Want to Join a Book Club?
It seems like everyone is in a book club of some kind—online or meeting with other readers in homes and other venues.
A while ago, I wanted to join a book club, but didn’t know of any, so I asked my good friend to help me organize a group. As a former English teacher, I taught with friends who love to read, so we corralled them to come on board. I also invited several neighbors and ladies from my small daytime choir.
A local indie bookstore offers a discount for book club members, so we needed an official name for their files. Thus, we are known as Books, Brunch, and Beyond. (Apologies to that store, Bed…well, you know). We meet the last Friday of the month in the morning and take turns hosting the group. The hostess provides coffee and cake or whatever treat we choose. After coffee, we discuss the selected book, and around noon head out for lunch at a restaurant in the hostess’s area.
Our members have come and gone over the years; currently there are nine active ladies and five are charter members. Needless to say, our club evolved into more than just a book group. We’ve become friends—sharing life’s peaks and valleys. Several have lost husbands and battled illnesses. We share travels, kids, grandkids, and more, all while having fulfilling social time.
We’ve been active for 12 years since our first meeting at my house in January of 2005. We select from a variety of books and genres: fiction, nonfiction, and classic, books with positive reviews and articles from various sources.
We’ve been introduced to books we never would’ve read on our own. Have all our books been a success? No! There have been some duds, but most have been worthwhile, enjoyable, and oftentimes educational.
I must add, these ladies have been so supportive in my writing process—from my first my dabbling in writing groups to the day my first novel, Bailey’s Law was published. It's great to have cheerleaders! Great books and better friends...Can you tell how blessed I am?
If you’d enjoy a book club, I say, start one. If I can, anyone can!
PS. If anyone is interested in our book selections, please message me on my Contact page.
You’re a poet, You didn’t know it…
My dad’s pithy sayings, jokes, puns, etc. were by and large, cringe-worthy. I’m sure this little ditty is familiar to those of us growing up in a certain era (I won’t get specific).
You’re a poet
You didn’t know it
But your feet show it
I know, I know.
A few years ago I took a break from writing short stories and beginnings of novels to writing poetry. My poems are all free verse; no rhyme, rhythm, but a few poetic devices thrown in here and there. In other words, no Emily Dickinson.
I decided to write and compile a book of poems; user-friendly poems that people could understand without a PhD in English literature and poetry. A local graphics company printed the books, and I used them as gifts for family and friends.
The Car Ride was written to honor our dog, Ian, a beautiful Sheltie who passed away about eight years ago. I know many of you can relate to these words.
The Car Ride
Days creep by, denial
No longer an option.
The dreaded car ride
A sorrowful ride indeed.
Silence fills the car
Words lie buried, not needed.
People driving here and there
Unaffected by our grief,
Thank you my friend for never-
Ending devotion. In seasons of
Darkness we were a team --
Two against the world.
My thoughts float across the sea to
Your land of origin — I see
You bounding o’er the Highland fields,
Past grazing sheep in the meadow
You frolic over heather-dotted hillsides,
Ever young, ever joyful as I stroke
Your tan and sable coat of silk, and
Whisper, ‘fare thee well my bonnie prince,
so soft shall ye sleep.’
Right before Thanksgiving, two friends and I went on a mini-book tour of Richmond, TX, the setting of Bailey’s Law. We decided to check out a couple of haunts that Jack visited in the book.
Our first stop was The Lone Star Saloon, which is described in Chapter 13. Jack’s had a bad day, fed up with the case he’s working as well as the never-ending heat, and figures he’ll stop at the saloon on his way home for a couple beers and a burger. After he’s settled in, Denise Williams walks through the door, joins him, and they have a good conversation with a secret or two revealed.
In our scenario, the weather’s sunny and beautiful. Not many people in the place, and we’re warmly greeted by a waitress who introduces us to the owner, Bev L. She was excited to receive a copy of Bailey’s Law, and happy the Lone Star is mentioned in the book. We ate a delicious lunch, and Bev enjoyed telling the history of the saloon and showing us pictures.
We said our goodbye’s and headed for the historical court house building and took several pictures. Then on to the police station, another of Richmond’s iconic buildings, where we spotted their pet memorial garden, honoring the K-9’s who were used in service to the officers.
We met a very amiable officer named Lowell N., who happily accepted a copy of Bailey’s Law. He indicated it was a slow afternoon, right before the holiday, and he’d start reading the book immediately. (He emailed me the next day, saying how much he enjoyed the book.)
