A Mother-Daughter Book Club Conversation at A Children’s Place

November 11, 2009

Last night I had the privilege of appearing with Heather Vogel Frederick at A Children’s Place bookstore in Portland to talk about mother-daughter book clubs. Heather is the author of the novels, The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and the recently released Dear Pen Pal.

I’ve only spoken at a couple of bookstores before now, and this was the first time appearing with another author. What a treat it was. Of course, Heather’s an old pro at speaking, since she’s been on speaking tours in different parts of the country. So she made it easy for the newbie to feel comfortable. And it helps to have a receptive audience, which we did.

We talked about some of the ways fiction and non-fiction can enhance each other. For instance, in Heather’s book Dear Pen Pal, the girls in her mother-daughter book club (who live in Concord, Massachusetts) become Pen Pals with another group in Wyoming.  What a great idea for real life book clubs! After reading Heather’s book I started a Pen Pal exchange at MotherDaughterBookClub.com that now has clubs from different parts of the country, and even one international group, making connections.

Real life mother-daughter book clubs also are increasingly making connections with the authors who write the books they read. Heather visits with clubs often, both electronically and in person when she can. Another author at the event, Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd) talked of her experience with a book club. Meeting with an author is a great way for the girls to feel truly connected with what they read.

After the reading I talked with a mom there who is considering starting a new club even though her daughter is only six. I’ve said before the ideal age—if there is one—to start a club is nine, but really if your daughter is motivated and you have friends who want to join with you, then it’s never really too early or too late to start. You may have to adjust your meetings for shorter attention spans if you start early, but it’s not too difficult to put together a format that will work.

Mother-Daughter Book Club Week Continues at Booking Mama

October 27, 2009

Booking Mama continues the mother-daughter book club week fun today with an interview of Heather Vogel Frederick, author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal. Find out how Heather started on her mother-daughter book club series, and learn a little more about the fourth book in the series she just finished writing. And there’s a surprise too! Click here to read the interview on Booking Mama. And for more info on Heather, read my interview with her at Mother Daughter Book Club.com.

Don’t forget to enter Booking Mama’s giveaway this week. Two lucky winners will get 1 copy of my book plus 5 copies of Heather’s three books mentioned above. It’s a perfect way to start a new mother-daughter book club or add to one that’s already in existence. The chance to enter the giveaway ends Monday, November 2 at 11:59 p.m. EST, so don’t wait to get your name in.


Picking a Good Book Club Book

October 26, 2009

If you’ve ever felt pressured to pick the perfect read for your book club, particularly for the intergenerational challenges of a mother-daughter book clubs, you may want to check out my guest post at Booking Mama.

Here’s an excerpt:

“You would think that choosing books for my book clubs would be easy for me. After all, I’m in two long-running mother-daughter book clubs—one that’s been meeting for eight years and the other for five—and I blog about books at motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com. Yet deciding what everyone else is going to read for the next book club selection can sometimes be paralyzing. I want to find the perfect book, the one that will appeal to both the moms and girls in my group. The one my daughter will want to read as much as I do. The one we’ll call our favorite for years to come.

That’s a pretty tall order. Especially when you’re choosing books that will appeal to two generations. The good news is that there are a lot of books out there that are good reads for both the older and the younger set. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for them.” Continue reading….

Booking Mama is featuring mother-daughter book clubs all week, and she’ll be giving away two copies of my guidebook—Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs—along with five complete sets of Heather Vogel Frederick‘s mother-daughter book club novels called The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal. It’s a great opportunity for someone interested in starting a new club.

I’ve been following Booking Mama for a little over a year now, and I really like the candid book reviews she gives. I feel very fortunate that she’s featuring my book, Heather’s books, and mother-daughter book clubs all week. Stop by each day to take a look.



Book Review: Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick

October 20, 2009

Dear Pen Pal

Emma, Jess, Megan and Cassidy are back for another year of reading in their mother-daughter book club in Heather Vogel Frederick’s new book, Dear Pen Pal. Cracking this third book in the mother-daughter book club series is like reconnecting with old friends. The girls are in eighth grade this year, and they’ve learned a lot about friendship and family relationships.

In their ever-evolving lives, as it is with most of us, just when they figure out how to handle one challenge, another pops up. This time the challenges include dealing with a mean-spirited boarding school roommate, changing family dynamics when new family members move in and others move out, and navigating relationships with boys.

The girls are reading Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster, and Frederick once again seamlessly weaves in storylines that somewhat match those of Webster’s classic. The girls and moms learn fun facts about Jean Webster as they gather for book club discussions. The book club members also connect with a pen pal club in Gopher Hole, Wyoming, and it’s fun to read little snippets about the lives of these new girls and their moms through their letters.

