Book Club



Why Writing Groups Are Important

Writing is lonely business.  For someone like me, who’s used to spending her days interacting with lots of different people, the solitude of the writing life can be a bit of a shock.  The cats are always with me when I’m working of course, but they don’t laugh at my jokes, they don’t care if I make my daily writing quota, and they have no opinion on whether I should tell my story from one point of view or two.

Needless to say, when I got the invite to join a writing group with some other local authors, I jumped at the chance.

There are four of us, all working in different genres and all at different stages in our careers.  We’ve met three times so far, and already the benefits of belonging to a writing group are evident.

First and foremost, it’s a chance to talk about the craft of writing with other people who genuinely find it interesting.  I have the most supportive friends and family in the world, but honestly, I don’t think they’re really very interested in talking about the evil ways of the adverb, or debating the pros and cons of prologues.  I can’t say I blame them – it’s pretty “down in the weeds.”

Being part of a writing group also provides an incredible opportunity to learn about both the artistic and business ends of the field.  Yes, we talk about techniques for effectively shaping a story, but we also chat about our experiences finding agents, working with publishers and building author platforms through social media.  There are lots of good reference books out there, which is a terrific start.  In fact, we often share useful articles we’ve found.  For me though, they can’t replace this new network we’ve created.  For example, we met yesterday afternoon and discussed, among other things, the use of metadata (tags) on the and websites.  Here’s literary agent Kristin Nelson, of Nelson Literary Agency discussing why this is so important for authors.  You may also want to visit her blog.


Writing a novel is a massive undertaking.  It never feels like work to me, but it is sometimes overwhelming.  That’s why my favourite thing about being in this group is the impact it has on my motivation.  I leave each session full of energy and enthusiasm, anxious to get back to my book.

Speaking of which … my magnum opus awaits.

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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