It may seem like I share a lot about my life on social media, but I don’t always share everything. Today I feel like being a little more honest.
A few years before I began writing, my step-father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The surgery to attempt to remove the tumor left him physically dependent on my mother for everyday tasks because he was no longer able to walk without support. He lost his fine motor skills, so even the tiniest of tasks, like buttoning a shirt, were impossible without assistance. We were not wealthy and the effects of the surgery left him unable to work. It had a huge impact on all of our lives.
My mother couldn’t quit her job because they needed the money. She worked tirelessly to care for him, to pay the bills, to prepare his meals, to provide him with the best possible quality of life she could.
I worked full-time myself, I was a full-time college student and had three small children. I did what I could to help, as did other members of the family, but it wasn’t enough. I’m sure at times it was overwhelming for my mother. But my step-father kept her going because through all of it…through losing his independence, his career, his livelihood…he still smiled. Every day. Even through two more surgeries that would rob him of even more of his physical abilities, he never took her help for granted.
The hardest part of all of it was that even after several years, he continued to need full-time care and she continued to have to work. She would wake up early every morning to cook his food for the day, to help him get situated. For two years she gave up her lunch breaks at work to drive home and care for him. She would then go back to work and come straight home and care for him in the evening and throughout the night, only to get up and do it all again the next day. It was a cycle they would be stuck in for the rest of their lives because the money wasn’t there to improve either of their situations. And at the time, I was not in a position to help them.
I know I say this all the time, but when I wrote my first book, I truly had no expectations. But after time, I began making enough money from the books I was writing to pay off our bills, but it wasn’t enough to really make a difference in anyone else’s life. It wasn’t until 2013, when Hopeless released, that I began making enough money to help my parents.
One of the absolute greatest moments of my life occurred in January, 2013. I drove to my mother’s work and handed her an envelope. Inside it was a note and a check to cover two years of her salary. The note said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, quit your f*cking job already.”
It was a very emotional moment for both of us because we never thought we would be in a position for something like that to happen. She was finally able to stay home with my father and care for him full-time. It’s been a bumpy road for them with many other health issues that have presented themselves as a result of the brain tumor. One of the hardest things being that they still lived in the same old house they paid $1,000 for when I was four-years-old. A house that hindered my father’s ability to be independent.
About two years ago, with the income from my books, we were able to have a handicap accessible house built for them. My father is no longer confined to the living room. He no longer needs her help to assist him in getting through doorways, into the shower, into bed, etc. He is much more independent now, and while he will always be physically dependent on a walker, he now has a house that has allowed him to be physically dependent on only himself and no one else. It has improved his health tremendously. A few years ago, his health was rapidly declining because we couldn’t afford the care and tools he needed to improve his quality of life. Now he is happier than he’s ever been and in the best physical health he’s been in since his first brain surgery.
I’m sharing all of this because a lot of people know my life has changed financially. You see my posts and know that I don’t live in a trailer house anymore. You see my posts and know that I get to travel. But what you don’t see is the true impact you have had on my family. When you buy a book for entertainment, you probably don’t think about where your money is going. Or maybe you do, but you never think about how your support has actually saved lives. I am convinced my step-father would not be with us right now if you guys wouldn’t have given my books a chance.
Throughout the last few years, a lot of lives have been changed through reading, especially in this genre and with the newfound avenue of self-publishing.
A lot of authors have done wonderful things for charities. I’ve seen authors give up entire release month sales and donate them to charity. A lot have done wonderful things for their families. And none of this would be possible without the readers who support them.
The Bookworm Box wasn’t created for more publicity, more recognition or more success. It was created because I saw firsthand how this industry and the readers in it can make a huge difference in the lives of individuals. And what a huge difference you’ve made! $600,000 raised and donated in the past year. MANY lives changed and even a few lives saved.
My mother sent me this text this morning.
It is what got me thinking about this entire industry as a whole, and how very, very grateful I am for it. It’s beautiful to see how much the career you guys have enabled me to continue has changed my mother and father’s lives this drastically.
Just in the past few months alone in my Facebook newsfeed, I’ve seen several authors doing huge things with their income. They are buying groceries and school supplies for their readers, some are donating a portion of their sales to various charities, some are matching proceeds by purchasing immunizations and vaccines, some are donating books and proceeds to The Bookworm Box in order to benefit various charities. And I wish I could tell you how many in this industry have privately donated to our charity and have requested they not be named publicly. It’s a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.
If you have a positive story to share about this industry and the impact it has had on you, share it. Whether you share it publicly or thank someone privately, make sure the people who have impacted your life know they have done so.
On behalf of my family and my parents…thank you. Every day, we thank you.