I can’t wait to see what the whole gang will be up to in the fourth book of the series when the girls start high school. I highly recommend this whole series for members of mother-daughter book clubs with girls who are 9 to 13.

P.S.—Reading Dear Pen Pal got me to thinking that real life mother-daughter book clubs may enjoy connecting with pen pals too. It seems like a fun way to learn about girls and moms in a different part of the country. So I’ve started a pen pal registry at Mother Daughter Book Club.com, where club members can sign up if they wish to meet members of another club.

See the website page or my previous blog posting for all the details. You can also read what Heather Vogel Frederick has to say on the topic at her blog.

Interview on Euphoria with Author Heather Vogel Frederick

August 24, 2009

Heather Vogel Frederick’s third book in her mother-daughter book club novel series, Dear Pen Pal,  is about to hit the stands. I can’t wait to read this new release, as I’m a big fan of Heather and her previous books, The Mother-Daughter Book Club and Much Ado About Anne. Here’s a link to a great interview with Heather, and a note about an appearance she’s making at A Children’s Place bookstore in Portland.

Heather Vogel Frederick interview on Euphoria.

Heather Vogel Frederick Talks About Authors Meeting With Book Clubs

April 1, 2009

Today I’m featuring a guest post from author Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the novel series for tweens, The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Here she talks about the pleasure of connecting with her readers.


Guest Blog Post by Heather Vogel Frederick

When I began writing The Mother-Daughter Book Club a couple of years ago, I had no clue what was in store for me.  How could I possibly have guessed that the book would soon be bringing me into the homes and hearts of readers around the country?

It all began as a marketing brainstorm – instead of the expense of a full-blown book tour, I’d offer to visit with book clubs by speakerphone or Skype’s free videoconferencing service.  This “virtual” tour was meant to last just a month or two, but it quickly took on a life of its own as invitations flowed in from mother-daughter book clubs around the country.  In the ensuing months, I’ve simply been having too much fun to stop the ride and get off.

Is it a time commitment?  Sure.  But how often do writers get the chance to interact with their readers?  Aside from a brief flurry of signings after a book’s initial publication, most authors work in a vacuum.  Writing is a solitary pursuit, after all.  Talking with one’s audience offers a unique opportunity to enrich and extend the conversation that every book begins between author and reader.  I genuinely enjoy spending time with the tween age group I write for.  I love their enthusiasm and delight and honesty and curiosity.  I love answering their questions and offering encouragement and advice.  And these virtual visits are also a very real way for me to give back.

Years ago, when my adolescent self was mooning around Concord, Massachusetts, dreaming of being a writer someday like Louisa May Alcott, one of our town’s most illustrious former residents, my mother managed to wangle an invitation to tea with a local author.  How she did this I’ll never know, but I imagine it was in much the same way she managed to wangle an original sketch from Barbara Cooney when the artist was visiting our next-door neighbor one day – she simply marched up to her and asked.  When it came to anything that might benefit her daughters, my mother was a fearless wangler.

The author’s name was Elizabeth Baker, and although her books for young readers are sadly no longer in print, the memory of our visit endures.  On the appointed afternoon, I showed up on her doorstep, uncharacteristically dressed to the nines (thanks, mom!) and clutching a manuscript in my nervous hands.  Mrs. Baker ushered me into her living room, and while I started in on the tea and homemade cookies she’d prepared, she patiently read my story.  I waited with bated breath for her response (secretly hoping she’d tell me it was brilliant and should immediately be published, of course).  While that didn’t turn out to be the case, Mrs. Baker more than made up for any deflated spirits on my part with generous praise and savvy writing tips.  I was thrilled.

After our chat, she gave me a tour of her ultra-modern office, which could only be reached via a catwalk suspended high above her living room.  This architectural innovation awed me into a state of near muteness, as did the workspace itself.  Her secluded aerie was lined with miles of bookshelves and file cabinets (which were orange, as I recall – cutting edge hip for that decade) and flooded with light from the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking her wooded property.  Mrs. Baker was the first person I ever met who worked from home, and I decided then and there that’s what I wanted to do someday as well, book-filled office and all.

Today, my cozy office may not be an architectural marvel, and it may overlook a simple backyard bird feeder instead of a broad expanse of woodland, but it is filled with books and light and the view it offers me is something I doubt Mrs. Baker ever could have imagined.  Connected to the world via phone and internet, I can sit in my armchair and be transported to living rooms and family rooms from Anchorage to Atlanta, Nebraska to New York.  And as I gaze at my laptop screen during these Skype visits, I see reflected in the faces of my readers echoes of myself at their age, poised on the brink of life and bubbling with possibility.  In their hands they often clutch questions for me in much the same nervous, excited way I clutched my manuscript oh-so-many years ago, and my hope as I watch them is that I might prove to be their Mrs. Baker, and inspire some of them the way she inspired me.
Now if someone could only invent a technology for teleporting the yummy-looking cupcakes and other treats that are standard fare at book club meetings, I’d really be able to join the party!

