My name is Toshona E. Carter and I am the Founder and President of this awesome book club, Divas Leaving No Pages Unturned Book Club. I currently reside in Little Rock, Arkansas. My hobbies include reading, shopping, traveling and cooking. I work for the State of Arkansas as a Case Manager II.
BPM: Please tell us aboutDivas Leaving No Pages Unturned Book Club!
Divas Leaving No Pages Unturned is located in Little Rock, Arkansas. After I mentioned to a small group of sister-friends that I loved to read and that I had formerly been in two book clubs, requests were made for me to start my own book club because they also loved reading. Divas Leaving no Pages Unturned Book Club was established on July 17, 2010. Our first meeting was held at Texas Roadhouse Restaurant in Little Rock with only four members. We have grown to 18 members and counting.
BPM: What is the purpose for your organization?
Divas Leaving no Pages Unturned was created to promote “Togetherness” among all Women of Color. When we thought of the word Diva we thought of someone beautiful, who knew what they wanted and would do what it takes to make things happen. Our invigorating club thrives on our goal to enrich the lives of women “one page at a time” through literacy and community service. Our mission is to help uplift, magnify, encourage, respect and provide a nurturing environment for women of color, who are strong mentally, physically, spiritually by educating, encouraging and supportive of others while utilizing “POSITIVE” energy.
BPM: What legacy will your club or blog leave for those watching in the community?
Our main focus over the years has been on community service. We have given money and our time to many local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Union Rescue Mission, Arkansas Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House, The Dorcas House for Battered Women & Children, New Beginnings Pregnancy Resource Center, Fund-a-night Stay at the 20th Century Lodge in Little Rock for cancer patients and the Salvation Army, just to name a few. We have participated in numerous community service projects over the past six years.
Another focus of ourDivas Leaving No Pages Unturned Book Clubis to promote literacy by encouraging others to regularly pick up a book and to support local and well-known authors.
BPM: Tell us about your members. What is the demographic of your group?
Currently we have twelve members all whom are women of color ranging from ages 29-50. The name of the members are: Toshona Carter, Kimberly Melikian, Donna Parks, LaToshia Enoch-Elston, Tanya Davis, Angela Davis, Erica Whitfield, Iris Whitfield, Cassandra Wallace,Sheereen Watkins, Jessica Robinson, Kamesha Lindsey, Erica Love Mack, Shonda Wade, Angela Winston, Nakia Bolden, Janai Taylor Harris, and Evelyn White.
BPM: When accepting members into the group, what are you looking for in the person? Has it been difficult to get people to join the group or to stay in the group?
When accepting members into the group we look for an avid reader, someone who doesn’t mind helping and giving back to the community; someone who is definitely willing to give up one Saturday a month. At this point, I would say it hasn’t been hard to get people to join. Right now, I have a few waiting to join when we have open enrollment.
BPM: In your opinion, what makes a good book club conversation? Do you keep the conversation on topic, or roam? Does the availability of a reading guide help with the discussion?
In my opinion, a good book club conversation is when all the members have totally read the book and they’re able to have a productive discussion. We normally stay on topic as well as give examples of things that relate to life or life experiences regarding the book being discussed. At times the availability of a reading guide does help generate questions that we may have not thought to ask.
BPM: How do you make your book selections for the month? Do you read and discuss books outside of the book of the month? Do you use social media to share your featured books with other readers?
In the beginning, every other month, a member would take a turn selecting a book to discuss.
Currently, we accept books from authors from the months of October- December to be put on our Potential Book Selection for the Year List. Each book is reviewed and then in January the members vote on which books will be read for the New Year. Regardless, all submissions will be read as a side-bar read or given to my club’s book reviewers to submit a review online. We often share our featured books with local book clubs, readers in the Facebook Group entitled Face Book Turners and within our own individual social circles.
BPM: Do you prefer to read books by authors of color? Do you borrow books from the library?
Yes, we prefer to read books by authors of color, but are open to read any book that is informative or a good read. The first book we read as a group was Blues Day was by self-published author Adrienne Thompson and we have been reading her works ever since. We have borrowed books from the library, as well as recommended many of the books we have read to be added to their shelves.
BPM: What genre/types of books do you prefer to read as a group?
Romance, Christian, Non-fiction, Urban fiction, Street Life, Science Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Inspirational, Biography, Autobiography, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Parable, Educational or a documentary. The club is open to any suggestions. We are not limited to just African American books.
BPM: What books are on your reading schedule?
We recently read and discussed Unlawful Deception live with author Pamela Samuels Young. This book was selected from Ms. Ella’s Black Pearls Magazine list of books to read.
BPM: How do you feel about attending book signings, literary festivals and events?
I think it is a great opportunity to connect with the authors at these events and to ask any question(s) you may have. We are getting ready to host our First Empowerment Book Signing with local authors in the Little Rock, Arkansas. We will have about ten authors who will participate in a panel discussion, as well as give autographs. They will also have books available for sell.
BPM: Do you host special events during the year or do you work for any charities?
During the year we host empowermrnt sessions for women. In the past sessions, we have brought in speakers discussing finances, health, beauty and entrepreneurship, along with grant writing.
BPM: Which is the preferred way to find new books: a friend’s recommendation; on social media; or advertisement for the book, such as: online radio, newsletter eblast, contests or tagging on FB?
The preferred ways we find new books are: through social media, author suggestions to the book club and sources like Black Pearls Magazine and Ms. Ella’s BAN Radio. We find alot of books from friend’s recommendations, Facebook Author Pages, group pages such as FB Turners.
BPM: Do you purchase books online or in a bookstore? Do you prefer to read digital books?
Most times we purchase our books via Amazon. I often find it is easier to read a digital book. I would still buy some printed books to keep for my book collection and to share with others.
BPM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other readers who might want to start a book club?
Make sure that you have a group of people willing to work together to make a positive impact, so that everyone can get something out of the club. Also, make sure you have a group of people who are really avid readers and not occasional readers. You have to realize you will have members that will come and go and that’s ok.
BPM: Do attend Twitter chats or Facebook chats? Would you like to chat with your favorite authors on Skype, FaceTime or over the phone? Who would you like to speak to?
In the past we have hosted Facebook chats with authors to discuss their books. We would love to chat with some of our favorite authors on Skype or over the phone. We would love to speak with Reshonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray and Lutishia Lovely.
BPM: How can we follow you online? Do you have a website or social media pages?
Twitter: @ divas_bookclub
Facebook: Divas Leaving no Pages Unturned Book Club