Writing for a Cause
I had no intention of writing for charity when I began my first novel in the collection of six interrelated stories that I wanted to tell. Much of the action in my first book x0 takes place in Nigeria and as I did my research I became fascinated with the organization Doctors Without Borders. I learned that it was formed by frustrated French doctors who were forced to remain silent about the starvation in Biafra during Nigeria’s brutal civil war. Today they send physicians worldwide with the charge of never keeping quiet as regards human suffering.
That’s incredibly cool, I thought. In a burst of altruism I decided to donate ten percent of my proceeds from the book x0 to this organization. Be it a little or a lot, it seemed a good way to put something back. And that was that.
Then I had this idea of creating a blog for each one of my six novels with the URL’s all matching. Much to my surprise the second URL was already taken. A little research showed that it belonged to an organization called To the Power of One that was headquartered in Hawaii and worked exclusively to develop self-sufficiency throughout the Pacific. This was surprising because much of the action in my second book y1 takes place in the Pacific. While x0 explores the theme of how we are all alike, y1 focuses on our own uniqueness and self-sufficiency. It was just too good of a fit. I pledged ten percent of the proceeds from y1 to them.
By the time I finished z2, I admit that I was sort of looking for a cause. Racism plays a major role in this book about time and changing attitudes and I often turned to the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center for information. It’s a nonprofit civil rights group dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. It wasn’t difficult to decide to continue my unintentional trend and earmark ten percent for these fine folks as well.
Lest I sound more generous than I am, it is fair to mention that my husband and I have a fairly dismal record donating to charities. We mean well, we really do, but we tend to be too busy or having some kind of costly emergency ourselves and giving money to worthy causes just doesn’t seem to happen. On the other side of the coin, we aren’t relying on my writing to pay our mortgage or buy groceries, which at this point is a good thing. So while we can always use a little more income, it’s not so difficult for me to make a pledge like this.
Have I done it yet? I set a threshold of a certain number of books sold before I would declare the check big enough to be worthy of sending. So far only x0, first published on Kindle in February 2012 and in paperback in December 2012, has sold enough copies to qualify, although y1 is getting close.
So yes, I sent the check off to Doctor’s Without Borders a few weeks ago, and just got back a wonderful little letter acknowledging what I was doing with my novel and thanking me for it. Terribly cool. I’m going to frame it and hang it in my study. I had no idea that being an author would have the potential to provide joys in so many ways.
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Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer. She published her first short story in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, but when the next story idea came to her it declared that it had to be a whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, explained calmly that in a fit of practicality she had gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well paying. The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
Apparently, she was now Mrs. Cronin, and they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though that is where a lot of the money had gone. Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She has been wide awake ever since, and writing away.
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