Friday, January 30, 2009

Welcome Phenomenal Women Book Club

Today we have our monthly book club feature and I'm pleased to introduce the lovely ladies of Phenomenal Women Book Club. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these ladies in Florida last summer. After visiting their website I knew I wanted to know more about them. I interviewed the club president, Makeda Peterson.

Welcome Makeda. Tell us about Phenomenal Women book Club.
Phenomenal Women Book Club
is based in the Greater New Orleans area in Louisiana and we currently have 21 local members and 2 out of town auxiliary members. We have been meeting since October 2007 once per month, on the second Saturday of each month. Our meetings usually last 2-3 hours to discuss the book of the month, socialize, and cover club business (community service, fundraisers, outside literary events, upcoming books to discuss, any new info). Our members usually try to incorporate foods, themes, settings or something from the book into the discussions. We have held meetings in restaurants, member’s homes, and even in a battered women’s shelter that we were holding a book drive for. We originally began meeting after everyone had returned from Hurricane Katrina as a way of entertainment and to bond with female family and friends. Most of us have settled lifestyles and don’t go out to clubs and since most of us are readers and tend to discuss books whenever we see one another it seemed that a book club would be the perfect solution.

Our members range in age from 21-53; it creates a wide variety of responses and opinions about the books and questions. We also have a few ladies interested and attempting writing careers and the group makes a great critiquing audience. PWBC is also dedicated in performing community services and has also started a non-profit to promote literacy, other necessities and literary events in our community. We are committed to encouraging and promoting good books by providing book reviews on and our website of books the group discusses or books that are sent to us by authors for review.

Wow! What an awesome introduction. I had no idea you has so many members and did so much community service.

I see that your group is a Brian Smith fan. Tell me what you enjoy about his writing?
Brian W. Smith is a native of New Orleans and was the first author we contacted to meet with. He fully embraced Phenomenal Women Book Club and our community service efforts. His books are always quick reads that are entertaining from cover to cover. They are usually about controversial subjects that tend to split the members responses to them in many ways. It is also a plus to have an author willing to come in to speak with readers to discuss their books.

Tell us about a Christian Fiction selection you read last year and what you enjoyed about it? “Soul Matters” by Yolonda Tonette Sanders was the only Christian Fiction book we read as a group last year. Sanders created flawed funny characters with personalities familiar to all of us. In “Soul Matters” we found parts that made us feel sad, mad, happy, thankful and blessed. We were focusing on reading different types of genres our first year but will be reading a number of books including Christian poetry, Christian self help and more Christian Fiction titles this year.

Anything you’d like to see more or less of in Christian Fiction?
Christian Fiction short stories and anthologies are two things we don’t see a lot of that readers could benefit from.

How do you make your monthly book selections?
Each month two members volunteer to be book captain and co-captain of the month. The book title and genre is usually picked by the book captain. We try to read different genres to give each of our members an opportunity to read their favorite types of books and to enlighten others to a variety of new styles. We have collectively decided not to read Sci-fi; none of the members seem to enjoy that particular genre. We also focus on reading books by or about blacks. PWBC also chooses books based on if an author offers to meet with us.

You made the journey to the Faith and Fiction Retreat in Destin Florida last summer. I enjoyed meeting you ladies. You have a contagious energy. Tell us why you chose to make the trip. The Faith and Fiction Retreat of 08 was the first out of town event we decided to attend. We were just wrapping up a big book drive when we received an invitation to the retreat from author Tiffany Warren. We were all in need of a break but only 5 of our members were able to attend. We had also already selected Christian Fiction book “Soul Matters” by Yolonda Tonette Sanders (an author who was scheduled to be a panelist at F&F 08) as our book of the month for August. It seemed that He was leading us to the Faith and Fiction retreat, so we went with it.

What was the best part of the retreat? Can I expect to see you this year?
We were not in attendance for the entire retreat but truly enjoyed every event we were present for. It was great to network with the authors, staff and fellow readers. The group attending the event all seemed genuinely open and friendly. I’m not sure yet how many PWBC members will be attending the retreat this year, but we will be represented by as many as possible. We have two out of town events planned that are almost back to back (The Faith and Fiction retreat and the National Book Club Conference) so most members will only be attending 1 of the events. I (Makeda Peterson) have been asked to be a moderator for one of the authors and will be attending the retreat with my family and PWBC members.

Sounds great, I’ll look forward to seeing you again.

Anything else you want to share about your bookclub?
We are a phenomenal group of ladies who enjoy reading, writing, networking with other book clubs and authors, being in fellowship together and serving our community. PWBC plans to be around for a very long time and recently made 5 year goals for our future. It is our hopes to be able to provide scholarships to students studying the Arts, host a book festival in New Orleans, meet with some of our favorite authors and encourage and promote PWBC members pursuing careers in writing. We are willing to attend literary events, be a part of community service efforts by other clubs and individuals, and network with authors and clubs. Our website is and we can be contacted by email there.

1st Anniversary Picture

You certainly are a phenomenal group of women. Love that gold!

Thank you so much for sharing your book club with the readers at Urban Christian Fiction Today.
This lovely book club is featured on Oprah's book club here


Anonymous said...

As always Rhonda, great feature.

Wanda B. Campbell

upwords said...

Great feature and a beautiful group of ladies. They are doing so much!

Marilynn Griffith

Anonymous said...

Rhonda you always seem to find the most exciting reading groups. Nice community service efforts.

Kim Hutchinson

Anonymous said...

Its good to know that more women are reading.
Great work Ladies.