BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

MUG N MUFFINS BOOK CLUB LEADER INTERVIEW



I write a monthly article for the Christian Fiction On-Line Magazine which talks about book clubs. Every other month I interview a book club leader. This month I'm featuring a book club leader who is at The Book Club Network an on-line site that my husband and I run. (http://www.bookfun.org/  )is a great place for lots of book fun. We run monthly contests letting you know about new book releases and authors to get to know.

Here is a link to the magazine article http://www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/biz.html  This magazine is a great place to discover new books, authors and contests. I love reading the many articles featured each month. I know that you will too.

The name of the club is Mugs N Muffins, Kimberly is their leader. I wanted you to hear from a member of TBCN (The Book Club Network) and how it has been a resource for her club. I asked her The Book Club Network questions first and then asked questions about her group.Here is a link to another article Kimberly wrote about her book club experience http://psalm516.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-blogger-power-of-story-kimberly.html

You’ve recently joined TBCN how has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?
I knew I wanted to do a book club, but had no idea where to begin or how to begin. Using TBCN, I could investigate the best of the best--what had worked for others, what didn't work, pitfalls to watch for, different formats, book list ideas. It was a Godsend for not reinventing the wheel as we got started with Mugs N Muffins and it continues to be a great resource as we continue.

What have you learned from other clubs at TBCN that have helped you?
The biggest help was with book lists and formats. Having a place to ask questions on TBCN was really helpful. If I had a question I just asked and other book group leaders were so enthusiastic and helpful. I gleaned our first years reading list by taking books that were suggested by other leaders as being good for discussion.

What do you like best about TBCN?
The interaction with people who love books and are enthusiastic about book groups. To people who don't read (believe it or not, they are out there!) we can be an odd bunch.

Any comments about TBCN and how it could be used in the future?

I think just getting the word out about TBCN as a resource is important. I've had so many people (including some of our authors we've guest at Mug N Muffin) say, "I wish my town had a group like this!" My reply was, "I did too, so I started one!" It seems overwhelming but TBCN makes it much easier.
What lead up to you starting a book club?

Several things came together that led me to start Mug N Muffin.

 
I've always loved to read. I'm one of those people who reads the cereal box at the breakfast table if there is nothing else to read. I'd heard about book groups and wanted to be involved, but I work, lead worship, have a family, just busy like the rest of us, so didn't think of starting one myself. Then a local group formed but it met at a time that I'm working and though there were some great Christians in the group, they were reading secular books. I pretty much read only Christian fiction because I've had the experience of getting into a great story and then finding gratuitous sex or awful language and I'd put it down.

Around this same time I had a conversation with a lady I didn't know well concerning reading and some of the authors I know through American Christian Fiction Writers Association. We connected over authors we both loved and had a wonderful faith conversation. The idea just gelled of using a love of Christian fiction as a way to impact the world around me.

I've led Bible studies and it is wonderful to study the Word together, but I'd also invited women to Bible studies who were reluctant because they didn't think they knew enough about the Bible to take part in the discussion. But everyone can read a book and offer their opinion. It's non-threatening. And in Christian fiction, characters live out their lives making choices, just as we do. It is seeing the Bible applied, so as we discuss the characters and the plot, we discuss our own faith and belief and how we apply Scripture to live out our lives. And what if someone loved to read, but didn't know Christ? Could that person come to know Him through reading Christian fiction? So the idea of using our group as an outreach was also there. I didn't realize it at the time but our book group was really a "God idea."

Being a member of ACFW, I knew there were a lot of excellent books out there that people in my small town might never hear of. Our library has a small budget. So I also thought it would be a way to get new readers for authors via the book group and also impact readers in my town. I donate my book group books when I'm done with them to our library, so it just keeps going.

Had you ever been a part of a book club before?

Never, but I'd wanted to for years. What's your club name? Mug N Muffin Book Group. I actually "borrowed" the name from a Bible study group my sister was a part of several years ago. It was cute and catchy and we meet on Sat. morning once a month and have coffee and muffins while we discuss, so the name fit.

Hi, Kimberly, I’m interested in being a part of your book club; could you please describe for me what I can expect?Sure! Our group is very fluid. We have a yearly reading list with different genre's of Christian fiction. You can read that month's book and come anytime or choose not to read that book that month if it doesn't interest you. We meet the 1st or 2nd Sat. at 9 am at our church fellowship hall to discuss the book we just read. At that meeting, I have information about the next book and if you want to read it, let me know and I'll order you a book. Our group is lots of fun and is made up of all ages and backgrounds. I have some discussion questions to get us rolling and then we just see where the discussion leads. We usually meet for an hour and a half to two hours.

