Did you ever finish a great book you enjoyed so much that you wanted to talk about it with someone else? Ever come to the end of a novel and feel sad leaving the characters behind?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, perhaps you should consider joining or forming a book club. Book clubs are groups of individuals that meet on a regular basis to discuss a book pre-selected by one of its members. They engage in lively group conversation covering everything from characters, plots, authors and surprise endings. The benefits of book clubs are immense. Not only does the discussion allow you to remember details of the book long after you have read it, it also introduces you to books you might not have otherwise read. It opens your world to other genres you might not have selected on your own.
If you can find a book club inviting new members, I recommend giving it a try. The most likely places to find an established book club are local book stores, libraries, church organizations, senior citizen centers and home owner associations. If you have no luck finding a local club start one of your own. You can advertise at libraries, church, school, senior centers, or by word of mouth. Readers tend to stick together so it is very likely you have a group of friends that might be interested in forming a club with you. You can have as few as 3 members or as many as 10. The more members you have the livelier the discussion.
Once you have an established group of people it’s helpful to have some simple guidelines to follow. Below are some helpful hints to successfully run and maintain a viable club.
1. Decide when you will meet. Have members discuss the best time that fits with everyone’s schedules. (For example the 1st Monday of every month at 7:00 P.M.) Once you have scheduled you club’s time, stick to it. Changing times and dates to accommodate someone on occasion will only lead to missed meetings and frequent absenteeism. Most members will miss an occasional meeting due to work schedules or vacations.
2. Decide where you will meet. Some suggestions are the local library, café, coffee shop, or a club house. You can also rotate each other’s homes. (This is especially nice as it forces you to clean once a month.) Although not necessary, add a little food and drink, but keep it simple. Food and drink generally relaxes people and encourages conversation. Coffee and dessert, or wine and cheese are a few examples that will provide your club with a snack, but will not involve timely preparation.
3. Select a leader or moderator each month. They will be responsible for initiating the book discussion. They can lead with questions they have prepared or they can print questions from the internet. Most books now have group discussion questions you can easily find online and some are located at the back of the book courtesy of the author or publisher.
4. Each month give a different member a chance to select a book for the group to read. Not every book selected may be your cup of tea, but you may find you are pleasantly surprised. Allowing different members to select books keeps things fair and offers diversity to the group.
5. And last but not least, please remember not all members have to purchase a new book. Most members will purchase the selection of the month to build their own personal library, but books can be borrowed from others, found in a library, or purchased at a variety of used book stores. Don’t let finances deter you from pursuing a club.
In closing I have listed several suggested books for starter groups. These books have great plot and characters and lend a lot of material for discussion. Enjoy!
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
5. The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
7. Circle Of Friends by Maeve Binchy
8. Dances With Wolves by Michael Blake
9. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
10. Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
READER REVIEW: "It was delightful! It put me in the mood for Christmas and made me smile several times....I had to laugh about the pumpkin pie. Oh, the things we do for love! I used to wish we could just push a button and instantly get a little story to read over lunch and then be on our way. With kindle we can. Dashing Through The Snow was a real Christmas treat!" --Caddy Rowland
Price: 99 Cents
Rating: 3.9 stars
Wynn Murphy has been in love with Zane Anders since the day she laid eyes on him. But just when she begins to hope their casual relationship might turn into something more, a misunderstanding pushes her away.
At first sight, charming and handsome, ad executive, Zane Anders has been secretly infatuated with bake shop cutie, Wynn Murphy. This Christmas, he's determined to tell her.
Join Wynn and Zane in this delightful holiday novelette as Zane goes dashing through the snow in an effort to capture Wynn's heart.
READER REVIEW: "If you have not read Redemption, the first book in the Penton Vampire Legacy series, I strongly, strongly urge you to read that one first. This book holds its own enough to be read out of sync but you will enjoy it much more if you know the first story...This author reinvents the vampires to suit her stories and you believe this is how vampires should really be acting and dealing, etc. rather than running out sucking people's blood. I have only seen one other author reinvent the vampire, Jim Butcher and Ms. Sandlin is definitely on par with him....If you find vampire lore fascinating, you will like this book. If you like supernatural anything, you will like this book. I read it almost straight through and I quite look forward to the third book. I highly recommend this book to any and all who enjoy fantasy but I also strongly recommend you read them in order." --Liz A. Belle
Price: ebook $3.99 & paperback $7.38
Rating: 4.3 stars
With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?
Absolution is the second installment of the Penton Legacy, a sensual and thrilling new series from paranormal romance novelist Susannah Sandlin.
