Book Club



Rough Day Writing is Still a Good Day

In terms of pages written, yesterday wasn’t my most dazzling day as an author.  I punched in plenty of hours and did lots of research, but I only managed to write one page.  I was tired – I never write well when I’m tired.  And the kids were squabbling – they’re still squabbling.  Twelve more sleeps to the first day of school.

Chapters 5 and 6 have turned into chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.  Deadline for the Percy Janes First Novel Award competition is 97 days away and I have roughly 12 chapters left to write.  I hate the word “hate,” so I’ll say only that I strongly dislike the countdown app on my iPhone.  It wigs me out.

This new career of mine doesn’t pay anything, requires me to work 14-hour days and keeps me awake at night thinking about plot holes, character motivation and the right way to hold a lance.

But you know what?  I love this job.  A bad day as an author is still infinitely better than a good day in “the circus” (as John le Carré so aptly called the federal bureaucracy).  For starters the coffee is better and I can work in my pajamas.  But mostly, there’s no approvals process.  I can make as many edits to my drafts as I want and I won’t have to wait three weeks for it to go through 10 layers of approvals because I changed “a” to “the.”  I can also write in the active voice now.  I feel quite the rebel creating characters that take responsibility for the things they’ve done – and for the most part, they do what I ask them.  I expect a union rep will call any day now and tell me that fighting dragons isn’t in my protagonist’s collective agreement.

I don’t have many bad days as an author, but when I do, I flip over to YouTube and search “advice for aspiring authors.”  Today I came across this interview with Alice Munro – I laughed the whole way through, and then got back to writing.

I hope it makes you smile too – regardless of what kind of day you’re having.


Valerie Francis

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Well, you’re not going to believe this. Reece Witherspoon and I picked the same book for our February book clubs. Sort of.  Late last year, I came across THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE by Marie Benedict and was fascinated by the premise. Benedict writes historical fiction, much like Philippa Gregory,

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Valerie Francis

A Girl Named Howard

This month, rather than recommend one book to read, I’m recommending the entire body of work of one author because Anne Rice, who passed away December 11, 2021, single-handedly revolutionized the role of vampires in literature.  Yes, vampires.  And the impact she’s had is more significant than you might realize.

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Valerie Francis

The Christmas Bookshop

If you’ve had it up to your eyes with holiday preparations and are looking for a light-hearted story to escape into, The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan, might be just the ticket. The title is a bit misleading, in my opinion. Yes, there’s a bookstore. Yes, the plot unfolds in

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