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.


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.



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


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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 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


Friday Poem – Easy



He bleeds so easily now.

The smallest cut will seep

like the Cumberland River below

as dark bruising spreads beneath

his loosened skin.

The river is forty foot low this year

because the damn is cracked

and repairs are estimated to take five years.

The path down to the dock is steep

and rocky slate shifts beneath our feet

but he will fall

before he lets me hold his elbow.

There is a line between

dignity and helplessness –

his words “not helpless” –

as if any aid implies

complete loss.

But perhaps he knows something I don’t.

How slippery the slope

and this is how he avoids

a Humpty Dumpty tumble –

I wash away the blood, clean the cuts

before covering them

with antibiotic cream and bandage

which must be replaced again

and again like a finger in the dike.

I run his shirt under cold water

so the blood won’t stain

and it runs red down

the drain, which flows into the septic

I’ve been told might overflow,

so many liquids threatening

like the darkest rain clouds outside

and oh how I used to be afraid of

thunder and lightning.

If I could wash away one thing

I would erase all trace of worry

from his mind

so he would be at ease and know

the letting go is fine,

his daughter strong enough

to catch, to hold

to release when it is time.


– Debra Parmley

Published in Twilight Dips.


Friday Poem – Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon


The wind was blowing


Fine particles of sand

We were covered in it.

Dust of the ages

From layers way down

Gritty and soft.

The sun was shining


Casting shadows of light

Over all of us.

Sun of the ages

Illumination of all things

Comfort and discomfort

I had forgotten that I depend

On you for life.

The canyon was layered

Color upon color

Shades of red and orange.

Layers of the ages

Story of the earth

Birth and death

Contained within these lines

Indians came here.

The Great Spirit

Would speak to them

Spirit of the ages

Creator of all

Containing us

I had forgotten until

I came here

To be reminded.


– Debra Parmley

Published in the poetry anthology Twilight Dips

Wednesday Poem – After My Father Visits

After My Father Visits


After my father visits

he leaves behind

the scent of his cologne

which lingers on the towels

of the guest bath

where his false teeth rested

with his travel pill case counting out

the days he can’t remember.

The scent lingers in the guest bedroom

where he sleeps under the quilt

his mother made, which holds

pieces of his old pajamas,

blue teddy bears

which I sometimes run my fingers across

with a smile.


– Debra Parmley

Published in the poetry anthology Twilight Dips

Toads, raindrops and playing in the rain with writing.


One day not so long ago it was raining and I was coming home from a good dinner out with my Shimmy Mob Memphis dance sisters when I spotted a toad by my back door.

He was up on the deck railing which is as high and as close as any toad has ever come before. We stood for a while, he and I, without moving as the rain sprinkled down all around us.

Of course he was unbothered by it, rain being a thing natural to him. It is this that got me thinking. Does rain feel unnatural to you? If so when did that start happening?

Children take joy in playing in the rain. Adults, well it depends on the adult. I was taking great pleasure in the plunk of raindrops on my head while I took a few pictures of my new companion with my phone. I was not listening to the adult voice in my head which said go get your umbrella first. I ignored that adult voice because I was sharing a joyful raindrop moment with my toad friend and when you share a moment, it is best to stay in it. Once lost it never comes again.

Toad in spring rain
Toad in spring rain

When we are writing we tend to write what we know and that is the advice usually given to young, new and aspiring writers.  Well it’s the advice given to all of us really, even those of us who have been writing for a while. It’s one of those things most people don’t even question but accept as factual and true. Kind of like when it’s raining out, take your umbrella.

So we walk around carrying our adult umbrellas and sometimes we forget how to play and how to reach out beyond that. If we always reach for the umbrella we miss the experiences that fall outside of that comfortable dry spot beneath the umbrella.

Let’s play with this one a bit. Splash around in the rain with me for a moment and put the umbrella down. Place the write what you know umbrella in the corner for a moment and lets see what’s splashing outside of that dry spot.

What if you were to write something you did not know, something you were in the process of learning?

What if you were to write about that learning process?

What if you were to write a fictional story while you were still researching and fact checking?

Some raindrops fall farther from the umbrella than others. It is okay to play in the rain and get wet. It can be great fun to splash around once in a while and play with your writing.

