Gas prices too high and can’t get to a book club? Have no fear I have an On-Line Book Club for you. Not all on-line book clubs are created equal. Check out my interview with Melanie Dickerson the ACFW Book Club coordinator to see why.

Melanie Dickerson lives near Huntsville, Alabama with her husband and two beautiful daughters, Grace and Faith. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama. She has worked as a teacher and as a missionary to Ukraine. After starting to write again in 2003, her children’s short stories and articles were published in Story Friends, Discovery Trails, and Encounter.
She now writes Christian historical romance, and her novels have finaled nine times in seven contests, including winning First Place overall in the 2007 Fiction From the Heartland Contest and First Place in the Gotcha! Contest in the inspirational category. She loves promoting ACFW authors as Coordinator of the ACFW Book Club, and she often reviews extraordinary novels on her blog, .

Melanie, what do you do when you are not running the on-line book club?It says in your bio your an author, could you tell us something about that?

Oh, my life is horrendously boring, so I’ll make it brief. I stay at home, and I write almost every day. I write Christian historical romance. I’m not published yet, but I’ve written two medieval romances, and I’m currently writing a Southern romance set in 1880 in North Alabama. I have a husband, Joe, and two beautiful girls, Grace and Faith, both elementary school age. I also scrapbook occasionally (I should say rarely) and I read a lot, mostly Christian romance.

What events lead to you running the ACFW on-line book club? How long have you been doing this? Do you think this is a New trend?

I was a member of the book club, and when the book club needed another volunteer, Mary Connealy suggested they ask me. Mary was my mentor at my first writer’s conference. She thought it would be a good experience for me, and she was right.

To be honest, I can’t remember how long I’ve been helping the book club—a couple of years I think. When the coordinator stepped down last spring, I took over her duties.

I definitely think online book clubs are a new trend.

Had you been a part of a book club before this on-line experience?If so, how different is the experience? Which do you prefer? What are the advantages of each one (live as opposed to on-line)?

I’ve never really been a part of a book club before. I like the ease and convenience of an online book club. You don’t have to put on make up, get in your car and drive anywhere! The only drawback is you don’t get to have in-person interaction.

**Hey Melanie;I have been apart of a “Live” book club and one on- line. Each type of club has its own benefits. Having Melanie coordinate the ACFW On-Line book club has made the on-line experience a pleasure for me. She works really hard at making sure we stay on track and everyone’s vote is counted for the book selecton of the month. Thanks Melanie and Michelle for all you do for the on-line book club.**

When your group starts to discuss the book for that month how does it begin? Please describe what happens for those of us that haven't experienced an on-line discussion?

The book club has two assistant coordinators, Nora St. Laurent, and Michelle Rodgers. On the 20th of every month, whichever one of us is hosting that month and has read the selection, that person emails a question about the book to the group. People email their responses, which also go to the whole group. This continues until the end of the month. Sometimes the questions will be of a personal nature, so people who haven’t even read the book might respond to the question. We have some lively,sometimes very deep, discussions. Also, the author of the book nearly always responds, too, so the members get their input, and even get to ask the author questions.

How do you chose the books that your club reads? Do your members vote on books or do you pick books by some other method? Please explain the book selection process.

Members of ACFW submit their recently-published books to the book club, and those submissions come to me. Every month I compile a list of all the submissions that fit into that month’s genre—for example, January is Historicals month. Two months ago, I compiled a list of all the historical novels that had been submitted, along with a brief synopsis of each book, and sent it to the book club members. I created a poll on Yahoo and the members were able to vote for the book they wanted to read. And the winning book became our January selection, which was Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean.

Do you have authors that speak to your group on-line? How does that work? Please describe this process for the benefit of those who haven't experienced it before.

As I said, the authors are usually members of the book club, so they pop in with comments from time to time. Also, we have a live chat with the author after the discussion of their book is over. The live chat is always at 7:00 Central time and usually on the first Monday night of the month.

With so many members in your group how do you keep track of things? How do you keep it running smoothly?

The book club doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance. People occasionally have a question, which I answer, and sometimes we get spammers signing up for the book club. But since a member’s first message to the book club is moderated—by me—spam rarely ever slips through. I kind of like squashing those emails! If it’s obviously just someone who wants to advertise their product, I delete the message, then block that person from sending any more emails to the group.

