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Registered: ‎07-08-2009

A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Readers,


I'm having trouble getting past the opening salutation: Dear Readers. Readers. Reading my galley.  You are the first readers, apart from my family, peers and a few people in the publishing world, to see my novel.


It is a real honor to be invited to participate in the First Look Book club. I've read many of the Barnes and Noble posts of previous club members and am struck by the careful consideration and insights of all involved. This is a knowledgeable, avid, passionate group of readers. Admittedly, I am nervous as well. For the last three years, the story has existed solely for me and now I am about to share it.


I am also aware that from this point on, I will never know the whereabouts of my story. The act of reading is such a private undertaking. I am also a filmmaker and have been in theatres for my screenings and watched the faces of the audience-held my breath to hear the laughter or the tears, hoped for applause, covertly listened to the comments as the theatre emptied. But now with the novel, I won't see your faces.


Will the characters reach across the page to you? Where will their story travel? What city, town, house, apartment? Will the galley be beside the bed on a nightstand, on the floor by the tub, perched on a side table, or accompanying you on the bus? Will the dishes pile up; sleep be neglected; will you push through a few more pages even though the bath water has gone cold? I won't know what time of day or night the pages are turned.  Or at which chapter the bookmark is placed or a page corner folded down. Will you ponder the characters as you brush your teeth? Or inundate your partner with details of your day's reading? Will the story follow you into your dreams? This is the unknown of creating.


Now the story exists not for me, the writer, but for you the readers. You will be the ones conjuring my characters to life. I am left to imagine them playing their stories out for you over and over again. Starting and ending. Starting again. For some, the telling will be slow and contemplative. For others, a wild, unfettered gallop. Perhaps, there will be a moment when you will all be reading the same lines. A perfect convergence for a fraction of time when a solitary act becomes communal before the story veers away again to follow its reader. It is a wonderful image. The act of creating is now complete.


Thank you for being the first to look.


Shandi Mitchell

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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Ms Mitchell.

Thank you for your toughtful note.   I havn't started reading my book yet as I do not want to get too far ahead of the discussion.   I have high expectations for your story though.  It is interesting to realize that you would also be nervious about reader reaction to your work.  I am looking forward to the upcoming discussions.


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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Thank you Ms Mitchell for allowing the first look readers to read you book a head of time. I have started reading it but I will be pacing myself.
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Ms. Mitchell:


Thank you for an insightful message.  I haven't started your book yet however I plan on taking it on vacation next week and reading on the beach.  Can't wait to read the story as the characters have already drawn me into their history.


As a first timer in the First Look Group, I've already been amazed at the group of bibliophiles here and looking forward to sharing insights about your book!  Thank you for sharing this galley with us and Happy Reading!:smileyvery-happy:

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Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Ms. Mitchell,

Thank you for sharing what you as a writer feels when sharing their work with us as a group of readers. Having been a part of previous FL book discussions, I know how thoughtful, insightful and supportive this group of readers are.  I haven't started your book yet, since I don't want to get too far ahead of the schedule (based on some of the comments already, I may read right through once I get started).  I look forward to your joining our discussion later in the schedule.


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Registered: ‎05-04-2009
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Ms. Mitchell:


Thank you for the opportunity to read your galley.  It's always interesting to know how the author feels about letting her "baby" go and the accompanying anxiety.  I look forward to bringing the characters into my life.

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Thank you Ms. Mitchell, well one thing I know from reading your post is that I really like your writing style and I haven't opened the book yet because I want to read according to the schedule.

It's nice to be let inside of your personal feelings like that to know that you're conscience of the fact that we here in the group take our responsibility seriously because you are giving us your heart and soul to read and discuss and that can't be easy for any author.

I can't wait to start reading. 

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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Thank you Ms Mitchell for opening up your thoughts on paper for us.  That must be a little scary, but also exciting to share this story.  I am still waiting for my book to arrive.
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Ms Mitchell


Thank you for your note... I have started reading UTUS; I'm already gripped by the story and your characters.


I feel honored to be part of this creative process...  making your story and characters come alive for me.


My ARC is right on my music stand, behind voluminous sheets of music; I'm a violinist and my days are spent in hours and hours of rehearsals... There are gaps of free time when other sections of the symphony orchestra practice their parts. When I have a hour or so of free time, I grab your book and sneak in a chapter or two.


My fellow musicians are beginning to be curious about your book, and I update the story to them between breaks. Many are interested in getting the book for themselves when it's finally published in the US.


I refuse to lend anyone my ARCs. 


I'm looking forward to sharing your insights with other readers. 



"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Hi, Shandi! Welcome to First Look and thank you for sharing your book with us. It is always exciting for me to get a new book, and FL books more so as they aren't even out there yet. While you may be a little nervous, please know that we are a kind-hearted group that sometimes asks tough questions, but is always appreciative of the time and energy authors put in. Thank you for joining us on this grand adventure and I hope you have at least half as much fun as we do!  :smileywink:


DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Ms. Mitchell


Thank you so much for sharing your novel with us in the First Look Book Club.  I participated in the previous FL and loved the experience of reading the same book along with many other people and comparing notes on what we thought of the book.


