. I talked about the difficulty of getting published and how the process goes. I talked about the marketing of authors and how most marketing and promoting is done by the author. I asked the members if they were Amazon Prime members and if they would write a review on Amazon and Goodreads as this is how books get moved up on best seller lists.
While I was apprehensive at first I thought this was a great experience. I highly recommend getting to as many book clubs as an author can schedule. The feed back is wonderful and ego boosting. This group was excited to know I have several other books in the works, one ready for edit, and they wanted to know the minute it came out so they could purchase and read it. From this I believe book club appearances equals future book sales. A win-win situation for all.
I thank everyone who attended yesterday especially my friend Sue Haight who hosted the event and provided a wonderful luncheon for every one.