Sometimes it is a little hard to remember all the things that need to be done every month! Most of my duties come at the beginning of the month. For instance, I make out the poll the first week of the month. Later that week or the next week, I have a drawing for the giveaways (authors donate four copies of their novel to give away to book club members). I also have to communicate with the authors whose books have been selected, and I have to send all the information about the new selections to the ACFW Webmaster, Carl Nasal, so he can post it to the ACFW website.

What are some of the most interesting authors that you have had to speak at the author on-line chats? What made it so fun,interesting, or surprising?

Hi, Nora! Our book club is the ACFW Book Club. ACFW is American Christian Fiction Writers and the book club promotes ACFW member authors by showcasing them to readers.

You could help answer this question, Nora! We have had some rather rowdy authors who speed things up and just generally make it a lively night! Mary Connealy comes to mind. :D She shows up at a lot of the chats and invites her other author friends, and they crack jokes and type lightning fast, so those chats are always a hoot! You never know who might be there, so the chats are always interesting. Readers enjoy asking the author about different aspects of their books, characters, and future books.

How did you first become associated with ACFW? What do you love most about the ACFW Conferences that you have attended? Anyone ask you there about the on-line book club that you run? Have you met people that belong to the club for the first time there? Please explain that experience.

I found ACFW online in 2005 when I was searching for a writers’ conference to go to. I went to the ACFW conference that year, which was in Nashville—driving distance! I also attended the 2006 conference in Dallas and the 2008 conference in Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, a few people looked at my name tag and said, “So you’re the book club person.” I said, “Yep, that’s me. The book club person.”



The conferences are over-the-top exciting, because I get to see my friends, friends that I’ve made through email, and I get the opportunity to pitch my stories to editors. And I was able to meet my agent in person this past September. That was fun! It’s just wonderful to be around like-minded people, people who also love to make up stories in their heads, and who love Jesus and enjoy worshipping him. An experience like no other.

For anyone interested in becoming a member of your on-line book club please explain what they can expect. What can they need to be aware of being part of the book club on-line? What's not really a cool thing to do when participating in the on-line discussions? Please explain.

Well, you can expect to get several emails a day the first twenty days of the month. That is the time of the month when members are allowed to make announcements. A lot of book club members have blogs and do giveaways on their blogs. If you enjoy reading book reviews and winning free books, you won’t mind the several emails per day that land in your inbox. Of course, if you’re not interested in those, you can always delete them or put yourself on Daily Digest.

The last ten days or so of the month are reserved for discussion of the book of the month. We ask that members only send emails that pertain to the book of the month and the discussion questions posted by the coordinators.

But if you enjoy Christian fiction, I highly recommend this group! It will really keep you up to speed on what’s going on in the industry, new releases, and new authors and books you might be interested in checking out.

How many book club members do you have? How do you go about recruiting book club members? Is there a charge to be part of this book club group? Can anyone sign up for your book club on-line? If so, can you tell us how to join your group for those who want to jump into the fun you are having?

The ACFW Book Club has over 700 members. The group is absolutely free and anyone interested in Christian fiction is welcome to join. Just go to the Yahoo groups site and search for acfwbookclub, or go to suery=acfwbookclub and click on the link to sign up.


1. If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money), to do anything you wanted to do, what would that be?

Hmm, that’s tough. I think I’d make a few trips with missionaries to poverty-stricken areas and distribute needed items and food.

Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d change my life very much. I like staying home with my family and writing!

2. Where is the neatest place you have ever visited? What made it
special, memorable, neat for you?

I loved Ukraine, where I lived as a missionary for one year. It is a REALLY interesting place. I loved the beautiful countryside and the gorgeous old buildings full of historical significance, especially in Kiev. But what really made it memorable was the people I met. They were so warm and hospitable and such humble people, and I mean that in the best, Biblical sense of the word. I really learned a lot from them.

The other place I love is Germany. I lived for one summer in a town that dates back to the eleventh or twelfth century, and when I wrote my first medieval, I based the walled city on Hildesheim, Germany. Such amazing history and beautiful architecture! I loved it.

3. If you could hang out and/or interview (2) people who are either alive or dead in the history of the world for 48 hours, who would you pick and why? What would you do? What would you ask them?

Oh, my, that’s a hard question. Of course, number one would be Jesus Christ. I have so many questions! But I have a feeling I wouldn’t be able to ask them. I’d be too happy just to be in his presence.

The second one would have to be someone like David or Joseph from the Old Testament. I’d love to just talk to them and see what they’re like up close.

