Helpful Outstanding Novelists, Editors and Others in the Writing Profession
Over the last five plus years of my adult life, I have aspired to be a writer. In that time period I have met a lot of folks who have been terrific to talk to and to work with. Many of these folks I call friends.
Last year, my friend, Michelle Garren Flye, started something called HONEOWP. I’ll let her tell you what it stands for, but not only did she start this project, she also started a charity drive, donating the royalities from her book, SECRETS OF THE LOTUS, to a charity of her choice.
Another friend, the one we call THE, Steve Lowe, decided to do the same thing with the royalties from both of his books to a local foster care charity.
A couple of weeks ago I sat down with both Michelle and Steve to discuss their various charities and the reasons behind their giving.
AJ: Thank you both for returning to the Donor Center.
MGF: Hi AJ and Steve! It’s a pleasure to be back here.
SL: Hey AJ—you’re going to have to name a room here in the donor center after me, I’ve given so much blood…
AJ: I already have a room dedicated solely to the blood of Steve Lowe—that stuff could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
I know you are both very busy so I’m just going to jump right on in here today. You both currently have books out. Can you tell us a little about those books?
SL: I have two books out right now—the first is MUSCLE MEMORY, a bizarro comedy about body-switching rednecks deep in Pittsburgh Steelers country. It’s like those 80s body-switching movies that sucked, only this book doesn’t suck and pokes fun at both those movies and that plot device. And at a few other things as well. My other book is WOLVES DRESSED AS MEN, which is a dark werewolf thriller set in a crumbling inner city. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of MUSCLE MEMORY, so I kind of run the spectrum when it comes to my writing. Something for everyone.
MGF: Well, my book isn’t much like what you normally have here in the Donor Center. SECRETS OF THE LOTUS is a contemporary romance set in New York City and, really, it’s purely a romance. It was fun to write and I’ve been told it’s fun to read, so I guess it does what I set out to do.
AJ: Michelle, you started something late last year with your royalties. Can you tell us about that?
MGF: In late November last year, I got the idea that I’d like to do something worthwhile with my writing. I decided to give all my royalties from November and December to the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund: NWF I encouraged readers of my blog to either buy my book since the royalties would go straight to the fund or to donate directly. Well, I saw a spike in my sales, but unfortunately, my royalties didn’t amount to much anyway, so I decided $25 would be the minimum I would donate. If my royalties went over, great, it would all get donated. If not, at least the NWF would receive $25 from me. I enjoyed this so much, I had already decided to announce on my blog in December that for the entire year of 2011 I would donate all my royalties to a different charity each month. About this time, Steve Lowe contacted me and told me he’d also like to use the idea, so I decided to invite other writers and bloggers to join my effort either by donating their own royalties for whatever time period they chose or by blogging about my effort. I dubbed these people HONEOWPs (Helpful Outstanding Novelists, Editors and Others in the Writing Profession). So far they number three: Steve, me and you, AJ.
SL: And Michelle’s donation efforts were definitely an inspiration for me to come up with my own similar promotion. For the month of February 2011, I am going to donate all the royalties I receive from both of my books to a not-for-profit foster care charitable organization. As a foster parent myself, I wanted to do a little more, and also bring some more attention to fostering, which isn’t always portrayed in the most positive light in books and movies and TV. I think that’s because the success stories aren’t discussed as much as the bad ones. I’ve already heard from another foster parent in the writing community about his successes and I hope more come forward so I can share their stories. And I’m thankful for Michelle’s inspiring idea. She deserves a big high-five.
AJ: I agree, Michelle should definitely get high fives for taking this initiative. Umm… Steve, high fives, not hugs.
SL: Right, never hug AJ in public… Writing that down.
AJ: Settle down big boy.
MGF: Thanks for the high fives and hugs, guys.
What are the hopes you two have for this Charity Drive?
SL: My hopes for this are to sell a ton of books and cut a huge check to the organization. Since my books are of an adult nature, I decided not to publicly name said organization and to make my donation anonymous. It’s not about recognition; it’s about helping kids. Depending on how well this goes, I’m hoping to do it again later, but we’ll see what happens. I have a good feeling about this.
AJ: Selling a ton of books is always a plus. And with donations going to various charities, it’s, essentially a win-win situation.
MGF: I’m not sure if what I want will take shape, but what I actually hoped would happen is that a lot of authors would get wind of the project and want to help. I was hoping, in fact, for more successful authors than myself. Can you imagine if Stephen King (and I’m sure he donates plenty to charity) decided to donate his royalties from a single day to charity, it would be huge. At least compared to what I can offer. And if authors from all over formed a network where they listed each other on their websites and blogged about what charity somebody else is donating their royalties to, my little HONEOWP movement could make a real difference in the world.
AJ: Michelle, it sounds like your thoughts are similar to a website ring, where websites tie in to others and they each work hand in hand to help the other ones out. Am I wrong here? Because, really that would be a wonderful way of getting others involved.
Steve, any thoughts on that?
