In any club, the objective is to bring people together to discuss something they are interested in, and the Center’s Women with Pride (WwP) Book Club is no exception.
For over twelve years, Sandy Thornton and her partner Sherri Campbell have been the main facilitators for the WwP Book Club. Together, they choose the books and arrange author appearances. The Book Club focuses almost entirely on lesbian fiction. We talked to Sandy about her history with the Book Club, how it started and what it aims to achieve in the future. Here’s what she had to say.
Sandy, tell us a little bit about yourself: “I retired from AT&T in 2000 and since then I’ve worked with political groups and nonprofits. I’ve served as a director of my credit union since 1989 spending 24 years as Chair of the Board. I have served 3 different terms on the League of Women Voters of Dallas, two multi year terms as Treasurer. I joined Golden Crown Literary Society in 2008 and joined their board as Treasurer in 2013 and served six years. I’m now Chair of the Finance Committee. My partner, Sheri Campbell and I do most of the work involved with the Book Club sending emails and scheduling authors. Carsen Taite, our other founder, gets involved in major events and has written over 25 books since 2008.”
Tell us how the Women with Pride Book Club started: “In 2008 Carsen Taite, author and retired defense attorney in Dallas and I used to meet for coffee to discuss lesbian literature. In 2009 we brought the idea to Resource Center to sponsor a Book Club devoted to women-loving-women books. To make our club a little different, we were determined to have the author attend the meeting for our discussion. Authors have met with us by speaker phone, Skype and Zoom, but mostly in person. The Book Club has met each month continuously since 2009. There are other lesbian book clubs in Dallas, but none of them are devoted to women-loving-women literature. We read all genres of books from Romance to Mystery/Thriller to Fantasy and Science Fiction.”
How does the Book Club make an impact in the community?: “Hopefully WwP Book Club is a place for women who like to read to get together to talk about books, and is another avenue for women to meet in a safe environment.”
“As leaders of the Women with Pride Book Club, we have worked hard to always be welcoming to new people. We welcome diversity and let women find their own voice within the group. We promote authors to keep these stories coming so we can see ourselves in books.” – Sandy Thornton
What motivated you to partner with Women with Pride to create the Book Club?: “When we started the Book Club in 2009 it was one of the few programs for women at Resource Center so it was a win-win for both of us. As a program of JEWEL (the precursor to WwP), we also encouraged a writing group that was successful for a period of time. The motivation for coming to the Center was the already established website to advertise our Book Club, a public place to meet, and the legitimacy of being sponsored by the Center.”
How do you go about selecting the books and securing authors?: “Because we have the author with us at each meeting a lot of planning goes into selecting the books and authors. I also try to make sure we are getting authors from multiple publishers. About a year in advance, I send out emails to authors who have new books coming out in the upcoming year. I do this one author at a time, once I get a commitment for a month then I go to the next. etc. There are some authors that are particular favorites of the group, and I get them if they have a new book. I try to mix in new authors with established authors. I also get input from the members. I look at books that have won awards such as Lambda Literary and Goldies from Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS). We have had authors from all over the USA, Europe, and Canada. I know many authors personally from my years on the board at GCLS and attending other events such as Women’s Week in Provincetown.”
What does a typical Book Club evening look like?: “In the days before Covid, I would invite the author to stay with us and pick them up from the airport, etc. All but two authors have paid for their own airfare or mileage. We take them out to dinner prior to our meeting with about eight members who attend regularly. At our in-person meetings, we usually had 12 to 16 members attend. On Zoom we’ve had 6 to 12 attend. The most attendees we’ve had at one meeting was 42. We begin the meeting with announcements, I introduce the author and the conversation can go in all directions. The author may choose to do a reading; talk about upcoming works; author process. It is a casual atmosphere with interspersed questions from the members. Author process is often part of the conversation because we also have three to five published authors as members.”
“We at Resource Center are very proud to be the long-time sponsor of this dynamic club and are so grateful for the continuous hard work and dedication of Sandy and her team. They are committed to providing an enriching and well-organized experience every month. Because of their dedication, the Center is able to offer this important resource to the community.” – Al Johnson, Community Programs Manager
Women with Pride engages LGBTQIA+ women age 18+ through programs, activities and outings designed to provide social engagement.
Upcoming Book Club Dates and Selections:
August 17 – Shelley Thrasher discussing Hidden Dreams
September 21 – Cheryl Head discussing Warn Me When It’s Time
October 19 – Cindy Rizzo discussing The Papercutter
November 16 – Karin Kallmaker discussing Simply The Best
December 14 – Ann Roberts discussing The Convincing Hour