Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on reaching out to my readers. But outside Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, blogs and book signings, I’m wondering where to go next. Where do authors and readers connect? Online? At book club meetings?
Where do readers want to connect? How do they want to connect? Do they want bookmarks, recipe cards, swag of all sorts? Do they want signed books, personal meetings, interesting tidbits of information gained via newsletters? Maybe connecting isn’t as key as enjoying a good book. Authors write, readers read.
But readers are my lifeblood as an author. I write for myself, but I write for my readers, too, and I want to know what they want, what they care about… I don’t want to waste their time. So I’m asking, as writers, has there been an exceptionally wonderful way you’ve connected with your readers?
And readers, how about you? What would you love to see from your favorite authors? Inquiring minds want to know! At least this inquiring mind, anyway.
When my family gets together, the house is filled with laughter and joy and stories from our past. There’s one particular story which refuses to stay buried. It’s a tale of siblings at their worst and goes something like this:
First, let me introduce the characters in my tale: one very cool sixteen year older brother, fourteen year old Me who could’ve starred in Toby Keith’s song I Wanna Talk About Me, our eleven year old sister who would do anything her older siblings told her to do, and our four year old baby sister, who within the space of one minute could go from cute and cuddly to whiney and annoying as only a four year old child can do.
On a summer day off from school, with our parents away shopping, we played baseball in the backyard. Our baby sister was determined to join in but of course we wouldn’t let her. After much whining and begging, she finally threatened to run away.
With cruel glee, we grabbed mom’s kerchief, filled it with food, found an old broom handle and fashioned a hobo stick. We stuck one end of the stick in our sister’s chubby little hand, threw the other end over her shoulder, then shooshed her out the back gate.
Mad as can be, she stomped up the alley while we laughed and jeered and urged her on. But as she trudged further and further from home, her anger faded and doubts set in. Reaching the end of the alley, she had to make a decision – turn left or right. Continue on or stop.
She stopped. Nearly a full block away from the people she depended on the most, she stood with the hobo stick over her shoulder, alone and sobbing while we laughed at her. Eventually we took pity and brought her home but I think of that little girl now, scared to be so far from home, pushed away by the people she loved most.
Although it’s many years later, we still talk about this childhood moment and remember the laughter mixed with the cruelty. Our baby sister, who now has babies of her own, takes the teasing with grace and a smile – and gives us a jab or two back. Yet she holds no grudges … or perhaps she’s just biding her time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get even with her much older siblings, waiting until we’re in her care and too old to defend ourselves. Yeah, that’s the scenario I imagine, when that little girl finally has the opportunity for some payback.
What was the meanest thing you ever did to your sibling(s)? Or if you were nicer than my siblings and me, then feel free to share your favourite childhood stories from your family crypt.
I have a favourite sister-in-law. She’ll probably tell you she’s my only sister-in-law and while that’s true, I couldn’t ask for a better addition to our family. She’s intelligent – sometimes I need a thesaurus just to keep up to her – and funny and warm and kind.
Theresa is also one of the most creative people I know. Under the label Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts, she uses fabric as the medium to create art, like a painter uses paint or an author uses words.
“When putting together a Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilt, I select a palette for the interplay of colour, texture and pattern scale, cutting the fabrics into squares, pinning and stitching 160 squares to form 80 pockets, weighing fill to stuff the pockets, then closing them to create biscuits … little pillows of puffiness.”
Why has Theresa chosen this labour-intensive craft as her creative outlet?
“There is the joy that flooded over me when I made my first biscuit quilt, more than 30 years ago, which has only intensified since I resumed with Quilt #7 in January of this year. It is the joy of total immersion in what I’m doing. I have so immersed myself in studying fabrics – juxtaposing texture, colour, pattern – that I now see or read their interplay as narrative. And even though each quilt is numbered to reflect its uniqueness, I have discovered it also has a narrative and the story it tells has a name.”
Here’s Theresa to tell you about the stories in her Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts.
