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

It is said that you should write what you know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, we danced. We danced in between tornado sirens and watching for tornados, but we got the job done and we raised a thousand dollars that first year even though we received no local news coverage for our event. They were too busy covering the storms.

The photographer for the Commercial Appeal called me as we were driving away. He had just missed us. I thought we had been a small voice that few heard, but even a small voice can help. Even a small voice can speak up. That too is an important part of fighting domestic violence and an important example to set. Later, Shimmy Mob International honored us for our efforts.

Honoring Shimmy Mob Memphis in 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available on Amazon for KU or in print

For more about Debra visit:

www.debraparmley.com

I’m everywhere on social media.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

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

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

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

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

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

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

 

 

 

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Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

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

Audible:

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

Amazon:

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

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

Re-Releasing Kindle Worlds Books

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

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

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

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