My fourth book of fiction, Trapping the Butterfly,  is set in the 1920’s in Hot Springs, Arkansas USA. I wrote it on spec. Had pitched the story idea to my editor and she loved the idea and sent me a contract. I wrote the first couple chapters while researching at the same time. As the story came together I was doing the follow up research almost til I typed “the end” Some of what I thought I knew turned out not to be historically accurate, for that town in that year. If I had held back writing the story until I did all the research first it would have been more difficult to meet my deadline.

Some might argue that the process of writing this way would lead to a sloppy or inaccurate book. My counter argument would simply say this book is now up for a RONE award. I offer this as proof the process did not hurt the book or this author. In fact it was a joy to write and is my favorite work of fiction of all my stories so far.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to write about, but haven’t because you don’t feel knowledgable enough? Try setting that umbrella aside. Step out into the rain and play a little. You might discover joy in the writing process.

You might meet a toad companion and share a joyful moment. That alone is worth stepping out into the rain.




Woven Threads: Writing about domestic abuse and why I dance with Shimmy Mob Memphis


The other day I was cleaning out some old files as part of my recent clearing away your clutter with feng shui program which is much more in depth than my typical spring cleaning. I came across a folder full of interviews I did for my first book, A Desperate Journey, which came out in 2008/2009. It’s always fascinating to me how the threads connect within our lives and the synchronicity of their weavings. Today I will tell you how a few of these threads have been woven in my life. I’ll begin with the thread from the interview which intersects with the others.

The question was asked: Why did you include domestic abuse in your book?

Here was my answer: Domestic abuse became a part of the story as I got to know Sally, who is the heroine. When I was writing the story I knew of at least three women who were living in domestic abuse situations. It’s in the back story of Sally’s life and is part of what has made her who she is, so it appears in the story but only enough to let the reader know what has happened. I wanted to focus on what Sally does to get her son back and to get her life back and to show how far she has come to arrive at that point.

Here is the blurb for the book:

A Desperate Journey is a western historical romance set in 1867 along the Chisholm Trail.

Sometimes a journey of the heart is the most dangerous journey of all.

Sally Wheeler learned the hard way that mean aren’t always what they seem. Now she will stop at nothing to track down the bigamist husband who stole her child and abandoned her on their failing Kansas farm. Even if it means traveling with a handsome maverick who could change her mind about men.

Free after spending seven years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Rob Truman aims to balance the scales of justice on the man who sent him there – Luke Wheeler. His quest doesn’t include falling for the one woman who will lead him to his quarry, but Sally’s courage in the face of her fear touches his soul.

Through dangerous days and nights on the trail, neither Sally nor Rob can ignore their growing feelings for each other. Yet both are haunted by the poor judgement that, in the past, led them down the wrong road. Love – and trust – are luxuries neither of them can afford.

But as the bullets start flying, love may be all that saves them – and Sally’s son.


Here is where another thread comes in, which at the time seemed to have nothing to do with the book. I had retired from teaching and performing belly dance with my troupe just before my first book came out so I could focus on book signings and writing. They say belly dancers never really retire, but I thought I had. Then Shimmy Mob was born and it was the one thing which could have pulled me back into public performance. Because the cause was domestic abuse.

What is Shimmy Mob?

Shimmy Mob is a flash mob event held on international belly dance day all around the world to raise funds for local domestic abuse shelters. Aimed to be the largest event of its kind by having a huge geographical territory covered in one day to raise funds for local domestic abuse shelters it is perhaps the largest flash mob and is the largest belly dance event in the world. Dancers wear the same t-shirt and dance the same choreography to the same music. Created in 2011, Shimmy Mob is the creation of Sabeya, also known as Francesca Anastasi, international dance instructor, choreographer and performer based in Canada.

In 2011, I was honored and blessed to be the team leader for Shimmy Mob Memphis. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life and certainly one of my greatest challenges. When I first heard about Shimmy Mob it called to my heart. I emailed Sabeya to ask if anyone from Memphis had signed up. Cities from around the globe had but not Memphis. So I leaped, signing our city up and agreeing to become team leader on March 28th. We would dance on May 1st. This left a little more than one month to get ready, enlisting dancers, learning the choreography and finding a place to dance. Suddenly I was no longer retired.