Susannah Sandlin is a native of Winfield, Alabama, and has worked as a writer/editor in educational publishing in Alabama, Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, with two rescue dogs named after professional wrestlers (it was a phase). She has a no-longer-secret passion for Cajun music and reality TV, and is on the hunt for a longhaul Ice Road Trucker who also hunts gators.
Redemption, the first book in the Penton Legacy series, won the paranormal category in the 2011 Chicago North Romance Writers of America Fire and Ice contest. Susannah is a member of RWA and its Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter, its Southern Magic chapter, and its Georgia Romance Writers chapter.
READER REVIEW: "WELL Fern Michaels wrote another good book...it kept me wanting to read it and not put it down... good story line a little predictable but extremely heart warming...A MUST READ" --Mickey05
RATING: 4.7 stars
A powerful, poignant novel of love, redemption, and family secrets from the incomparable #1 New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels…On his thirty-fifth birthday, Jake St. Cloud inherits a fortune—and learns the whereabouts of his mysterious half-brother. On her deathbed, Selma St. Cloud revealed that Jake had a sibling, a product of his father’s affair. At last, Jake is in a position to track down Alex Rosario and make amends for their father’s past neglect.
At least, that’s the plan. When their initial meeting goes badly, a distraught Jake crashes his car and is sentenced to community work—with Alex as his parole officer. Jake must spend a year helping Angelica Dancer and her daughter, Fancy, at the Dancer Foundation for neglected children. Fancy, scarred within and without by the accident that ended her ballet career, is even less happy with the arrangement than Jake. Yet as they’re thrown together, Jake, Alex, Angelica, and Fancy make unexpected connections. And as he unravels the painful truths of his past, Jake realizes that his mother’s greatest gift to him lies not in his inheritance, but in the future, and the family, he’s slowly piecing together…
READER REVIEW: "This book absolutely floored me. I'm a big fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, and when I discover something like this, something so deep and textured and full of life that it actually brings tears to my eyes, I can't help but tell others about it. Buy it if you like Margaret Atwood's work or if you enjoyed One Second After by William R. Forstchen. It's that good." --William Esmont
Price: ebook $3.99 &
Rating: 4.1 stars
An influenza plague decimates humanity...
A man loses his wife and baby daughter...
Six years after a pandemic devastates the human population, former rock star Chris Price finally makes it from New York to Britain to reunite with his brother. His passage leaves him scarred, in body and mind, by exposure to humankind at its most desperate and dangerous. But another ordeal awaits him beyond the urban ruins, in an idyllic country refuge where Chris meets a woman, Pauline, who is largely untouched by the world’s horrors. Together, Chris and Pauline undertake the most difficult facet of Chris’s journey: confronting grief, violence, and the man Chris has become. They will discover whether the human spirit is capable of surviving and loving again in this darker, harder world.
Katy Hanna lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When not writing she can be found in her sewing room making medieval and biblical costumes. A few of her favorite authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, John Wyndham, and Connie Willis. Beakdown is her first full-length novel.
Why do ebooks have so many errors?
If you buy and read ebooks, you will have noticed that over all, ebooks tend to have noticeably more errors than print books. In some cases, the level of errors goes beyond annoying and into aggravating or even (if the book was pricey) infuriating.
Errors in books come in two kinds: typos and formatting errors. Typos can include using the wrong word (e.g., their for there, your for you’re, etc.) or just misspelling a word, but misspelling is much less common because spell checkers generally catch it. You occasionally find typos in print books, but they are usually proofed carefully, so that mistakes are rare enough not to bother the reader. Formatting errors in traditionally published print books are almost unknown because composition staff are paid to layout pages, so they check their work carefully, and then the proofer checks it, too.
That careful proofing step doesn’t always happen in ebooks, and occasionally you will see things like paragraphs that don't indent properly, or that run together, words that run together, and occasionally garbage text (letters with diacritical marks appearing as gibberish, words in the wrong place, etc.). A particularly annoying problem is unnecessary hyphenation—hyphens and spaces in the middle of single words, so that the word looks like this:
The source of typos is obvious. An editor and/or a proofreader missed the mistake (or in some self-published books, the author didn’t have an editor or proofreader!). The source of formatting errors in traditionally published ebooks can mostly be traced mostly to one thing: workflow.
