That Time I got Schooled at a Book Club

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

There is a special joy found in talking about fiction and books and ideas with other people who love to do the same thing. As an author, sometimes we even get to go to book clubs and hang out and discuss our own books. Is it a little scary? Yes. Here’s a group of smart people who have their own very distinct view of what makes the perfect book and they want to ask you questions about the one you wrote.

I’ve only done it once.

And I got schooled.

That’s a touch misleading, let me back up. For the most part, the discussion was both interesting and safe. We discussed my journey as a writer, what other works I’ve written, where my ideas come from, all the usual stuff. There was a brief discussion on what my thoughts were on women writing male characters, which led me to assume I might have done it badly, as well as how fantasy is distinct from other genres.

All of those topics are ones I’m super comfortable with because I’ve already explored and talked about all of them in one way or another, some here on the blog. Then I did the dumb.

I got on my soapbox.

The question was something along the lines of, “What’s the hardest part of writing a book?”

My answer in the moment – marketing. But no, I couldn’t just leave it there like a normal person now, could I?

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

I started on the whole, for the price of a fancy drink at one of those cute soda stores you could buy a book. The drink will last maybe an hour whereas a book will give hours of entertainment. The majority of authors are struggling to sell their works that they’ve spent years on. I did the math and currently I get paid something like $0.0012 an hour if you take the total number of hours I estimate I spent on writing and editing my first book compared to what I’ve made on it so far. Novel writing is not for the faint of heart my friends.

It was a passionate rant for people to buy more books and support their favorite local authors and it was super thoughtless.

Then came the schooling.

“But Jodi, you’re forgetting that people’s time is valuable. Buying a book means committing hours to reading it. It’s not the price that keeps people from buying more books, but how much available time they have to read them. I’m very selective about the books I buy because my time is valuable. “

Mic drop.

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

She’s absolutely right. I’d only weighed my need to sell books against people’s ability to pay for them. I’d forgotten about how everyone leads full and busy lives, just like I do. I maybe purchase a book for myself every few months and get the rest through the library because I like audiobooks. Guess what? So do most people.

The moral of this story? Don’t assume people want to buy your stuff simply because it’s inexpensive and you’ve spent lots of time making it.


Hey, if you want me to come hang out with your book club, all you have to do is ask! Find my contact info in the About Me tab.


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Reading List for 2015

Last year at about this time I announced that I was going to read twelve books from the BBC’s Big Read List of 2003. I had so much fun plowing through these gems that I intend to challenge myself again, but with a much different list.

This year I will read some of the best that speculative fiction has to offer. Some of these books have been around for awhile and I’m ashamed that I haven’t picked them up sooner, and some are still fairly new.

Either way, I’m excited to dive in!

Here’s is this year’s list:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  3. Everneath – Brodi Ashton
  4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  5. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  6. Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  7. Under Heaven – Guy Gavriel Kay
  8. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  9. Existence – David Brin
  10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  11. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
  12. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin

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What are you planning to read this year? Share in the comments!

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Also – I’m still taking names for feature posts in the future, this includes writers, artists, cosplayers, and musicians.  If you, or someone you know, would like some shameless self promotion, let me know!

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Related posts and websites:

4th Quarter Reading, Done!

Here with only a few days left of 2014 I’m proud to report that I finished the last book of the year this morning at 2:45 am. Now I’m not saying that I stayed up reading all night, although I liked the last read enough that I could have – my youngest woke at 1:30 throwing up and I couldn’t turn my brain off afterward. Ahh, the joys of too many ideas and not enough time.

Here are this quarter’s books-

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Somehow I escaped reading this in school, and it’s a shame too because I’ve heard references to parts of this book and it’s characters all my life and never realized it.  If I were to pick a favorite element I would chose the character of Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem and also the town attorney. He is a brilliant example of what it means to lead by example.  His high standards and sense of morality are enviable and something that is lacking from much of the world today.

Dune, Frank Herbert: Ok, I’ll admit, I cheated a little here.  Dune is a massive tome of dense writing that even the most seasoned writer needs to pick through carefully.  It’s fascinating and a good read, but time consuming. I read the first section, which still was over 300 pages and intend to read the rest at my leisure later. This is one of those books that has redefined what is possible in the world of science fiction and is a prime example of how to do world building right. I only wish I would have picked it up earlier, this would have been a perfect example when I was creating my own fantasy world.

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute: At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, the story didn’t take off right away and for the first twenty or so pages the reader has to wade through the narrator helping a gentleman settle the articles in his will. Not too exciting. Things pick up when we get into the story of Jean Paget, who inherits the estate. We first learn about her experience as a prisoner of war to the Japanese in Malay where she, and a group of women and children, was forced to travel by foot from town to town because no one wanted to take them in. I love stories of survival against the odds, so this was great. The rest of the story is devoted to how she spends her inheritance by first digging a well and washing house for the town that finally took them in at the end of the war, and then making improvements in a derelict town in Australia where her love interest has a cattle station. It is a story of perseverance and grit and one that I truly enjoyed.

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I had a great time reading these books off of the BBC Book Challenge and hope to find equally good reads for the coming year.

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Did you have a favorite read this year? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Related posts:

This Year’s Reading List

One of my resolutions is to read more books from the BBC Book List Challenge, specifically one book a month.  As of today I’ve only read 27 of the 100 listed and there are some terrific books on there that I’ve been meaning to read.  Here are the twelve that I’m planning on tackling this year.

  1. 200px-PrayerForOwenMeanyA Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens.  Admittedly I cheated and started this one during the last week of December, but it still counts!
  2. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  3. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  4. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  5. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  6. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  7. conradjoetext96hdark12aThe Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  8. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  9. Dune – Frank Herbert
  10. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  12. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

What are you planning on reading this year?  Let me know in the comments!

The Perfect Book

512px-Old_book_-_Les_Miserables

We all have our favorites, those books that are never far from our night stands. They are the worn and comfortable books that we keep coming back to year after year, like an old friend. What is it about those books that hold our attention even after the surprises are gone?

Everyone has different things that they look for in a great book.  For some, the story comes first above all else.  For others it might be a strong romantic connection between the characters.  As a writer it is important for me to recognize what makes different books great so that while writing my own I can bring all the good parts together and create a story that will resonate with readers.

For me, the most important element of a book are its characters.  Not only must they be well-written and well-rounded, they must have something about them that I find fascinating.    For some characters this might be a great back story, for others it might be a problem they must overcome.  In the end, I must care about what happens to these people and I must want to know more about them.

The story comes in close second. A great story has the power to captivate and hold my attention. It is hard to put down and even when I’m not reading I’ll think about it.  For it to do that it must be meaningful.  The characters must have real stakes against them and something either very painful or very personal to lose.  

The more I read the more I realize how important it is for a book to have beautiful prose.  I want to be able to fall into a lush weaving of words, not just read a story.  There are few authors that have mastered this skill. Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite authors just because her prose is beautiful.

 Last but not least is creativity.  In fantasy writing I want to be amazed by what worlds the author can create and what magic lies in them.  In standard literature I want to be surprised at solutions to problems and at twists in the plot.  All books are a result of creativity, however some have the power to grab my imagination better than others. 

How about you dear reader?  What do you look for in the perfect book? Share your thoughts below!