Weekend Edition – Book clubs, good reads, writing advice & inspiration

Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 



wine bookMy First Book Club Ever

Is it weird that though I’ve been a reader and a writer all my life, I’ve never once been part of a book club?

Well, that oversight was remedied when a friend of mine decided (on a bit of a whim) to start a book club with a few friends. Our first read was Tana French’s Broken Harbor – a “police procedural and psychological thriller,” according to the dust jacket. As I mentioned in a previous weekend edition, this isn’t the kind of book I’d usually pick up, but I enjoyed it well enough to finish.

What’s more, I finished in time for our first book club meeting this past Thursday. Our conversation  was both entertaining (we are not a staid or subdued group) and enlightening. As a writer, it was fascinating to hear the perceptions of the other readers. It was sort of like doing a post mortem on the novel. (Yikes! The police procedural language must be rubbing off on me!) I was surprised at the diversity of the reactions to and perceptions of the book. I also took the opportunity to ask questions that helped me see what worked (and what didn’t) with the story.

Plus – there was wine.

All-in-all, the club was – in my opinion – a great success and time well spent. I’m looking forward to discussing our next read and having the opportunity to “look under the hood” with my fellow readers.

What I’m Writing:

bella mac

My mama cat, Bella, offering some constructive criticism and moral support.

I didn’t do much writing this week.

God, I hate having to admit to that.

I did, however, do some other creative things and I also learned some new things – specifically new things to do with building WordPress websites. I’m working on a relaunch of my own site and also on developing a new site for a client. I am not a very tech-y person, so the thought of messing around with website design (even if it doesn’t involve touching the actual code) is a bit intimidating. Still, I got right in there and read the instructions and did various bits of tangential research and actually made some really good progress.

Even though I always regret days when I haven’t done any of “my” writing, I do appreciate the value of other creative work. Whether I’m building a website, taking and editing photos for my Instagram feed, or sketching, I know that all of my creative projects feed my inner artist and my writer self.

Do you have other creative outlets besides writing? How do you think they enhance your writing?

What I’m Reading:

Affiliate Link

It seems I inadvertently lied about which book I was going to read next. Instead of selecting any of the books waiting patiently on bedside tables, bookshelves, and the tops of dressers, I let my fickle reader’s heart lead me astray and – after finishing Broken Harbor in a late night crib session on Tuesday Tuesday – picked up a new book from the library: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel (affiliate link). 

If you’ve read it, please don’t give anything away! I have only read the first seventy-five pages, but am utterly charmed and am quite sure I’ll finish the book this weekend.

From Amazon:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

The narrator’s voice is quirky and the story quickly grabs you and draws you in. And it all takes place in a bookstore. What more could you ask for?

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

book club


Have a lovely rest of your weekend! Thanks for being here. 

Happy reading & happy writing! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Photo Credit for wine glass with book: Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc

38 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Book clubs, good reads, writing advice & inspiration

  1. I’m always interested in how a writer works and spends her time. Book Clubs can be so fun. Mine has been together over 10 years and we have so many laughs together! I’m also in one that I formed through Facebook and I’ve reconnected with friends from gradeschool through books. Also great fun!

    • Ten years? That’s an impressive stretch. How wonderful to have developed such special (and fun) friendships over books. 🙂 I hope our club has such longevity. That’d be pretty cool.

  2. Jamie, I have been writing as a hobby for years, but released my first novel ‘Dead of July’ in December 2013. It has had some great reviews. I would absolutely love a book club to read and review it. I would provide the books of course. Is this something you and your club would consider doing? I have a tough time marketing because of my full time job, and have only sold around 100 books, but I’m ok with that, I didn’t write to get rich. I wrote because I love sharing stories. I would love some independent opinions on my story.

    • Congrats on your first novel, Sandra! That’s no small feat!
      And how nice of you to offer it to our club for a read, but I’m not the person “in charge” and I believe she already has our next several books picked out. (Our library consortium offers wonderful book club “kits” – honestly, they provide everything but the cheese and wine!)

      You may want to think about creating your own book club, or seeking out some local clubs near you who may be particularly interested in reading a local author.

      Good luck!!

  3. Glad to hear about your book club experience! I never was part of one, but always was curious about them (about like I feel about podcasting as well). Thank you for sharing what you are up to and so many interesting links too.

