April 24, 2014

Guest Post + Giveaway: The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott

Hey everyone! I'm highlighting a great new upcoming release from NAL Trade today with a guest post by the author and a giveaway! Read on for more info on the book and be sure to stop back soon for my review!

The Accidental Book Club
Author: Jennifer Scott
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade


Writing a new future takes a little time—and a lot of love.

Jean Vison never expected to run a book club, until her life took an unexpected turn. Now, with Jean’s husband gone, what began as an off-the-cuff idea has grown into a group of six women who meet the second Tuesday of every month for a potluck supper, for wine and laughter—and for books.

There’s Loretta, who deals with the lack of intimacy in her marriage by diving into erotic novels. Dorothy, whose ruffian sons are a never-ending source of stress. May entertains the group with her outrageous dating stories, while Mitzi finds something political to rant about in every book—including Loretta’s trashy romances. Even Janet, with her mousy shyness and constant blush, has helped Jean rediscover the joy in life.

So when Jean’s family starts unraveling again—her daughter forced into rehab and her troubled teen granddaughter, Bailey, coming to live with her in the interim—she turns to the book club for comfort and support. And, together, they all, even Bailey, discover that family is what you make of it, especially the family you choose…

It Gets Personal, Each and Every Time 

I write character-driven novels. Not that I don’t enjoy a good plot-twisting-heart-pounding-page-turner. Absolutely, I do! But for some reason, when I sit down to write, I focus on the character. What’s going on in her head? In her family? In her heart?
My first step in writing is always a character sketch. I write down everything I could ever want to know about each of my most important characters, from physical characteristics to personality traits to foods they enjoy and clubs they belong to. I want to know which stereotypes they fit, and which they break. I want to know who they hang out with, by force, by necessity, and by choice. I want to know what their house looks like and who their grandparents were. I want to know their birthdays. Do they feel anxious about their weight, their nose, their career, their health? I want to know that, too. Only after I have all of my questions about my characters answered, do I sit down to write their story.
I do this for two reasons.
One, I was a psychology major in college, so it’s really no big surprise that I enjoy diving and digging into the hearts and minds of my characters. Clearly, I enjoy knowing, and trying to understand, people. Events are given meaning by how we act and react. Thoughts are given voice, and the voice those thoughts are given depends on who’s speaking. So, in terms of my books, I’d better know exactly who’s got their mouths open, and what’s coming out.
Two, I like to think of novels as “unique days” in my characters’ lives. And, to me, it’s impossible to know how someone would react to a “unique day” if you don’t know how they act in a normal one. Knowing my characters as individuals helps me be able to predict them, just as knowing my husband, my kids, or my mother helps me predict them.
Before writing The Accidental Book Club, I created character sketches for each book club member. These were the people who would be doing the acting and the talking in my story. They needed voices that were as clear and unique as the voices of any six real people in the real world. And I needed to be able to hear them.
How could I know if Jean was going to react with kindness or coldness upon hearing about Bailey’s troubles? How could I be sure how Janet would respond to her boss? How could I possibly guess what Loretta would say to R. Sebastian Thackeray, III when he visits Jean’s house? How would I be able to see the weariness in the lines around Dorothy’s eyes? By the only way I know how: by making my characters as real as possible before I ever get to the point of writing those things.
It’s sort of like sitting down to coffee with new friends. I ask questions; I mentally log answers. I notice quirks and habits. I notice subtleties that allow me to infer some things about their personalities. Sometimes, we toss back squat cups of coffee, and others we linger over entire pots. Once I wrote a 38-page character sketch for a character who never ended up in a novel. But, man, I’d enjoyed getting to know her just as I would have had she shown up at my son’s football game and sat in the lawn chair next to me. And if I’d ever needed to put that character into a “unique day,” I think I just might have been able to do so.
Jennifer Scott is an award-winning author, whose young adult novel The Hate List (written under the name Jennifer Brown) has received wide acclaim, including being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.  THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB is her second novel for adults, after The Sister Season.

Giveaway: The wonderful people at NAL are offering (1) copy of The Accidental Book Club to one lucky winner! US Only!


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