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 www.donnellannbell.com