Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book Clubs and The Quarters {+ Giveaway}

I’m delighted today to welcome southern author Mari Bell to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her recently release, THE QUARTERS, and book clubs.

As part of the celebration, I have a print copy of THE QUARTERS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

THE QUARTERS includes some great southern fiction set in Georgia with a collage of hysterical family drama. Mari even created a cast of characters and fun book trailer to really capture the tone of her story. Be sure to check that out near the end of the post too. 

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Set in the 1940s, The Quarters features quite the cast of characters and is a funny, quick read with themes of murder, family, race, church, community, passing and a con artist. 
Set partially in the small rural town of Preston, Georgia where Louise and Betty Jean (a.k.a. "Honey") were raised by their loving father and not so loving step-mother.  After the third-body that Louise has had to help Honey dispose of, Honey decides to get the heck out of dodge before someone starts missing those boys.
When she takes up residence in a quirky, yet humorous community called The Quarters, life is peaceful and as comfortable as can be in the humid south until a handsome stranger rolls into town, talking sweet and looking nice.  Simee brings news of money that could come to the local church, but like any overly-confidence con artist, Simee is up to no good and soon the church's leadership is knee deep in a scam that could result in the loss of valuable land.
Unfortunately... he's not been made privy of the "accidents" Honey has been prone to and how men tend to end up dead all around her...

Please join me in giving a warm welcome Mari as she talks about book clubs. Welcome, Mari.

Book clubs, book clubs, and more book clubs.

As a self-published author, navigating through the world of book clubs has been interesting to say the least. Building my brand, creating my path in a very crowded market space at times can be daunting especially when book clubs have such an array of selections to choose from. However, the excitement of being selected has undoubtedly been one of my greatest moments and also one of the most frightening. 

As I often say, book clubs aren’t easy nuts to crack especially if you are a self-published author. So, just to be selected is a feat in itself. However, if you are so fortunate to be selected, get ready, your reception will range from “Oh my goodness, I love your book and I think you’re awesome to are you kidding me, that book was horrible and those shoes you’re wearing “ain’t” working either.”

The stares, the smiles, the frowns, and the glances, and of course, the grimaces of the book club members are all over the place. After several failed attempts at mind reading, I finally concluded that the best thing for me to do was to dismiss the dead man walking clip playing in my head and just go with it. They’ll always be someone who feels you could have done a much better job. There’s also several that’ll take you and your work just as you are. 

So, to all my fellow authors hang tight, you can do it. You’re not alone. And to all the thousands of book clubs I’ve yet to crack, pick me, pick me.

Mari, thanks for joining us today. I had never given much thought as to how an author would feel being invited to a book club. Good food for thought.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with Mari, here’s some background on her in her own words.

Author Mari Bell
I’m Marichele Bell. I know, you’re thinking Marichele Bell? Yep, that’s a real name and it belongs to me. Prior to getting married, I was Marichele Scrutchins. But you can call me Mari, everyone else does. I’m a sales manager by day and a writer by night. If you consider funeral announcements, editing friends and family’s writing assignments, and cleaning up resumes writing, then I’m your girl.

Seriously, from the age of maybe 11, I can remember being told by someone “you can write.” The complements came from a variety of reputable sources, starting with my Mom. Who’s more reputable than her. That’s a rhetorical question. Over time, others, i.e. professors, employers, friends, and more family would on occasion make the same comment.

One of my first memories is from my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Moey. I remember her quite well. She was tall, wore cat glasses, had black girl hips (like me), and very tall stiff blond hair, straight up and down. The kind of hair that dared not to move or it just might have toppled her over. I do believe she kept cans of Aqua Net on standby. Any hoo, one of our class assignments was to write a short story. I chose purple bubble gum as my subject. I can’t remember whether it was Bubble Yum, Bubblicious, or Double Bubble, but it was bubble gum and it was purple. That simple short story drew laughs from her and my fellow 11-year-old comrades. I remember being surprised by their reaction and laughter. It was only a few paragraphs, but hey, who am I to dismiss my super hero comical talents. From there, I received more compliments by others; I just never took them that seriously. 

Flash forward years later, I sat down with my Mom and my Aunt and listened while they shared memories of their childhood. I couldn’t believe some, well, most of the stuff I was hearing. The community they grew up in held secrets, shame, and humor, so much humor. I was captivated. They were beyond entertaining. I couldn’t stop asking questions, but more importantly, I couldn’t stop laughing. Thankfully, those two planted the seed for THE QUARTERS. 

Here it is over 20 years later and finally I was compelled to write this book. It’s in memory of my Grandmomma, Mrs. Louise Scott who was one of the funniest ladies I’ve ever known. It is also a tribute to my Mom, Pearline Scrutchins. She is not only hilarious in her own right, but smart, loving, and just a wonderful mother. I surely can’t leave out my aunts and uncles. Some of the funnies in THE QUARTERS, came directly from them. And finally the real people of the Quarters. Most of them have passed away now, but they left such a rich impression on me. My hopes are that this book will carry their humor, kindness, and love for generations.

For more on Mari and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and her VirtualTour Page.

Here’s a look at the trailer for THE QUARTERS for your viewing pleasure.


Thanks to the wonderful folks at Roger Charlie, I have a print copy of THE QUARTERS by Mari Bell to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, May 11.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Mari’s visit. Are you a member of a book club? If you’re an author, what are your thoughts on book clubs?


  1. Congratulations to Mari.
    I have never joined a book club, perhaps because my reading tastes are all over the place.

  2. Standing in front of a group that's read your book is always going to be a mixed bag. Keep at it, Mari.

  3. Book clubs are tough to find, too. There's no website that lists them all.

  4. Sounds interesting and funny!

  5. Love the purple bubble gum story! Proof that a great writer can write about any subject and make it interesting!

  6. What a terrific context for the story, and nice to hear it's dedicated to/inspired by family stories. And about book clubs? They can be terrific! Thanks for sharing, both.

  7. Congrats Mari. I love stories set in the past.

  8. Thanks for this interesting feature and giveaway. Congratulations Mari. This book sounds memorable and special.

  9. Hi Everyone!

    Thank you for your wonderful feedback and encouraging words. If you get a moment, please grab a copy. I'd love your review. Best!!!

    Mari K. Bell

  10. I've never felt that book clubs were for me. I'm pretty introverted and the books I read are personal to me. I might want to talk about them to one person at a time but rarely would I want to in a group.

  11. I'm not a member of a book club, but might be interested in joining.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.