Friday, January 24, 2020

How Readers Relate to Fiction


As a writer, I don’t always receive feedback and often wonder how readers relate to my fiction. Sandra Murphy sent me this article inspired by one of my published short stories. I’d like to share it with you. 

Georgia Drake Conrad lives with dogs, cats, orphaned kittens, and one husband in Virginia. She has a big and generous heart for all animals. This is her response.

I recently read “Touch Not the Cat” in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy. I enjoyed the story as it had things I love—cats and mystery. As I read, I realized the man in the story has a similar problem to what I face quite often—helping cats without collecting them. His heart was in the right place. Trying to help the cats in need, his inability to find homes and adopt them out, inadvertently led to him being charged with murder.

I am an orphan kitten bottle baby foster—quite a mouthful. I volunteer for a local rescue in Suffolk, Virginia, SymbioticInc.org, and take in babies that would not survive after losing their mothers if not for bottle baby fosters.

I grow very attached to them each and every time. I cry when they leave—both tears of sadness and of joy. What the man in the story failed to do was put the best interest of the cats ahead of his own wants. The point of fostering is to find the best match possible for the animal and that is not always the foster home. It is difficult to say goodbye, but so rewarding to know you helped save a life and gave them a new start. By letting go, you don’t become overwhelmed with animals, which isn’t good for them or you, and you make room for new ones that always need you in the future.

Fostering orphans is a little different than regular fostering and I’ve done both. Many newborns are sick when they come in. You administer medications and monitor them constantly. They are very fragile the first few weeks. With newborn babies, you have to get up every 2 hours for around the clock feedings. This eventually spreads out and they get on solid foods, but the first few weeks are tough on sleep.

They also do not know how to *cat*. Since they don’t have their mother to help teach them socialization, which is extremely crucial to their future, it is up to the foster to help them learn. I have cats of my own and once the kittens are health cleared, I let them around the big cats, who help teach them cat stuff.

You can’t help but fall in love with the babies. If you love animals, it’s inevitable. When I feel myself weaken, I will remind myself of the man in the story and while I won’t promise no tears, I will happily hand the babies over to their new forever homes and make room for the next crew.


Your thoughts and comments welcome!

25 comments:

  1. Wow! Isn't it always wonderful to know how your fiction impacts readers?!
    I know how much this means to me.
    Great post, Jacqueline.
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I rarely get feedback and do appreciate it.

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  2. That's a delightful surprise in the life of a writer--a letter from a reader. Thanks for sharing that, Jacquie.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      My thanks to Sandra Murphy for sending this to me.

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  3. Ladies,
    Two comments really: (1) While reviews can tell authors a lot about what impact their fiction has, those personal emails can mean a lot too. (2) As a cat lover, I should put more of them in my fiction!
    I've adopted two cats in my adult life. Voltaire, my Colombian cat, would sit on my shoulder and watch me prepare my math and physics lectures. His philosophy could best be summarized by "no mouse in my house!" (He was an excellent mouser.) The second adoption might be considered more of a kidnapping. Our neighbor's cat Cloudy always seemed lonely (his humans were rarely home), so we often invited him in for some TLC that he always returned in spades.
    I can't go to animal shelters. My heart goes out to all the forlorn creatures, cats and dogs, but we just can't take them all in. How do you decide the one? I can't.
    r/Steve

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    1. One of my daughters-in-law truly loved her cat, Desi. So Desi ended up as a character in the story. Animals can inspire writers.

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    2. Wanda Baham SturrockJanuary 26, 2020 at 1:44 PM

      I agree with Steven. My most treasured comment came by way of a personal email. The reader said, “I am thankful for the gift God has given you to write so others can lose themselves in their own memories as they read your books.” Made me cry.

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    3. Wanda,

      That is a lovely comment and very meaningful.

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  4. This is why I couldn't foster. I'd fall in love with every one of the babies and soon be known as a hoarder.
    It's bad enough with my TNR group. I've already adopted four of them. Fortunately, my husband says that's enough inside. However, he gets attached to them, too.

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  5. Wonderful to hear a positive reply from a reader, and so unexpected.

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  6. Such an interesting experience for you, Jacquie. I love hearing from readers. This one to you is extra special in so many ways. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Jan. It was lovely to receive this article.

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  7. Such a delightful and informative article. My best friend and her husband are cat foster parents, which is why they now have three cats. *smile*

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  8. Feedback from readers is my absolute favorite part of writing. The cat fostering story reminds me of a fostered baby cheetah I met a few years ago. Sylvester was completely tame. He even let me pet him between the eyes. Cheetahs hunt instinctively, but they learn to kill only from their mothers, and since his mother died when he was a small kitten, he could never have survived in the wild. I'm more of a dog person, but I have a lot of respect and admiration for Sylvester. Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

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    1. Saralyn,

      So interesting about the tame cheetah. Not what I would have expected.

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  9. So often we write in the dark and send our stories out into the world without much or any feedback. So it's really nice that you got such terrific feedback on your story.

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    1. Thank you, Paul. You're right. We never know how readers will respond.

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  10. How wonderful to get feedback like that. From what I gathered, your story not only entertained her, it also has strengthened her resolve to send the kittens she fosters on to new homes.

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    1. Stories are always open to the interpretation of the individual reader. I think that's what makes them interesting.

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