This past weekend, I had a book signing at a Kroger store in Little Elm, Texas. My author table was located near the cash registers, so folks would stop with their full grocery carts and chat for a few minutes on their way to the busy check-out lines. Some would buy books and others would wish me well and go on their way.
Around noon, a woman about my age stopped to look at my books. After looking through them both and remarking on the button box on my table, she asked, “Why do you write books like this?”
I was silent for a few beats, not sure whether to be offended or intrigued by her question. No one had ever asked me this particular question before. People have asked how long I’ve been a writer and how I got started writing books, but never “Why do you write books like this?”
I gave her the short answer which was that my books are stories about my own childhood that I want my children and grandchildren to know. However, I’ve been thinking about her question ever since Saturday, so you are going to get the long answer.
All of my books (so far) are based on true stories about events that really happened in my life and are some of my most treasured memories. I think there is value in sharing good and funny and heartwarming memories as stories, especially when they are touching or entertaining.
I also write about people like my grandmother because I want them to be remembered. People die and memories fade and we sometimes forget the essence of who they were. My grandmother adored children and especially her grandchildren, and her kind and constant loving ways made my childhood very special. It is our responsibility to pass on the love from previous generations.
I also want those who are the ages of my children and grandchildren to know about some of the old things like button boxes and canning jars and clotheslines that used to be a part of every household but aren’t so common anymore.
As our world becomes more crowded and land becomes developed, there are fewer and fewer family farms left. I want the generations coming up today to know a little about farm life and what it was like to have to do farm chores like gathering the eggs when one was afraid of the chickens.
There are a lot of children’s books on the market and as a mother of three I read many of them to my children. Just between us…there were times when certain books would come up missing at our house because I just couldn’t read them again and again without my eyes crossing. There are books that children love to read, and then there are books that both children AND parents love to read. My hope is that my books fall into the second category.
Finally, I try to write wholesome books with beautiful illustrations that are pleasant and leave the reader with a feel-good ending and then for added value, some factual information after the stories.
At the end of “The Button Box” is “A Short History Of Buttons” and after Which Came First? I included “Fun Facts About Chickens.” In my new book, “The Day The Turkey Came To School” (coming out this summer) I have “Turkey Trivia” after the story. These additional sections add an interesting and fun piece for both parents and children to enjoy together.
My daughter once said jokingly (I hope) that I couldn’t write “edgy or dark” stories. Oh I could, but I choose not to write that sort of thing. The world can be dark enough and I want my books to be positive and uplifting. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from my readers that “The Button Box” made them go in search of their own family button box or made them tear up as they thought about their grandmother.
One of my favorite stories came from a woman who attended a Texas Button Society weekend event in Waco, Texas. She bought my book, Which Came First? and was reading it in bed in the hotel that night. She said she was laughing so hard while she read it that she woke her roommate who was asleep in the bed next to her!
After I gave the woman in Kroger my short answer, she said, “We need more books like this” and she bought them both.
I write the books I do because I want them to touch people’s hearts and/or their funny bones and give them some special moments with their families.
Thank you to all for your support of my books. It is truly a privilege to be able to write them for you!