Belo Dia Publishing

Perhaps you have noted it’s been a while since I posted to this blog. To say I have been busy would be an understatement. 2015 saw me with five publishers and multiple deadlines to meet. Much has changed since then. I am now a hybrid author with my own small boutique press and I am still with two other publishers.

The name of my new press is Belo Dia Publishing. Belo Dia is Beautiful Day in Portuguese. Debra Logo cmyk

If you hang out with me long enough eventually you will hear me say this, “Every day we are alive is a beautiful day.” This belief permeates every cell of my being.

At Belo Dia, we aim to publish books which uplift and celebrate each beautiful day we are here on this earth together. Currently we are publishing romance and poetry.

I love the new logo. It expresses everything I wanted in a logo. The sun rising up above the green hills, rising out of the pages of the books we publish, with the solid core of the publishing house beneath.

The first part of 2016 I spent re-publishing all the back list books I had reversion of rights for. They are out now in both print and in ebook with new covers. Moving on to publish new works, I have two new works out and am working on a third. One goal I have for 2016 is to publish my back list books in audio, an option I did not have before when they were with other publishers. The future is bright here at Belo Dia where every day is a beautiful day.

On Drive, Writing and Achieving Goals

I have drive. When it come to my books, my writing career, I have drive.

My husband calls it tunnel vision and perhaps it could be called that too, because when I am that focused on the goal, it is an extreme focus which fades things in the periphery of my vision. But whatever one chooses to call it,  it have it and when I am that focused I will not be redirected elsewhere, by anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances. I call it drive.

debra_and_friends_3_20090828_1040220591

I have drive. This has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved in my writing career so far to this date. No matter what has happened to me and to my books I keep pushing forward. Set backs happen. I have to get up, dust myself off and start again. I have to adapt and adjust. This is not to say I have not had those nights when it seemed impossible to get up and do it again and to start over. This is not to say I have not had nights when I cried bitter tears of frustration and sadness and loss and felt like giving up. I have had such dark nights and gotten through them, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of a friend. But I have gotten through them. I get up, dust myself off and I begin again. Because I have drive.

When students who are serious about their writing ask me what it takes to get published (usually they mean with a publisher not self publishing which nearly anyone can do these days if they apply themselves) I tell them the things they must know to get published and I teach them the skills and pass along the information they will need to achieve that. But that drive, that is the one thing I cannot give them or teach them. Drive comes from within. I can motivate. I can ask them how bad do they want it. I can ask them any number of questions which will motivate them, but it still has to come from within. They need that inner fire. That drive.

Drive accepts no excuses. It does not care what is going in in your life. It does not care if you are tired. It does not care about anything other than achieving that goal. Drive is unstoppable, unrelenting, ruthless. If you have ever once tasted drive within yourself you will know this will be true. You will understand what I am speaking of.

I have drive. Sometimes this means I drive myself too hard, too fast and for too long. I am often too hard on myself. Often this means I will crash and crash hard. Just last night I had such a crash. I had been driving myself too hard, living on fours hours of sleep, pushing hard to get books out with rights reversions back from three publishers and many books to get out under my new publishing company/private label and an all day book event yesterday where I needed to have books ready to sign. I had been pushing myself hard for about a month, and pushing the month before, not as hard but pushing. So when I came home from the book event last night I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for twelve hours straight. Then I got up and four hours later napped for an hour. I had reached a point of exhaustion and my body said, enough.

This is what drive can do. So when you have it to the degree that I have, it is important to learn to manage it, to control it. To find some sort of balance between allowing that drive to fill you to the point where you push on through to your goals and between reigning it in so you can rest and recharge and be ready to push on through the next day. Often when I have a set back in my writing career, after the dark night of drying those tears, I get back up with a fierce sort of drive which pushes me hard. It is my way of fighting back against the twists of fate the publishing life throws at me. It is that fierce determination which doesn’t listen. It is the dark side of drive or tunnel vision because it does not listen.

What follows a crash and burn with me is a quiet, a silence. A time of evaluation. Of assessment and of looking all around and listening. The drive is sated then, quiet. Not gone, just quiet and still enough that it waits until I need it again.

Drive is something that allows us to achieve our goals and sometimes achieve things we had never dreamed of. I believe it is a necessary part of achieving a successful writing career and of achieving any sort of dream. I am thankful to have it and would not want to be any other way than I am. Writing is not a hobby for me. Never has been and never will be. I have the drive which will take me there. The part I must learn is to balance that drive and to live a more healthy lifestyle. That is the challenge that I see. Typing these words my next thought is, challenge, now you have set the challenge. And this… this is the beginning of setting any sort of goal for which you will need drive.