Many book publishers are still focused more on print than on digital. Their workflow is driven by the need to get a manuscript into printed pages quickly. Generally, the composition staff of the publishing house pulls the word processing file the author provided into page layout software such as Adobe Indesign, which is then used to lay out the pages, apply headers and footers—basically, to make to make the book look as it should in print. Sometimes if a word is not hyphenating at the right place, they will manually insert a hyphen and a line break to force it to hyphenate where it should for the printed page (where the word appears at the end of the line). But of course, if the same file that was used for a print book is converted to produce the ebook, the excess hyphen and line break is still there, and the broken word may well be in the middle of the line, depending on the font size the reader selects. Extra spaces and non-breaking spaces or other things that were added to make the pages look right can also cause problems. If no one proofs the output of the conversion, these things are in the ebook when it is downloaded.
Alternatively, some publishing houses will take the word processing document the author submitted and convert that to ebook format. That file doesn’t have the page-based tweaks, but it also doesn’t have the last-minute corrections of typos and other edits that were made in the final product. The editors have to use their marked-up paper copy to correct it all over again, or let it go out as is. Interestingly, the same problem is faced by writers who traditionally publish a book, get the rights back after a few years, and then want to self publish. The only digital format they have of their book is often the word processing file they sent their editor; the finished book is available to them only in hard copy. If they want to publish an ebook that matches what was in the print version, they have to go through the file and make all the same edits their publisher did, or scan the print pages (more on that in a bit).
One solution for publishers is to refine the typesetting-to-ebook conversion process so that it accounts for every single thing that the typesetter could do to the file, and also to proof and correct the ebook file. But of course, a complication is that there are two main ebook formats: epub and Kindle (which is based on Mobipocket). Publishers need to produce a file in both formats, although many simply provide epub to Amazon and rely on Amazon’s conversion to create the Kindle format.
Another solution is one that information providers implemented a decade ago: convert the manuscript from word processing into a structured format like SGML (standard generalized markup language) or XML (extensible markup language). Instead of marking up the text for a typesetting system according to how it should look (e.g., 14 point Bodoni bold, 11 point Helvetica italic), SGML and XML require that text be marked up to identify what it is (e.g., chapter, chapter title, paragraph, etc.). Once you have data in this kind of neutral format, you can more reliably convert it to whatever output format is needed: print, web, or ebook. With special software, you can impose rules to make the data valid (e.g., you can require that every chapter has to have a chapter title). If you make the SGML or XML text the source for all outputs, you can proof and correct it once, without having downstream effects on other formats.
Of course, that option isn’t practical for self-published authors. They usually either rely on tools like Calibre or Scrivener to convert their word processing document, or they pay a conversion house such as 52 Novels to do a custom conversion. Custom conversions cost more, but usually produce a better-looking ebook. Even with that, authors still need to proof every word, as word processing files can have hidden characters that don’t show up until you convert the file.
In the case of backlist books, many of which were previously out of print, publishers have opted for scanning of print pages, which has resulted in some truly terrible errors in ebooks (wrong characters, extraneous text, etc.). Publishers (and authors) who rely on OCR (optical character recognition) scanning need to realize how far it is from perfect and include a rigorous proof-and-correct stage in their workflow. Meanwhile, the free sample feature on most ebook platforms is very useful for spotting books with these kinds of errors. If you're buying an old book, even if it's one you've read before and know you want to read again, I recommend you download the free sample just to check out the formatting.
Right now publishers are scrambling to adjust to the digital world. They haven't yet figured out that they can take advantage of the fact that ebooks can be corrected much more easily than print books. It's getting better, but ebook workflow still has a way to go. Books are now data as well as art, and publishers and authors need to know that and act accordingly.
~ Carmen Webster Buxton
About today's Guest Post Author:
Carmen Webster Buxton was born in Honolulu, and experienced a childhood on the move, as her father was in the US Navy. She has been a librarian, a teacher, a project manager, a wife, and a mother, although not in that order. She now lives in Maryland with her husband, her daughter, and a cat with the unlikely name of Carbomb. She writes science fiction, mostly set in the far future, and the occasional fantasy, and has five ebooks for sale on all major platforms, with two more to follow soon. She often blogs about ebooks and ereaders as well as her own books.
Reader Review: "I was unable to put this book down. What an amazing book. Jodi Picoult has perfectly described the feelings of love, loss, grief and devastation in The Pact...This was one of the most moving, touching and important books I have read - it certainly leaves you thinking about it and your own life as well as the lives of those around you. Read this one but make sure to keep a box of tissues and a loved one near by (for a hug if you need one).
