The Skype Effect with Kelly O’Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May AlcottHey, Deb Ball readers! It’s Tuesday, my regular day to post, but it’s also a big day for a dear friend of mine. Kelly O’Connor McNees is the author of a lovely novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, which, like The Weird Sisters, is published by Amy Einhorn Books. Today her book comes out in paperback with a gorgeous new cover.

Kelly was one of the first people I met on Twitter, and I had the chance to meet her in person at the AWP Conference in January, despite the valiant efforts of two snowstorms to keep us apart, where we stayed up far too late chatting and laughing and talking books and writing.

I wish you could all hang out with Kelly, because she’s smart and funny and talented, so I invited her along today to give her take on book clubs.

Oh, and stick around after the post to stay hello, because Kelly is also generous, and she’s agreed to give away a copy of the new paperback release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (which is, by the way, a great book for book clubs – lots to discuss!).


Author Kelly O'Connor McNees

Kelly O’Connor McNees on

The Skype Effect

With enough money and time, an author could make a very pleasant life out of flying to all corners of the country to visit book clubs who have chosen to read her novel. But these days, most of us are pretty broke. And that’s why Skype is one of the best things to happen for authors and book clubs in a long time. With limited technical skill (trust me—I know) and basically for free, authors can travel to living rooms, kitchens, and wifi-enabled wine bars all over the country. The only thing the author has to miss out on is the wine.

There’s only one thing about Skype that makes me nervous. While I’m confident that I can answer just about any question a reader might ask about my novel, I am not so confident that she will be able to hear me. Our condo usually seems like a pretty tranquil place—until the Skype icon pops up and I connect with a call. Then, suddenly, all hell breaks loose.

The upstairs neighbors begin their kitchen bowling league (What else can explain the step, step, thud, rolllllll, clunk, clunk that repeats on loop?). The Hell’s Angels caravan through the alley outside my office window. The ComEd man is banging on a pole with a sledgehammer for no discernible reason. A garbage truck backs up to the dumpster, then slams the lid seven or eight times, just to make sure it’s really closed. A five-alarm fire calls every screeching truck in the city down our street. Our cat Renfield howls for his food, then barfs.

It’s enough to make a Buddhist start breaking all the furniture.

Dear Book Clubs: Now you know why I look a little tense. Fortunately for me, you are patient. Each time, I close the windows; I corral the cat. And somehow we manage, sledgehammers and all, to have a lovely conversation about Louisa May Alcott and Concord, fathers and mothers and daughters, and why we all love Little Women so very much.

Kelly O’Connor McNees is the author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. She lives in Chicago. Can’t get enough of her? Me neither! Check out her website, visit her on Twitter, and read the Deb Ball guest post she did last year when the hardcover version came out!

Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of your very own!

Special note: Deb Eleanor is at the Denver Public Library this weekend – come say hello!

23 Replies to “The Skype Effect with Kelly O’Connor McNees”

  1. I love that authors are skyping in to book clubs now! I first noticed the trend when Deb Kim did it for a group in Texas. I have been skyping for years thanks to a military BFF who taught me when the software was in its infancy.

    I skype so often that my partner installed doors for my office to help diffuse background noise. I also found it helpful to have a LAN connection versus wi-fi.

    Thanks for stopping by! I can’t wait to read your book.

    1. Calling in to book clubs is tons of fun, but Skype is even better. Now if we could just figure out a way to send snacks over Skype…

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by! Your book sounds wonderful!

    I’ve been with the same book club for 10+ years and we’ve had the pleasure of talking with many authors on the phone. We’ve never actually attempted the Skype thing, but we’re going to have to give it a shot soon. Thanks so much for the idea!


    1. Skype does make some things easier, like connecting names and faces I have terrible hearing, too, and Skype seems to help.

      But I just love talking to book clubs, period!

  3. I’m excited about my book club trying Skype as well. We’ve done call-ins several times and it’s worked pretty well. By the way, no need to enter me in the book giveaway. Kelly’s book is wonderful. I read and reviewed it last year. Glad to see such a gorgeous cover on the paperback.

    1. Isn’t it lovely? I thought the hardback was gorgeous, but I adore this one too. Thanks for the comment! Kelly’s on the road, so we’ll see if she has time to come by later!

  4. What a fun blogsite. Just finished “The Weid Sisters”-I enjoyed it and identified in many ways. And am really looking forwward to “The Lost Summer”. You all sound like so much fun. I’ll have to see about setting up Skype for our book club (which sadly has no wine as we meet in a public library.)

    1. Kathy, thank you so much for coming by! I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed The Weird Sisters and hope you like The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott! We’ll announce the winner of the drawing this weekend.

      Lots of authors will do Skype, or phone calls, to book clubs, wine or no wine. It might be fun to have one of them at your library book club!

  5. What a great post! I’m totally intimidated by Skype. It’s the motion lag that bugs me, even though it’s very small. I want it to look as clean as smooth as on the Starship Enterprise, then I’ll be sold!

    1. The motion lag is an issue, but it’s usually pretty good. One of my best friends is in Korea, and while I’d much rather talk to her in person, it’s a great medium in the meantime!

  6. Hi, everybody! Wish I could have been here earlier today for the conversation, but I have been on the road to Kentucky on my way to some book events in TN and GA.

    I agree that Skype can sometimes be a little tricky, especially if the internet connection is not fast. But I am so glad we have it! I cannot tell you how much fun I’ve had talking with groups all over the country. I have to say I was especially jealous of the California ladies on the wine bar patio while I sat shivering in Chicago!

    If any of you have book groups, please get in touch with me through my website. I ‘d love to Skype in to your meeting!

    1. Ha! That’s funny – I have never thought about that.

      Thanks for coming by! We’ll announce the winner of Kelly’s book this weekend!

  7. I think it is pretty cool that authors are willing to Skype into book clubs. I am looking forward to reading The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

  8. Hey Teresa! Calls and Skypes into book clubs are so fun, and let us go places our tour budget and time won’t allow. We’ll announce the winner of Kelly’s book this weekend – it’s great!

  9. I wish I belonged to a book club, do you think I could fake it and just tell authors that no one else showed up.
    I’d love to win this book, and wishing Kelly many happy paperback sales. BTW Kelly your website is just lovely, I loved looking around there.

    1. I love that idea! It certainly wouldn’t be the first time only one person showed up for an event for most of us!

      Isn’t Kelly’s website amazing? I totally modeled mine on hers because it’s so lovely.

  10. I love your idea Anita of scheduling an author chat and telling them no one else turned up. I’m not a member of a bookclub either but this week is making me think that I should definitely get that looked at! I’d love to win this book as the title and cover are just so compelling to a Little Women fan.

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