Featured

12 Days of Creepy Elf Party

Have you ever thought there was something creepy about the elf on a shelf watching you?

I have.

These thoughts are what led me to the book idea for To Catch an Elf

and to hosting my first 12 Days of Creepy Elf Party on Facebook four years ago.

We’re in the middle of the elf party this year and its filling up as it always does with silly fun.

Here is the storyline for the party.

First the party begins to populate with party goers and elves and we start to meet them. Then the elves start being a little bit naughty. All seems well.

Oh, but then, they get into the sugar. (Now that is never a good thing because sugar is like crack to these naughty elves. They can’t stay out of it once they start!) As a result their behavior is even more naughty.

They begin to pick on the dogs! The dogs are patient for a while but then they start to fight back – and soon we have an elf and dog war.

Finally the G.I. Joes, little green army men and police arrive to join the fight and restore order.

All is well until the next year, when the trouble starts up again!

Last year, in 2018, here is what happened with the elves at my house:

Before we left for a Caribbean cruise in November, the elves were well behaved and waiting for the elf party to start. I’d been keeping an eye on them and they had not been into any sugar. Here is what my office looked like when I left:

47385928_684711085257267_3790704454316064768_o

But then I was gone for two weeks and they got into my champagne scented candle and threw a party! I came home and it was pandemonium everywhere.

47384271_684714451923597_5234427388397355008_o

I was so glad to ship them off to my sister who is my PA. She is the one who sends out the prizes. I thought all would be well. But then, elf #1, got into a fight in the shipping box, over candy, and arrived broken. My sister patched him up and he lives at her house now. His name is Charmy McJingles, but don’t let his charm fool you. He is quite the instigator.

47577075_684715031923539_6698000072182857728_o

That’s Charmy McJingles, right in the middle of everything, the little instigator.

Here he is, patched up and living at my sister’s house.

78931205_549756099204891_5622118869138145280_o

This year I thought I would be elf free, but while I was on a Caribbean cruise in October, a little elf snuck into my luggage and stowed away home with me. His name is Twinkle McShimmy and I am doing my best to keep an eye on him and keep him away from the sugar. Wish me luck!

He has already tried to sneak off with my newest book, A Triple C Ranch Christmas Wedding, which came out Dec. 3rd, 2019.

IMG_3608.jpg

IMG_3609.jpg

Would you trust this face? I do not believe him when he says, “Who me? I wasn’t doing anything!”

IMG_3611.jpg

Twinkles McShimmy, I am keeping my eye on you! And on my new Kindle and my newest book!

Readers, if you’d like to join in the party which runs from December the 3rd to December the 14th, here is the link.12 Days of Creepy Elf Party 2019

You must be a member of my group Debra’s 12 Days of Creepy Elf Facebook Group to join the private party or  Debra’s Beautiful Daydreamers Group

We have games, prizes, guest authors, and elf shenanigans.

To Catch an Elf, will be out December 22nd and is up for pre-order now

Pre-order To Catch an Elf now!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

 

 

 

 

Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

CheckOutuseAudio

You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

Trapping the ButterflyRevAudio.jpg

I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00016]

The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

Aboardthewishingstar5_audio.jpg

So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

1691396 smallercopy

For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

My Joy Jar

JOY. Such a simple three letter word, and yet, joy is no small thing. In fact it is large and up-lifting. It can raise your spirit and raise your vibrational energy.

Each year I choose a word for the year and that becomes my theme. My word for 2019 is JOY. I chose my word for the year and not long afterward saw on Pinterest where someone was making a joy jar. I loved the idea and had to make one.

What is a JOY Jar? It’s a jar where you collect joys for each day of the year. Here is my JOY Jar.

img_8489 (1)

Making a Joy Jar easy to do. Take a jar. Decorate it if you wish, any way you wish. Write down one of your joys onto a paper and place it in the jar. Do this every day. At the end of the year, open the jar and read all the joys you collected in the Joy Jar in that year.

I headed to meet one of my best friends for a Joy Jar making, 2019 planner day. I’d been looking for stickers which said “Joy” and couldn’t find one in any of the stores I searched. I was on the search for joy and was surprised it wasn’t easier to find. When I arrived at my  best friend’s house and told her I couldn’t find Joy stickers anywhere, she went into the other room and came back holding a red heart she’d knitted for me. Synchronicity. A gift of a joy heart made with love. The perfect thing to glue onto the front of my Joy Jar.

You know how when you buy a new car suddenly you are seeing cars just like it everywhere? Well that is how it has been with me with the word joy. The more I look for joy, the more I find it. The word joy has been popping up at the most unusual times and I’m more aware of my joys each day. What we focus on often increases.

My challenge to you is, make a Joy Jar and start adding to it. See how it enriches your life and keep your eyes and ears on the lookout for joy.

One of my joys is writing. I’ve got seventeen books out now in various genres of romance and will be writing many more to share with my readers. If you follow me this year, you are going to be hearing the word Joy a lot. And if you make a Joy Jar I’d love to see it and hear about your experiences with joy.

Debra Parmley’s Links:

Website: www.debrapamley.com

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

FB personal page: https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/DebraParmley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

Indie Marketing Tip #1, part 2 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot – Glamour Shots vs. Author Headshots

Branding is – always being yourself.

Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.

For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”

DSCF0020

The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing. 

While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.

For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.

Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.

Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.

When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.

– Debra Parmley

Visit my website!

 

 

 

 

Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

debra_and_friends_3_20090828_1040220591

Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

New Books! – Beyond Kindle Worlds

Montana Marine just re-released on July 15th through Twisted Pages Press LLC, Elle James new publishing company!

Protecting Pippa just re-released on July 16th through Aces Press LLC, Susan Stokers new publishing company!

I’m so excited the books are out again and were only down for a day. I’m also excited that they will be available outside the U.S. and there is the option to go to print, which wasn’t possible before.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

My other exciting news is … I have a new book coming out in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors World! Watch for Defensive Instructor on July 24th!

And in August, Split Screen Scream will be out in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha World! So keep watching!

I’ll follow these up with a few books my readers have been patiently waiting for. It’s a busy writing summer! Happy reading!

There are two ways to see and hear the news first. One is to sign up for my newsletter and the other is to join my Facebook Fan Group. Here are the links:

Newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/ZUyC1

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

Website: http://www.debrapamley.com

Re-Releasing Kindle Worlds Books

It has been exactly one month, thirty days to the day I last blogged about Kindle Worlds closing and how authors must adapt and adjust. Today I’m happy to share that Montana Marine, which is in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Twisted Pages Press, Elle’s new publishing house! I’m also excited to share that Protecting Pippa, which is in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Aces Press, Susan’s new publishing house!

The covers will be slightly redone to remove the Kindle Worlds logo and to be fitted in the new templates for each series, but the titles and the cover models poses will remain. I’ve posted them below. The books will come out in ebook first and will be available on Kindle, but print is now an option which would not have been possible with Kindle Worlds. So, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to have the books back out along with some new books.

Then in August I’ll have a new Brotherhood Protectors book, Defensive Instructor, out! And I’ll have a new Special Forces Operation Alpha book, Split Screen Scream out! Now to get this done I have adapted and adjusted again, putting the other books on hold. Those will follow these new releases.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068] Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

Follow me on my website

Adapting and Adjusting is an Author’s Life: Mine Might be Titled “Survivor”

If there was one skill set or one set of tools I would recommend every author carry in their author tool box, it is the ability to adapt and adjust.

I would go so far as to say it is the one set of tools every person needs to survive and to succeed in life. I am blessed to have acquired these abilities or skills and very thankful for them.

If there is one constant in the author world today, or in our modern world today, it is that things change and they often change fast and unexpectedly.

IMG_2970

As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count. I’ll attempt to list the major ones.

I’ve survived many rejection letters, and competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house (Dorchester Publishing) during the American Title II contest. Similar to American Idol, readers voted online and each month two authors were kicked off the island. During that contest, my husband flatlined for three minutes. They were to put a stint in (a simple surgery they said) and he reacted to the dye. I nearly lost him. Three minutes is a long time to flatline. Seeing him on total life support in the operating room (the Dr took me inside without having me gown or wash my hands – the first shock of that before seeing him – and then the nurse saying ‘You can touch him if you want to’) shook my world. Split it in two.

My world split into the before, and the after. When this happened during the contest and my focus moved to sitting by his side in the hospital, instead of asking for votes, my writing world shifted. I had made it to the second round of the contest but was soon “voted off the island.” With all the other authors pushing for votes, I suspect I had very little chance of winning at that point. The before and after of my life pushed my writing career into the background. When life happens we do what we have to do.

This period of time in my life is part sharp focus and part blur. Somewhere during that time I obtained an agent who had been enthusiastically pursing several of us who were competing. Three of us signed with him.

The agent sold my book to Samhain and I survived receiving “the call” for the sale of my first book, while looking at the letter on my desk which would sever the contract with my agent. The list of reasons to split from him had grown too long to ignore. I later learned from my editor that she had never received the last chapter of the book. They bought A Desperate Journey though it was missing the last chapter. They must have liked my writing enough to take a chance on me. I’m still surprised by that. This experience made me gun shy of agents and I didn’t pitch my books to any others. It’s true that no agent is better than a bad agent. The least they can do is submit the full manuscript for you.

I then survived what I call the editor revolving door, as I was passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two of my books before being orphaned at my publishing house. Being orphaned is hard because you no longer have an advocate in house and communications slow til you don’t know what is going on at your publishing house. With no agent, I also had no advocate anywhere. I was going it alone and that is no easy road.

I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed after eight months on hospice. They had done nothing to promote my new book launch. My new book came out, it was release day, and there was no promo beyond what could be done that day at the last minute after my frantic messages.  When I asked where my promo was, I was told my PR person had left the company. She’d left and no one had told me. Though the company tried to make it up to me, the lack of promo did hurt sales. I decided no PR company was better than one who didn’t do what you paid them for. Once again I was going it alone.

I survived being with five publishing houses, juggling deadlines. Not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket so as not to be orphaned with no books coming out again, I tried writing for too many houses. It was a lot to keep up with. It also meant I had many different kinds of stories out there and would not be branding with just one type of romance. I could write what I wanted, and at one house was able to sell on proposal. My publisher said she would publish anything I wrote. That was a far cry from being turned down more than once at my first house as editors revolved. I was riding the roller coaster author life up and down. I learned to adapt and adjust quickly and to write fast to meet deadlines. I often met them by missing sleep. (Not something I advise doing as it will affect your health.)  I was proud of never missing a deadline, a carry over from working at the Collierville Herald newspaper.

Of those five presses, three are no longer in business and one discontinued the line I was writing in. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house. Though the royalties covered that advance, so it’s not like they robbed me, the advance would have helped.

I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down and focus on staying up and staying positive.

Through it all, I survive. Beyond that I am determined to thrive. To succeed. To do what I love and to share my stories with the world. I write because I love to write and I love stories. I protect my writing with a ferocity few realize and which has even surprised my husband at times.

Recent news reminded me it was time to adapt and adjust again. And that is exactly how I see it. Kindle Worlds is closing. We just got the word this week and my email came while I was in the hospital with pancreatitis. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. This affects my writing and publishing schedule for 2018. It affects my today and my tomorrow. The next book was to be out in June. I’m now readjusting my planner and turning to work on a different story.

This is what authors must do if we are not only to survive, but to thrive. Not just on a financial level but on an emotional level as well, for our happiness as writers.

Happiness is important and life is short.

Minutes matter.

How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way?

Change can propel you to better things or it can bog you down. Don’t let it. Adapt and adjust as quickly as you can. The past is the past and needs to remain there. You are in charge of your tomorrows. Make them good ones.

Today I am working on book three which will be in this box set, tying my first two westerns together. Tying them together and wrapping up the past into the future where good things can and will happen. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection containing A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries. Look for it soon.

DDDBundle_Web72

Sometimes you just have to write a monster… or bake one

Sometimes you just have to write a monster … or bake one.

Did you know I have a story with a monster in it? I have one story where a monster appears. Vague Directions has a shape shifting monster. A hamster. Yes that’s right. A hamster. Sometimes my imagination surprises even me. I was writing and a shape shifting hamster monster appeared and went after the heroine. Sometimes when you are writing, thinking you are writing a certain kind of story something will pop up and insist it be written. This is how I ended up with a monster in the short story.