What does your typical meeting look like?

 
Like I said, we meet at the church. When you get there, the coffee pot and tea pot is on and muffins are on the table decorated with our book theme. It's everything from the African bush with animal print napkins to gingham and sunflowers for a book set in Kansas. We begin with "housekeeping" duties--what the next book is, who wants to read it, etc. (I usually print off some copies of the book cover, info about the author, and the back cover blurb) I order all the books since we live in a rural area with no local bookstore. After that, the fun begins. Questions about if we liked the book, could we identify with the characters, our favorite part of the book, but the one that generates the most discussion is how we saw faith lived out in the book and did the book grow our faith in some way.

Please describe to me how the book selection process works for your club? Do you vote with a secret ballet? Or some other method? Do tell. This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!!
We did a kick-off luncheon with an area author (Kim Vogel Sawyer) as we were reading her book, Fields of Grace as our first selection. We opened it up to the community for a book signing and we do this a couple of times a year as part of our outreach focus for our group. I took suggestions from reading lists that other leaders had sent me on TBCN and I made a flyer with info about our group and listed all the books with a blurb about the author and plot. Then I asked the ladies to check which books they thought they'd be interested in reading and if they were interested in being a part of Mug N Muffin. It helped me gauge interest and also I got contact info. I gathered the ballots and compiled them into our reading list. A few books I reserved the right to put on the list like Susan May Warren's The Great Christmas Bowl. I'd won it in a drawing and it was a quick, fun, and very funny read during the holidays, so it was our December selection.

What have you read at a book club recently that really touched everyone’s heart and created good discussion?

Last Saturday we discussed No Greater Love by Kathi Macias. Everyone was so taken by that book for different reasons and on different levels. It really made each of us look at our own very comfortable lives and question what it means to lay down our lives for those who do not know Christ.

How do you get the word out about your book club? How did you get this book club started?

This will be helpful for new book clubs or people wanting to take the plunge into leading book clubs. I live in a small town so everything is news! Our newspaper is wonderful about putting articles in for local interest. I mentioned our kick off luncheon with Kim Sawyer. I sent a press release out to area newspapers, put it on the events announcement of KGCR, our Christian radio station, and then put flyers up around town and in area towns. On all the info, I mentioned that Mug N Muffin would be reading Kim's book, Fields of Grace, along with my phone number. At that point, Mug N Muffin was me, our pastor's wife who'd agreed to help, and 2 other ladies from our church who liked to read! Then at the event, I gave a quick blurb about what it was all about and we gleaned members from that. And then word of mouth and social networking. I'm on Twitter and Facebook and I talk it up there. We have several members who came because someone invited them. That is the best way, really because everyone wants to be wanted.

What do you enjoy most about the book club experience?


I think seeing friendships forged that might not have existed except for the bond of good books. And of course seeing the transparency that comes as we navigate this journey of life together. It is amazing what comes out about our own lives as we discuss a character's life or actions. We're all learning and growing and laughing.....a lot! Love to meet authors too!





What has surprised you most about leading a book club?
How we are all so different in our perceptions. We read exactly the same words and yet what is so impacting for one person didn't even hit my radar screen as significant. Or we read the same words and see different motivations for the characters actions. It makes for wonderful discussion and is eye opening to me what I don't see sometimes and how much we can learn from each other.

Kim you mentioned that you are an aspiring author, what genre do you write? How do you think your book club experience will help you when you become a published author?

Well, that is interesting. I call myself a romantic suspense writer, but God keeps giving me other stories that are more women's fiction, so though I love to read suspense, and fancied writing it, God may have a different idea. I think the book club experience will be very helpful when I become published. It has pushed me to read wonderful books that I might not have read otherwise and examine what works and why and what doesn't, so it takes my writing to a higher level. Also, I find it interesting to hear what readers like and dislike in a book. I know why certain plot devices are used or why the pacing is like it is, but sometimes readers don't like the "industry standard." Makes you find a balance and remember WHY you're writing in the first place.

Also, marketing is so important. Writer's are expected to help market their own books. Being open to book clubs and available for questions (and not taking them personally if there was something they don't like) is a great marketing tool. We've had several authors like Mary Conneally and Dr. Harry Kraus come to our meeting via speaker phone to discuss their books with us. I dream about being on the other end of that phone line when I get published.

QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK!

What are your three favorite books of all time?

Obviously, the "Christian answer" is the Bible, but I really do love the Word! I like to read The Message version for a change of pace to make me rethink familiar verses. And I grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries, so any of those would make the list.






