Readers Respond

I recently re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, in which a writer gets to meet a number of her fans (as well as a few folks who are not enamored or her writing). If you haven’t read it, may I encourage you to do so? And I have to ask — do you re-read favorite books the way I do?

The book club I belong to keeps an ongoing list of all the books we’ve read (Guernsey was on it), as well as all the books we’ve thought about reading but, for one reason or another, have decided not to. We all vote each month on which book to read for the following month. I’ve been working my way through both long lists  — the club’s been around a long time, and I joined it only a year ago after they’d invited me to a meeting for which they’d all read A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP, so I have a lot of books to catch up on.

The difference between the fictional Guernsey book club and ours is that the Guernsey group encouraged people to read a book and then tell the rest of the members about it, while we all read the same book and discuss it in depth. Sometimes the books are duds, but more often they turn out to be delightful. This month we’re reading Lizette’s List by Susan Vreeland, the first time we’ve ever read a book by the same author two months in a row (last month was Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue).

At any rate, I love to keep in touch with people who love to read. Over the years, I’ve received several hand-written letters from fans (GASP! a real letter with a stamp on it !!! – I used to put my PO Box address on my business cards), but most of my communication nowadays is via comments left on my Facebook author page and conversations with fans I’ve met at book signings.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I was missing a chance for some good interaction with a wider range of readers, so I finally sent out a newsletter, something I’ve done only about once a year in the past, and I’ve begun to get responses. Now I’ve vowed to shift to at least a quarterly schedule. I called yesterday’s newsletter TREES AND BOOKS AND COOKIES: WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON? I love taking disparate, seemingly unconnected ideas and stringing them together into a logical pairing. If you’re not on the newsletter list but would like to read about the trees and the books and the cookies, just sign up (look at the top right-hand corner of this site) and I’ll be sure you get a copy of it.

As we get closer to the publication date for A WEE HOMICIDE IN THE HOTEL, the third ScotShop mystery, I plan to send out some sneak peeks, but there will be other tree/book/cookie sorts of newsletters that will encourage you to let me know what you think. And then I’ll be able to answer you!

 

 

 

Girls of the Mist Book Club

Yestereen (a word that’s been in the English language for more than 400 years–it means yesterday evening), I was invited the speak to one of the most successful book clubs I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Many of the members are teachers, and everyone there was a joy for me to meet.

The Scot-themed book club event began with scones and shortbread, of course, as well as Scotch eggs and a wee dram or two. Someone had even brought Dirk’s favorite oranges, which as you may know (and if you’ve read my book you’ll definitely know) were a true delicacy when Dirk was alive in the 14th century. I was delighted with the thought that had gone into the presentation, and was even more delighted by the enthusiasm of the book club members.

They’d all read A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP, and had lots of very illuminating questions about it, some of which surprised me. I was intrigued by their predictions as to what had been going on with Gilda, the ScotShop’s assistant manager, and several of them came up with suggestions that had never occurred to me — ones I’ll have to keep in mind for a future book.

They asked, of course, about several loose threads I’d left dangling. Why do I do that? Well, life itself seldom ties up everything with pat answers. In a mystery, it’s important to have the basic questions answered – who did it, how, and why. But sometimes there’s another why out there, and sometimes I like to leave that for people to wonder about.

Then too, there are the ongoing threads that will wind through any good mystery series. Those are the reason most people like to start with the very first book so they can see the threads developing. I love that sort of growth, where the characters change over the course of the series, where relationships develop (or fall apart), where people come and go, sometimes reappearing, and sometimes not.

These nine delightful women were like a gift. Women who read, women who obviously love books, women who teach, women who know the value of other women.

What more could anyone ask?