This is my second attempt at a Ten Things of Thankful post. The first meandered off so much it was going to end up about a million words before I written anything about gratitude. I’ll save those words for another post.
Friday 25th would have been my father’s birthday. As many of you know, he died last year. He died of myeloma, a bone marrow cancer that isn’t widely known, although in the UK it’s the 17th most common cancer. It affects slightly more men than women, but nobody knows why. It attacks people in different ways – it destroyed some of my father’s vertebrae, and caused him constant pain. Nobody knows exactly what causes it, and as yet there’s no cure – although some people can live with it for many years.
So, when I decided I wanted to do something to commemorate my dad on his birthday it seemed appropriate to support the charity Myeloma UK. This charity supports sufferers and is working towards finding causes and cures.
Dad loved my novel, Drawings in Sand. He loved that as well as being a story it had a message, a healing message.
He also partly inspired two of the stories in my collection Looking For America. So I had the idea to give both my books away over this weekend, starting on his birthday and right through to Monday. Then I thought to ask for donations to Myeloma UK instead. I only had these ideas last week, so there wasn’t much time to prepare. But fortunately I’ve been doing a fabulous Social Media Bootcamp run by Julie Deneen of Fabulous Blogging, so I was more prepared than I would have been otherwise! I now know how to schedule posts on Hootsuite, how to write mini-blog posts for Google+, and several other things I didn’t know before. And I have about 200 more Twitter followers than I had a month ago. I’m thankful to Julie for sharing her knowledge and skill.
One of the things Julie taught us was how to design blog graphics using Canva. This is a free site with tons of layouts – for blog graphics, Pinterest posts, presentations and more. You can upload your photos and arrange them, adding text and backgrounds. I made the graphic at the bottom of this post in just a few minutes. It doesn’t always work that quickly, and the one for the giveaway took a long longer. Sometimes it freezes up, but overall, I am very thankful for Canva!
First I set up a page on the JustGiving site so that people could donate to the charity. Then a few days ago I contacted The Shetland Times, the local newspaper where I grew up and where my parents lived. I told the paper about the giveaway I had planned, about how my father died of myeloma and that there is a high incidence in the Shetland Isles. I explained I wanted to raise money for Myeloma UK and asked if they could include something about it on their website. I expected a little corner somewhere tucked away. But that’s not how the site works and by Thursday evening the giveaway was headline news, with a photo of my dad topping the screen! The photo opposite is the one they used. Dad was 83 when it was taken, and he’d just climbed Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in the center of Edinburgh. Six months before that he’d had a broken collar bone and cracked pelvis in a car accident!
Thankful doesn’t even describe how I felt to see that post on the Shetland Times website, and felt the support, knowing we now had a much better chance now of raising money. That same evening the first donation came in, and by Friday morning there were several more.
So I felt excited – and hopeful we’d reach the target of £400 in no time.
My husband and I went off to buy a new dishwasher. Ours went “bang” the day before and smoke came pouring out of it – that was exciting! Nobody got hurt, the dishwasher was ancient and we got it free years ago so I’m certainly not grieving for its loss. And I’m very grateful that John Lewis was doing a price match and that Bosch are doing a £100 cash back, so we got a new dishwasher for way less than we expected. (When I say “got” I mean ordered and paid for. The new one is 2 weeks away at least. So I’m thankful it’s warm enough to eat salad most days and save on washing up.)
As Friday wore on and the USA woke up, I was totally, utterly stunned by how many people downloaded Drawings in Sand. By Saturday morning it was number 1 for its category for free books on Amazon. I had to take a screen shot – it’s the first time I’ve been number one in anything!
I’m not getting a penny for any of those “sales” but it’s just so nice to think that so many people may now read my novel. Many reviewers seem to agree with my father’s view that reading it is healing. That was my intention so I’m glad it’s getting out there.
Another lovely thing happened on Friday – I got an email from Myeloma UK, thanking me for fund-raising and offering their support. It turns out that JustGiving contacts charities to let them know about fund-raisers, and passes on the email address. This is probably on the website, but I didn’t read it all that thoroughly. Anyway, I tried to email back and for some mysterious reason, my email server would not send an email to Myeloma UK, so in the end I rang up. The person I spoke to was lovely, and so appreciative of the giveaway. Myeloma UK tweeted about the giveaway, someone retweeted and we had a Twitter chat. She is also fund-raising for Myeloma UK because her father has myeloma. So far he’s doing well.
So, I do feel a little disappointed that we’re still nowhere close to the fund-raising target. This is where we’ve got to:
But this is the first time I’ve done anything like this, so I’m learning. I’m grateful for what we’ve raised so far. And there’s still time. Besides, if people keep buying the books at the rate they’ve been downloading free, I’ll soon be a millionaire and can give it all to charity myself! (Yeah, sure Yvonne, that’s going to happen.)
I’ve been working on this post on an off all day, and in that time, two more donations came in, so this is now where we’ve got to:
That little purple lake (that’s what it reminds me of anyway) is slowly filling up! I am thankful.
The giveaway is still going on for the rest of today and for tomorrow, so if you haven’t yet downloaded and you would like to, then head over to Amazon.com for Drawings In Sand (Or Amazon.co.uk, or ca. or au! Or any of the others.) And if you’d like to donate towards Myeloma UK, I am very grateful in advance. Just click here for my Just Giving webpage.
Earlier today I went looking for quotes about gratitude to use in this post, and came across the one opposite – it seemed to sum up how I’ve felt this weekend. Instead of grieving that I haven’t made the money for charity that I’d hoped to, I can be glad of what it has received.
But it also is fitting for my feelings about my Dad this weekend. I do still miss him – a lot. But I have wonderful memories of him and I think he would have been delighted that I decided to remember his birthday this way. So I do feel thankful for all of that.