Monday, September 26, 2016

Murder for Fun and Nonprofit

by Tracy Weber

Writers are among the most generous people I know.  Mystery writers, even more so.  Who would have guessed that the world’s nicest people spend their spare time plotting murder?

From graciously offering advice and kudos on the SINC discussion lists, to writing blurbs for their peers, to donating items for auctions and fundraisers, SINC members do it all.  Some, however, go even further.  I recently spent time with chatting with some of our most generous sisters to learn where, why, and how they give via their writing.

Debra H Goldstein was the inspiration for this article.  In addition spending her time on numerous family and professional obligations, Debra has always been an active community volunteer. Her writing could be no exception. Here’s what she told me:

“When my first book, Maze in Blue, a mystery on the University of Michigan's campus, was published, I realized just how lucky I was and decided to give back.  For that book, my royalties from different signings were directed to the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, and the YWCA's childcare programs.  My advance and all royalties from pre-orders and both bookstore and e-book sales of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery through May 30, 2016 were divided between the YWCA of Central Alabama's domestic violence and Collat Jewish Family Services CARES dementia respite programs.  I serve on the boards of both organizations and know the impact they have on the lives of people in Birmingham.  I've been fortunate to have a wonderful happy and healthy family, a successful legal career and the opportunity to fulfill my book writing dreams, so it only seems right to pass it along.”

Janis Patterson:  Janis donates one quarter of the royalties of her new mystery A Killing at El Kab  to the restoration fund of the El Kab dig house/excavation headquarters. Here’s why:

“I am doing this because Egyptology is very important to me - my husband and I met through our mutual love of Egyptology, and he even proposed to me in the gardens of the Mena Hotel, which is across the road from the Pyramids. 

Last year we were fortunate enough to be invited to stay at the dig house - and civilians are NEVER invited to stay at dig houses. Our dear friend the director had to work his way through three levels of Egyptian bureaucracy to get us permission to stay. 

The house was built in 1906 and is in dire need of restoration. I chose this as my 'charity' because the El Kab excavation is an important one, spanning from the Badarian culture to the present, and the dig house is itself an important part of history.”

Kaye George, Kathy Waller, V. P. Chandler, Reavis Z. Wortham, Gale Albright, Laura Oles, Earl Staggs, and Scott Montgomery! Kaye George told me about an anthology put out by her Austin writing group called Murder on Wheels:  Eleven Tales of Crime on the Move. The anthology was published by Wildside Press. 

Kaye says, “Many of us, including me, have been involved with Meals on Wheels and have done volunteer work for them, so we donate over half of our royalties to the Austin Meals on Wheels group. Since the royalties aren't much, we add to that.”

Susan van Kirk: Susan lives in a small Midwestern town that is economically depressed, and she uses her work to support the arts in her local community.

“I taught English in the public school system for thirty-four years, and we all know the arts are the first area to be cut when money problems persist. The Buchanan Center for the Arts is very active in our small town of Monmouth, Illinois. It keeps fine arts programs going for all age groups, but especially for the young people in the area. They had a fundraiser and two of the names of characters in my upcoming book, Marry in Haste, were auctioned off, raising $2800 (when added to a state grant that doubled the bids.) Marry in Haste is my second Endurance mystery, following Three May Keep a Secret.”

Tracy Weber: My writing combines the three things I love best:  yoga, dogs and murder mysteries!  The dog part is my passion and inspiration.  My own lovely German shepherd, Tasha, suffers from the same autoimmune disease as Bella, the German shepherd in my series: Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).

EPI is a relatively rare disease that primarily impacts German shepherds.  Although the disease can be controlled, it can’t be cured, and approximately twenty percent of animals diagnosed with the disease are euthanized before the owners even try.  Those who do choose to treat their animals often undergo significant financial hardships.  A pit bull with EPI was recently profiled on the TV show, Ellen.  The owners spent over sixteen thousand dollars on veterinary bills before getting a diagnosis!

I donate a portion of sales of my Downward Dog Mysteries, including the most recent, Karma’s a Killer, to EPI dogs in need.  How could I not?  If it weren’t for my own EPI dog, I never would have written a single word, much less four books—and counting—in a mystery series.

How about you?  What causes are important to you?  How can you use your writing to support them? I’d love to hear about it.


Annette said...

The mystery community is the best!

For my part, I've donated a portion of my royalties for the sale of my second novel, LOST LEGACY, to the Alzheimer's Association, and will continue to do so as long as it continues to earn royalties.

Tracy Weber said...

That's wonderful, Annette. My MIL suffers from Alzheimer's, and it is truly a devastating disease. On another note, I just finished listening to the audiobook of Lost Legacy, and I loved it! WELL DONE!

Annette said...

Thank you, Tracy! Lost Legacy is still (and probably always will be) my favorite of the series. It's the story of my heart, dedicated to my dad who suffered from Alzheimer's.

Tracy Weber said...

So sorry about your father.