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

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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

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

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

Write Like a Pro https://www.writelikeaproauthorconference.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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Threading the Web – Your Creativity is Always Intact

Your Creativity is always in intact. If you are not writing or creating in some way, that does not mean your creativity is broken or has gone away.

Creativity can exist in the midst of chaos of all sorts, illness, war, famine, fear of death…

Just ask any writer who has lived through any of these circumstances and who has written about it, often written during the events. There are famous diaries and other written works which fall into this category and I’ll bet you can even name a few.

I once wrote while in the midst of food poisoning. Food poisoning from an egg roll I’d purchased at a mall food court. I wrote about the experience while I was in it, which is why I know such things can be done. It is the thought of can’t which gets in the way. Clear that off and believe you can.

The piece I wrote, was it a piece I would let you, or anyone else read? No. I tore it up the following week and did away with it.

So, why do this? Why write something if I was just going to tear it up later anyway?

Sometimes we need to write our way through things as a way of processing them, to release what is inside of us so it doesn’t live there any more.

Sometimes we need to write simply to keep our writing muscles flexible and strong.

5 minutes a day is all it takes to keep your writing muscles from hardening up and becoming immobile. In all my writing classes I give timed writing exercises and the 5 minute timed writings are a core part of the program.

Everyone has five minutes to give to the things that are important to them. No excuses. Go on now and set that egg timer, or set your alarm on your phone. Write something, anything. What will you write about today?

 

A Quote – On The Use Of Creativity

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Oscar Wilde

I collect quotes and often return to the ones which speak to me. This one has been tapping me on the shoulder, wanting to be shared with my students.

Too often we get in our own way, with many things, but especially with writing. When we don’t write, it becomes harder to write. When we do write, even for five minutes a day, it becomes easier to write. I have experienced this on both ends, the writing and the not writing, and know it to be true for me.

What is holding you back today? Pick up that pen, fire up that computer or typewriter and begin. Even if you only have five minutes. It could be the best five minutes of your day.