So an author walks into a book club…

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The other night I had the pleasure of having my book discussed by the good readers and writers of the “Critical Drinking” Book Club. To set the scene, Critical Drinking is a book club organized by Wordier Than Thou, one of the St. Pete/Tampa area’s fine literary organizations. This particular meeting was at the Gulfport History Museum. Gulfport is town within a city, bordered on 3 sides by St. Petersburg, and one side by water or, more accurately, a waterfront with bars that open at 8am. It’s a village with equal parts Canadian retirees, lesbians, fisherman, artists, and people who abstain from traditional work. I’m not knocking Gulfport – my wife and I lived there for 6 years had two children and outgrew the house… it’s an awesome place. The mayor is an environmentalist, bartender and lead singer in a band. It’s what Key West used to be and most wish it were still.

So there was some poetry to the fact that the club met 5 blocks from where I wrote The Grandfather Clock. I have to thank fellow writer and blogger Cathy Salustri, who has been personally responsible for nearly all of the media mentions of my book and invitations to book events. I have a feeling that when it comes to repaying her, she’ll make it count.

I entered the familiar space to a few friendly faces. Some people I knew, others that I just knew of. I’ve been to book clubs before, but never one in which the author was there. I’ve slammed books in book clubs before, and I definitely would have held my tongue if the author were there to punch me in the face. So, while I really really wanted honest critique, I also wanted it to be mostly positive, and at least kind.

The reaction was incredible. I could tell that people genuinely enjoyed it, and still offered their critique of what could have been better (the end felt rushed, certain characters needed more purpose – all things that I knew.) What was really fun was having a group of people so eager to discuss my book in great depth. Beyond my discussions with my editor, I hadn’t heard such in depth analysis. It was also a great opportunity to meet other writers and get advice. I made some connections that I know will grow. I was particularly flattered when two people who’d read the book on Kindle purchased a hard copy from the museum shop and asked me to sign them.

I’m making great progress on my next book. I expect to have the manuscript done THIS MONTH. Then it’ll be in the hands of my beta readers and editor, during which time I’ll start the 3rd book in the series. Other than being the final book in the series (teardrop), it’s a blank slate. I have a seed of an idea, but I may not use it. Look for Book 2 to come out… September? I’ve said “Summer 2015” which gives me until September 20th to make good on that promise. If I’m late I’ll blame my editor.

By the way, I recently developed a split personality on social media. My readers can now “Like” me on Facebook, without getting pictures of family trips and milestones. For updates and commentary related to writing, but not Blog-worthy, LOOK HERE. Also, if you’re in the St. Pete area, Keep St. Pete Lit has started a Facebook group of local writers and is offering really high quality and non-intimidating free writing classes on weekends. They are totally free, no catch.

Thanks for reading!

-J

jkilewrites@gmail.com

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