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

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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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Imposter Syndrome, A Snarly Dog

Imposter Syndrome is a Snarly Dog. I decided it was time to write about this, after mentoring one of my author friends on Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I realized this is something we don’t talk about enough. If we did, writers would not view it as unique or unexpected when it happens to them.

Mention Imposter Syndrome in a room full of authors and ask them to raise their hands if they have ever encountered it and you will see almost every hand go up. It is as common as typing THE END. Think about that for a minute. Let this sink in – Imposter Syndrome is so common to writers, that almost everyone has experienced it at one time or another. I don’t know any authors who haven’t experienced it and it’s been ten years since my first novel was published and I’ve been in author circles for over twenty years. Imposter Syndrome is universal and seems to be part of the author’s journey.

I like to picture these doubts as snarling dogs, because that’s what they do. They ask the question who do you think you are? And it’s always with that snarl.

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I like to say Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all out alpha on it to show it who the alpha is.

Imposter Syndrome is a form of self-doubt and is fear based. Fear of being judged as an author, fear of having your book judged, fear of being found wanting, fear of someone saying – who do you think you are to write that book? You may experience one of these or another from the same snarling dog family.

You may experience this snarly dog with your first book or your twentieth. When writing, you may experience it halfway through, in those moments when you think the good pages you wrote yesterday which you thought were such good pages now totally suck and the whole book totally sucks so much you’d like to shred it, burn it or delete it. That one is a very nasty snarly dog. You can’t let it win. You may experience a snarly dog after hitting the bestseller lists multiple times; with readers saying they love your books. Some writers experience it on book release day and don’t feel like celebrating, because that snarly dog is winning. You may experience it when being asked to read from your work or when asked to speak or to be in an interview or on a panel. So, what can you do about a snarly dog?

First, know they can pop up at any time and be ready to face one. Acknowledge it and face it. No hiding in your house, or cancelling or destroying pages. No posting all over social media, wallowing in it and being a victim of it. Tell an author friend or mentor privately if you need to talk about it, but then face that snarly dog.

Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all alpha on it to show it who the alpha is. Your words and your voice and your stories have value. When it snarls, say out loud, “I am (your full name) and my words have value. My book has value and people want to read it.”

There is power in “I am” statements. Great power.

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Now go write your awesome books, never let the snarly dogs win, and boost and encourage your fellow creative friends. I’m fine with you quoting me and hope this article helps.

To learn more about Debra Parmley and her books, or for classes (lots of new author classes coming this summer beginning with the Write Like a Pro Con in Peoria, IL June 7,8,9) check out:

Website www.debraparmley.com

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

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

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

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

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

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

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/DebraParmleyRomance/

Write Like a Pro https://www.writelikeaproauthorconference.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.

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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

Adapting and Adjusting is an Author’s Life

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.

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As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count, though I’m going to attempt listing the major ones. I’ve survived many rejection letters, and then competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house during the American Title II contest and having my husband flatline for three minutes nearly losing him and seeing him on total life support during that contest but then soon after being voted off the island of that contest. I’ve 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. Finding out later the editor at the house who bought it never received the last chapter. They bought it missing a last chapter. I’ve survived being passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two manuscripts before being orphaned at my publishing house. I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed, who’d done nothing to promote my new book launch. It came out with no promo beyond what could be done the day it came out. I was with five publishing houses and of those, two are no longer in business. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house I was with. I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, whatever you want to call the things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down. 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 it. I protect my writing with a ferocity few have ever seen and which has even surprised my husband.

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. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. So of course 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. And that is what we 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, on a happiness level.

How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way? Change can propel you to better and greater things or it can bog you down, if you let it. 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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.

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.

A Writing Exercise – Dedicated to My Father

Two weeks ago, on my birthday, I treated myself to a Writing and Yoga Workshop taught by Valentine Leonard at Delta Groove Yoga in Memphis. It’s been a long time since I took a writing workshop. Usually I am busy writing my novels, short stories and poetry and teaching and coaching my writing students. So this was a nice treat for me, to be on the other side of teaching and to be a student once again.

One of the exercises given was to make two lists, one of places we knew well and the other of things we no longer did. Then we were to match the unlikely ones together, to pick one and to write about it. From those lists I chose my fathers house and escorting  travelers overseas.

This is what I wrote:

I no longer escort travelers overseas on long trips to my father’s house.

He is on hospice now and mostly sleeps. So I would not have time now for travelers who need escorts because they don’t know how to get their passport or what to pack and who have never stepped beyond the borders of their own country.

I used to have so much time and patience for so many people and never minded helping. They simply needed someone to go beyond pointing the way and saying this is how you do it.

Sometimes a person just needs another hand to hold and for them to say come on, it’s going to be okay. I wonder who is holding my fathers hand now and if he will be escorted in a group to the other side. He does not seem afraid, merely confused. Perhaps this is why he is lingering so long.

It’s harder to be the watcher when you are used to escorting people. I have no road map for where he must go. I do not know these border crossings. I can only stand on the shoreline waving goodbye and sending my love.

For me, this is a journey of sitting when I am used to being in movement. I should not complain. He is the one confined to a bed, never going outside to breathe the fresh air. No wonder he sleeps so much. I would sleep too if my gaze could not reach up to touch the sky. I would close my eyes and travel in my mind. Perhaps this is what he is doing. It is impossible for me to know.

Perhaps he is waiting on a slow VISA to the place he has never gone before. I hope and pray his passage is smooth, his escort kind and firm of hand. I hope his new country welcomes him like a long lost son and celebrates his coming home.

Dedicated to John (Jack) Bishop

Oct. 15, 1933 to June 20, 2014