The Soda Shoppe, another old town treasure, was closed, much to our disappointment, but we enjoyed driving around more of the town, and ending our day at Clancy’s Pub. This eatery is found later in the book when Jack and his colleague, Moose, stop in for a pint and a burger.
The staff at the pub is welcoming, enjoyed chatting with us, and said how cool it is to actually “be in a book.”
It’s a special treat to reach out to people who reside in the setting of one’s book. I highly recommend it!
Speaking of special treats, Bailey's Law eBook is only .99 on Amazon Kindle December 8th to the 11th! Download your cheap eBook copy now!
Joe Dillard Untangles Legal and Personal Webs
This is book 5 of the Joe Dillard series, and tells the story of Joe's taking on clients whose young daughter was kidnapped from her home during the night. Scott Pratt's writing style is conversational and flows well to keep up the pace of the plot. I was engaged from beginning to end with tension on each page regarding the little girl's disappearance. In spite of hard evidence pointing to the girl's father, Joe finally feels his client is innocent and looks for suspects close to business and family relationships. Meanwhile, adding conflict and challenge to his life, Joe discovers the truth about his father supposedly killed in Viet Nam. Without giving too much away, health issues with Joe's wife arise, testing his core stamina and character. This book would appeal to those of us who enjoy a good who-dunnit, with an interesting and likable protagonist who isn't perfect, but very human indeed.
Read Bailey's Law Now.
The Girl on the Train
How many times have you been disappointed with a movie based on a book you’ve read and enjoyed? I think we can all agree that oftentimes the movie pales in comparison.
However, several weeks ago two friends and I saw The Girl on the Train, which we’d all read and liked. None of us knew what to expect from the movie, since we don’t always agree with written reviews.
We were pleasantly surprised at the film, and thought the acting was excellent. The movie closely follows the book, with minor details changed toward the end which does not affect the outcome. One difference is the setting. Rachel takes a train from a small outlying town to New York City rather than London. Again, no bearing on the story.
I think the casting is spot on. Emily Blunt captures the essence of Rachel in all her unreliable facets. Megan and Anna, played by Haley Bennet and Rebecca Ferguson are convincing as well. As a special treat, Allison Janney pops in as Detective Riley, who ends up on Rachel’s side.
My one criticism is the movie’s length. Like most movies I see, this could’ve been trimmed down ten or fifteen minutes. If you’d like a tempoprary escape from the world, I recommend this film for an entertaining ride.
Read Bailey's Law Now.
Choosing a Setting
As you know, it’s easier to place our characters in a setting we know personally when it fits our story’s time and place. Since Bailey’s Law was my first novel, I wanted a familiar setting and small town police department. I didn’t want my characters or myself to get lost in the shuffle of a large department with more bureaucracy and other rules to deal with.
I’ve lived in Houston for many years, but wanted a smaller area for my story. I chose Richmond, about 30 miles from downtown Houston, because the town is well established with sites on the historical registry. Its iconic police station is a landmark near the old town area, complete with nostalgic storefronts and streets with vertical parking.
Several of my friends live in the area, which made research enjoyable, particularly dining at the Lone Star Saloon and Clancy’s Pub. In fact, our book club has patronized both places for lunch after our meetings.
Jack Bailey hangs out at the Lone Star after a hard day’s work, and runs into Denise Williams one evening. They end up sharing dinner and she confides in Jack regarding a past close call on the job.
At times Jack yearns for the pulse and vibe of a big city, and wonders if he should move back to Chicago. Only problems is, the ghosts of his past still linger there, so for the time being, he’ll stay hidden in Richmond.
Read Bailey's Law Now.
WHO IS DENISE WILLIAMS?
After I created Jack Bailey, I considered which secondary characters were needed. In every story, some are threaded throughout the book; others emerge once or twice, and then fade into the sunset.
Since Jack supervises the police department’s crime division, I hoped to introduce several co-workers who worked well or not-so-well with Jack. I introduced Moose and Hector as detectives who got along with Jack, but never questioned his decisions. Tilford, an older detective, continually gets under Jack’s skin. In need of a woman in the mix, I created Denise Williams, an outspoken patrol cop, with a smart aleck working relationship with Jack.
Denise is an African American woman in her forties whose character is based on a friend from years ago. Smart and opinionated, Denise has a salty sense of humor and takes no BS from anyone. Originally, I’d planned to develop the character of Moose, but Denise took on a life of her own.
She and Jack insult one another good-naturedly, which no one else dares to do. She also stands up to him when needed. “Come on, Bailey, give it a rest, it’s been a long day,” she tells him when he asks her to do more than she deems necessary.
