My Take on the Royal Wedding, My Mom and HONEOWP

Did you watch it? Were you one of the first to see Kate’s dress? Were you hanging on to every word of their vows? Did you hold your breath until they kissed?

If you answered yes to most of the above, you’re a true romantic, kind of like me. (I was NOT awake to claim to be one of the first to see her dress.) We were supposed to leave for Maryland Friday morning, and my poor husband had to wait impatiently for Kate and Wills to kiss before he could get me out the door! I still haven’t watched the whole wedding, but I did fast forward to the good parts. I was very happy for the two lovebirds and I wish them the best. Kate has big shoes to fill, but I think she’s up to the job.

Now on to my HONEOWP charity. As you know, my April donation will be a wedding gift to the royal couple (see HONEOWP and the Royal Wedding), and I haven’t received my April statement yet. I’ve thought long and hard about this month’s charity. May is a special month for love in my heart. Sixteen years ago this month I was getting ready to start my own married life. My daughter was born in May. And this time of the year is symbolic of new beginnings.

But mostly when I think of May, I think of my mother. (You know, that little holiday called “Mother’s Day”.) If there’s one thing my mother loves, it’s animals. She always has. I remember her feeding squirrels pounds and pounds of peanuts and birdseed when I was growing up, and she’s now very sensitive to the plight of unwanted pets. So, in honor of my mother, this month’s royalties will be donated to Best Friends Animal Society. I love you, Mama!

As usual, I’ll let you know as soon as I get my royalty statement. I’m hoping for a jump in sales as a result of a Lyrical Press ad in Woman’s Day magazine a couple of months ago, but we’ll see. I’m sure Prince William and Princess Catherine are waiting with baited breath!

HONEOWP and the Royal Wedding

How does my humble HONEOWP movement affect the royal wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton? Well, it probably won’t have much effect. After all, I’ve only managed to donate the minimum to all the charities I’ve selected so far. However, because the royal couple has asked for donations to charities instead of gifts, I’ve decided to take part in my own small way. This month, my HONEOWP charity is Earthwatch, one of the charities chosen by the couple as part of their royal wedding fund. For more information on Earthwatch, visit their website here: Earthwatch Institute. For more information on William and Catherine’s charitable choices, check this out: Royal Wedding Charity Fund.

Why is the royal wedding of so much interest to me when I live in America, where we supposedly have no royalty? Because of the morning in July 1981 when my mother woke me early enough to watch a fuzzy picture on television of a beautiful young woman marrying a prince. I was eleven years old and I had no idea what tragedy awaited that seemingly happy couple. I only saw a real live girl marrying her prince. Just like a fairytale.

Will I wake my 3-year-old daughter to watch Catherine walk down the aisle with William? Probably not. I will record it to watch with her later, though. She won’t fully comprehend what she’s watching, just as I didn’t, but it will be one of those moments we can share. I still remember that morning with my mother, and I can hope that my daughter will someday treasure the memory of watching this royal wedding as much as I do the wedding of Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana. Maybe she’ll feel like she’s watching a real live fairytale, just like I did.

Of course, we all know fairytales don’t exist outside books. But those of us who have been lucky enough to find our princes know that even if there’s no “happily ever after”, there’s still a lot of happiness to be had.

What the heck is a HONEOWP, anyway?

I’ve gotten this question in various forms recently, so I created a page to answer it. You can find it here: HONEOWP?? It’s also a page link at the top of this blog. I hope you’ll read it and maybe consider joining it!

I’m also adding the wonderful Elizabeth Massie’s Hand to Hand Vision blog to my HONEOWP roll call. Elizabeth didn’t start Hand to Hand Vision as part of my HONEOWP effort, but it’s such a wonderful example of what a writer or artist or anybody, really, can do to help others that I decided to include it. Hand to Hand Vision is an ongoing auction of donated artwork and other items dedicated to sharing with those in need. Elizabeth is an award-winning author of multiple horror novels and ghost stories. If you’re not acquainted with Elizabeth’s work, check out her blog: Elizabeth Massie. If you’d like more information about the Hand to Hand Vision, check out the blog here: Hand to Hand Vision.

Although I’ve been following the Hand to Hand Vision for a while now, I really got interested when Elizabeth posted a picture of something she called “Circle of Caring Bracelets”. Simple but lovely beaded bracelets, Elizabeth posted this explanation: “The bracelet is simple. There are yellow beads at the center of the circle. These represent the “life-light,” or the innate human value, of the person who is the target of the bullying. The other beads are multicolored and random. They are are mixture of glass, ceramic, plastic, and stone. These beads represent the caring people who are there to speak out and step up on behalf of the one who is bullied.”

I teared up because bullying is one of the things I dread finding in my children’s lives, whether they be the bullier or the bullied. I never experienced it as a child, but I have heard and read the same horror stories any parent has. It is a powerful evil we have to help our children combat, and I felt Elizabeth’s bracelets could be a wonderful way to do that. Elizabeth has already sent me documents on how to make the bracelets and I plan to approach other parents, teachers and administrators in my area to start a program using them. I’ll post more details about how I accomplish that later.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Massie, welcome to HONEOWPdom.