Oh yes. I have this drive. It just needs some direction, a goal to point it to.

I have drive.

Shimmy Mob Memphis 2015 – How Threads Tie Us Together All Around the World

Shimmy Mob Memphis – How Threads Tie Us Together All Around The World

11050132_1837531089805282_8179706591130878481_n

Shimmy Mob. This year marks our 5th year.

What is Shimmy Mob?

Shimmy Mob is an event created 5 years ago by Sabeya, also known as Francesca Sabeya Anastasi, an international dance instructor, choreographer and performer based in Canada. In her words, “Shimmy Mob is a choreographed and planned “Flash Mob” type event, aimed to be the largest event of its kind by having a huge geographical territory covered in one day to raise funds for local shelters protecting women and children.”

We dance in cities all around the world on world belly dance day to the same music and choreography wearing Shimmy Mob t-shirts. Proceeds go to our local domestic abuse shelters.

This year marks our 5th year with 181 cities and 2,3870 dancers around the world. I am the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis and I am proud of the work our local group has done to help the victims of domestic violence in our city as well as the work of my dance sisters all across our beautiful earth.

Let me tell you a little about domestic violence here where I live.

Domestic violence rates for Memphis and Tennessee are high. Rates of domestic violence are higher in Tennessee than in many other states. Georgia reports 602 incidents per 100,000 and Tennessee’s rate 1,323 per 100,000 is 120% greater. In Memphis the rate of domestic violence is higher than that of many other TN cities. 2,949 per 100,000 compared to 2,015 for Nashville. Compared to statewide trends Memphians involved in domestic violence then to be younger. Across TN victims as well as offenders tend to be between 24 and 44; in Memphis both are more likely to be between 18 and 34 years of age.

The Memphis YWCA shelter is a 27-bed shelter that provides the only 24 hr 7 day a week emergency shelter to abused women and their children. 901- 725-4277.

When I formed Shimmy Mob Memphis, the shelter was the only one in the area. Only the worst cases could get in and there was great need.

As founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis I worked with the director of the shelter. I have been to its location many times delivering donations. Few people know the location for safety reasons. The building has tight security; you must call ahead and be buzzed in. There is an enclosed porch, the only place to be in the fresh air while they are in hiding. The children play on that porch. Often the shelter was full. For the first few years our fundraising efforts went directly to support the shelter.

14976_4263632156079_2040847321_n

When I signed up to be team leader for Shimmy Mob Memphis that first year, I was motivated by the desire to help and to give. I had no idea how much the experience would give back to me. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life and one of my greatest challenges.

In 2011 I signed our city up and we had little time to get ready. No one had heard of Shimmy Mob. Within a short period of time I had 35 dancers signed up and two assistant team leaders, Brenda Canady and Cymbeline Rois. We had 25 days to learn the choreography and find a location. We had to learn the dance from a video. A dance that merged three styles, which meant new moves for many of the dancers. It wasn’t an easy choreography. I thought finding a location was the largest challenge. Our first venue fell through. There had been a destructive flash mob at the Wolfchase Mall and no one was willing take a chance on an unknown group despite our purpose. Then Center City Commission came through and allowed us to dance downtown on the trolley line.

I did not know when I signed up for this job that adapt and adjust would become my mantra. None could have predicted Memphis would battle flooding with the Mississippi River rising, or the many tornados, which ran through our city. That month was one challenge after another. Many of my dancers were having difficulties with flooding, trees from tornados falling on ones house and another’s car. We pressed on through. The big day came. So did the tornadoes.

On May 1st, we gathered on the Mid America Mall on the corner of Main Street and Peabody to perform the dance and heighten awareness of issues while raising funds.

Today if you go to ShimmyMob.com you will see our Memphis team was the honored city for persevering and pushing on through. You can also find video from our event Here on the acknowledgements page. 

What you won’t see or hear are the multiple starts and stops, the tornado sirens and the many times we moved back beneath shelter to get out of the rain. It took several attempts to get all the way through a dance, which was less than five minutes. We didn’t give up. We were tenacious. We kept on until we got the job done.

As I drove away, my phone rang. It was the photographer from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wanting to know if he’d missed us. He had because of the tornados and other extreme stories the news media was following. Not one reporter was there to take notice of what we’d done and report it to our fellow Memphians. They did not run a story. We were a small blip which didn’t even show on the news radar that day, as they passed us by for bigger stories.

There were over a dozen lightning rods dancing in downtown Memphis that day dancing in between tornados though few were there to see us and I am proud to call them my Shimmy Mob sisters.