SL: I think that’s a fantastic idea and I’m very happy Michelle’s is spearheading such an initiative. Now, we just need to get some more authors involved and get some steam behind it. (hint, hint, all you authors out there reading this…)
MGF: That’s exactly what I want, but as Steve says we need more authors to come forward and volunteer. And of course, I know not every author can afford to give up their royalties for an entire year. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to write to support myself (very fortunate considering my sales figures!), but I know a lot of writers do. That’s why I think every writer who might want to participate should design their own giving program. You know, donate fifty percent of their royalties for a month or all the royalties from a certain book if they have more than one. Whatever it takes to create the maximum benefit for everyone concerned.
AJ: The maximum benefit for everyone involved? Do you think that would include, but not be limited to exposure? Let’s think about this for a second. Some folks do want the exposure for donating, and I’m actually fine with this, simply because if they are given exposure so is the charity.
MGF: Well, yeah, even for me it’s a bid for attention. I want people to read my book. I also want to do some good with my writing and I see this as a way to accomplish both things, if it works. And let’s be real about this, as writers aren’t we always looking for exposure? The more people that read our work, the more successful we are in our art. The money thing, I think, is always secondary for writers.
SL: What Michelle said, x 2. No one will read your book if they don’t know about it. So why not do something with that? This is a unique opportunity, to be a published author. I want it to be about more than just selling books. But yeah, selling books and increasing exposure is a big part of it.
AJ: So do you two look at this as kind of a giving back type of thing?
SL: Of course. That’s the main reason for doing this. Selling books and getting more exposure is only an incidental part of this. If this goes well, that will be a byproduct of doing something to help kids and give back to an organization that has given me an opportunity to do something good. I’ve learned so much from them since beginning classes to get licensed back in 2009, and this donation will go directly toward doing more special things for foster kids and parents. For me, that’s reason enough to give it a try.
MGF: I’m not certain I look at it as “giving back” totally. I’m sure I never thought of that phrase when I came up with the idea. I think of it more as a way to make my writing do something good in the world, the way I’ve always wanted it to do. When the Gulf Oil Spill (Disaster) happened, I blogged about it a lot because it upset me to think that it could be brushed aside (as it has been) by the mainstream media. Eventually, the furor died down when the oil slick could no longer be seen, even though we all know it’s still out there. I mean, really, oil-eating microbes? Come on. That’s a lot of microbes. But I digress. In November I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was and I found out about the NWF fund. So I started blogging about it, promised my royalties to it and really felt good about it. So I guess I just want to use this as a way of making a difference, which is giving back, but that’s not the way I thought of it, if that makes any sense at all.
AJ: I think that’s it: Trying to make a difference. And, really that’s what this is all about.
I’m not going to take too much more of your time, but can you please give the readers the information where to purchase your books and, in turn, donate to your charities?
SL: Both of my books are available in print on Amazon and the Barnes & Noble’s website. WOLVES DRESSED AS MEN is also available on the Amazon Kindle and as an eBook on the Eternal Press website. All of the links are listed here on my website: Buy A Book Help A Kid
As for donating on your own, I recommend people look up foster care organizations in their area, Child Welfare Services so that their personal monetary gift can stay within their own communities.
MGF: SECRETS OF THE LOTUS was published as an eBook last year by Lyrical Press, Inc. and is available on their website: Lyrical Press as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most other eBook retailers. Lyrical Press, Inc. will also publish my next romance novel, WINTER SOLSTICE, later this year, and any royalties I earn from that will also be donated to charity.
So far my royalties have gone to the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund NWF
This month’s royalties I’ve promised to Habitat for Humanity:
Habitat for Humanity
Beginning next month, I plan to keep a running total on my blog, BREATHE , along with links to the charities I have donated to.
AJ: Thank you both for the information and what you guys are doing. I think this is a terrific idea and I hope some folks will follow suit. I have something in the works that I’m thinking of donating any money made from it to one of the children’s leukemia organizations here in South Carolina.
Before I let you go, is there any other way that we can spread the word and get others involved?
MGF: I believe this is a worthwhile project and I’m thrilled that the two of you are involved in it. As for involving others, a blog dedicated to the project would be great. I haven’t had an opportunity to start one, but it’s a good idea. And of course, if Oprah could get wind of this, that would be a plus. But I’m a big believer in word of mouth, too. Grassroots efforts can make a huge difference. So maybe it starts with the three of us. And we blog about it and somebody reads our blogs and tells someone else. Maybe eventually the someone else who hears about this project really IS Oprah. It could happen.
AJ: It could.
Again thank you both for your time and for spearheading what I hope turns into a large group of folks donating of themselves to charities around the world. To use a cliché, a little goes a long way.
MGF: Thank you, AJ, and you too, Steve.
SL: Thanks for having us, AJ, and thanks again to Michelle, whose idea inspired me.
(Herbie’s Note: As Michelle stated, all writers can afford to donate their royalties to a charitable organization. However, donating is not only about money, but time as well. If you would like to become one of Michelle’s HONEOWP’s, drop me a line, or better yet, visit her blog and let her know. Helping spread the word about this project can go as far as money does. Post a blog. Tell a friend. Post links on writer’s forums or anywhere else, for that matter. Every little bit helps.)