The Take-Away

I was invited to be on the Author’s Panel at the
Women’s Expo at Saginaw Valley State University recently. The moderator asked
interesting questions, one of which was, “What do you want your readers
to take away from your book?” Now, the other three authors had written
motivational/inspirational books and each gave an answer that was, well, either
motivational or inspirational. As they answered, my mind raced trying to find a
pithy response about my historical romance.  The stories each author related were moving.  Feeling a bit substandard, I simply began to
discuss what I hoped my readers would take away from reading Love’s Destiny.

I talked about romance as a satisfying escape since “happily
ever after” is part of the deal. I talked about the added interest of
historical context in my genre and how readers can imagine love in the
romanticized eras of long ago. And then I felt something happen within and I
began to talk as ideas seemed to form on my tongue, unedited, unplanned and
unbidden. And I talked about how each reader brings her own experience to any
book she reads.  Nodding to the authors
on either side of me, I said, “Mary Ellen will take away something different
than Beth because each brings her own life experience to the book. One may
relate to a particular character, while a certain scene or plot strand may
speak to the other.”

I used to teach my students about this all of the
time, and a perfect example is when we read the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. In it, she goes undercover to see
if she can survive on minimum wage jobs and relates the plight of the working
poor. Student response to this book covered the entire spectrum from the student
who was insulted and told the class, “We treat our maid very well,” to several
students who told me about similar situations that their parents were dealing
with.  The best response, however, was
Taylor’s.  She came into class one day
waving a Sharing Tree tag and said, “All this family wants for Christmas is
groceries. Can you imagine that? Wanting groceries for Christmas?” She then
proceeded to organize several bake sales out of our 6th hour class
and raised about $500 dollars. We split it up among a few needy families. What
Taylor took away from the book was amazing, and very different from the other

Now I realize that reading Love’s Destiny will neither change the world nor move someone to
incredible acts of kindness like Taylor’s. 
It is what it is—a romance novel. My wish is that what readers will take
away is some connection to their lives, some sense of hope, of promise, of
belief that love can overcome many obstacles. My wish is that they will come
away relaxed and refreshed after a satisfying read, and perhaps feel renewed
and ready to take on life’s challenges. Many readers have commented on people
they know who resemble my characters, and that is a great compliment. Whatever
you bring to Love’s Destiny, I hope
you take away something meaningful to your life.

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