And finally, Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti totally rocked my world. It was the first Christian fiction I'd ever read and my first introduction to the unseen world of spiritual warfare so it was huge for me on both levels. I discovered contemporary Christian music and Christian fiction about the same time and both totally changed me.




Please name three things you’d rather not live without?




You said things not people, so I won't list my wonderful husband and kids :0). 1) Internet and my laptop 2) Colorstay Lipstick--it stays on even when I'm in surgery and wearing a mask all day, and yes, I am vain. 3) Cell phone. How did we live without them? Especially since I am on call all the time. Keeps me connected with the hospital as well as family and friends.





A friend of yours has given you an opportunity to take a trip in a time machine—What two events in the history of the world would you like to experience?

We read A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna White. She writes so beautifully and passionately of the Crucifixion. As hard as it would be to see my Jesus nailed to the Cross, knowing the rest of the story, I would like to be there. Also, I never knew my maternal grandmother, but I am told I am like her in some ways. I'd love to go back and have a chance to know her.






You have the chance to hang out with any two people (alive or dead) in the history of the world (besides Jesus) who would you pick and what would you do?

I love history. I'd love to spend time with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, perhaps as he traveled to Gettysburg. He was a humble man and yet a strong leader who put the country's good above his own. What was known as a Statesman instead of the politicians we have today. I'd just like to talk with him about his feelings and actions, what inspired him, what he wrote and said and what he left unsaid.

We've been doing a study in church by Ray Vanderlaan, That the World May Know and Faith Lessons. I would love to be on one of his teaching tours to Israel and really get to know him. He has such a passion for Christ and such an understanding of the historical context of the Scriptures. I'd love to just sit with him with a chance to interact and ask questions as we traveled the places where Christ walked.



What movie most impacted you as a child?

Growing up in a very small town with no theater, we didn't go to the movies very often. All told, I saw a handful of movies--mostly westerns with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. My dad was a real life cowboy and those were movies he wanted to see. On my 5th birthday, we went to see Babes in Toyland. I remember little about the movie itself, but I remember Daddy and Mama taking me and how special I felt.




Why? I watched the Mickey Mouse Club every day on our black and white TV. Annette Funicello was my favorite mouseketeer and she was in the movie. I wanted to be just like her!







ANY FINAL COMMENTS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL FUTURE BOOK CLUB LEADERS!! SOME ENCOURAGEMENT, THINGS TO AVOID!! WORDS OF WISDOM?



Just Do It! If you are thinking about a book club, dive in! It will be fun and life changing. Maybe someone is just waiting for someone to start one and that someone is you. I know of two book clubs that have started after we started ours because of the enthusiasm of our members. Well worth the time and energy to do it!

My only words of wisdom or pitfall to avoid is that if you are the leader, you'll need to learn how to keep someone from monopolizing the group for their own purposes. That maybe sounds harsh, but we've all been in groups where one person took over and everyone else shuts down. There are lots of hurting people out there and sometimes they come to groups like this to have a place to be heard. Learn to listen and then steer the conversation back to the group. Beth Moore has a wonderful bit of advice about this at the beginning of each of her studies in the Leaders Guide. If a person needs counsel or even counseling, you can address that with them before or after the group, but it is not fair to the others who have come to not have a chance to be heard as well.

Pray a lot! Let God use you and the group to change lives. God is the greatest story teller/author of all time! Let Him guide and direct you. You're not in this adventure alone!

Kimberly!

Kimberly Zweygardt Book Club Leader of Mug N Muffins
BIO: Kimberly Zweygardt is a Christ follower, wife, mother, writer, and book group leader, blogger, dramatist, worship leader, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, a fused glass artist and a taker of naps. For more information: http://www.kimzweygardt.com/


THANKS Kimberly for answering these questions and helping us get to know you and your book club better. I appreciate your final comments and the article you’ve written about your book club experience. I know this will be an encouragement to others. I'm also glad that you are enjoying TBCN. We are young group, still learning and growing. One of the book clubs has started having live book club discussions with the authors right at The Book Club Network. I'm so glad that everyone can benefit from her experience and yours. This way they get to see members reactions to the book and the authors’ responses. It's very helpful for book club leaders. I hope other book clubs consider doing this too. I appreciate all your input!

It's exciting to see all the things happening there already at TBCN. I'm thankful book club leaders like you are there. I do believe we can encourage each other in love and have a great time at book club.
If you are a book club and would like to be interested in being interviewed please contact me at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org or me on this blog. I’d love to talk to you and feature your group.

Blessings

Nora :D
The Book Club Network
http://www.bookfun.org

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