Price: ebook $4.99
& paperback $10.47
Rating: 4.2 Stars
I grew up on Long Island with my parents and my little brother, the product of a ridiculously happy childhood. My mom says I've been writing as long as she remembers - my first masterpiece was "The Lobster That Was Misunderstood," at age 5. I honed my writing skills beyond that, one hopes, before I headed off to Princeton, where I wanted to work with living, breathing authors in their creative writing program. Mary Morris was my teacher/mentor, and I really do believe I wouldn't be where I am today if not for her guidance and expertise. I had two short stories published in SEVENTEEN magazine when I was in college. However, when I graduated, a desire to not eat ramen noodles exclusively and to be able to pay my rent led me to take a job on Wall Street (not a great idea, since I can't even balance my checkbook). When the stock market crashed in 1987, I moved to Massachusetts and over the course of two years, worked at a textbook publishing company, taught creative writing at a private school, became an ad copywriter, got a master's in education at Harvard, got married, taught at a public school, and had a baby. My first novel was published shortly after my son was born, and I've always said that the reason I kept writing is because it's so much easier than teaching English.
In fourteen years, I've published thirteen novels: Songs of the Humpback Whale, Harvesting the Heart, Picture Perfect, Mercy, The Pact, Keeping Faith, Plain Truth, Salem Falls, Perfect Match, Second Glance, My Sister's Keeper, Vanishing Acts, and the upcoming The Tenth Circle, this March. Two of my books (Plain Truth and The Pact) were made into Lifetime TV movies; Keeping Faith will be another. My Sister's Keeper is in development at New Line Cinema to be a feature film. And there isn't a single day that I don't stop and marvel at the fact that when I go to work, I get to do what I love the most.
My husband Tim and I live in Hanover, NH with our three kids, a dog, a rabbit, and the occasional donkey or cow.
READER REVIEW: Remember the name Reba Ponder Weiss. Hers is a truly fresh new voice, and this stunning debut reveals a world of authentic detail and familiar wit, full of Southern charm... Southern charm, that is, facing the end of the world. The stage is set for a traditional Southern wedding, with all the tender affection and comic interludes you would find in any such gathering of a real family, but the proceedings are imbued with a gathering sense of foreboding... And then the world as we know it endures a cataclysmic event, plunging this family into a harried race against extinction. What follows is as explosive and spellbinding as any of the wildest movie adventures, not rollicking fun so much as a breathless race to survive. It becomes a nightmare vision of the dark side of humanity, the side that might be brought out under the most extreme and adverse conditions. Conversely, the beauty, character, and human dignity that remain under even such duress shine all the brighter... and Weiss unfolds a relentless, mesmerizing tale, ultimately taking you on the survival ride of your life. This book is a stunning achievement by a first time writer, heralding not only a bold new voice, but a bold new mash-up of genre.
Price: ebook $3.99
& paperback $12.99
Rating: 4.8 stars
A recluse emerges from the backwoods on the eve of his son’s romantic, southern wedding. Dinner spirals into chaos when the self-proclaimed prophet announces he hears spiritual messages straight from God. The voices tell him to prepare the way for the end of the world. His disturbing words find foothold in undeniable facts as disbelief dissolves into terror. Those who gathered to celebrate are suddenly faced with an unthinkable dilemma. They must follow him into a remote, secret sanctuary, prepared exclusively survival… or they can die. As apocalyptic events begin to unfold, the ancient battle of darkness and light quickly becomes a modern reality.
Watch the critically acclaimed Video Book Trailer at www.rebaponderweiss.com or click on my Amazon's Reba Ponder Weiss Page (link in blue above). Reba Ponder Weiss was born and raised in Jones Chapel, a small farming community, outside of Cullman, Alabama. Later she moved to upstate New York, lived in the suburbs of Georgia, and enjoyed her home on the prairies of Wyoming. Currently, she lives and works on the east end of Long Island, but dreams of retiring one day with her husband, Joseph, and their children, to Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Reba draws her inspiration from her Southern roots and life long night terrors. Years of vivid nightmares are kept in a personal journal, full of hand written notes and sketches, detailing the hours in the night when her mind seems to take its own little road trip. this I know: Sarah's Confession is a spine chilling, and sometimes disturbing, paranormal thriller based on one of those journeys...which began when consciousness ended.
READER REVIEW: Excellent book. Love the characters, especially Kennedy, and hope they will return. Love it when there are several choices for the villain and its not just someone out of the blue at the end. Also the book didn't just race in the last few pages to a conclusion. That always leaves me wondering what I missed. Would read this author again in a heartbeat.
Rating: 4.1 stars
The Las Vegas Mayoral race is heating up, and the incumbent doesn’t have a prayer. Wealthy real estate speculator Nick Campenelli, who wants to legalize prostitution in Clark County, and former pastor Louis St. Louis, running on a 'clean-up-Vegas-by-getting-rid-of-the-whores' platform, are the front runners.
