Book Club Inspiration

Are you a member of a book club?

I'm not right now, but for years I was part of a wonderful group in San Francisco. We were all teachers in the same school district and we read great books and had lively discussions— sometimes we even talked about the book! Each meeting was accompanied by a delicious meal and a sense of community as we met month after month after month. Unfortunately for me, I moved away, but those ladies are still going strong years later and I know their book group brings them much joy.

One of the things I loved about being in a book club was that each member took turns choosing the book we'd read. As a result, I read many books that I might not have chosen for myself. I learned so much about the world and was exposed to many different, brilliant authors.

Maybe it's because I miss my book club, but when I was planning my new series, Heroes of Shelter Creek, I felt in my heart that there had to be a book club in it. The stories in this series are all about people coming to the Northern California town of Shelter Creek and finding a welcoming community there, and book clubs symbolize that sense of community for me. Plus, once I 'met' the Shelter Creek bookclub, who call themselves The Book Biddies, I fell in love with them and they became an even bigger part of the stories than I'd planned! Each one of them has a huge personality and an even bigger heart. I loved writing their scenes.

Here's a little excerpt from a Book Biddies meeting. But before you read it, a little back story is needed.

Maya Burton, a wildlife biologist, has returned to her hometown of Shelter Creek after over a decade away. She's stayed away because before she left, she was the driver in a car accident where her boyfriend's younger sister was killed. Coming home, even after so much time has gone by, is an emotional experience for Maya. And then Monique, one of the Book Biddies and owner of the local hair salon, mentions that some people still believe a rumor that Maya had been drinking that night, and that's what caused the accident.


     “I didn’t live in town back then,” Monique said. “But once in a while, gossip resurfaces in the salon. I don’t think most people believe that old rumor now, Maya.”
     “Good to know,” Maya mumbled into her wine. Talking about all this was knocking her off-balance. They were all so casual, just chatting mildly about the thing that had shattered her heart and her world.
     “Most?” Grandma looked at Monique sharply.
     “Well, I’ve heard a few things I don’t like,” Monique admitted. “And I’ve always addressed it when I hear it. Unfortunately there are people out there who prefer their own version of things to the actual truth.”
     Her words settled like mud in the bottom of Maya’s stomach. She’d known, of course, that there were people who’d happily resurrect old gossip. It was a small town and they needed something to talk about. But somehow the fact that Monique had witnessed it made it a lot more real.
     “We need to help you face those people, Maya,” Annie said briskly. “We need to support you. I wish I’d supported you better back then.”
     Eva lifted her glass toward Maya. “I’m happy to do whatever I can.”
     “Me too,” Monique added.
     “I’m okay,” Maya assured them, her skin going prickly with discomfort. “I’m used to handling things on my own. I’ll be fine.”
     “But you don’t have to handle this on your own.” Kathy rummaged through her purse and pulled out a packet of tissues. She used one to dab her eyes. “I’m sorry. It just gets me very emotional.”
    Her tissues had ducks on them. It was an unimportant detail, but Maya focused on it because seeing Kathy cry made her want to cry too.
     “I feel the same as Annie.” Mrs. Axel’s voice was husky all of a sudden. “Maybe if more of us had gathered around you and spoken up for you, you would have felt like you could have stayed. Or at least come back to visit once in a while.”
     Grandma wiped her eyes on her sleeve. Oh no, if she started crying, then Maya would lose it. And she didn’t lose it. Well, except for her meltdown by the side of the road the other day. She’d learned a long time ago that crying didn’t help. Mourning was a void she could get stuck in forever, because there was no closure when you’d been responsible for a death. Every day you lived was a day the other person didn’t. If you allowed yourself to cry, you might just never stop.
     It was better to keep busy, stay focused, work hard and avoid other people and their emotions as much as possible. Because emotions were unpredictable. Look at her and Caleb. One day they’d been madly in love. Then the accident happened, and he’d instantly despised her.
     That was why Maya had chosen a career that let her work alone, in the wilderness. In a solitary life, she couldn’t be hurt that way. And, most importantly, she couldn’t hurt anyone else.
     The room had gone quiet, and the silence finally permeated Maya’s thoughts. She glanced around and saw that The Biddies were watching her expectantly, like she was supposed to say something.
     “It’s okay,” Maya tried to reassure them. “I’m okay.” Really, she wanted to sink into the floor, down to the cool, dark dirt of Grandma’s crawl space. Anywhere but here, with everyone’s pity and regret. “I’m sure it will all be fine. And I’m only going to be in town for a couple of months anyway.”
     She wished suddenly, fervently, that she was still on the trail, setting up cameras, looking for scat and tracks. Those were things she could see and record and make sense of. That was peace. This was like standing in a hot spotlight, itchy and alone, picking at scars that never healed.
     Kathy cleared her throat. “Just know that we are here for you. That if there is any gossip, we’ll try to stop it.”
     “Anything you need—support for your work, someone to talk to, company if you are planning to go out—you just call one of us,” Mrs. Axel said.
     Annie chimed in. “If you have trouble with any of the local ranchers, I’m your gal. None of them will give you a hard time if I’m around.”
     Their kindness loosened the tears Maya had been holding back ever since seeing Caleb out on the trail. The salt stung her eyelids, and she reached for one of Kathy’s duck tissues.
     “We may just be a bunch of Book Biddies,” Eva said, “but I think everyone in this room would like to help you feel at home here, in Shelter Creek.”
     Grandma patted Maya’s knee. “You see? You’re not alone. You’ve got all of us.”
     They were all being so wonderful, but they were seeing her as the sad, pathetic girl she’d been when she’d left this town. She’d changed since then, she was strong and independent. Why couldn’t they see that?
     That was the danger of coming home. All that you’d become, all that you’d worked so hard for, wasn’t anything anyone could see. All they could see was a familiar face, and then they made familiar assumptions.
     Still, all this was kindly meant. “Thank you,” Maya managed to say. “I appreciate it.”
     Grandma’s soft hand reached for hers. “I’m sorry if we are too much. I guess we are all too old to ignore the elephant in the room.”
     Maya scrubbed her palms over her eyes, wishing she could rub all this pity off her skin. “It feels a little like an intervention. Are you sending me to rehab?”
     “Guilt rehab,” Kathy said. “You deserve to be comfortable in your own town. You may not choose to stay in Shelter Creek, but we don’t want you to live in exile.”
     If only it was so simple. Was there really any rehab for the guilt and regret? Those things were just givens in Maya’s world. They wore away at her the way the Pacific’s waves eroded the cliffs by the coast. Little by little. Every day. All the time.
     “This town needs to do better by you,” Annie said. “You’re brave to come home. Let us help while you’re here.”
     Maya looked at The Biddies sitting there, with wine and books, and love in their eyes. She couldn’t tell them no, despite every instinct insisting she was better off alone. “I don’t think I could ask for a better set of bodyguards than you all.”
     Monique let out a guffaw of laughter. “This town won’t know what hit them. Maya Burton’s home, and The Book Biddies have her back.”