In one scene, Denise and Jack run into each other at a local brew place and end up sharing a couple drinks and a meal. Denise reveals more of her character when she tells Jack she got in trouble on the job before his time for political incorrectness. She also discloses her own biases which she tries to cover up.
Denise’s compnion, patrol cop Kathleen Nolan, was a rookie when Denise mentored her and kept the other cops from bothering the attractive, blond newcomer. I planned for Kathleen to play a larger role in the story, but Denise proved more interesting.
Denise shows compassion in her interaction with a shy, scared young woman who may be directly related to the murder investigation. The girl reveals pertinent information to Denise, and later, Jack grudgingly compliments her on the interview.
I hope you enjoy meeting Denise in Bailey’s Law.
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JACK BAILEY: REMEMBER THAT NAME!
How did Jack Bailey come about? For my story I wanted a hard-boiled detective type, but who was vulnerable and compassionate underneath his grumpy façade. Jack’s PTSD evolved to show how a trauma and repressed memories of the past can affect a person, and the necessity of coming to terms with one’s demons.
I wanted a crusty cop, but one who’s enigmatic. No one knows much about Jack, even after six years at the Richmond Police Department. Why does he never mention a family? Why are people afraid to ask?
The brooding expression of Liam Neeson is a model of Jack’s appearance. I also chose an Irish character to tie in with his Chicago roots and past family trauma. Perhaps another reason is I enjoyed visiting Ireland with its scenery, history, and of course, its pubs.
My own reading preferences include a good ‘whodunnit’ with a take-charge cop who seems jaded, cynical, and downright grouchy, who solves crimes using good old-fashioned detective work with probing interrogations to arrive at a motive, suspect, and hopefully closure. I enjoy character-driven narratives as opposed to never-ending shoot-em-up scenes, explosions, police chases, that continue page after page.
I created Jack Bailey to be a voice for those who are victimized by stronger forces. In Bailey’s Law, Jack must face a tough decision which reaches the core of ethics, morality, justice, and compassion.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Jack Bailey and his co-workers in their quest to solve this small town crime.
Why a Cop/Crime Story?
“Write what you’re passionate about.” Words of advice we’ve heard many times. I also read once to “write what you hate.” Although that sounds harsh, it spurs me on to create a story from issues and events I “passionately despise”, like cruelty, campus assault, domestic violence, soft on crime for the wealthy, etc. But I also sprinkle in themes like love, hope, and compassion in order to avoid a story that is too dark or depressing.
For me, mystery and cop/crime stories lend themselves to address society’s issues. I turn them into stories of everyday people who must face traumatic or unpleasant events beyond their control.
I wrote my first mystery short story years ago using my character, Jack Bailey, for the first time. Reading and hearing about drunk drivers getting by with killing and injuring people is an issue that has sparked my passion, and yes, anger.
Another disturbing topic for me is campus assault and the cover-up by authorities that often results. I realize that’s a generalization, but without naming names, it’s happened too frequently on certain campuses within the past ten years or more. I wanted to show the aftermath of this dilemma by writing a crime story involving this theme.
I enjoy reading and writing novels that feature interesting characters who attempt to uncover motive and opportunity to attain closure…
I enjoy researching police procedure and department structure, as well as details regarding forensic evidence. I rely on the internet, and I also call on a friend’s husband, a former cop, who graciously agreed to be my go-to resource for obtaining behind-the-scenes information and tidbits I don’t find online.
I hope you find Bailey’s Law an interesting and relevant read. It is hitting the shelves on October 27th and you may pre-order at a 10% discount by clicking on the link --> Black Rose Writing's.
Thank you for visiting my website and blog. My first novel, Bailey's Law, will be released on October 27, 2016.
I grew up in northern Minnesota, and after college moved around the midwest until landing in Houston where I've lived for over 30 years. I've always enjoyed writing and am a former English and psychology teacher. I'm fortunate to have a husband, two children, and three grandchildren, along with a great extended family and two German shepherds.
I wrote free verse poetry off and on for years, and began short story and novel writing several years ago.
Mystery stories interest me because issues that I'm passionate about lend themselves to crime stories. For example, in my short story featuring Jack Bailey, the issue of DUI's going unpunished arises. Bailey's Law addresses the problem of victimizing women and campus assault in our current society.
Blending good and evil through my characters is an ongoing challenge as well as a pleasure. I look forward to writing snippets on everyday topics, focusing on writing, reading, psychology, and an occasional dog!
Author Meg Lelvis