Episode 79: Book Clubs

On January 25, 2020, Kasie and Rex launched the Local Authors Book Club in Columbia. Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day:

The Local Authors Book Club Episode

Agenda

  • What is LoAuBC?
  • Upcoming Authors and Books
  • This month’s selection
  • News in the S.C. Writerverse
selective focus photo of person holding book
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Segment 1

Okay, so I suck at book clubs. The first one I joined — alarmingly when I was 30 years-old (who waits that long?) — was when I first moved to Columbia and I was invited by a friend. Turns out the women in the club were all friends — three of them were related (mom and two sisters) — so they mostly talked about stuff I didn’t know anything about.

It was their monthly night out and while that was great, for them, I was there for the books. When they’d selected three John Grisham books in four months, the third one being his latest and therefore only available in $15 Kindle, $25 hardback, or library waitlist, I said “deuces” and bailed.

The second was the library book club and it’s great because they have a diverse selection and publish it a year in advance so you can plan ahead. I read a thriller (not my usual bag) and a lovely book called The Language of Flowers about a young woman in the foster care system — also a book I wouldn’t have picked out on my own. Great selections. And sweet people. Met a good friend there, Lisa, with whom I am in contact to this day.

But the crowd was older than me (and Lisa) and when we read Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s brutal telling of Louis Zamparini’s harrowing experience in World War II, I complained that I thought she was trying to torture us in the same way he’d undergone torture in the POW camp. This opinion, that the book was entirely too long and not Hillenbrand’s best effort (see Seabiscuit for truly great storytelling), I was brutally rebuffed.

So I quit.

Then came the neighborhood book club. Organized by an English teacher at the nearby high school and recommended by another neighbor who had no intention of joining, I attended the first meeting optimistic that I’d make new friends and find new books and drink some wine within walking distance.

I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say my workshop “How to Read Like a Writer” was subtitled, “How to get Kicked out of Book Club” because of that group.

So what makes a serial book club failure (me) decide to start another one? Call it entrepreneurial optimism: that sense that you’ve got a good idea, it’s just the execution that’s been lacking.

Segment 2

Book clubs can be organized around a topic or genre — SciFi, Fantasy, YA, or Romance. Honestly, who wants to read and talk romance? But it’s a thing. Or they can be organized geographically — like the neighborhood — or through affinity groups — like church or in our case, the radio station.

We’ve added to our “Radio Station” affinity group — listeners of Tzima’s show and ours — the Local Authors selection process. We have readers who said, “I wish I read more local authors, I just don’t know who they are.” True. So we thought let’s bring those local authors out and give them a chance to sell books via this book club.

We also want to foster a vibrant literary community in the Midlands and it’s easiest to do that by connecting readers with writers. See: festivals, book fairs, workshops, signings, and other sundry events that happen all over the state.

So who do we have so far? Well, we’ve brought the LoAuBC out this month with my book, After December and will continue it next month with James D. MacCallister, or Don, and his series Dixiana. We’re lining up the others in the next few weeks and have received a lot of quality applications. I like Dana Ridenour for a crime novel or Raegan Teller for a murder mystery. There’s McKendree Long for westerns and Bonnie Stanard for historical fiction and Johnny Bloodworth’s tales of psychics and lawmen.

Like all efforts we had to ask ourselves, what are we trying to do here? First, let’s read some good books. Second, let’s promote some authors who make their homes here in S.C. Third, let’s settle a bet that South Carolina has a lot to offer on the literary front, we don’t have to leave the state to find great storytellers. Jonathan Haupt at the Pat Conroy Literary Center believes that and we do, too.

Segment 3

Okay, so let’s talk about this month’s selection. After December is Kasie’s debut novel published by Chrysalis Press, an imprint of Kat Biggie Press, which is based out of Columbia, S.C. and home to a dozen non-fiction authors and children’s book authors and now this commercial fiction (literary fiction?) effort.

Rex, you read some during workshop and I challenged you last week to read the book in its entirety for today so I’ll shut up and let you talk about this some. I won’t even ask you to be kind.

Here are the links to buy the book and to read some of the supplementary stuff I’ve been writing to promote it. Thirteen reviews out there right now. Would love to see 20 by the end of January. All you listener-readers out there, go to Amazon and leave your take on the novel.

Segment 4

Sherman Carmicheal reached out to share his publishing news. The recent release, Mysterious Tales From The North Carolina Piedmont is available now on Amazon (link). Congratulations to you, Sherman. We invited him to be part of the Book Club so we’ll see if that works out.

The 2nd Annual Black Creek Literary Festival is happening in Darlington today. Head out to the Darlington Branch Library from 10am-2pm. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. Featured local writers from the Pee Dee and Black Creek region include Trilby Plants, Georgia Griebel Gates, Carlo L’Chelle Dawson, Charlene McDonnough, Candace J. Carter, Jonathan Haupt, Arthur Turfa, Annette Reynolds, Suzanna Linton, Virginia Rafferty, Ryan Milling, Stephen L. Gordy and more. A moderated Q&A panel on the basics of writing is a good feature for aspiring writers and door prizes for those that attend the panel. Anyone who needs more information should contact the Darlington Library at (843) 398-4940 or visit our website at darlington-lib.org.

Award-winning author SASSCER HILL will be guest speaker on Thursday, February 6th, 6:00 pm at the Sisters in Crime monthly meeting held at the Runway Cafe in Greenville. Ms. Hill will talk about her latest book, Travels of Quinn, and provide some insight into the research that went into this first book in her new Quinn O’Neill Mystery Series.

Friend of the show Al Black is getting into the Workshop Scene in 2020. He’ll present “I’m a Poet and I Know it” at the Richland Library on Assembly Street in February. Part I: Tuesday, February 4, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. is an ABC overview on writing poetry, then help aspiring poets to select a theme and structure for a poem they’ll spend several weeks crafting. In Part II: Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aspiring poets will return to share their poems, and Black will provide constructive feedback. Congrats, Al, and have fun out there you crazy poet people. Link here.

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