Book Clubs with Pizzazz

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

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Forming a fiction book club within your library may seem a bit daunting, but the enthusiasm and new friendships that form are well worth the effort. It’s not difficult because I’ve done it, and I believe the following information will persuade you to take the initial steps.

This is your opportunity to sponsor an outreach event that shows the women of the community that your library is there for all of them.

Consider this:

  • Women were created with the idea of relationships. If in doubt, read the first few chapters of Genesis.
  • Women look to each other for support and encouragement. We’re compassionate, empathetic, and sympathetic.
  • Women seek out relationships by using their life experiences and faith to mirror their beliefs to others.
  • Women love to get together and socialize.

Sounds like a book club to me.

Take the jitters and fears out of forming a book club by following these ten easy tips to building a dynamic and fun organization. I’ve covered the who, what, where, when, why, and how. After all this is a party!

1. Where do I begin?
    A. Make inquiries – show excitement – generate interest.
    B. Talk to library director to enlist her support
    C. Word of mouth
    D. Article in library newsletter
    E. Notice in library
    F. Community social media announcements
2.  Where do I find participants?
     A. Library patrons
     B. Friends
     C. Neighbors
     D. Among the community

3.  Where do we meet?
    A. What area in the library works best for the meeting?
    B. Have seating arranged in a circular fashion to encourage book           
        discussion. Suggest cell phones be turned to vibrate so not to                 interrupt the discussion.

4.  How and when do members receive their books?
     A. Books are purchased the month before the discussion
     B. Contact a local book store to see if books can be purchased                      in bulk at a reduced price?
     C. Consider some readers prefer an e-copy.
     D. If an author is participating, she may offer the books at a                 
         discounted price and will personally autograph each copy.
     E. Designate one person to be the book buyer.
     F. Arrange for how members pick up their books.
     G. Some members may already have purchased the book
     H. Make sure a copy of the book is retained in the library
5. How are books chosen?
    A. The first book is always the hardest: consider a bestseller or popular
    B. Other ways to choose books
        1. Take a poll of book choices from the members at the first                         meeting.
        2. Find out if there are published writers within your community                     and surrounding area.
        3. Search online book clubs and read reviews from other                     readers.

6. How can I make my club 
    interesting and unique?
    A. Invite local authors for    
        discussion. Make sure their   
        books are read the month  
        before the meeting. Writers  
        love book clubs!
    B. Use the discussion questions
        in the back of the book or  
        posted online.
    C. Contact authors who do not live in your area and schedule a call or             Skype meeting.
    D. Celebrate holidays, birthdays, seasons, and special events as part             of the meeting.
    E. Ask for volunteers for refreshments.
    F. Have a contest to see who can invite the most new members.
    G. Have someone write a short report about each meeting and post it              in the library and library newsletter.
     H.  Add contests, a party atmosphere, and fun!

7. Feed them, and they will return.

8. Evaluate your club by having formal feedback
    A. Verbal or written

Establish an e-mail loop to remind others of upcoming meetings.
    A. If book club is Christian, establish a prayer and praise leader.
Are you a member of a book club? What tips can you offer? We want to hear them.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

23 Things You Can Do for Your Writing Self

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

There are a lot of things about being a writer that are
hard. And there are a lot of ways we make it even harder on ourselves. So
today, I’d like to remind you—and me—of ways to be a little bit kinder on ourselves.

1. Instead of putting yourself down, build yourself up.

2. Choose to be optimistic.

3. Pray First

4. Be patient, writing is a process and takes time.

5. Invest in your dream—financially and otherwise.

6. Find a tribe—don’t try to do this alone.

7. Remember why you write.

8. Be courageous.

9. Choose joy.

10. Remember that failure isn’t always a bad thing.

11. Be flexible.

12. Give others the benefit of the doubt.

13. Eat healthy.

14. Take a chance and hit send.

15. Make time to write a priority.

16. Take a walk—exercise regularly.

17. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short.

18. Invest in other writers—we all have those who aren’t quite
where we are.

19. Give yourself the gift of a reasonable writing schedule.

20. Have a dedicated workspace.

21. When you hit a roadblock, go around it, don’t stop.

22. Encourage other writers.

23. Sometimes, write just for the fun of it.

I’d love for you to add to today’s list. Be sure to leave
your thoughts in the comments section below.

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including While My Soldier Serves, Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. She’s also the military family blogger at Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers ConferenceConnections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers is a print expansion of her bestselling ebook on social media. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for Connect on Twitter and Facebook.  

Editor in a Windshield

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of
Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.

If I were to hang a label on my car rearview window, it would say Windshield: Eyes Only.

My holy shrine is the inside of my car windshield. So sacred is the space that I will let a bug roam unmolested leaving its filthy footprints. Until it reaches the dashboard.

My windshield is like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea—a no-man’s land sanctuary for flora and fauna. No one touches. No one thinks of touching.

Why? Because if there’s a chip, I stare at the mark instead of the road. Because a fingerprint leads to smudges and a professional clean leaves streaks. Any mark inside the windshield, at that point, I install a new windshield.

I should have told my family.

Frosty winters in Idaho are the norm, and with no garage, we pull out the scraper and clean off the ice and snow. The outside of the windshield is touchable with the right utensils. But one day, as I packed my bags, my wife started the car and the kids beat me outside. My son and daughter had already cleared the frost from the windshield. 

What I saw next is seared into my memory. Six hands pressed against the inside of the windshield. 

The world around me moved in slow motion, including my voice.


“No. No. No. No.” I jerked the door open.

My wife, son, and daughter leaned forward and pressed their palms against the consecrated glass. “Look, Daddy,” my daughter said. “We can melt the ice faster. It’s cold, though.” She pulled her hands back and rubbed them together.