They’re also front runners on the suspect list for a string of murders. Kennedy O’Brien, four-year detective with cop blood running in her veins, and her partner Wilder “Wild Thing” James, a veteran, are determined to find the man who’s murdering prostitutes who work the wrong side of the street, and they don’t care how important or politically active he is.
The killer is a man with a mission. He stalks the women before he kills them, leaving a “BEFORE” photo on their bodies, and sending an “AFTER” shot to the local news hound. Ed Hershey, an aging newscaster with just the right amount of grey in his hair, is determined to turn this story into a network gig, and his interference, along with the LVTVS legal team, are making Kennedy and Wilder look bad. Campenelli’s good looks and charm, and St. Louis’ vitriolic hatred of prostitutes are muddying the waters too, and now the killer seems to have taken a liking to Kennedy.
So the big question remains. Can she get him before he gets her?
Teri Riggs was destined to be a writer. As a small girl she didn’t read bedtime stories, she made up her own. Who needed Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs when there were so many great tales bouncing around in her head? When she grew up and became a mother to three little girls, she continued the tradition of making up bedtime stories. On the occasions she chose to tell conventional fairytales, Teri usually gave them a bit of tweaking here and there or added a new ending. Her girls loved it.
After her daughters had the nerve to actually grow up and leave home, Teri discovered she had a passion for writing and jumped right in. It came as no surprise she chose to write mysteries and happily-ever-after’s since that’s the genres she loves to read.
Teri lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, one of her daughters and two dogs that seem to think they rule the world. And some days Teri thinks maybe they do.
Teri still frequently tells herself stories as she falls asleep. The only difference now is she wakes up the next morning and turns her bedtime stories into books.
Visit her at http://www.teri-riggs.com/
The good old days
As a writer, I thought I knew what I was doing. Get a damn good idea. (Or what seems like one at the time.) Open a vein. Write a book. Query agents. Gather rejections. Become depressed. Drink heavily. Get a new, better idea. (This is THE ONE, I’m sure!) Repeat.
Ahhh…the good old days.
The good old days lasted for four books in as many years. My first attempt wasn’t a novel but a proposal for a women’s self-defense book called, Sexy Self-Defense: How to Kick Ass in High Heels. Great idea, I know. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. That proposal and the writing that went with it garnered me TWO offers of representation from top NY agencies. Yes! I felt like a lottery winner, floating on cloud nine. I would achieve my dream of being a best-selling author and sought after speaker. Not to mention the money. Lottery, shmottery--my riches awaited. Whoo-hoo!
The drop from cloud nine…
…is fast and painful. Although many editors loved the idea, the proposal never made it past the whole “publishing house committee.” Apparently, self-defense books, now matter how clever they’re marketed, do not sell. Boo! Back to square one.
My early success at finding an agent convinced me I didn’t totally suck at writing. And if I could do it once, I could do it again, right? I could still see myself on top of the bestsellers list, except this time it would be as a novelist. So I wrote Crossed: A Jayden Morrow Mystery.
But the publishing world at the time was becoming more and more closed off to the new writer. Even my few contacts, meager as they were, didn’t help me. It seemed if you weren’t a celebrity or didn’t know a celebrity or didn’t have nude photos of a celebrity on your phone, no one was interested in what you had to say. But I still had things to say--important things--so I kept trying. I wrote Belted and then Antichrist 16. But no luck.
The kiss of death becomes new life.
Now I used to counsel newbie writers against self-publishing. “Don’t do it!” I’d scream with my face contorted in horror. “It’s the kiss of death! You’ll never see your book in Barnes and Noble, you’ll never be taken seriously, you’ll never get a legitimate contract or agent or advance.” And all this was true until...
When the eReader blew into town, people (not me, of course) laughed and said it would never last. That silly, little machine will never substitute for a real book. Ha!
But people liked the convenience and ease of use. You could download any book at almost any time, and boy, were there books. Tons of new books appeared on Amazon because suddenly, an author didn’t have to wait on a publishing contract. An author could publish a book in a matter of minutes. Whiz-bang, done.
It took me a while to get with this program. And if publishing is easy, selling is still hard. I continue to feel a bit lost as I pick my way along, trying to dodge potholes as I go. Luckily, others have gone before me and marked the way. I use them as my guide and inspiration, and I’m happy to say, I may finally be getting some mileage on Publishing Road.
Get our Badge!
save our badge, then link back to us at: