Write What You Know: My New Book, Protecting Zarifah, and My Experiences with Shimmy Mob

It is said that you should write what you know.

Most of the time, when I write, the story is completely fictional. Protecting Zarifah, my newest book, is different. I am the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis.

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2011 Shimmy Mob Memphis – our first year, Debra Parmley, team leader, in back, on the left.

Founded in 2011, by Francesca Sabeya Anastasi, Shimmy Mob is an International organization with chapters all over the world. We dance each year on international belly dance day and raise funds for our local domestic abuse shelters and we raise awareness. We dance to the same song, doing the same choreography and wearing the same t-shirts.

Next year will be the tenth year for Shimmy Mob. The Memphis chapter has raised over ten thousand dollars for the shelter through the years. I am proud of my dance sisters who stepped up to help. Together we are stronger. www.shimmymob.com

People often asked me why I signed the city up when I had retired from my troupe and was no longer dancing. I was focused on my first book out in print, and was busy going to book signings with little time to spare. I made time. No one had signed the city up. The clock was ticking. Why did I sign up?

I usually have a four-word answer to that question. Babies with broken bones. Domestic abuse hits the youngest child, to the oldest person. Substitute women for babies or elderly for babies in that four word sentence. Whoever is the victim, domestic violence is wrong. And it needs to stop. I do not want to live in a world where babies have broken bones because a malicious adult injured them or where a caretaker breaks an elderly person. That’s simply not acceptable to me. The work I’ve done with Shimmy Mob is one small way I could help.

dp18342604_10154336006946933_1245593169679268202_n2011- Shimmy Mob Memphis, our first year. Far right, Debra Parmley, team leader. Far left, Brenda Canady, fund raiser chai, Natasha McAllister, Jasmine Shope, choreographer, front row, third from the right, Idy Shope. Cymbeline Rois, assistant team leader back row, second from the left, Emily, Deb Kornrumpf, Barbara, 

That first year we faced a lot of challenges. In 2011 Memphis had tornados, the river rising and flooding. We had to find a place to dance and it was hard. We thought we had a place but then they backed out. No one wanted to let us dance because a Shimmy Mob/flash mob was brand new and other flash mobs had sometimes led to violence. I often thought of the irony as I searched for a place to dance. We were trying to stop domestic violence and couldn’t find a place to dance because others had been violent.

Forty-five dancers signed up from various dance groups in Memphis along with a few dancers from out of town. We started rehearsals but still had nowhere to dance. Last minute permission came from Center City Commission through Dawn Vinson, who would be dancing with us. We would dance downtown outdoors on the trolley line.

Only a fraction of our dancers made it out to dance because of the storms. We had tornados moving in. I could have called it, but staying in touch with the folks putting on Memphis in May concerts down by the river, I decided not to until they did. Bands playing on a metal stage would be called off if it became too dangerous. My oldest son was working the event. He does Tech Theater and works the lights and sound. We were both tuned in to the weather and I was also receiving communications from the City of Memphis official who would tell us if we needed to find cover.

So, we danced. 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. They were too busy covering the storms.

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, Shimmy Mob International honored us for our efforts.

Honoring Shimmy Mob Memphis in 2011

Shimmy Mob Memphis continued to dance each year. Our first year, the funds went directly to the YWCA shelter. I took toiletries, diapers and other items we’d collected to the shelter. There are so many ways to help. At the time it was the only shelter in the tri-state area – not enough for a metropolitan area the size of Memphis. In later years we donated to The Family Safety Center, the first place domestic violence victims can go locally. It is a wonderful place and offers many services.

Things often come full circle in my life. Now I’m retired from team leading, and instead, I’m writing about Shimmy Mob to shine a light and spread awareness.

ProtectingZarifah_Web72International actor and cover model John Antorino is my cover model portraying Navy SEAL “Cutter”.

Zarifah, my heroine in Protecting Zarifah, is an assistant team leader in the first Shimmy Mob event. It is 2011 and they will have to take all the steps to put an event on. First, sign up the city. Second, get the word out to dancers and encourage them to sign up. Third, get the music and choreography and learn it. Fourth, find a place to dance. Fifth, set up donations. Sixth, promote the event. Then dance on Shimmy Mob day. Afterward, turn in money to the shelter. Send video and pics to International Shimmy Mob and share on social media.

Readers will get a glimpse into the world of a real belly dancer, while also reading about a fictional one, who was engaged to the wrong man. When he is arrested for domestic abuse, she is done with him and determined that he will never touch her again. She files a restraining order against him.

Cutter, her new Naval SEAL boyfriend, will be there to protect her if her ex boyfriend comes around again, and when she dances for Shimmy Mob, his protecting services are needed.