Writing students will often hear me say, you must write things out of you. If something wants to be written, then you must write it. Otherwise it will nag at you while you are trying to write. So, write those monsters out when they pop up. Get them out an onto the page. Then you can go on and write something else. It is best not to bottle things, monsters especially.

We are celebrating everything monsters this month on my social media.

I love cookies and monster cookies especially. The pic above is of the monster brownies I baked last week. I just had to make them. Halloween holiday foods are so much fun and I have two boards on my Pinterest page to collect the pics.

Add Monster Cookie Recipes or Food Recipes in  Author Debra Parmley’s Facebook Page. : https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

We will then add them here: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-cookies/ & https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/monster-foods/

 

Today I’m Dancing For the Broken

Today I’m Dancing For the Broken – My Seventh Year With Shimmy Mob Memphis

Today, Saturday May 13th marks seven years since I founded Shimmy Mob Memphis. I’m proud of all my dance sisters and the work we’ve done to raise founds for our local domestic violence shelter over the years.

People have often asked me why I signed the city up and took on that job the first year even though I had retired from dancing and was focusing on my books and book signings with little extra time to spare. I usually have a four word answer.

Babies with broken bones.

I do not want to live in a world where babies have broken bones because a malicious adult injured them. That’s simply not acceptable to me. The work I’ve done with Shimmy Mob fights that problem and is just one small way I could help. Can you imagine what would happen if we each did one small thing to help? You can by making a donation when we dance.

There were lots of challenges that first year. In 2011 here in Memphis we had tornados and the river rising. No one wanted to let us dance because a Shimmy Mob/flash mob though organized and not mob like at all was brand new and flash mobs in the past had sometimes led to violence. I often thought of the irony of that as I searched for a place to dance. We ended up dancing downtown on the trolly line with the proper permissions in place as the City came through at the last minute, thanks to Dawn Vinson. Forty five dancers had signed up but because of tornados that day only a fraction of that number made it out to dance. We danced in between tornado sirens and watching for tornados but we got the job done and we raised a thousand dollars that first year even though we received no local news coverage for our event. The photographer for the Commercial Appeal called me as we were driving away. He had just missed us. I thought we had been a small voice that few heard, but even a small voice can help. Even a small voice can speak up. That too is an important part of fighting domestic violence and an important example to set. Later, we were honored by Shimmy Mob International for our efforts.

Honoring Shimmy Mob Memphis in 2011

Since then we have gone on to dance each year to raise funds. Our first year the funds went directly to the YWCA shelter and I took toiletries and diapers which we’d collected to the shelter. At the time I was told it was the only shelter in the tri-state area – which is not enough for a metropolitan area this size. Now here we are in our seventh year and we now collect for The Family Safety Center which is the first place domestic violence victims can go. It is a wonderful place and offers many services.

Things often come full circle, at least they do in my life. Last year I wasn’t able to dance because I’d fractured my talus bone (ankle) in half. (Not domestic violence. Before you jump to any conclusions here. In fact my husband was out of town at the time.) I’d stepped off two steps as if it were one, rolled my ankle and landed on the ankle bone on concrete. I was in a boot for several months. So dancing of course was out. This year I am dancing, though I’m wearing an orthopedic ankle brace and have to put a medicated cream on my foot. It’s nothing anyone would pay to see, I’m slow on the turns and have to modify many things and if the dance were about me or about that I’d sit it out. But it’s not. It’s about dancing with my dance sisters all over the world on the one day a year we come together to raise funds for our local domestic abuse shelters. It’s about dancing for the broken women and children (and yes men too) who cannot dance.

How can you help? Today we are dancing from 5:30 to 7:30 at Overton Square in midtown Memphis, TN and will be taking donations there for the Family Safety Center. We have two Facebook event pages:

Shimmy Mob Dances Today!

Shimmy Mob Dances at Overton Square Tonight!

There will be other appearances throughout the year as our team leader schedules them and you can keep up with us at Shimmy Mob Memphis on Facebook