I haven't started quite yet because I'd like to keep to the discussion schedule.  If your note to us is any indication of your writing style I'm going to have a hard time doing that.  

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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be first readers of your book!  I just received my copy today and I am already drawn will be hard to stay on schedule!



Michele M.
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group


Thanks for your well stated opening comments.  If your gift of language as seen in the book is equal to your thoughtful introduction, we are in for a real treat.  Can't wait!


Jane M.
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

[ Edited ]

Thank you for participating in our First Look club. I have begun the book and I find that although I am only a few chapters in, I am hesitant to put it down. I usually follow the reading schedule but I am not sure I will be able to this time. My books travel with me in the car, the bedroom, the bathtub, the train, the treadmill, the hair salon etc. Literally, I love my books and cannot separate from them. I like to have them at the ready whenever I have a moment to enter their worlds.
In Mr. Burnham's introduction to the reader, he mentions that you have drawn on your own family history in the writing of this book. I hope you will discuss this more fullly with us as we begin to interact. I would especially like to learn more about your grandfather's secret!
I look forward to continued reading!
Message Edited by thewanderingjew on 07-20-2009 04:45 PM
Inspired Wordsmith
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Welcome and thank you for sharing your book with us! I look forward to reading it. I plan to read the initial selection the weekend before the discussion starts - this way I will stay on schedule and not have the fear of posting spoilers.



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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Hello and welcome to the First Look group.  I look forward to reading your book and cannot wait until my copy arrives. 



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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

[ Edited ]

This is my very first First Look book, and I just couldn't wait to start it. I'm holding myself back to a chapter a day, and the first three have gone by so quickly! I'm also reading "My Antonia" by Willa Cather, and your book reminds me of it in some ways. I live in East Tennessee, and both books are showing me times and places (and the struggles of the people who inhabited them) I have very little knowledge of.


Your book is in my reading basket beside my bed. I read in bed with my dog snuggled in beside me every night, and in nice weather (here that means temperatures lower than the 90s and low humidity), we go sit in the back yard and read. (Well, he herds birds, then comes back to me looking very proud of himself, get praised for saving me from those evil robins, plops down beside my chair, and I pet him with one hand while I hold the book with another.)


As another poster said,  I do hope you'll tell us more about how your grandfather's secret influenced your book. I didn't learn about some of my grandparents' secrets until I was well into adulthood and they were gone. It helps you understand what made them who they were.

Message Edited by Sheltiemama on 07-20-2009 05:57 PM
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎10-26-2008

Re: A Note to the First Look Group



I want to thank you for allowing us to read your book in our first look club. It may be an honor for you to participate in the first look, but it is more of an honor for us to have the chance to read your book before the general public can. I would love to let you know the whereabouts of your story with me, because I read that you feel you will never know where it will be. I live in sunny Miami, Florida and right now it is hurricane season (with none yet thank god). I usually read before going to bed, so my book will be living on my night stand, and it will be that last thing that I read before falling asleep. I cannot tell you if I will have a sleepless night of reading yet because I have not been able to begin the book. I usually read 1 to 2 chapters a night, so you will have an idea of where by bookmark will be. I never fold the corners of book pages because I feel that I am vandalizing it. I cannot even make a note mark in the book, and I hate it when the corners of the cover curl up. With me, your book will be in perfect condition because I treat all of my books as if they were the last ones on earth. I will try my hardest to let you know how every step of the book goes with me so you can know the whereabouts of at least one book. I am excited to begin, and look forward to seeing you in our discussion.

"I ought, therefore I can"
-Immanuel Kant
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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Dear Ms. Mitchell,


I am a believer in signs though I have no idea where they could possibly originate. Having watched the UPS truck pass several times recently, I was disappointed that the young man didn't stop in front of my house. But now I understand; it is important for me to start reading your book on my way to Canada. I'll be in Victoria next week; will visit The Butchart Gardens, the BC Museum and Munro's Books; will read, in the evenings, "Under This Unbroken Sky."


I am a big ponderer of characters (minus my toothbrush,) a slow reader with pen in hand, adding my question marks and exclamation points to your white space. At times a sentence might shift my mood or a paragraph might induce a frantic search for more; a phrase becomes a guideline. Reading becomes recognition. I am looking forward to your novel.

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Re: A Note to the First Look Group

Hi Shandi! Thanks so much for letting us be the first group of readers to read your book. This is a great club to belong to. Everyone here is really friendly and they all have different perspectives of what they've read, really making you open your eyes and seeing something you've read in a new light. My book arrived on Friday and already it has traveled with me in my car, to the bathtub and out to my swing in the backyard. Thanks for joining us here; can't wait for discussions to begin!