Available on Amazon for KU or in print

For more about Debra visit:

www.debraparmley.com

I’m everywhere on social media.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

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

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

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

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debraparmley/

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Writing Blog: https://threadingtheweb.wordpress.com/

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

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/DebraParmleyRomance/featured?view_as=subscriber

Link to my old radio show Book Lights: http://bit.ly/BookLights 

 

 

 

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Celebrating Ten Years as a Published Author and a New Box Set

I am celebrating! This year marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of my first novel in print, A Desperate Journey.

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This is me, holding the first copy of my first book, A Desperate Journey, which came out in March 2009. – Photo by Monica Parks. This was the original book cover.

My western historical romances have been described as “gritty.” The west could be a rough place for a woman, or a man, and I started out writing my first novel, A Desperate Journey, as a western. It started with a challenge. I was attending the Ozark Creative Writers weekend and Dusty Richards, a well-known western author, issued this challenge. “Write your first novel, make it a western and if it wins my contest, my agent will read the full manuscript.” I’d been writing short stories and poetry up to that point, never a full novel and that challenge was too good to pass up.

I sometimes will take a challenge or a bet and when I do, it can be life changing. For instance, I asked my husband out on a date, on a five-dollar bet, back in high school, but that is a story for another day.

Well I wrote that western, set it along the old Chisholm Trail in 1867, and along the way, as I wrote, the story turned into a romance. A Desperate Journey is a blend of romance and western. If you pulled the romance out, there would still be a lot of story. It’s interesting to me that men enjoy reading the story and I think that is one reason.

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This is the new book cover.

Now you might wonder what happened with Dusty’s challenge and the contest. I finished the book by the following year and entered it in the contest. By then Dusty no longer had an agent, but he sat with me and went over the first chapters, giving me advice. I will always be thankful for his advice and his challenge. I revised the book and entered it the next year in a contest that western romance author Bobbi Smith held at the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in St. Louis, where it won third place. Bobbi sat with me afterward and said, “Debra start your story in chapter three.” (I was giving too much back story and not getting to the action soon enough.) I rewrote the story and the next year entered it in the American Title II contest, where it was a finalist. During that contest I signed with an agent and a year later he sold my first book to Samhain Publishing. A Desperate Journey would be in e-book in 2018 and 6 months later be in print in March 2019.

After Samhain published A Desperate Journey, my editor invited me to write a novella. Another western historical romance for a new anthology to follow the first book was a good idea and to meet that call, I wrote Dangerous Ties. This one starts out with the heroine strung up over a mineshaft and the rope is breaking. I’d paid attention to my mentors and started my next story with action. Jumping right in. I thought this would be the first of many westerns with my publisher. But then my new editor turned it down and wanted me to write erotic romance instead. A third book, a contemporary romance I’d written right after I finished A Desperate Journey was turned down next. In the seven years I was with Samhain, I had five editors, but later editors were not as enthusiastic abut my work as my first two, who I’d enjoyed working with.

Dangerous Ties went on to be published by a different publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. But now, writing a third book to connect the two books was going to be impossible. Because different publishing houses held the rights to the two books. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have those rights back, and to have republished both books through Belo Dia Publishing Inc. It has also enabled me to be able to publish a third book to tie them all together. My readers deserve that and it’s exciting to be able to do it the same year I am celebrating of ten years of publishing.

I am celebrating the tenth anniversary with the release of a box set of the three westerns. A new book, Deadly Adversaries brings together the daughter from A Desperate Journey and a son of the couple from Dangerous Ties. The box set, Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection is available now on Amazon.

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Dangerous Ties is also on sale for 99 cents for the e-book up through June 15th. That’s the breaking rope after the mineshaft one, if you just want a nibble of one of my westerns to see if you like them. It’s a quick novella. It is also available in audiobook and in print.

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Deadly Adversaries, the newest of the three westerns is up for pre-order and releases Tuesday May 7th.

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I hope you will join me in celebrating my tenth year. To my readers, thank you for your support and for your love. It has been a wonderful ten years and I look forward to many more and can’t wait to share new books with you.

Over on my Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube channel you will find my First Chapter Reads playlist where I read from the first chapters of my books, and I have many other things there as well. I am always adding new content there. You’ll find the link to that site and many more below.

Check out my books on these book sales pages and read a sample:

Debra’s books on Amazon

Debra’s books on Barnes and Noble

Debra’s Audiobooks on Audible

Debra’s ebooks and audiobooks on itunes

Debra’s books on Kobo

Debra on the web:  www.debraparmley.com

And on social media:

Facebook fan page

Facebook group

Facebook personal page

Goodreads page

Debra on Instagram

Debra on Pinterest

Debra on Twitter

Debra’s Cover Model Corner blog – interviews

Threading the Web – Debra’s Writing Blog

Debra’s Newsletter Sign Up Link

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

Debra Parmley on Book Bub