Today, Jan. 20, 2020, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a federal holiday that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The holiday was signed into federal law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. MLK Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
But did you know…this is meant to be a day of service?
The holiday is meant to be “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
FOR THOSE STILL WORKING
While this is a federal/state holiday, it is not one mandated to be a day off work for all privately owned companies. Only 33% of non-state and federal employers give this time off. So if you have to be at work, we get it.
However, you can still make it a day of service. Consider taking a moment to reach out to your HR or your department head. Make the request that even if it’s not a day off, that it be a day of service starting next year where employees can go out in groups, with company t-shirts even, to do a day of service together. (Trust me, most companies love to be represented by community minded employees this way.)
Also, there is still time after work that you can do something small. Check out the list below.
FOR THOSE WITH THE DAY OFF
For those with the day off, what are you going to do to make this a “day on.” Some great ideas are listed below.
*This list is a shortened version of the one found at https://blog.fundly.com/community-service-ideas/ to be things doable in the short term for 1 day of service. Check out the bigger list for more fantastic ideas!
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit
- Participate in a national giving or remembrance day
- Clean up your local park or playground
- Plant trees, flowers, or other plants
- Repair broken household items or appliances for neighbors
- Write and send letters to soldiers and veterans
HELP KIDS / SCHOOLS
- Volunteer at a youth shelter
- Donate used books to a children’s library
- Donate your used electronics to a school
- Donate baby clothes and supplies
- Join a group like Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Donate stuffed animals to kids in hospitals
HELP SENIOR CITIZENS
- Take flowers to nursing home residents
- Cook a meal for a senior
- Decorate doors at a nursing home for the holidays
- Host agame night at a nursing home
- Teach an elderly person a card game or trick
- Teach an elderly neighbor computer skills
- Adopt a grandparent
- Write letters for a senior
- Deliver cookies or snacks to elderly neighbors
HELP ANIMALS / ENVIRONMENT
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Sponsor an animal in your city’s zoo
- Build birdhouses for your neighborhood
- Donate to a local animal shelter
- Collect pet food and supplies for a shelter
- Plant trees in a local park
- Clean up a stretch of highway/local park/common areas in your neighborhood
- Spruce up a park trail or hiking area
- Bike to work or school
HELP HOMELESS / HUNGRY
- Collect household items for a homeless family
- Give grocery coupons to a local food bank
- Create care packages with essential items
- Donate toys and school supplies to a homeless shelter
- Donate blankets to a homeless shelter
- Volunteer at and donate to your local food bank
- Create portable first aid kits for the homeless
- Donate gently used clothing and shoes
- Spend time at a soup kitchen
CRIME REDUCTION & SAFETY
- Become part of your neighborhood watch group
- Join an organization like DARE
- Paint over graffiti in your neighborhood
- Start a violence protection group in your community
SPECIAL NEEDS FOCUS
- Hold a crayon and marker drive
- Collect school supplies for special needs classrooms
- Help make sure your neighborhood is handicap accessible
- Donate to a care center in your community
NEIGHBORHOOD & COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT
- Campaign for more bike lanes and sidewalks
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood
- Rake leaves for neighbors
- Join your neighborhood watch group
- Help people clean their gutters
Some of you may know about the implosion that has been happening with Romance Writers of America (RWA) since before Christmas (and really for years). For any who don’t know and are interested, there is a good recap that is a list of the daily events with links to posts or other documentation. This is being updated daily.
I have been a member of RWA since 2013 and have served on several boards and committees or helped run events through the years. I have made countless friends, established professional connections, and seen my career flourish thanks to workshops I’ve learned from, events I’ve attended, and the people who’ve helped me along the way.
And I am heart-stricken to say I, like so many, have been blind to the fact that other RWA members who fall into various marginalized groups have not had the same experience.
Here’s the thing…I can’t say I am surprised.
As a woman, I have experienced microaggressions and discrimination in many situations–as a previous professional in the male-dominated tech industry, but also as a woman dealing with (sadly) other women. Some overt, like being blocked for jobs or opportunities. Some so subtle it made me want to scream. All it takes is a look or a comment, something others in the room miss, but you know was targeted at you. Even careless remarks, unintended to hurt, can carry a great deal of sting.