Our efforts did not go unnoticed. Sabeya of international shimmy mob, acknowledged Shimmy Mob Memphis by awarding us honorable mention for enduring perseverance in the face of danger and potential harm. None of what we did was reported by local news and only a handful of people showed up to see us dance. Sabeya gave us special recognition but locally things remained silent. Still we raised $1,00.00 and this helped the shelter have the air conditioning fixed in the heat of summer. Imagine staying in a building where you can’t go outside and open windows because that wouldn’t be safe for you or your children. Often there has been great need for one thing or another and Shimmy Mob Memphis has helped with our donations.

577695_10150770172051933_302522366_n561377_10150777988076933_637193598_n

What I learned from my experiences leading this event in 2011 goes beyond what I can put fully into words. I learned about being tenacious, how to adapt and adjust sometimes quickly and somewhat frequently. I learned how people will rise to a challenge if you ask the best of them, if you encourage them. I learned it is not our difficulties that define our experiences but how we respond to those difficulties. I learned how deep people can reach into their hearts and their wallets to help people who aren’t currently able to help themselves. These are lessons to carry for a lifetime.

20394_10206499565949733_8719793638596960716_n

When I think of all the woman and children that benefit and how this event unites us with our sisters all around the world, it makes my heart glad. We are in our fifth year now and I m proud of my Shimmy Mob Sisters and the work they do to continue this program. After last year I stepped down officially retiring from organizing to focus on my books, but I will return each year to dance with my sisters and support the cause in other smaller ways.

group1may2014-057

What has this to do with threads? Why did I start this article talking about threads that connect us? It is because each year when I dance, I feel those invisible threads and that connection. Knowing that my dance sisters who do not speak the same language as I do are dancing in their neighborhoods to the same music, the same choreographies and for the same reasons and cause connects us in a way I cannot put into words. Each year when I dance, I feel these threads and goose bumps spread. It is a feeling beyond words. We share these threads without words, through the music, through the dance, through the hearts united in a cause. Through our loving and our giving. These are the threads that connect us.

We danced on May the 9th and we are continuing to accept donations.10009278_1837531029805288_5074710928209866596_n 11010568_10155575787445241_4161924435831333338_n

Often when there are issues and problems there are discussions of how to combat or to correct the problems. Sometimes a discussion of domestic abuse focuses on the woman (or man) being abused and why she should leave and why she doesn’t. Judgments place blame and find fault but do nothing toward solutions. To that discussion I have one response.

Babies with broken bones.

I do not wish to live in a world where babies have broken bones because we as a society have failed to protect them.

One in ten children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence and the majority are under 6 yrs old. Often the women feel they have nowhere to go, nowhere safe.

So what can we do about that? What can you do about that? You can help.

You can donate today at our You Caring link Here.

100% of the proceeds go directly to The Family Safety Center and are tax deductable.

Together we can make a difference.

If you have trouble with the link and finding how to donate, go to YouCaring.com then in the box in the top right type in shimmy mob Memphis.

My infinite love and gratitude to all those who have donated time and money, heart and soul to supporting this cause.

Here is one of the videos from this year and you can find many others from the past five years on my Youtube page.  Enjoy!

 

 

Friday Poem – Trust

Trust

Last night the deer were in my yard again.

Seven of them, pausing to look up

as I moved out onto the deck

with a quiet step, a slow smile.

They watched, still, before leaning down to eat again –

And this is what I know of trust –

It comes ever so slow, nearer

until what lies behind our eyes

may meet in the dusky air of evening

as cars race down the road behind us

and sirens ring in the distance.

These moments shared, noted

by no other souls than our own

linger in the air like the chime

which rings once, before

it is silent.

And though we turn back

to what we were doing

the connection holds

like an invisible thread

strong as a spider’s web

and just as easily missed by others.

But oh, how it may catch the light

To shimmer beneath the silvered moon

in the dark of night.

– by Debra Parmley
published in Twilight Dips http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Dips-Debra-Parmley-ebook/dp/B00DQAG2AS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407361475&sr=8-1&keywords=twilight+dips

Threading the Web – Word of the Day – Obsession

Tonight at my Toastmasters group, the word of the day was obsession.

Merriam Webster defines obsession as:

: a state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently especially in a way that is not normal

: someone or something that a person thinks about constantly or frequently

: an activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing

Often we view the word obsession in a bad way, but let’s look at that third section in Merriam Webster’s definition. An activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing.

Obsessions are those things we are drawn to again and again. These are things we can write about and if you start writing about your obsessions, the writing can get very juicy. The flow could become more like a waterfall and less like a trickle.

