Upon being invited to my very first book club meeting, as an author or otherwise, I was honored, but a little nervous, too. I've grown up around my big sister's well established book club. I've always been an avid reader and lived among books and other people who loved them as much as I. My husband complained when we moved and had to pay for dozens of heavy boxes filled with books - he wailed, "We have more books than furniture!"
With one book signing under my belt and a dozen positive Amazon.com reviews I was ready, theoretically, but very nervous about being face to face with readers of my baby whom I'd never met. They didn't have to say nice things to me about the work. I'd been warned that they could be pretty rough. Not to mention I would be in the stranger's home with their friends and all alone, being judged by a jury of objective readers. So what's a girl to do, but bring her own cheerleader. Right?
My best friend and ringleader, Jessica and I packed up our book club booty and headed North.
When I was writing Good Enough, I lived inside of that story. The characters were very real and complicated people with real feelings and decisions to make - but only in my mind. But, since its publication, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from hundreds of readers for whom the characters are also real. They're "secretly" Cami's best friend or absolutely infuriated by her antics and Oliver has completely stolen their hearts. Through them the crazy people who live in my head have been brought to life outside of my mind.
My visit with the Circle of Sisters Book Club of Atlanta was not only loads of fun. It was invaluable to my work. I got real time feedback from the book's audience. Their lively debate, pointed questions and discussions served as great inspiration, and accountability. While writing Good Enough, my developmental editor Tara, would hold me to task about keeping the integrity of each of my characters. "Would Lacey really say that?" She'd scribble in the margins of the manuscript. But, having that kind of accountability face to face was priceless! "Why did Lacey take that garbage can out?" One club member asked. I loved it! I loved that complete strangers, who owed me nothing, loved my story as much as I loved it. Who loved it enough to commit its minutia to memory.
I highly recommend all new authors to reach out to their local book clubs and book lovers to join (or start) their own clubs. I can't thank the Circle of Sisters of Atlanta enough for their hospitality and for loving the crazy people who once only lived in my mind. Welcome to Crazytown, Ladies!