Fringe Benefits

When Will and I sent out Deadly Fall book launch invitations to everyone we’d ever met, a surprising result was requests from people I hadn’t known well, or at all, to speak to their group.

One invite came from Fran Kimmel, a writer I met in a couple of workshops at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society. A former Calgary resident, Fran now lives in Lacombe, AB, and is a Friend of the Mary C. Moore Public Library in Lacombe. Fran offered to set up a workshop, followed by a reading and discussion at the Lacombe library.

We decided on the two-hour workshop topic: Creating Memorable Characters. Since Fran expected half the registrants would be memoir writers, I studied up on creating characters for memoirs as well as for fiction and found published excerpts from both genres as teaching examples. This workshop could easily be expanded to a full day session or even an 8 week course, which I’ll eventually offer to the Alexandra Writers.

Fifteen women registered for the workshop. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I hope the participants learned something. Fran and Christina, the librarian contact, said they told her they did. A number of the students stayed for the reading and discussion. They were joined by others from the public. We gathered in a lovely, window corner of the beautiful new library complex.

I read Chapter One of Deadly Fall. The discussion topic was supposed to be “Why Do We Read Mysteries?” but we never got around to talking about that. People preferred to ask questions about writing and getting published. As I’d discovered in earlier presentations, the questions were interesting and challenging. I’m getting used to answering on the fly.

At the end, people purchased books – 13 in all. The library paid for my lunch and gave me an honorarium and such a generous mileage allowance that I told them they were paying me too much. I’m not used to getting adequately compensated for what I do.

Another invitation came from the wife of Will’s former colleague. Janet belongs to a book club in Priddis, south of Calgary. Every spring, members of book clubs in that area gather at the Millarville Library to discuss the books they’ve read during the year. They had talked of having an author speaker. I got to be it.

About 30 representatives from 7 book clubs congregated in the small library connected to the Millarville community school. The session began with mingling. I discovered that the Millarville librarian went to my high school in Montreal. Her sister, who was in my grade, also lives in the region and is retired from the Calgary police. She might make a good resource for a future murder mystery novel.

For this presentation, I spoke briefly about Deadly Fall and left most of my half hour allotment for questions, which I find people tend to enjoy best. Will and I stayed for the club members’ favourite readings of the year and picked up some suggestions for our book club’s next session.

The meeting ended with book sales. Nine sold and I expect these readers will pass the book around to their fellow book club members.

I have a Calgary book club gig lined up for the fall. This came from a member of a United Church Women’s group that invited me to speak after their launch invitation. The book club has 10 members and they promise great discussion, food and wine.

Writing is a lonely task. I love my time alone absorbed in writing, but sometimes it’s great to get out and enjoy these fringe benefits.