I'm pleased to share an interview with you today with my friend Liz Donatelli who is an avid reader, book club host, publicist, and genuinely nice and fun person.
You run a book club, called Lady's Guilty Pleasures. Can you tell us how your book club got started, a little bit about your group, and how you chose your theme?
The Ladies’ Guilty Pleasures Book Club was born of my need to belong to a FUN book club that reads light-hearted and offbeat novels. When I had been book club hunting two years back, the Los Angeles area clubs were either very genre-specific (paranormal, memoir, sci-fi, etc.), or the “classical literature lovin’, 600-page epic novel” type. TLGP reads unclassical works of fiction that include chick lit (in all its forms), romance, YA, bizarro, satire, crime capers, steampunk, paranormal and fantasy. Our “dinner & discussion” Get-Togethers take place at a local restaurant every 5-6 weeks. Book selections are chosen either by a live vote (show of hands) or via an online voting poll. Nominees are based on members' suggestions. The ladies and I are constantly redefining “guilty,” which keeps things fresh and exciting.
What are your favorite kinds of books to read?
The Guilty Ladies generally enjoy reading chick lit, paranormal and fantasy. Personally, my favorite kinds of books are comic fantasy (Christopher Moore), crime capers (Tim Dorsey & Carl Hiaasen), gothic suspense romances (Daphne du Maurier & Diane Setterfield) and time travel romance (Lynn Kurland).
What's the best book you've read in the last year?
Last year’s HUGE book club winner was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Although I don’t usually prefer dystopian YA, it was also my personal fave of 2011. In fact, it’s one of THE most engaging and unique novels that I’ve ever read.
You organize a lot of author socials with your club, what was the best experience you had with an author?
Every few months, TLGP reads a novel by a local author and invites that author to join us for a signing, reading and Q&A. We’ve also launched a new event, Guilty Lady For An Evening, which connects us with published eBook authors.
Each TLGP author event has been terrific, but the best was our It's Been a Guilty Year Anniversary Party & Harley Jane Kozak Author Event. Harley Jane Kozak (author of the Wollie Shelley Mystery series) met with the ladies to chat about her hilarious novel, A Date You Can’t Refuse. She’s a sweetheart. Very down-to-earth and funny. Instead of sitting behind the table reserved for the guest of honor, Harley moved her chair so that she could sit amongst the ladies. Then, she went around the room and asked each of us our names. A former actress, Harley spoke candidly about overcoming personal obstacles and described her transition from a Hollywood actress to a published author. She captivated the ladies with colorful “behind-the-scenes” Wollie Shelley stories and genuinely seemed interested in hearing our thoughts on her work. Also, Harley packaged up the other books in her series to give away as a raffle prize. Pretty awesome!
You also do publicity for authors, can you tell us a little bit about what services you offer?
Liz D Publicity & Promotions, “The Neighborhood P & P Shoppe,” offers all authors the opportunity to connect with an enthusiastic audience by providing professional, budget-friendly services. Liz D garners publicity by securing reviews and interviews with traditional (TV, radio, magazines, newspapers) and new media (Internet radio & TV, podcasts, blogs) outlets, writes and distributes book announcement and tip sheet press releases, crafts social media marketing strategies, and plans and coordinates blog tours, launch parties, & innovative promotional events.
What's the best bookish experience you've had?
Attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for the 1st time last year. AMAZING! It’s a playground for book lovers. Exhibitors include authors, publishers, booksellers, writing groups and bookish organizations. And, there are author discussions, book signings, and readings. Just thinking about it makes me happy.
What's your number one piece of advice for authors on the internet?
Avoid one-way conversations with your Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
Talk with them, not at them. Don’t just deluge your tweeps and fans with updates on the fluctuating price of your novel and news of your latest reviews. Reach out to your audience and show an interest in getting to know them better. Intersperse your tweets and posts by asking engaging questions, such as What are your weekend plans? or What do you do when you’re not reading? Consider replying to a follower’s tweet. Post follow-up comments and express gratitude to your fans via your Facebook page’s wall. Keep in mind that just like in any relationship, communication is a two-way street.