Immediately after Chicago, my daughter and I flew down to Fort Myers, Florida, to meet my mother and my aunt for a "Booked for Lunch" book club event. In the thick of this long winter, we were ready for some sunshine, pool time, and the chance to see manatees (my daughter was impressed that there are such things as "sea cows") and alligators. We lucked out; the weather was perfect for swimming.
In Fort Myers I have a beloved aunt and cousins who I don't see nearly as often as I'd like; my aunt is the one who organized the luncheon with her book club. Our first morning there, she took us to Manatee Park, a water refuge for Florida Manatees (non-captive ones). It was a little too windy to see much more of the manatees beyond their shapes under the surface, but we did enjoy the butterfly garden, some winding paths through mangroves, and a very realistic-looking alligator.
We also ate well in Fort Myers. I had one of the best burgers (freshly ground in-house) that I've had in a while at Fat Katz Sports Bistro. But the main purpose of our visit was a "Booked for Lunch" event that my aunt, her book club, and several other local book clubs held at The Plantation Golf and Country Club, featuring Fraulein M.
Here's one of the tables set before lunch. I think this was the first time my bookmarks had ever seen palm trees.
I've said it before, but meeting book clubs has been really wonderful. Writing is such a solitary experience, but publishing a book certainly is not. It is a joy to be on this side of things, able to discuss the process of writing and publishing my debut novel with enthusiastic readers. I've found I'm always eager to get to the Q&A; answering readers' questions makes for a much livelier discussion than listening to my monologue.
The Cigarette Girl was just about to come out in the UK when I was in Fort Myers, and we had a great discussion about the differing covers and titles and how interesting it is to see what different publishing teams do with the same story.
Because this was Florida, there were women at the luncheon who originated all over the country. I met several women from Massachusetts, including one who used to live in Porter Square (where I live now). I also met Linda Sebastian, author of two books about postpartum depression, who is now writing a novel about the experience of living in a Floridian gated community! And I learned that, because of a Fort Myers connection, a book club in Minnesota would also be reading Fraulein M.
Thank you, Aunt Noreen, for inviting me to speak with your book club and giving me the chance to meet so many interesting women. We had a fantastic time!
Book clubs everywhere, if you're reading, I'd love to meet or Skype with you. Please find my book club guide here, and don't hesitate to contact me if you and your group are reading Fraulein M. 'Twould be an honor to have the chance to discuss!