Weekly Windup and Another New HONEOWP

Good Saturday, everybody! I’d love to draw your attention to yet another new HONEOWP, Amanda Von Hoffman, the wife of my other new HONEOWP Kirk Jones. Not only did Amanda blog about our HONEOWP effort here, Donating Royalties, she also plans to donate part of her royalties from the sale of her novel Behind Green Glass to The American Organ Transplant Association in April! Thank you, Amanda, and welcome to HONEOWPdom.

Second highlight of my week was finishing Ellen Meister’s superb book The Other Life. If you haven’t read this yet, do it! I laughed and cried and I thought the ending was superb. Without a doubt this was the best book I’ve read yet this year.

That said, I’m (finally) reading Kevin Wallis’s short story collection Beneath the Surface of Things, and I cannot put this book down. I’m only three stories in, but it’s awesomely chilling. My apologies to Kevin for taking so long to get to this one. I’ve had it on my Nook for months now but something always came up to keep me from getting into it. That won’t happen this time. I’m aching to pick it up right now! After I finish Beneath the Surface of Things, I have Lisa McMann’s Cryer’s Cross and G.C. Smith’s White Lightning to read, so I should have an active reading life over the next few weeks. Which is good since my writing is definitely at low tide at the moment.

I got some good news about an advertising opportunity for SECRETS OF THE LOTUS this week, too, and though I’m not going to go into any details at the moment, it shouldn’t be long before I can let you in on the, um, secret.

Finally, my friend A.J. Brown blogged about THEN moments this week. As a writer, I totally understand where he is coming from. I think a lot of my low and high tides as far as writing goes stem from THEN moments. It’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking post, and I encourage you to take a look: THEN Moments with A.J. Brown.

That’s about it for this week. Thanks for listening!

New HONEOWP Author! Meet Kirk Jones.

Yep. That’s right. The word is getting out. A new novelist has joined the ranks of the HONEOWPs. Kirk Jones, a friend of HONEOWP Steve Lowe (you may remember him from February), has made the pledge to donate his March royalties to the American Cancer Society. If you’d like to help Kirk out in his quest, visit his website bizarrojones for information about his book Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals (I told you he was a friend of Steve’s).

I’m thrilled to have someone else join my HONEOWP initiative. I know there are more Helpful Outstanding Novelists, Editors and Others in the Writing Profession out there. Email me at michellegflye@gmail.com if you’d like to see your name on my HONEOWP roll call.

February Royalty Report

Thanks to everyone who bought my book in February! Still haven’t made it over the minimum $25 donation, but you guys contributed to that, and hopefully some uncontacted tribe will benefit from my donation.

A little closer to home this month, don’t forget my HONEOWP charity is Share Our Strength, which is dedicated to fighting childhood hunger in the United States. There are a number of ways you can help out with this charity, so please explore their website (see my HONEOWP feature area to the left). However, I’ll also draw your attention to my participation in Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale. If you’d like to donate to my bake sale, you can do so on my page: MGF’s Great American Bake Sale Page.

Thanks again to those who are already supporting my HONEOWP effort, and remember you’re invited to help out, too. If you’re a writer, consider donating a portion of your royalties to a charity of your own choosing. If you do so because you’re inspired by my effort, please let me know. I’d like to know the word is getting out, and I can add your website to my HONEOWP roll call. If you’re a blogger and you like what I’m doing, blog about it! Put it on your Facebook page or Tweet about it. The more people willing to get involved in this effort, the more successful it will be.

My March HONEOWP Charity: Share Our Strength and Fight Childhood Hunger

While I wait to hear how much my February royalties will enable me to donate to Survival International, I wanted to fill you in on my March charity. I really, really like the way this charity is structured and I love who the beneficiaries of it are.

I first found out about Share Our Strength a couple of weeks ago when I read an article about childhood hunger. The article included interviews with teachers who described children too hungry to focus on their lessons, children who would just put their heads on their desks and cry because they didn’t have breakfast.

As PTO president for my son’s elementary school, I know all about the free and reduced price lunch programs that are offered to children. I also see a lot of kids who buy their lunches and don’t eat half of them. My own kids have always preferred to take lunch, mainly because they’re exceedingly picky and don’t usually like what’s offered by the cafeteria. In my cafeteria observations, I have noticed some clean plates at lunchtime, though. Are these likely the hungry kids? The ones who come to school without breakfast to fuel them for the day? Do we have children in my community who deal with hunger every day?

I have no way of knowing, but the thought that there are children anywhere who don’t have enough food breaks my heart. So I’ve chosen Share Our Strength as my March HONEOWP charity. If you have any interest at all in supporting this organization’s fight against childhood hunger, I encourage you to check out their website. They have multiple different ways to help, including hosting a bake sale, a national dine-out to end hunger (September 18-24, 2011) and free summer meals for children. And if you’re wondering where I’m sending my royalties from March to, check out this link: Share Our Strength March Royalty donation.

Edited to add: On a separate note, I made a commitment to Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale today. I have committed to raise $250 in 243 days. To keep tabs on how I’m doing, check out my website: MGF’s Great American Bake Sale. Keep in mind I’m not much of baker, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes! By the way, any funds donated this way do not count as my HONEOWP royalty donations.

