A novel maturity

Three things happened this week that made me realize I’ve managed to scale to a new perch as an author:

1) I was asked a question on Goodreads, by a Maryland reader who’s reading my novel for her book club. If you don’t know Goodreads, it’s a social network site for readers. That a reader would ask me a question there means she thought to look for me on the site, a mark of parity with traditionally-pubbed authors.
2) My e-book was requested in a format besides Kindle, again for a book club, this one in North Carolina
3) I got my first one-star reader review on Amazon. “Absolutely dreadful,” the reader opined. (In Amazon’s system, one star is the worst, five stars the best.)

No, I’m not so thrilled to claim the third one. But if it happens along with the other two — my book bobbing up on book club reading lists far from home, readers requesting it for their Nooks and Kobos as well as Kindles, I’ll take the trade-off. It signals a kind of of novel maturity. Sparrow Migrations will mark 18 months of publication next month. If it were a toddler, it would be walking, exploring, pushing boundaries, and that’s exactly what all three questions indicate.

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Book club season seem to be swinging into high gear. I have three discussions on my calendar between now and December, and two for after New Year’s. If you’re long-distance, I’m happy to attend by Skype, just use the contact page to reach me. Here are the discussion questions I share with the Maryland reader who sought me on Goodreads to ask the best questions for discussion generation. WARNING – spoilers, and mature audiences only.

  • Do you agree with Deborah’s decision not to have genetic testing before getting pregnant? Why or why not?
  • Do you think Christopher’s reaction is justified? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about the portrayal of female characters, vs. male?
  • Despite significant strains, both of the heterosexual relationships in Sparrow Migrations are resolved, while the lesbian relationship is not. Why do you think that is the case? What do you think about that as a reader?
  • Did the novel change any perceptions you held about autism? How so? Why do you think Robby is an only child?
  • Does the likelihood/risk of special needs factor into whether you would have children, as it does for Christopher?
  • What do you think about the depiction of Christianity in the novel? Which character better upheld Christian ideals, Richard or Brett? Why?
  • What meaning do you derive from the title?

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Just one month to go until NaNoWriMo! WriMos in my community have finally gotten official with our own region. Throughout October and November there’s Camp WriMo plus workshops and write-ins galore, including one Oct. 21 offered by yours truly at the Traverse Area District Library. Check it all out here, and then start your countdown to Nov. 1.

 - The letter T brought to you by Daily Drop Cap.