I am the Book Club coordinator for a large church in Roanoke, VA.  Our club started 4 years ago meeting monthly in two discussion groups.  The Tuesday group meets 11:30am-1:00pm at the church and the Saturday group meets 9:30am-11:00am at a Panera Bread. In addition to the club members, many others read from our book list even if they cannot attend a discussion group.  Some of these readers choose to meet in smaller groups or individually with a club member to share their thoughts about a book.

 

Because there are limited spaces for books on the schedule, each selection must meet the following criteria:  first and foremost a chosen book must honor God, secondly, it must be a well written great story offering potential discussion topics. Being aware that the books I choose for the club will be spending the time and money of our readers, only the best of the best make the final book list.  I intentionally seek variety in genres, authors, geographic locations, time periods, and topics. I am personally rewarded when our members are stretched to read something beyond what they would normally consider and I take special delight in introducing new authors to the group.  I actively search for first time authors having found that often a first book has been marinating in the author’s heart for years yielding a carefully crafted story.  An excellent example of this is Linore Rose Burkard’s book “Before the Season Ends.”  Without exception, everyone in both of our discussion groups loved this first book of Linore’s.  So much so that most of our readers ended up reading all three books in her series as they were released.  C.J. Darlington’s first book “Thicker Than Blood” has been added to our fall schedule because not only was it a great story, but she handled some difficult subjects with sensitivity and created likeable characters in spite of their flaws.  I am looking forward to the sequel.  On my stack of books that I am previewing for the club is “Crossing Oceans” by another first time author Gina Holmes.  I can already tell that Gina will join the group of elite authors whose work everyone admires and respects.

 

Much research goes into picking a book for the club.  Obviously each book must be read with discernment of the content.  Twice each year, I have our members anonymously complete a survey about each of the books we read.  Without the burden of putting their names with their opinions, I find the results are candid and very helpful.  Note to authors:  Reader response is not always an accurate reflection of your talent.  For example one of the most talented wordsmiths and story tellers in the business was the most polarizing author on one of our surveys.  The response was almost evenly divided between 10’s (the best) and 1’s (the worst) with very little middle ground.  The added comments revealed that those giving a poor rating totally missed the genius of what the author was trying to convey in the book.

 

I always check an author’s website before selecting their book.  The site does not have to be technically “slick” but information about the author and why they write is very useful.  It also helps to know if they have a personal connection or special knowledge about the subject matter of their books.  I often check the sites of my favorite authors to see what they are recommending and have followed links on their sites to some real gems some of which were added into the Book Club mix.

 

In August before our new “book year” starts in September, our group takes a road trip to a special location with “atmosphere” to enjoy a long leisurely lunch and share what the members have been reading in addition to the club selections.  I take careful notes of the members’ likes and dislikes and always choose one of their recommendations (after reading it myself of course!) to go on the coming year’s schedule.  This is also my opportunity to recommend the great books I read during the year which didn’t make the book list because of space constraints or because the subject matter had already been covered.  While I try not to duplicate content, I do not have a problem with offering more than one book by the same author.  Each book is considered on its own merit.  Also if an author’s previous work did not qualify to be a selection, I will still revisit their new work in the future for consideration.

 

Discussing the book selecting process brings me to another thought about book reviews.  Once a club leader has been at the selection process a while, it becomes apparent which reviews are genuine. The most helpful reviews reveal enough of the content along with information about the author’s writing style to peak interest in the book.  Reviews that simply state whether someone liked or didn’t like the book are interesting but not terribly useful.  On Amazon I always read the top and bottom reviews for clarity.

 

The most challenging aspect of my Book Club leadership role is narrowing the potential book choices down to the number that will fit on our schedule.  This limitation has so disappointed me that I am considering a quarterly “bonus discussion group” that would perhaps meet in the evening over dinner and would include both men and women.  Any thoughts on this idea?

 

Well this is probably enough to get this discussion going but I would like to thank Fred and Nora for making this forum available to link Book Clubs and authors.  I have already found much of the content useful. Having watched trailers and read some of the reviews, the UPS truck will be delivering an Amazon order to my door this week! J

 

 

 

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Thanks Mark.

I just ordered a copy from the Littluns' site. Your illustrations are wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the excerpt of the encounter between Dragon and Modsoginie...lots of humor mixed with truth and teachable moments. Written in 3rd person present tense, the book reads as if watching a delightful movie.

When I was doing post grad work at Cal State Sacramento, I took a Literature for Children course. The takeaway from the class was that adults should not ignor that genre. There are some high quality children's books that are timeless and for all ages (Charlotte's Web is still one of my favorite books).

I appreciate your commitment to print in the USA despite the cost. It's a shame that these same chains who refuse to carry a high quality book simply because of the price, carry DVD's (many having lesser content value) in the same price range. I hope others who might be interested in a beautifully illustrated fantasy will check out your website and read the sample chapter that is posted there. I am looking forward to receiving the copy I just ordered.