Writers, of all people, should understand that words matter.
Even within RWA (with all the good experiences I’ve had) starting as a self-published author, I was made by some to feel that wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t a “real” author. And it felt awful.
How much more terrible for any person to experience any kind of exclusion or discrimination over and over and over about who they intrinsically are. In small, subtle ways and larger, explicit ones. In personal ways and from the organization that is supposed to be helping and providing a safe space for all.
In a genre promoting love and hope, why are we not seeing it for everyone? Love is love is love.
Regardless of who is or is not at fault, the ways in which both sides have handled things, and whether or not RWA as an organization can rise from the ashes of this fallout and regain the trust of its membership, it seems to me one thing is clear–we should do better.
I should do better.
As an author who falls in the white, heterosexual, able-bodied group (ADHD is something I’ve been lucky enough to learn to use for me rather than battle against, so I don’t personally count that for myself), I should work the hardest and be the most determined to do better.
I have friends and family, loved ones close to me, who fall into a myriad of marginalized groups, and I want to do better for them. As an author, whose works are read by total strangers who might then go out into the world and reflect my words, I want to do better for them. I know I will stumble and mess up and show my ignorance and get things wrong as I go, but please know that I am trying.
I am a far, far cry from perfect and, while I would sincerely hope not, have no doubt that contained in the 30+ previous works of mine are microaggressions or offenses thanks to ignorance, carelessness, or a perception of the world seen through privileged rose-colored glasses. Absolutely unintended, but that doesn’t matter if my words caused harm. If I hurt anyone with my words, spoken or written, or with my actions, I unequivocally apologize. I will also be continuing to listen, to educate myself better, and to read back through my old works to fix them as I am able (something I had already started prior to this).
The situation imploding RWA is complicated, messy, ugly, and heartbreaking. It is a difficult time for members as we all decide what is best not only for ourselves personally and professionally, but for our chapter(s), and the organization as a whole. Readers, please know that we also keep you in our thoughts as we move forward and strive to do better.
It’s coming up on the end of the old year and beginning of the new, and you know what that means… Goals.
Look at how you did on the old ones and set some new ones to keep that forward momentum. I do this every year for personal and professional goals. Let’s take a look at those author ones.
I had a wonderful 2019 with new releases, new contracts, time with wonderful friends, fun at conferences, and growing my skill set. Here are some of the highlights: Continue reading “2019 Accomplishments | 2020 Goals!”
I am thrilled to announce that THE BOSS placed 2nd in Paranormal/SciFi/Fantasy Romance in the 2019 Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” contest, hosted by RWA NYC!
It’s release day!!!!
I can’t wait for y’all to read Drake’s story. My grumpy dragon shifter who is dying needs a strong, sunshiney woman to help him find his way, don’t you think?
FIRE’S EDGE #3
Some kinds of fire are only meant to kill.
Death comes for everyone. Even Drake Chandali. The aging process that twists all unmated dragon shifters’ bodies into something useless has taken hold of his body centuries early. A mate could have reversed the process, but now it’s too late. To protect his team of enforcers, he leaves, and comes face to face with the woman he’d thought was human when he saved her from a fire months before.
Except she’s not human. She’s a mate.
Camilla Carrillo almost lost her family to wildfire. To discover she’s fated to mate a creature made of flame and rage, and become one herself, should be terrifying. But somehow a rightness settles inside her, especially when she’s around the glowering red dragon shifter who wants nothing to do with her.
When Drake learns Cami bears his mark—the same mark as the High King—he refuses to believe she’s meant to be his. It’s too late. How could he turn Cami only to take her with him to the grave? At the same time, he can’t walk away. Hiding her from the corrupt, rotting High King might be the last honorable thing Drake ever does with the little time he has left.
Entangled Publishing | Coming 12.9.2019!!!
If you love The Enforcer… check out “The Mate” a FREE prequel short story. (ALL books in this series can be read as stand-alone.)