The things that call to you, the things that drive you, the things you return to again and again, these are worth writing about.

What do you love?

What is the thing you can never walk away from?

What is the subject of the book you wouldn’t want to put down? The subject you could spend hours watching documentaries about?

What do you collect?

What are your hobbies?

What do you spend your spare time doing? What do you like to do on your vacations?

What are your obsessions?

Start writing about them. Let them trickle into your work. Share the hours of accumulated knowledge on the page so others can learn from and enjoy your obsessions too.

What are you waiting for? Start now. Pick an obsession, start writing and see how juicy your writing can be.

Wednesday Poem – Drought

Drought

The garden is crying out for rain,
my flowers drooping in the summer sun,
distressed and needing tenderness and care.
When I am in distress, I find
you quietly listening
as you read between the lines
in a way which no one else can do
and this often takes me by surprise.
It is your way, my dear,
to comfort with a tender word
which soaks into my soul.
I water the garden with the hose
and watch those droplets of water
soak down in
to disappear from sight
and it is in this moment that I know
what nurturing is.

 

Published in the poetry anthology Twilight Dips

http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Dips-Debra-Parmley/dp/1482556057

Writing During Difficult Times

Writing during difficult times can be a blessing but it can also create stress. I experienced this during 2014 when my father was on hospice for eight months and then in June when he passed. This was a time when I put into practice much of what I teach my writing students.

To write is to release words we carry inside of us. Thoughts and emotions but also the words themselves. Words that we do not speak or write will lodge in the body. So it can be cathartic to write about the difficult times. This is why it can feel so good to write in a journal.

It can also be cathartic to block everything about your current reality and escape to your fictional world for a while. The tricky part is that stress can make it hard to focus on that fictional world.

So how do we move through difficult times when we want to be writing? How do we navigate a writing life when the river currents have shifted and nothing is as it was?

First, you must always take care of yourself. You come first and the writing second.
If you need to take time off then do so. If you need help, then ask for it. You might not want to write. You might not want to get up in the morning. You might feel you are the only one in the world with this problem. You might feel that no one understands. But the fact is, this is a common problem. It’s just that not many writers talk about it. We tend to go into our writing caves and remain silent. This I believe is a mistake.

Take time off from the pressure to write and don’t be hard on yourself about it. Do what you must do. You are allowed a long lunch break during these times. You are allowed a vacation. Taking a break does not mean you have failed any more than taking a vacation from a day job means you are not doing a good job. Be kinder toward yourself, not hard on yourself. Remember that you are more important than the writing. The writing will be there when you return. Your life matters and your health and happiness matter. Without you, your writings would never exist.

This is not the time to disappear into your writers cave like some mysterious author who never communicates what is going on with anyone. If you have an editor, an agent, a publicist, or anyone else that you work with to produce or promote your writing, let them know what is going on. You might be surprised how supportive they can be.

Come to the page and write something, anything. Getting the words out will help you to move through whatever you are dealing with. The something you write may not be the story you’ve been working on. It may be the thing which is bothering you today. Sometimes we need to get those words out first, before we can move on to working on that story. But write something. Five minutes a day. Set the egg timer. It may seem like an insurmountable task making yourself sit there for five minutes to write, but once you manage it, you might be surprised at the feelings of relief you will have. Give yourself small manageable goals so you can succeed instead of tackling a long project which could leave you with a feeling of failure.

It is okay to write something you never intend anyone to read. You are doing this first for yourself. Whether anyone will read it is a secondary issue. Your task is to get those words out. It is okay to write something and then delete it later. It is okay to put it into a drawer and not look at it for a year.

It is okay to only write for that five minutes a day when you are used to writing pages and pages. It is okay if you cannot produce as many pages as you are used to. You may be tired, you may be distracted, you may have interruptions you would not normally allow. Avoid putting pressure on yourself about your writing.

Are you full of emotion? If so, good. Let that flow out onto the page. If you are working on fiction or poetry let it flow into your work. Emotions are one of the ways we connect with our readers.

Allow your writing to bring you joy. Everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their lives. But you have been blessed with the urge to write and it’s there for a reason. Your writing is something that will always be yours. You take it with you wherever you go and you can write through anything if you teach yourself how. Let your writing give back to you as you give to it.

Writing through difficult times has taught me so much. I am thankful for those lessons, just as I am thankful to be nearing the end of these current difficulties. I am thankful to know that just as I have moved through this trying period of my life, I could move through the next if need be and emerge stronger and wiser on the other side. I will emerge stronger, wiser and ready to write.