Thanks for reading! If you're in a book club, I'd love to hear what you enjoy about it. Or what you've been reading recently?

And if you're interested in reading more about Maya and The Book Biddies, Reunited with the Cowboy comes out July 1st!


  1. wow! What an emotional excerpt! Can't wait to read the book!

    1. LeAnne, this story is SO emotional, it was a huge challenge to write! I still think about it and what I might have done differently, there was just so much to wrestle into place!

  2. Wow! Love the excerpt.
    I'm in an on-line book club and enjoy that, especially since I don't have time to meet for an hour or two to discuss the book we read. I like book clubs and love speaking to them.

    1. What a great idea, Patricia! It is so hard to find the time to meet, which is why I'm not in a book club right now. I'd love to be in one again when my son is older.

  3. Oh, I love this. Can't wait to get started. I'm not in a book club, but have always wanted to be.

  4. What a great excerpt--I love the premise! The characters grabbed my attention immediately.

    1. Thank you so much, Virginia! I so appreciate you reading it!

  5. A lovely except for what promises to be a great book. I’m in a book club and must tell the ladies about the one in Shelter Creek!

    1. Thank so much, Janice! That's really neat that you are in a book club!

  6. I love these people already. Can't wait to read the book!

  7. Hi everyone! I'm in the ACFW Book Club and you don't have to be a member of ACFW to join the book club:
    The ACFW Book Club gives fans of Christian fiction the opportunity to communicate with each other, chat with ACFW authors, and discuss books.

    Book Club participants are invited to join an e-mail group set up to facilitate announcements and host discussions about the current reading selection. Members will be eligible for monthly free book drawings. To join, send a blank e-mail to acfwbookclub- visit and click "join this group." You will receive a confirmation e-mail after joining. Follow the instructions given in the e-mail to complete your subscription to this e-mail list.


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