“This quilt was made for a little girl I know so the foundation of the color scheme had to be pink. But the personality of the girl was not pastel. My search for fabrics took me to vibrant hues of pink patterned in diamonds and stylized florals. The pink paired itself to intense greens in paisley, stripes and dots. And the quilt came to be named Pink Zinger because the outstanding personality of its owner needed to be matched with a zinger of a quilt.”
“I bought a fabric striped in shades of aqua and red to use as a piping strip. The colors reminded me of the patina of rust or metal oxide and the blood-red intensity associated with truth. Perhaps unpleasant to consider for a baby quilt but as I built the palette and worked with the fabrics, their color variations and patterns revealed a narrative. Truth is always contested and is always dependent on the interests at play in establishing its veracity. “
“I relinquish the solution to this puzzle reluctantly, but it’s fun, so I’ll let you in on the secret. Polka-dotted fabrics comprise the palette–at first glance, that is. What appears to be a teeny-weeny crimson dot on black background is actually an itsy-bitsy crimson diamond! And as with most things, all is not as it appears.”
To view select albums of Theresa’s Baby Biscuit Numbered Quilts, visit her Facebook page.
You may also contact Theresa at email@example.com
Now, take a look around your home or work area. If your favourite fabric could tell us about your personality, what would it say?
Yeah, I’m talking to you over there. You look like a lugger. Front of the room with the rest of us luggers. There’s safety in numbers, you know.
As for the rest of you, I can tell you’re all huggers by the hugfest in the corner. Well, you’re making us luggers twitchy and nervous, so if you could keep your arms to yourself and have a seat, we’ll get started. I’ll wait.
Okay, everyone settled?
My childhood was filled with Sunday family gatherings on the farm. I remember handshakes and ruffles of the hair and chasing after my brother and my four older male cousins. I have no memory of family hugfests or lack of them. In fact, I have no memory of hugs at all.
Sprint forward a few years to my dating years where hugs were a natural part of the dating game. He hugged. I hugged. Maybe we did more but we’re not here to discuss those activities today.
Then I met my future husband. There was nothing unusual about his dating practices, no forewarning that things were about to get very ugly, very fast. We dated, got engaged and even on our wedding day, a happy occasion with everyone hugging everyone else, I failed to foresee the torture about to be inflicted on me.
Alas, I was such a naive young bride. Didn’t know how to separate the white laundry from the red or how to cook a roast. But I digress….
After the wedding, things really started to spiral out of control. We’d visit my husband’s family and friends and they’d greet us with hugs on arrival, hugs on departure, and it seemed, hugs every spare moment in-between.
Yeah, by now you can clearly see that I’m a lugger, not a hugger. I’d rather lug in suitcases or groceries and avoid all the huggy-touchy-feely stuff. Over the years, I’ve learned to plan ahead, coming though the door last, making sure I’m busy with kids or shoes or maybe just checking out a corner of the entryway till the hugs are past and people have moved on. Of course, there are more hugs on departure but I’m ready for that, too. If I can beat my husband to the door, I can be halfway to the car before the hugs start.
But life has a funny way of showing us the important things we’re missing out on. When my parents revealed a past secret and expected a backlash of condemnation, we headed to see them to give them our support. My husband, with his hugfest tendencies, insisted they needed a hug to let them know everything was going to be okay. His suggestion seemed kind of crazy. Just because his family got so much joy out of hugging didn’t mean it would have the same affect on my family. Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures and I decided to heed his advice.
We walked in the door of my parents’ house and I held out my arms. My mom clung to me. My dad clung even harder. Suddenly I understood. The act of the hug didn’t really have anything to do with me. It was all about what I could give in that single moment of physical connection. It was all about showing someone else affection and how much they meant to me.
I admit I’m still a lugger for about fifty percent of the time. But the other fifty percent, I join in and become part of the hugfest, whether it be family or friends or co-workers. Today I can hug them all.
So, are you a hugger or a lugger? What about the other people in your life and how do you deal with those on the opposite side of the fence?