My Quest for Validation

On a writing site I frequent a debate has sparked about the validation I feel every writer seeks. Someone asked why do you write and I responded with the word “validation.”

Okay, not every writer wants validation for their work from outside sources. Somebody pointed out Emily Dickinson as an example of a writer who never sought outside validation for her work. Many writers write in a journal they never expect anyone to see. But certainly every writer who puts their writings out there for public consumption is looking for some form of validation.

So who are we seeking validation from? Readers certainly. Editors and publishers definitely. Ourselves? Well, I feel pretty sure if we put our work out there, the self-validation has already been taken care of. I know I have a lot of confidence that I’m a good writer. I also believe I’m a pretty good editor. So I don’t need self-validation, and that’s why I send my work out to be published.

Do I want my work to sell? Yes. I want to make money off my writing, preferably a lot of money. But as you know from my HONEOWP initiative, I don’t really want the money, at least not right now. What I want is to be able to say that a lot of people are reading what I write, and are willing to pay to do it. That’s the ultimate form of validation for a writer, in my opinion.

Does this mean I want to be conformist? Not necessarily. It’s true that what I write is fun, entertaining, and that’s all I want to do at the moment. But I think every artist of every type should seek to stretch the boundaries, to make people see things a little differently. Of course, this is sometimes hard to do. As has been pointed out quite often in the writing community, if you want validation from a reader, you have to get it from an editor/publisher source first. If you’re not writing something an editor/publisher is willing to take a chance on, you’re stuck in the self-publishing world, and while some people are able to make that work, it’s a long, hard road.

But then again, what isn’t in this business? Day after day we writers put ourselves out there in the written word, hoping to get some feedback, whether it be positive or negative, praying we’ve written something that will touch someone in some way. If we’re lucky, we find out we did. If we’re really lucky, we are able to get our words out to a lot of people and we get the ultimate validation, whether it be a lot of money, a bestseller, an article in a large print journal, a short story in Best American Short Stories, or a winning entry in a writing contest.

Good luck to all my fellow writers in their quest for validation, and if you’re a reader, take a minute to give your favorite author a pat on the back. Believe me when I say, even if he or she is a very successful author, they’d love to hear from you.

The HONEOWP Interview

I’m sorry I didn’t see the email about this until too late to announce it yesterday because Valentine’s Day would have been a very appropriate day for it. You might have heard about my HONEOWP initiative where I donate my royalties (or a minimum of $25) to charity every month. For more information, see HONEOWP Update or HONEOWP Charities to the left. You might also remember that author Steve Lowe has joined me in this for the month of February. You can find a link to his blog Shitzengiggles under HONEOWP roll call.

Well, now AJ Brown has decided to get to the bottom of our motives for doing this. I’d already added AJ to my HONEOWP roll call (Type AJ Negative) because he blogged about my project a month or more ago. Well, now he’s conducted an interview with Steve and myself, and you can find it here: The HONEOWP Interview. I hope you’ll check it out and take time to explore AJ’s website. He’s done quite a few interesting interviews with even more interesting writers and his “Blood Bank” has some really great free fiction in it.

Five Books I Will Always Love:
1. Little Women
2. Murder on the Orient Express
3. Swan Song
4. Anne of Green Gables
5. Watership Down

Snow. Eastern Carolina style.

Snow hit Eastern North Carolina this morning. I woke to a winter wonderland but by ten o’clock it was obvious the snow wouldn’t be sticking around for long. I enjoyed the short drive over non-icy roads to get one son to school, however. Tree branches laden and lawns crusted with snow on all sides with a gray snowy sky above gave me the feeling I had stepped back into Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or maybe I was going “Over the River and Through the Woods”. The hum of my minivan’s engine replaced the jingle of the sleigh bells, however.

I’ve had a productive week, thank goodness. I like those. I’m working on a special Valentine for you for Monday, in addition to my “friends and family” blog post. I also got started on my newest editing project. I’m working with Cutting Block Press on the final edits for Tattered Souls 2. This one’s going to be a good one, so go ahead and make plans to buy it! I’m always happy to work with Cutting Block Press on any project, mainly because they don’t cut corners and they put out a high quality product. If I still wrote horror I’d be hitting them up to publish something of mine, but instead they let me keep my hand in the horror field by doing some editing for them.

I’m also getting back into the submitting business. I’ve sort of taken a break from it recently, but a couple of interesting markets have come to my attention, and since I had some stuff wasting away in my files, I’ve pulled them out and started going over them to get them ready. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the results!

Finally, I got two great bits of mail today. First, Ellen Meister sent me a signed bookplate to put in my soon-to-arrive and highly anticipated copy of The Other Life, which will be out on February 17! Second, I got a nice note from Habitat for Humanity thanking me for my $25 donation. At first I thought, But really, it was only $25. Then I realized every little bit counts for charities like the ones I’m trying to draw attention to with my HONEOWP initiative, and even if I only donate $25 every month to a charity, that’s more than the nothing I have always donated before. That thought made me feel good for a minute or two. Maybe I will accomplish something positive before the year is out.