By April 5th we had 35 dancers and 25 days to learn the choreography. One of our local dance instructors agreed to lead rehearsals and act as fundraising chair. One agreed to be my assistant. I didn’t know when I signed up for the job that adapt and adjust would become my mantra.

The first challenge was the choreography, a blend of three different belly dance styles. Dancers had to learn new moves and there was a big learning curve. Some dancers were brand new, still learning basic moves and had never performed in public before. Yet each signed up for the cause and did their best to learn the dance. We were adapting, adjusting and learning.

The second challenge was finding a place to dance. Memphis had police called out for flash mobs in the past. That history made it difficult. I was hearing one ‘no’ after another when asking for a place to dance for less than five minutes to raise money for charity. Some places wanted us to carry one million dollars worth of insurance. The date came closer and closer. I lined up one site.  Then they backed out. I had to search again. Working with Memphis Center City Commission I found one site downtown on the cobblestones by the trolley line.

Everything was finally set. But there was a bigger challenge to come.

No one could have predicted Memphis would battle floods with the Mississippi River rising, or the many tornados which ran through our city.


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 the issue of domestic abuse and to raise funds for our local women’s and children’s shelter. Here is the official video of our dance. What you won’t see or hear are the mutliple 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 did not give up. We were tenacious. We got the job done.

As I was driving away, my phone rang. The photographer from the Memphis Commercial Appeal wanted to know if he’d missed us. He had and because of tornados and other stories the media was following, not one reporter was there to take notice of what we had done and report it to our fellow Memphians and the world. We were a small blip which did not show on the news radar that day, as they passed us by for bigger stories. Yet we had pulled the event off dodging tornados, extreme weather, flooding, illnesses and property damage.

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 and tenacity did not go unnoticed. Sabeya of international Shimmy Mob, acknowledged Shimmy Mob Memphis by awarding honorable mention for enduring perseverance in the face of danger and potential harm.

It was both an honor and a blessing to be acknowledged in this way.

We pulled it off and made history in the face of tornados, storms and the river rising. In between tornado sirens we danced and not only met our fundraising goal, we surpassed it. We doubled it. didn’t stop us, sound and video problems didn’t stop us. We have tenacity. We know how to adapt and adjust. That is how we raq in Memphis.

There will never again be another event just like the first Shimmy Mob event which took place in Memphis in 2011 and around the world. Each year we dance is different. I am proud of my Shimmy Mob sisters for taking the time and energy to support a cause which helps those who live in domestic abuse escape the dangers and live healthier and happier lives.

I learned so much from my experiences leading the event in 2011. I learned about tenacity, how to adapt and adjust quickly and 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.

The threads of Shimmy Mob are interwoven with those of my first book. In 2011 for a donation, donors received a copy of A Desperate Journey. In 2012, I held a book signing in Memphis with the proceeds going to our charity. Since then, every year I donate a portion of my royalties for A Desperate Journey. Those threads are woven together.

This year I have donated one signed copy of Dangerous Ties, my second western historical romance as well as one signed copy of Twilight Dips, my first poetry anthology to the silent auction which is another arm of our fundraising efforts.

When I think of all the woman and children that will benefit from this event and how it unites us with our sisters all around the world, it makes my heart glad. This is why we dance. This is why I signed up on March 28, 2011 and this is why I signed up again as team leader for Shimmy Mob Memphis in 2012 and as assistant in 2013 and 2014.

This year on May 10th, 2014, Shimmy Mob Memphis will once again be dancing in unity with our sisters around the world to raise funds for our local domestic abuse shelters. This will be the fourth year Shimmy Mob Memphis will perform to raise money for charity.

Shimmy Mob 2014 performances

Overton Square

4-6 pm


Bluff City Bellydance Showcase

Rumba Room

7-9 p.m.

Featuring: Memphis Raqs, Alima Tribe, Mystic River Dance, ISIS Dance Academy, Pyramid Dance Company

*silent auction*

Tickets $18 at door or $12 in advance

Children ages 5-15 are $8, under 5 are free

Tickets can be purchased online:

All funds raised by Shimmy Mob Memphis and Bluff City Showcase donated to Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County

You can help by donating online!

Donate online: http:

                            All donations are tax deductible.