5 Tips for Creating Your 2012-2013 Book Club Lists


If your book clubs are anything like mine, we’re entering planning season. I belong to two book clubs — not that I’m a good member of either, I travel too much — both of these groups operate during the academic year and take the summers off. So, it’s in the summer months that we get together and choose the coming year’s selections. We bring our lists and our ideas and discuss, share and eventually, vote. The books that don’t make it are shared later in an email for us to use as a suggested reading list later. In both groups, we usually end up with more fiction than non-fiction, one classic book (sometimes from the young adult category) and occasionally, a short story collection. Both of my groups skew heavily into literary fiction and tend to avoid most genre fiction, with historical being an exception. These lists reflect closely what I like to read.

But, as an emerging author, I have some concerns about my book club lists that I’d like to call to the attention of other book club groups, especially women’s book clubs. Please, please, as you create your lists, do think about how you can support women authors as you create those lists. If you’ve missed the VIDA count the last two years and what it says about the publishing industry and female authors, please, do read here.

So, here are some tips and/or things to think about as you compile your 2012-2013 group list, with a special eye toward supporting female authors: Continue reading


“If the words are alive….”


“If the words are alive….”

My life recently has been a seemingly endless string of Julia Cameron’s artist’s dates. It’s been a month since I climbed to the upper deck of the Megabus and traveled to Chicago for AWP . Though I live in Milwaukee, less than two hours by car, train or bus, from Chicago, I rarely get there. I was born directionally challenged with small-town girl blood still flowing in my veins. Milwaukee is a smaller, manageable city with a big-town friendliness and feel. It has become home, with occasional trips to fill my mountains, trees and oceans needs. Chicago scares me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the energy and the pace of big cities, but I can only take them in small bites, or I feel overwhelmed and a bit claustrophobic. I need more sky than big cities offer. I’ve dreamt of living in Paris, but I suspect I’d be better off planning to live in Paris for a month, rather than forever.

Chicago, the small slice of it I saw as I scurried from workshop to workshop at AWP, did not disappoint. I can’t quite say the same for AWP. Don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot. I listened to some fabulous, and some not so fabulous, speakers. But the schedule, the pace, the format itself was grueling. There was no free time built into the schedule. Workshops went non-stop, so if you took a break (as I did and had to), you knew you were missing something.

Continue reading

Summer Writing – Keep it going!


Summer is, in fact, coming, though here in the Midwest we’ve barely felt spring yet. For women writers, summer can bring new challenges to the writing routine. Depending on where you are in your life, there may be children home and chauffeur duties. Perhaps you will be able to travel quite a bit. Or, will grandchildren visits dot your summer days? Does the heat and humidity sap you at times?

If you’re visiting campus now for reunion, or at the later reunion, or at another point, don’t forget your notebook! Memories are sure to be unleashed and you won’t want to lose them in case a story idea bubbles up.

Try to remember to use whatever is on the horizon to help your writing. Travelling? Keep a notebook of setting ideas. Kids visiting? Character sketches, dialogue ideas. And, however you can, protect some time for your own writing, even if it’s only two pages a day. If you’re interested in a challenge involving two pages a day, check into The Summer Novelist’s Club on Facebook: “Beginning May 16 through August 28, members of the 2011 Ric Hess Memorial Summer Novelist’s Club will write 500 words a day, every day, culminating in a completed, 53,000-word first draft. Think of it this way: It’s just two pages a day!” Even if drafting a novel isn’t your thing, think what committing to 500 words a day could do for your summer writing productivity!

What are your summer writing goals?