Numb, and as if in a dream, I sat in the driver’s seat and surveyed the damage.

I could see through the windshield.

Incredible. They’d destroyed the sanctity of the untouched glass, but I could see. Clearly.

Sometimes our manuscripts are sacred ground, and we’re loath to let an editor touch our work. Yes, when the editor is finished, our work will be smudged with their fingerprints. But with their input—their hands against the windshield—the manuscript will be cleaned efficiently. And you’ll learn to let go of your sacred windshields. 


by Yvonne Lehman
and Diana Savage
seriously challenge the stereotypical phrase coined by George Bernard Shaw
in 1903, “Those who can, do and those who can’t teach.” This amazingly
creative duo does both—write and teach. The good doctor, more affectionately
known as Doc
, chair’s the Department of
Professional Writing at Taylor University. While Diana Savage,
in addition to speaking and providing professional writing, editing and website
management assistance through Savage Creative Writing Services,
is also director of Northwest Christian Writers Association
I suppose anyone in the writing profession knows of Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, affectionately called “Doc Hensley,” or simply “Doc.” If they don’t, they should. He has the reputation of being about the best writing teacher there is, and writes with excellence. My first meeting with him was a couple of decades ago when I introduced him at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference as a man who had four university degrees. That was inhibiting, until I quickly discovered he was as nice as he is smart. And now, I want to introduce you to his latest book, Pseudonym, co-authored with Diana Savage, and released by Whitaker House in January 2016.
“Nothing like anything that has come before,” is what Cathy Shouse said about this book in her Indiana Marion Chronicle-Tribune article. “The book, simply entitled Pseudonym,” she wrote, “is being described as a suspense and mainstream drama.”
No experience is lost on writers. They can make a story from any idea, and Doc Hensley’s idea for this book came 20 years ago. His speaking engagement had ended and he was eager to fly home. But being the kind soul he is, he gave up his seat to a woman desperate to get to California to see her husband before he left for his military assignment overseas. While waiting for a later flight, Doc Hensley wasted no time, but did what writers know makes a good story and began to ponder, “What if?”
What if…two people secretly swapped tickets. What if…one of the planes crashed and the person killed aboard that flight had the wrong ID? He wrote that story in a year but publishers did what they often do and said, “Um, not for us.” They all thought it too much too edgy. After all, it contained elements of insurance fraud, divorce, casino gambling, and deception, to mention just a few of the mature, realistic themes of the novel.  
Twenty years later Doc pulled out that manuscript and shared it with Diana Savage, who had worked with him as his web master. She said he’d done a terrific job with the story, but for the situations he’d put his character in, he could use some updated female perspectives. He agreed, and she became his co-author. Doc Hensley believes that together they have become a great team in presenting this tale of real life and the choices people make. 
“Some characters choose wisely, others foolishly, and that, of course, is what creates plot conflict in a novel,” Hensley said. “The fact that early reviews in secular publications and Christian publications have both been extremely positive makes us feel that we hit the right balance of examining strong values without having to lecture or criticize anyone.” 
What happens when a high school English teacher submits a student’s paper to an award winning contest without her knowledge and the essay wins the Golden Quill Award for Writing Excellence? For eighteen-year-old Sheila Gray, the award verified…her dreams of becoming an author weren’t all that far-fetched. However, for her suspicious, domineering father it meant trouble and she wasn’t surprised when he said, “Writin’ won’t put food on yer table the way gardening and canning will.”
It wasn’t until Sheila mentioned the $500 cash award, the $100 savings bond and six-week college writing program scholarship that her father grabbed the envelope from her hand, studied the contents with disbelief and said, “What’s the catch?”
Sheila knew there was only one “catch.” Who would cook, clean and take care of her father and brothers while she was away? She had once said, “I’d give my life to become a best-selling author.” What Sheila couldn’t know was that her off-the-cuff remark would cost exactly that—her life.
Thus begins a riveting suspense tale with such true-to-life characterizations, so many twists, turns and continual surprises, the pages almost turn themselves. Add naiveté, an upper classman’s diabolic agenda, a whirlwind summer romance and proposal of marriage attached to a deceptive promise, and you have an emotionally charged mystery-suspense impossible to put down. 
“I kept telling myself,” says Gail Welborn of the Seattle Examiner, “just one more page. But I couldn’t stop. The true-to-life characterizations, intricate, in-depth and well-developed plot captured me up to and through the rocket-fueled ending. Narrative themes of submission, dominion, and the cost and drive of creativity, complicated by the wily hand of fate, will make readers question if they too might have “a date with destiny.”
“If you’re looking for a book that prompts bursts of laughter, ‘Oh no’s’ and outright cheers, Pseudonym belongs on your bookshelf, especially the shelf of anyone who harbors dreams of writing! When I reviewed Hensley’s Jesus in the 9 to 5 December 2013,” states Welborn, “I saw he not only told a good story, but did so with a quirky dash of humor. Together these authors do that and more with Pseudonym.”
Dr. Hensley and Diana Savage seriously challenge the stereotypical phrase coined by George Bernard Shaw in 1903, “Those who can, do and those who can’t teach.” This amazingly creative duo does both—write and teach. Doc Hensley chair’s the Department of Professional Writing at Taylor University. While Diana Savage, in addition to speaking and providing professional writing, editing and website management assistance through Savage Creative Services LLC is also director of Northwest Christian Writers Association.  

Yvonne Lehman, author of 56 novels and 5 non-fiction books in the Moments series, is former founder and director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years and now director of Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelists Retreat held October 16-20, 2016 at Ridgecrest/Lifeway Conference Center at Ridgecrest NC. Yvonnelehman3@gmail.comSavannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son,
Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, &
November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of