A lively discussion with the JOYful Readers Book Club in Glen Carbon, Ill!

Thumbs Up from the JOYful Readers Book Club!

We received a very warm welcome this weekend from the members of the book club, which is based at Mount Joy Church in Edwardsville, Ill.

 I did a reading and signing on Saturday in nearby Glen Carbon. Most of the book club members in attendance had read the book, and let me tell you: They are careful readers!

Their questions were informed, pointed and thoughtful. They asked questions about plot, characters and story that delved deep into the novel and made me appreciate their attentiveness as readers. We even had a lively discussion over the origin and meaning of the novel’s title, The Moaning Bench.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the book club members for having me, and a greater debt for their careful reading of my work.

Kim and I were hosted by my cousin and Copeland Road home girl, Linda Crawl-Jackson, and her husband, Pastor Steve Jackson. They were fresh off a celebration of his 39th year as Pastor of Mount Joy Church in Edwardsville, Ill., and her 20th year as First Lady, and they still took the time to prepare an elaborate spread for us.

Linda and I hadn’t seen each other in some four decades, but the years just melted away as we sat and chatted.

Kim and I also had a chance to do a bit of rainy-day sightseeing in nearby St. Louis, Mo., including a visit to the Old Courthouse Museum.

This is the courthouse where Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, first sued for their freedom – a case that led eventually to the loathsome 1857 Supreme Court decision, which found people of African ancestry could not claim U.S. citizenship. That asinine and totally political ruling was later overturned by the Fourteenth Amendment.

In the meantime, please stay tuned for the first Atlanta book signing and reading – coming soon!

350 (or so) Words on: Pre-ordering The Moaning Bench

The Moaning Bench is available for Pre-Sale! You can pre-order a signed copy before it is available for general release on January 27. Presale, the hardcover price is $25 and the soft cover price is $12.50, plus shipping. On Jan. 27, the hardcover price will be $27.08, the soft cover $14.99, plus shipping.

 It’s gotten some serious props from Nathan McCall, author of the classic memoir, Makes Me Wanna Holler and Them: A Novel. He said: “This is exquisite storytelling, a real page-turner, spun in the Southern literary tradition of the great Ernest Gaines. With The Moaning Bench, Larry Copeland has announced himself as a fresh new voice on the fiction scene.”

 I hope you’ll agree. If you do, please tell your friends, share on Facebook and Twitter, tell your book club and anyone else who likes to read. Word of mouth will serve as an excellent way to let readers know about the book before it debuts.

 You may pre-order the hardcover on PayPal HERE

You may pre-order the soft cover on PayPal HERE

 Pre-orders ship on Jan. 27, when the book will be available on Amazon.

 Thank you for your support. I hope to hear from you soon.

 

350 (Or So) Words On: Writing #TheMoaningBench

 

      My novel, The Moaning Bench, will be published in exactly one month.

      It’s been a long time coming. I began the story – a murder mystery set in Atlanta and rural Georgia – more than fifteen years ago. After about three years, I sent the manuscript to a group of avid readers for feedback.

     They liked it; some made excellent suggestions. I incorporated their changes and showed the book to people I knew in publishing. They weren’t interested.

      So it was back to the drawing board: More polishing, more fleshing out of this and trimming of that. Then back to publishing folks, different ones this time. Again, they didn’t bite.

      I showed the manuscript to friends who are published writers. They made some very good recommendations, which I accepted with great appreciation.

     I outlined a sequel, featuring some of the same characters, and began writing it.

     By this time, about ten or eleven years have passed. I’ve been raising a family, building a career in newspapers, enjoying a fulfilling and rewarding life – but always working on The Moaning Bench. Not always consistently, mind you: There were times when I’d go many months without touching the book.

      It became sort of a running joke with my extended family and close friends:

      “Hey, Larry, you ever gonna finish that book, man?”

       “Dude, if you leave it in a drawer it’s just a well-written paper weight.”

       Finally, two years ago, I showed it to my son, Travis. He loved it: He got it in a way that no one else had. Travis hounded me to self-publish. But alas, the years of rejection had taken a toll. I was afraid people would hate my baby.

      He kept after me. “We’ll self-publish, Dad. I’ll help you.”

      I resisted. Until one day he said, “Okay, I’ll just publish it after you die.”

      My God, that jolted me. If my book was published, I wanted to be there to reap the kudos if any came. Much more importantly, I needed to be there to defend and explain it.

      So here I am, one month out. It feels a helluva lot like waiting in the delivery room.