Giving it away

I have taken a little time out of blogging over the past two weeks, but I have been working hard to get the word out about my books in different venues.

I’m currently running a giveaway for A Deconstructed Heart on Goodreads. It is a great way to drive up exposure for authors. So far, 173 people have signed up and the majority of them have added A Deconstructed Heart to their to-read lists, and I’m only in the 5th day of a month-long drive. I will be sending out two signed copies to the winners in either the UK or the US in mid-May.

It’s my first giveaway and I have to say I am enjoying the process. I did my research and learned some valuable tips before I waded in: I started my giveaway a few days after enrolling my book to take advantage of a surge of interest on the first day of the giveaway. I made sure my start and end dates did not coincide with the end of the month/national holidays. I emphasized that the copies would be autographed with my chicken scratch (because apparently that is desirable.)

I’m also continuing to give out copies to gather reviews: in the next day or so, I will send a few copies of my book to a nascent book club in Canada for the Masala Mommas blog. Last week I sent a copy to the Printers Row Journal, the Books section of the Chicago Tribune, for review. Fingers crossed on both counts.

In the meantime, my book has been chosen for two book clubs in the next few months. I feel very honored to be invited to provoke and/or participate in the conversations about A Deconstructed Heart, and I hope to come away having learned something new about it from different readers’ perspectives.

My heart is telling me to lose myself in a story again, however, and I’m beginning to feel writer’s withdrawal. I feel good about what I’ve been able to do in the last few weeks, but my first love is calling. I have three more stories in mind for The Purana Qila Stories, and then I will take a deep breath and explore options for another novel. I can’t wait.

Where the conversations never stop…

My promotion for A Deconstructed Heart wraps up in a few hours. It has been a fun and eventful week; heavily promoting my book brought me into a round of delightful conversations with readers and fellow authors. Many of my favorite moments were on Twitter: I received a gracious tweet from a sculptor and fellow author in England who thanked me for sharing the book and told me how much she was enjoying it. I had a meaningful exchange with an author about writing about England and deciding, as readers, at what point we give up on a book that has not made a connection with us. I had a lot of fun with the lively ladies at the Thirty Mommy blog, who had chosen A Deconstructed Heart for their book club of the month. It was fun to chat with them in real-time, having cross conversations with multiple people from various cultures. We discussed the role my character Amal plays with regards to being a caretaker for her uncle, Mirza, and how many of us have taken on unexpected family responsibilities in our lives.

I come away from this week with two thoughts: firstly, how art created in isolation ultimately calls for a shared experience, a human connection at the most fundamental level, and is a panacea for the ills of disconnection in modern life. You may not like the art, you may disagree with it, but hopefully, at the very least it has been thought-provoking and engaged you on some level. The only manner in which art can fail is when it has not succeeded in forming a connection with the reader/viewer/beholder.

Secondly, I was struck this week by how the internet, Twitter in particular, reminded me of what I loved about Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children: in his book, every child born at midnight at the time of India’s Partition is given two magical gifts, the first is unique to that child: it might be strength, or the ability to become invisible… the second is the ability to connect telepathically with all other children born at that moment in history… to meet in the rooms of each others’ minds and hang out together. Twitter was that room for me this week.

Here’s to many more conversations about the human experience sparked by a book, a painting, a sculpture, a piece of music. We need that connection because we need one another. As Desmond Tutu said: “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.