For more information or to invite Heather to talk with your book club via speakerphone or Skype, please visit her website (www.heathervogelfrederick.com).

Book Review: Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick

December 15, 2008


Heather Vogel Frederick continues her delightful mother-daughter book club series with Much Ado About Anne. This time the book club is reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and the girls are totally committed to their book club and to each other when the new reading year starts for their group. There are new challenges—can the moms really have invited Calliope and Becca Chadwick into their book club without asking the girls?—and new events arise that test their friendship in ways they don’t expect. But Frederick does a great job of continuing the saga and bringing us even more into the lives of these book club members that readers grew to know and love in her first book in the series, The Mother-Daughter Book Club.

The historic town of Concord, Mass., where Frederick herself group up, is once again a prominent feature in the story. So is Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables books. Frederick weaves facts about the classical author into the story seamlessly and helps readers learn about another classic series in the process.

You’ll worry with Jess about losing her family’s historic farm, cheer for Emma as she grows more confident, worry for Cassie as she struggles to accept her mom’s new boyfriend, and stress right along with Megan as she crunches to design clothes for her fashion show. And they all experience a few blips in their friendship in ways that will ring true for girls in upper elementary and middle school.

Much Ado About Anne will most certainly satisfy readers of the series while leaving them happily anticipating the next book up.

Interview with Heather Vogel Frederick, Author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club Novels

July 5, 2008

I just posted an interview with Heather Vogel Frederick. Heather is the author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club, a delightful book about a fictional club that forms with middle school girls in Concord, Massachusetts. She’s also written The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed, The Education of Patience GoodspeedSpy Mice and the series of books. Here’s an excerpt from the interview. To read the complete interview, click here.

You’ve written historical fiction, fantasy and current fiction. Why so many different styles?

HVF: They all seems to have connections to my life. There was the family connection with Patience. Spy Mice was an homage to my misspent youth, because I spent a lot of time watching spy-fi TV. The Mother-Daughter Book Club is set in my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.

Do you feel a particular resonance with middle grade readers?

HVF: There’s this magic window for kids between eight or nine and maybe about 12 where you still have their attention before they get off into young adult and adult fiction. My books can be read by kids who are younger, they can be read by kids who are older, but I think there’s something about 11 year olds that’s great..

Why do you think it’s important to write for that age range?

HVF: There’s such a push in our world today to thrust our kids further than they need to be. Whether it’s in pop music or fashion or what they’re seeing in movies. I’m really whole heartedly for defending our kids, and maintaining that sense of purity that comes with childhood without being in such a rush to push them on. Let them still be kids.

I understand you have two sons. What inspired you to write a book about mother-daughter book clubs?

HVF: The spark for the idea was from my editor. She called me up one day and said there are mother-daughter book clubs all over the country and wouldn’t it be fun to write a book about one. You could set it in Concord, your home town and have the club read little women. It sounded great to me.

So how did you take the idea and make it into your own story?

HVF: I was one of three daughters. I mined our rich childhood vigorously. I had a world class mother too, so there are strong mother/daughter connections there. But it is at the height of irony that I wrote a book with a pink cover.

Book Review: The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

February 14, 2008


I just finished reading The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, and I found it delightful. The structure of the fictional book club was very different from either of the clubs I’m in with my daughters, and I liked reading about how the girls and their moms worked to help their group gel. The book is told from the perspective of the four different girls who are in the club, Megan, Jess, Cassidy and Emma. The girls don’t all have good opinions of each other when their moms “force” them to create the group, and it’s very interesting to watch the girls and the moms deal with conflicts as the club continues. I found myself thinking, “I don’t know if I could ever handle conflict as directly at these girls and their moms do. And I liked the fact that the club chose one book to read for their first year, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. By reading a few chapters at a time, the book club members were able to go more in-depth into the book as they went along.

The stories relating events in Little Women to similarities in the lives of people in the group tied in really well, illustrating how timeless Little Women is. And I loved the setting—Concord, Massachusetts, where Louisa May Alcott lived and wrote. It made me want to pack my bags and drive through little towns all over New England.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club would be great to read with your own book club, because you can discuss similarities and differences between the fictional club and yours, as well as possibly find things you’d like to incorporate into your own group.