Writer On The Road: Wherever. Because I Have Skype.

Dear Writers,

Just when you thought it was safe to visit book clubs by phone and therefore wander around in your underwear drinking wine while you talk to readers.....now there's SKYPE!

I find Skype miraculous. Every time I use it, I think of my dad, who died in 1999. How amazed he would be that you can talk to people through your computer screen!  It's so space-age. So Jetsons. Yet another way to bring us all closer together. How can you not love that?  I can be in Wichita, Duluth, Boston--and have a book club literally in my lap.  (That didn't sound quite right. What I meant was, I use my laptop for Skypeing, and I often hold it....oh, never mind.)

Even still, the prudent writer will benefit from certain ground rules about Skypeing with readers. I have learned these rules through painful, inadvertently exhibitionist trial-and-error.  I will share them with you.

A gift. Use as you wish.


10.  GET YOUR YA-YAs OUT. It may take you some time to get used to seeing yourself on the screen.  And even if you hide yourself during the book club (yes, there is a link that allows you to do this), remember, THEY CAN SEE YOU. So get your ya-yas out beforehand. Find and strike that perfect pose.


9. I personally would go with your SMART AUTHOR POSE, the one that has a disembodied hand in it a la most author photos. Glasses help, too, even if you don't really need them and they are just for show.

8. GET DRESSED. Again, THEY CAN SEE YOU. So don't get caught like this.

Trust me.  Clothes work better.

7. STOP DRINKING. It's not like the olden days when you were having book clubs by phone and could stroll into the kitchen to pour another glass without anyone knowing.  Yet again, THEY CAN SEE YOU.  So at least limit your drinking, for the love of God. This is okay:

A votre santé!

This, not so much.

You think you know me? You don' F'in' know me.

Come to think of it, this is sound advice for phone and in-person book clubs, too.



THEY CAN SEE YOU. How many times?!? Blow your nose beforehand.

5.  Take advantage of PRODUCT PLACEMENT.  Behold:

Clever Product Placement.

How many books can you see fronted behind me? Two. Right. Whose books do they just happen to be? Riiiiight. Now you're catching on.

4. MAKE SURE YOU'RE SOMEWHERE YOU WON'T BE DISTURBED. That way, you won't risk encounters like this:

Boyfriend Tries To Distract You & Book Club With Package-Grabbin' Goodness

or this:

Having Failed To Distract With Package, Boyfriend Grabs Cleaver & Yells, "Where's my dinner?"

or this:

When Cleaver Alone Fails To Distract, Boyfriend Threatens To Chop Dog Up For Dinner.

or this:


When All Fails To Distract, Boyfriend Departs, With Final Poignant Gesture.

3.  In fact, as many wise book club hostesses and authors know, it may be best to send the men to the movies. Or to the finished basement or garage. Wherever.

2. USE THE FACILITIES BEFOREHAND. It doesn't matter how much you try to dress up the fact that you're in the bathroom.

Even With The Tiara, They Can Tell It's A Bathroom.


1.  HEADGEAR, on the other hand, is perfectly permissible, especially if it's occasion-appropriate.

Happy holidays to you and yours...preferably full of lots of joyous reading and books.



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About the Author

Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us, The Stormchasers, and The Lost Family as well as the novella "The Lucky One" in anthology Grand Central. Jenna is also one of Oprah's Top 30 Women Writers. Jenna has taught for GrubStreet since 1997 ; she currently runs the master novel workshop and seminars focusing on craft and marketing.

See other articles by Jenna Blum
by Jenna Blum

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