Thanks,
Sandi
Thank you Sandi for your most welcomed letter above, and for your order of "Littluns." The book weighs about two and a half pounds, so to prevent it from being damaged; you might remove the cover when reading.

Yes, and from the beginning "Littluns was designed to be a book, that is in a way is like watching a movie, but really an epic novel adventure, and as you will discover like no other in many more ways. After your journey, I will make myself available to discuss “Littluns” with you. I would love to hear about your reading experience and how it affected you personally.

I have firsthand experience with businesses outsourcing jobs to other countries and refused to be a part of it. Loyalty should be a two way street. It’s Americans who built our country and to keep it strong greed can no longer be an option.

I’m not sure how long it will take from New York to Roanoke, VA, since for some reason it goes to Pennsylvania first and then shipped from there, but at the most you should be receiving your book within five working days.

Let me know when you receive it.

Blessings in His Love for us,

Mark

Thanks for the reminder about the book's cover especially given the weight of the book. Because of concern for the proper shipping of a book such as Littluns, I ordered from the Littlun's site instead of Amazon. Occasionally, Amazon has shipped a heavier book in what I call "cardpaper" instead of a proper protective box which caused a book to arrive damaged.

I will be happy to discuss Littluns after reading it, but I can already tell you that the illustrations are very special. The ones that I have seen here and on the book's site already bring a smile to my face. My interest in books extends beyond just good stories. Books with great illustrations also earn permanent shelfspace in my library. Two of my favorite illustrators are Michael Hague and the late Garth WIlliams. I had a recent discussion with an author whose
publisher discouraged the addition of even small, simple line drawings at the beginning of each chapter. What a shame that cost considerations must invade the artistic equation. Thank you for your efforts to avoid compromising the quality of your book.

Blessings,
Sandi
You're right about Amazon Sandi. Stephanie packaged your book personally and mailed it out this morning 7/21/2010.

I feel so good that "Litluns" has found a good home with you. The illustrations complete my intent for readers to have a very different reading experience. It's what you think after your journey that is of most interest to me.

All I will say for now fellow Littlun is, "Hold onto your hat."


God Bless and Good Light.

Mark
Sandi, just in case you didn't find it;

1. Go to http://www.littluns.net

2. Click on the MAP TAB at the top right side of the page.

3. Click on any of the six RED stars on the map and it will take you into the map to characters and locations.

4. Return to the map and select another red star.

Have fun.

Mark, and a few of your other newfound "Littluns" friends.

Mark,
I'm amazed at the time and talent that created the Littlun world. Just navigating around the site draws one immediately into the fantasy. I expect a unique experience when the book arrives.

Readers who enjoy Tolkien and/or Brian Jacques should certainly check out Littluns and the website is a great place to start.

I look forward to the adventure with these enchanting creatures and anticipate many areas for discussion. Upon completion of the book, I hope there are others on the Book Club Network who will read the book and join in the discussion.

Blessings,
Sandi


Thank you Sandi for all your wonderful words and I say “Praise be to God.” I can't fully express to you how much I appreciate all that you have said. You and others have made the journey all worth the many years it took to get here.

You're right, you will find many areas for discussion; the obvious and not so obvious when discovered between-the-lines.

In God's Light and Love for us,

Mark
Hi Sandi,

I can tell you first hand, when reading Littluns (without giving anything away) that when you think you know what to expect, you find out that you were not even close. After the first Ten Chapters I stopped trying to second guess, and just went along for a very breathtaking ride. You will find that you will experience "all" your emotions while reading this book.

Rev. Dottie Eller
Thank you Rev. Eller for stopping by and sharing your carefully thought out and considerate comments. You put a grin on my face beginning with "...without giving anything away..." to a protracted ear to ear (pun intended) Littluns’ smile in anticipation of Sandi beginning her own personal journey.

Wow what a great group! Iam also glad that there is book fun. I have a two year old and can't always come to meetings but thanks to BF I can stay up to date on the books! It is great seeing God at work through Christan fiction! Welcome to book fun!
Whitney

I live in Yorktown, Sandi, and this is great finding out about a big book club in Virginia!  I used to be ACFW MidAtlantic Zone director and before that the Area Coordinator for VA/WVA.  I know there must be a number of authors willing to come meet with your group, too, if they like that!  Many blessings for being so faithful!  I agree, Nora and Fred are awesome!!

I live in Yorktown, Sandi, and this is great finding out about a big book club in Virginia!  I used to be ACFW MidAtlantic Zone director and before that the Area Coordinator for VA/WVA.  I know there must be a number of authors willing to come meet with your group, too, if they like that!  Many blessings for being so faithful!  I agree, Nora and Fred are awesome!!

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