BOOKS IN THIS SERIES
REVIEWS & QUOTES
✭✭✭✭✭ I’m pretty sure that The Enforcer is my favorite Fire’s Edge book… Abigail’s writing is amazing as ever and the storyline completely captivating. I cannot wait to see what comes next in the Fire’s Edge series. One day maybe even all the couples will reunite. One can hope at least. ~Hines & Bigham’s Literary Tryst
✭✭✭✭✭ Brilliant storytelling in a world created to fall into and believe in, page after page. Feel the heat, the passions and the turmoil as one dragon and one mate find each other only after it may be too late. ~Tome Tender
Usually by now, when he didn’t speak, people left him alone. When Cami levered off the floor, he expected her to do exactly that, or maybe go get Rune. Shock had him freezing when, instead, she crawled onto the bed beside him, a swirl of scents—crisp winter air, exotic jasmine, and an edge of smoke—surrounding him, smothering him, filling him up.
Drake held his breath and wished her anywhere but next to him on this bed.
Oblivious to his sour thoughts, Cami reached to put a hand to his forehead.
Only he slapped it away before she could touch. “I’m fine,” he said on a growl.
Cami scowled, not remotely intimidated. “Then speak up and say so.” She backed off, but not much and muttered a word that sounded suspiciously like pendejo.
“I am not an idiot,” he muttered.
“Yeah?” The word burned with her scorn. “Do you have any idea how long you’ve been out? Two days.”
That explained why he had to piss so damn bad.
“Or is your default setting asshole?” she continued. “I’m trying to help you, and I don’t scare as easy as the others.”
Apparently, she already had him pegged. Drake grunted, then pushed up to sitting, hating the way his arms shook with that small task, a weakness that had him mentally swearing at the muscles. Hiding a grimace, he leaned against the rounded wall of the cave which served as a headboard for the mattress. The cool of the stone seeped through his thin shirt and into his skin, sending a shiver racing through him.
He scowled. Dragons didn’t shiver. They were impervious to cold.
Cami must’ve caught a nuance in his expression because she narrowed her eyes. “You’re not okay, are you?”
She reached out again, and this time he didn’t stop her from laying her cool hand against his forehead, though he had to stop himself from leaning into her touch. She tsked. “You’re burning up.”
“All dragon shifters burn,” he said.
Cami shook her head. “No. I think this is different.”
“Because you’d know.”
She ignored his heavy sarcasm. “I should go get Rune.”
Drake shifted under the sheets that seemed determined to remain wrapped around his feet. “I’m surprised he left you alone with me.”
“He didn’t want to, something about you being a scary motherfucker. His words. He needed to sleep after flying all that way, and, after the yelling, and throwing a pillow—” She paused and shook her head at him the way a school teacher might scold a small student who’d thrown a pencil. “None of the others would come near you.”
“You should’ve listened to him.” Only he got the sense she wasn’t fully comprehending his words, whether willfully or naively he wasn’t sure.
“You were out cold.” She gave a negligent shrug, only confirming his concern. “And weak as a newborn giraffe, if I miss my guess. I’m safe enough.”
That newborn giraffe comment rankled and had him biting back an irritated growl. Did this woman have no sense of self-preservation?
In a swift move, he grabbed her by both wrists, rolling so that he lay on top of her, holding her hands over her head, pinning them against the bed in a forceful grip, weighing her body down with his own. He had to hide how that small move had him breathing hard, though. He glared at her as though nothing was wrong.
“I’m not out cold now. Am I?”
CONTRIBUTOR & BOOK INFO
Page Count: 365
Word Count: 99k
Release Date: 12/9/2019
The Enforcer (Fire’s Edge #3) – Chapter 1 Excerpt
Fire raged below Drake in glowing streaks across the greens and tans of the California countryside, black smoke billowing into the blue skies. The heat couldn’t reach him here where he hovered, a useless observer thanks to daylight hours. Damn his blood-red scales that made it impossible to not be discovered when closer to the ground. At least the scales on his underside reflected the sky above him, allowing him to camouflage this high up. As every dragon shifter could do. Continue reading “The Enforcer | Chapter 1 Excerpt”
This past Thanksgiving week, my family took a fantastical vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary!
The Rookie is now in audio! Continue reading “The Rookie in Audiobook”
Looky-looky! I’ve teamed up with other awesome paranormal romance authors from Entangled to bring you a holiday treat! 6 holiday paranormal romance stories for only $0.99!