Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Club Exchange: Jane Porter

Last week, I reviewed SHE'S GONE COUNTRY, Jane Porter's latest novel. I found the book to be very fun and entertaining, and a perfect summer read -- just like all of her books! I just happen to be a big fan of Ms. Porter's and am thrilled that she took time from her busy schedule as an author and mother to write something for Book Club Exchange.

I visit tons of book clubs—probably 25 or more a year, which over the years becomes hundreds, and every single one is different. I really enjoy joining book clubs but I confess, for me it’s one of the scariest things I do as a writer! Some book clubs are so incredibly warm and welcoming. They have wine and appetizers, long lovely chats and even more interesting discussions. Most of the members will have read the book, or at the very least, look engaged during the discussion.

And then there are the book clubs where I have no idea why I’m there. Inevitably I feel uncomfortable, even apologetic. These are the book clubs where one or more members let you know right away that they don’t read or like your ‘kind of book’. I’m always driven to ask, “what kind is that?” She will wave her hand, gesturing dismissively. “You know. That kind. Whereas I only read good books.”


You see, I’m a smart girl writing women’s fiction about women’s real lives. Like the women around me, the women in my town, the women I’ve grown up with, the women who are mothers at my sons’ schools. I write about motherhood, marriage, death, divorce, illnesses, struggles. These are stories from the heart as I believe my fiction should uplift, entertain, encourage and empower women. I believe my fiction is needed by a lot of women. Women who want to laugh. Maybe cry. Women who need to be told they’re important and that they matter. Not all women get told they matter, much less loved.

So this is what I do. Is it intellectual? I don’t know. Is it literary fiction? I honestly don’t care. I have a calling, a vocation if you will, and I do it with all of my heart. But there are book clubs that don’t have as much heart. Now I have been able to win over a few converts—but that’s not the point of me attending book clubs. I don’t go to argue with those who don’t like my novels. I go to discuss the stories with those who do. Because I care about my readers, my real readers, the ones who want and need stories with heart.

Which reminds me of the most uncomfortable book club discussion I ever attended. It was a book club my mother belonged to and a large book club with over 50 women attending. I’d flown in at considerable expense but did it for my mother who was thrilled to have her author daughter there. Mother should have warned me. They open every book club with a showing of hands. The first words out of the book club leader’s mouth was, “What did you think of this book? Who would give it a 1-3? A 4-5? 677? And who could just not finish it?”

Alright. I’m a sensitive nitwit. A baby. But honestly, don’t rate a book by a number in front of the author. Do that when the author’s not sitting there, perched nervously on her chair, wanting so badly to make a good impression. Authors, dear book club members, are people, too.

A final note—my mother has belonged to three other book clubs (she’s a prolific reader) and I’ve attended each and the others have all been much nicer. Thank you ladies. Thank you Mother. 


An award-winning novelist with over 5 million books in print, Jane Porter is still a small town girl at heart, never feeling too far away from her roots in central California's golden foothills, oak trees, and miles of farmland.

When Jane was thirteen her family moved to Europe for a year, and that abroad changed Jane forever, introducing her to different cultures and customs and creating a life long passion for books, travel, and adventure. Jane later spent much of her high school and college years abroad, studying in South Africa, Japan and Ireland.

Armed with a Bachelors degree in American Studies from UCLA, Jane immersed herself in sales and marketing, followed by another six years in the teaching trenches of junior high school before becoming a full-time fiction writer with an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.

Jane's first published novel, The Italian Groom, sold to Harlequin Presents in 2000. Since then, Jane has been prolific, penning 30 novels. She was a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of America in both 2002 and 2003.

The publication of The Frog Prince in May 2005 marked a new avenue for Jane's career. Taking a more literary turn than her previous work, Jane stayed close to home, using the backdrop of exciting San Francisco to look at the complex relationships between mothers, daughters and the men they love.

July 2006 marked the release of Jane's second multi-bestselling modern lit novel, Flirting With Forty, set in Seattle and Hawaii. Selected as Redbook Magazine's Red Hot Read for 2006, Flirting with Forty was reprinted seven times in six weeks before being optioned by Sony for Lifetime TV. The film aired in December 2008 starring Heather Locklear and Robert Buckley, was one of Lifetime's 3 most successful films of 2008 and is now available on DVD at major retail stores.

Jane's highly anticipated third modern lit, Odd Mom Out released September 2007 generated considerable buzz and earned critical acclaim including 4 1/2 Stars, Top Pick award from RT Magazine and a RITA nomination from Romance Writers of America as best single title with romantic elements. Mrs. Perfect, the follow up to Odd Mom Out, hit the shelves May 2008 with tremendous success pleasing both the critics and readers. USA Today called Mrs. Perfect 'the perfect beach read'. Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect were both optioned prior to Mrs. Perfect's release and are currently being developed into a television series.

Jane's fifth trade novel, Easy On The Eyes, published in July 2009, brought home the issue of beauty and aging gracefully in the entertainment industry. It touched the hearts of readers everywhere with its realistic views about the world we live in today.

Jane lives in Bellevue, Washington with her three sons and is looking forward to the release of her next book, She’s Gone Country in August 2010 for Grand Central Publishing. 

I am so grateful to Ms. Porter for writing this fabulous guest post about some of her experiences with book clubs. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Oh my gosh, what a story about the nightmare bookclub meeting! I think I would have burst out in tears!

bermudaonion said...

I can't imagine rating a book like that in front of the author!! Talk about putting them on the hot seat! I have a feeling Jane handled it with grace, though.

Nise' said...

I, for one, am glad you write the "kind of books" you do. I read to be entertained, uplifted, thrilled, laugh a little, cry a little, relate to real life and situations. I love it that you have a heart to tell women they are needed, loved, valued and matter! Keep up the good work Ms. Porter.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I won Jane's book in a giveaway so I am excited to read it!