Book Club



Unexpected and Generous

A local charity just held its third annual fun run fundraiser. The first year, the turnout was respectable and although the weather was awful and the route poorly designed, runners had a good time. For a year they told their friends about the swag bag they got after they crossed the finish line. It was filled with unexpected and generous goodies.

The second year, registration increased. The weather was a little better, there was an even better swag bag plus full-sized chocolate bars (in addition to the healthy snacks of course). Runners could have taken 20 bars each if they’d wanted, but they didn’t. They shared one among many. Still, they talked about those bars all year because they were unexpected and generous.

This year, the weather was perfect. The race sold out and there was even a waiting list. The route was excellent. But at the end, the swag bag disappointed. Gone were the generous samples, replaced instead with token items and sales brochures. Gone too were the chocolate bars. People noticed.

What will they talk about this year? And, does this really have anything to do with bars and free samples?

Why is unexpected and generous so important? It’s because it makes people feel like they’ve been seen. Like the hard work they did raising funds was appreciated.

How can we apply this to our books and the people who read them? For starters, we can learn to craft a novel that goes above and beyond the reader’s expectations. It takes time and hard work, but our investment in our craft is a gift to our readers. It’s a way for us to let them know that they’ve been seen and that their purchase is appreciated.

They expect a good book in exchange for their money, but what would happen if we gave them a great book instead? A great book is unexpected and generous. Great books get talked about.

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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