Monday, December 13, 2021

Homework or Not, Why I Attend Book Clubs

Does anyone remember in our school-age years when our instructors handed out assignments and we had X amount of time to complete? Sometimes students had a week. Often, work was due the next day. Many times, I felt ill-prepared and handed in work I considered less than my best. On those days I was left with a dry mouth and a pounding heart as our teachers collected our homework. And don’t even get me started on the pop quiz!

I don’t miss those days at all, although when it comes to writing books, that same tendency seems to follow when I turn in a novel. Maybe just one more read-through. Do the characters work? Does the goal, motivation, and conflict hold up, and did I get rid of any dreaded plot holes?  Thank goodness for critique partners and editors!

Some call what I’m talking about a perfectionist quality, which during a period where books are getting written faster and faster, can be detrimental to a writer. For that reason, a nose-to-the- grindstone mentality and fearless creating has to come first in my world.

Still, I want to be supportive to my fellow authors. In Sisters in Crime Colorado, we have a program called Book Club where we Zoom and discuss our fellow chapter mate’s books. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about the myriad talent among us, and what the author had in mind when writing the novel.

I used to get that same dry mouth, pounding heart feeling I had in school when I attended—especially if I hadn’t finished or even read the book.

No more. These authors are as busy as I am, and I’m sure they are grateful for a peer just showing up. This isn’t completely altruistic on my part. I often sign off adding their books to the top of my To Be Read pile.

I want to tell you about a few authors I have read AFTER I attended book club:  Margaret Mizushima’s Striking Range,  J.v.L Bell’s The Lucky Hat Mine, Becky Clark’s, Punning with Scissors, George Cramer, The Mona Lisa Sisters, and Ann Dominguez’s The Match, and just last weekend Author Theresa Crater, Into the City of Light.

Attending Book Club and listening to the author talk about the passion that went into the novel whets my appetite for reading the book better than a back cover blurb. Thanks to book club, I’ve learned about K-9 dogs, crossword puzzles, family history, a physician’s residency, action adventure and magical realism. Thanks to book club I’ve traveled through Colorado now and in its history, through Europe, Chicago. I’ve learned about Tibet, Peru and Chile. Do I feel guilty if I can’t read the book before book club? Of course. I feel equally guilty when I can’t attend all the book clubs of my fellow authors.

Ideally, I make it up to them afterward. Number one, I’m there to support them, and I sign off fascinated.

Did you ever experience that sickening feeling of being not ready? Do you enjoy book clubs?

About the Author: Donnell Ann Bell is an award-winning author, including finalist in the 2020 Colorado Book Award, and the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for her first straight suspense Black Pearl. Book two is on her editor’s desk and she’s working on Book Three. You can learn more about her other romantic suspense books or find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Bookbub. Sign up for her newsletter at




  1. Hi Donnell! Thanks for posting about your Sisters in Crime-Colorado Book Club experience. It's always interesting to know what the attendees are getting from it. :)

    1. Hi, Francelia, I get so much from SINC-Colorado's book club; it's well worth my time! xo

  2. Donnell, I constantly fret over whether or not I'm fully prepared for all sorts of things. You're definitely not alone! One of the most common dreams/slash nightmares is the one where you find yourself back in school and walk into class to learn you were supposed to have handed in some huge assignment that day but totally forgot to do it. I've had versions of that dream/nightmare many times in my life, even though it's been quite a few decades since I attended school. ;-)

    1. Oh, I hate those dreams. Yes, I have those often! Thanks, Lois.

  3. Donnell, I'm touching on my recent book club experience as part of my blog tomorrow. I've learned so much from reading outside my favorite genres. When I attend a meeting, I too, feel pressure to be prepared, as I'm usually the only author in the reader group and am often asked questions about the book at hand. Still, I love being among readers and soaking up their reactions.

    1. Gay, can't wait to read your blog. I will ask questions tomorrow as I'm sure this will be redundant here. Thank you for commenting.


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