4. What are your favorite two places to shop? Why?

I don’t really like to shop! It takes too much time! I shop online at for things like Christmas presents or books. But I go to Wal-Mart a lot. Who doesn’t? Gotta eat and get the necessities. Honestly, I don’t think I have a favorite store! I only shop when I have to. :D

5. If you had a time machine and could visit any past event, and could visit any past event, where would you go and why? This can apply to historic events or a moment in your own life? Please explain.

This is a hard one, too. I guess I’d want to be there when Jesus was born, to be there with the shepherds, worshipping the new king, and with the wise men who brought him gifts. And then I’d like to go back to when each of my girls were babies, just to see them and hold them again and kiss their little baby faces again. :D

6. If you could be a super hero for a while, who would you be? You can mix and match the powers and costumes here, you are the author, be creative.

I loved pretending to be a superhero with my older brother when I was a kid. I always wanted to fly, so it would have to be one of the flying ones. :D

7. If you had to pick at TV "Reality" show to be on which one would it be and why?

I don’t watch TV. Almost never. And “Reality” TV shows seem like the worst idea to come out of Hollywood yet. Ugh. Don’t get me started! But I was a bit intrigued at the advertisements for the one about true beauty. I can’t remember the name of it. But they had all these gorgeous models who were mean and full of themselves who thought they were being judged on their outward appearance, when really the judges were looking at their character and inner beauty. I thought that was a pretty good idea, although I’m not sure I want to see just how ugly those people can be! The only thing is, they can only do this show once, right? In the future seasons, the models will know to be on their best behavior.

8. What TV shows were you passionate about as a child? Why? (You know the shows you couldn't miss each week).

Oh, my, I was a TV-aholic as a kid! I absolutely could not miss my favorite shows! I loved a lot of shows through the years: Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Scarecrow and Mrs. King—I guess I liked romantic detective shows! And I loved Beauty and the Beast. As a very young child, I remember Tuesday nights watching Sha-na-na, Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley. What fun escapism!

9.What were your favorite books you read as a child?

Now this is another hard question! I loved so many books, especially the classics, Little Women, Ivanhoe, The Three Musketeers, and then as a teen I fell in love with Jane Austen and all her books. Pride and Prejudice was my favorite. And I can’t leave out Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind. I read those several times.

10. What movies did you remember seeing as a kid that left a great impression on you? Why did they move you?

My memory on movies is not that solid. I do remember loving The Wizard of Oz, but it always scared me to death—that witch was terrifying! And I loved The Sound of Music. We didn’t have VCR’s or DVD players back then, so I’d watch it about once a year when it came on TV. I also loved all the Disney movies, especially the romances like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White. I was always a romantic!

THANKS Melanie for sharing your life and heart with us.


I hope people will read this and be inspired to join the ACFW Book Club. We really have a lot of fun there.

Also, say a prayer for any aspiring writers you know out there—including me! It can be a long, painful journey to publication, but you really learn a lot!

Thanks for sharing and letting us know you better Melanie, see you on-line - hope to meetin you some day.

Blessings on your writing journey friend.

Nora :D


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Nora! I love all the cute pictures that go with my answers! LOL! How fun! And you are such an asset to the ACFW Book Club! Thanks so much for all your time and effort in helping it be a great experience for all the members, and the authors, too!

  2. What a great interview, ladies. I loved your questions, Nora, and your answers, Melanie. I had fun learning more about you and the ACFW book club.

    I look forward to the day when the club is reviewing YOUR book, Melanie. Since I know how well you write, I don't think they'll have to wait too long.

  3. What a great interview!!! I wonder if I could add this book club to my month? I don't know, but I might try. I loved that Melanie loved the Beauty & the Beast and Moonlighting TV shows. Those were my favorites also. Sounds like we may have some things in common considering these answers and some of her others. Good bless you, Melanie, and you, Nora!

    Gail Mundy

  4. Wow, Melanie, I really learned a lot of stuff I didn't know about you. Ukraine, Germany, amazing. Did you know we both have a daughter named Grace? I can't wait to read your writing! And Nora, very creative job as always, with the pics. I think I already told you I love that new header by your daughter!


  5. Thanks for sharing Melanie with us!


  6. What a fun interview that was to read. Thanks for sharing with us, Melanie.


  7. WHOA, what a fabulous interview, Nora and Melanie! Nobody does an interview like you, Nora, and I always love to read about Melanie -- both of you are two of my favorite people!

    I always marvel at the names of your girls, Mel -- Faith and Grace. Gosh, it makes me want to rename my own daughter. Sigh.