    I’m still slow on the reading side, but been busy with writing. New paper proposals were submitted since last weekend, I got back my book last chapter and my afterword back from my proofreader so I could polish them. I just started the introduction today! I’m pretty excited about how close I am to finish the book draft!

    Have a good weekend! 🙂

    • It’s been so fun to hear all your updates about progress on the book. I can’t believe you’re already in the home stretch! Must be very exciting.

      Hope you enjoy the links. Happy writing (and proofing)! 🙂

  4. Enjoy Mr. P….Such a lovely and charming read. I chugged through it pretty quickly. And then I researched the author and was delighted to learn how he brought it into publication. Ah, the digital world we live in!

    • Ooh! I’ll have to read up on that after I finish the book. I saw a Kindle Single that appears to be related to the novel. I may grab that as well. Such fun to find a book that’s as charming and entertaining as this one.

    • We discussed things in detail as well and it really made me think more concretely about what I liked (and didn’t like) about the book. Great exercise for a writer!

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  6. book clubs intimidate me! I don’t know why, but they do! I enjoy the aspect of there possibly being wine, but over all, I have to say that I worry a) that I’ll get all snotty and consider the book to be beneath me (pretty snotty considering how little I’ve been reading lately), b) that I’ll feel pressured and be like “screw you book club! You can’t tell me what to read!” or c) I just won’t get what they’re talking about, or I’ll have an entirely different view of the book, or I’ll take it for face value. Yes, To Kill a Mocking Bird was actually about how to set a trap for a bird that is constantly making fun of me.
    But I have to admit, i’m intrigued by them. Just intimidated

    • Finding (or creating!) the right kind of group is essential to a book club’s success. Have you ever thought of forming your own book club with people who share your literary values? If it’s your club, you get to make up the rules! 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing our post on Pinterest boards for writers! They’re so awesome…but it’s so easy to get lost on the site! I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of the links you shared.

    Assistant Editor
    The Write Life

    • You’re so welcome. I loved the post and have now started following a few additional “writing” boards. Good stuff!

  8. Truth be told: what really happens in Book Clubs? Think we talk about irony and plot?

    Legions of women across America gather monthly, supposedly to discuss the finer points of irony, character development, and plot vs. protagonist. Fortified by gallons of Green tea and petite cookies, they tackle the Classics, bestsellers and the New York Times Review of Books. From the outside, it appears to be an intellectual diversion.

    However, here is a dirty little secret: many book clubs are really a covert way to analyze, dissect, and discuss men. Very few clubs will admit to this nefarious charge. Many groups, thinly veiled as passionate about reading, are really all about an underlying desire to talk about men, husbands, boyfriends, lovers, dating, sex, and books on the same subject. It’s what we do.
    Page Larkin / San Francisco

    • Absolutely. Agreed.
      I do think, however, that the books inspire more interesting conversations. 😉

      I think I may be brewing a follow-up post on book clubs. There’s SO much to talk about and the topic has relevance to both readers and writers. I’m enjoying my adventure with my first club and looking forward to seeing how it develops.

  9. When I moved to Toronto a free years ago, I was lucky enough to get an invite into a friends somewhat exclusive book club. It was my first real book club experience and I have loved it (wine and snacks help, yes)! We are reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, and that has been my treat during my baby’s naps and before bed!

    Cooking is part of my stay-at-home mom job these days, but I love it enough that it rarely feels like drudgery. Sometimes, a kitchen mishap or success will spark a blog post or essay. But mostly, I think the zen act of cooking (and cleaning up) gives my mind a rest, feeding creativity in a more subtle way.


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  11. Your picture at the end made me lol, I think I’ll belong to the second group 😉
    It was a nice and entertaining read, so thanks for that. Since you opened the post with: “I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.”
    You might like to check out my blog where I post about the world I’m going through and how it affects my writing process 🙂

    • Happy to have made you laugh, Tim. It made me giggle, too. 🙂

      I liked the cartoon on your blog about “Why would I want to finish?” Cute.
      Thanks for coming by and sharing.

      Happy writing!

      • Thanks for the reply 🙂
        Got the picture from an external site and still waiting for an answer if I’m not infringing on some copyright thinghy 😉

        I’m looking forward to many more laughable posts, thnx 🙂

      • Most images can be reposted with attribution under Creative Commons licensing, but the rules will vary by artist. Best way to be sure you aren’t infringing on copyright is to search for images with the Creative Commons “CC” label.

        I look forward to more laughs!

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