The “Why” of Skype meets with book clubs


Yesterday afternoon I told my husband I was thinking of giving up Skype meets with book clubs. So many times, the connection has been terrible. I had a Skype meet scheduled that night, and I felt uneasy, expecting the worst. 

Then of course, when I opened my Skype application, it crashed. And then again. And then again.

This did not bode well!

Very last minute, I had to download the application anew. But lo and behold, once launched, my connection with the book club in Hamilton, Ontario, was absolutely perfect. 

book club

But more importantly, this was a dynamite club, and we had a wonderful talk. I came away uplifted. No way am I going to give up book club meets! 


The life of a writer is solitary, and contact with readers is hugely sustaining. I wish I knew your name, Hamilton book club—for if I did, I would sing your praise here. Thank you. 


I love to Skype-meet with book clubs!

I finally had a Skype meet with a book club at the Carteret Public Library, in Carteret, NJ. This meet had been scheduled long ago by Supervising Librarian Samuel Latini, but Hurricane Sandy conspired to make it difficult. Now, the library is once again up-and-running (yay!), and we were able to have a chat.

This time, however, illness had swept through and only three of the members were able to make it: Joyce, Gail and Stephanie. They had read MISTRESS OF THE SUN, and they had lots of interesting questions. It made for an intimate and lively discussion!

There were, of course, the usual technical problems: my image froze (fortunately not with my mouth hanging open), but I could see them, which was nice, and we could hear each other fairly well.

We kept it to 1/2 hour: and I think that’s a good rule-of-thumb. That gives them time to discuss the meet among themselves after.

All in all: it was just great. I’m always aglow after these Skype sessions. I’ve talked to clubs and high school classes in the US and Canada, and even one in Germany. If you’re in a book club and would like to schedule a chat, email me at sgulland AT sandragulland DOT com or through my website here:

OMG, I nearly forgot to mention: I sent off the “final” draft of IN THE SERVICE OF THE SHADOW QUEEN this morning!

Skyping, the hard but ultimately successful way

I just had a wonderful Skype chat with The Book Club of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Earlier this evening, I’d tried to call our daughter (in Toronto) and my father (in California), bout both calls — on our Internet Vonage line — had been garbled.

I feared that that would be the case for the book club Skype chat, and lo, it was: they could see me, and I could sort of see them, but our voice communication was impossible.

Fall back plan: I called them, and we carried on that way, managing in spite of a still-somewhat-garbled telephone line, together with fuzzy Skype visuals.

In spite of all that, it was a wonderful chat! I love talking to book clubs! 

What I learned: always have a telephone fall-back plan.

Have any of your had success with Skype chats? And when Skype is not connecting, how do you manage? 

Virtually: face-to-face with book clubs

Okay, the New Age has begun. Sort of. Sitting here in San Miguel de Allende, at my office desk, I chatted face-to-face with the members of the East Grand Rapids book club in Michigan. They had their glasses of wine and I had my glass of water. (Next time I set up a video visit with a club, I’ll ask: “And what will we be drinking?”)

We chatted back and forth for about 45 minutes: they could see me, and I could see them (or at least those who were in the line-of-sight of their computer camera-eye). Amazing … but it was not without a few glitches.

Here’s how it went:

First, we both had membership in (free), broadband computer access, and computers with a video capacity. This can be built-in, or you can buy a USB camera for very little.

We set up a time. This can be tricky because of time zones.

I fussed a bit before they called. My computer was on, Skype was open, I was “available”. All set. But I didn’t know how I would look to them, so I opened iChat and clicked the video camera icon. And there I was: in need of make-up, a better top, perhaps a scarf—and definitely better lighting.

It was rather like setting up a camera shoot. I tidied my office, propped the computer up on a book for better camera shot, closed my curtains, turned on a lamp. Reminded myself not to stare at the screen with my mouth hanging open. And to sit up straight (yes, mother).


And then the call, so like a phone ringing. I clicked answer, and we were connected. “Hello?” Only I could see myself, but not them. Humm. We decided to try again.

Hang up, quit Skype, reopen Skype, click the telephone icon. Aha: now I could see them, and they could see me—but their image was “frozen,” not moving. So, once again…

Hang up, quit Skype, reopen Skype, click the telephone icon. Ah! We could all see each other, and we were moving … and talking!

It was great—we had a real visit! It was very much like sitting and chatting with a book club, but different—both more remote (we were not face-to-face), but also more intimate, in a way. Because I was in my office, for example, I could show them the stack of papers I was working on: the outline of The Next Novel.

The technology was a bit balky—the video quality reminded me of shots of men walking on the moon. There was a bit of a lag, sometimes, both in sound and visually, and a few times there was a bit of a freeze. (This may differ depending on net speed and time of day.)

But all in all: fantastic! So thank you, East Grand Rapids Book Club, for helping me to figure this out. Brave New Worlds … here I come!

P.S. I love the way, when I open Skype, it says: Take a deep breath. I do, every time.