Last May I met an incredible group of women.
Molly McAdams and I were doing a signing at a University bookstore in the Dallas area right after the semester had ended. So, of course, all those college students we'd been hoping to find were long gone.
But luckily, we didn't have to sit alone in that Barnes and Noble because a few awesome fans came out to see us, including a group of women that had made a long drive from Oklahoma. I've since seen these awesome ladies at several signings (all of which were outside Oklahoma, but they made the trip anyway). You'll even find them mentioned in the acknowledgments of SEEKING HER because they will forever and always hold a place in my heart and my memory.
Well, after that Dallas signing (which was only my 2nd or 3rd signing EVER if I remember correctly), we got to talking. They'd come so far, and the signing lasted less than an hour, and we wanted to hang out a little longer to make the trip worthwhile for them. Someone (it might have even been me) jokingly said we should go get tattoos. We looked around the circle, Molly and I shrugged because we both have and love tattoos. And we said, "Sure!"
So, we took to Yelp and found a nearby tattoo parlor that had good ratings, and we set off. And as we all sat in the tattoo parlor talking about tattoo ideas and looking at pictures and portfolios, one member of our group was the first to step up and into the tattoo chair.
Her name was Kerry (bottom left on the picture above), and she got this gorgeous tattoo of a four leaf clover that said "Luck of the Irish."
I will always remember that day. Hell, I have ink on my skin that means I'll absolutely never forget it. But today I'm writing because our friend Kerry has not been so lucky. A few months back, one of the other awesome tattoo ladies, Angela, reached out to me on Facebook with bad news. Kerry had had a seizure at work, and after a few terrible days and lots of tests, they found out she had stage four lung cancer that had spread to her brain. The tumors there were too risky to chance an operation, and a few days later, more tests revealed that the cancer had spread into even more parts of her body, including her lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and pancreas. Since then, despite chemo and other treatments, Kerry's prognosis has continued to decline.
When Angela contacted me, I was so devastated for her and Kerry and their families. These women never fail to put a smile on my face when they show up at signings full of enthusiasm and love and unwavering support for the NA and Indie communities. I wanted to be able to do something special for Kerry, and I know LOSING IT was her favorite book of mine (Hamlet is her favorite character, in fact). So, between deadlines for books I wrote a Garrick and Bliss (and Hamlet) short story inspired by our first meeting. It's called INKING HIM. And yep, you guessed it... Garrick gets a tattoo.
I wrote this story for Kerry, but I'm sharing it all with you in the hopes that you'll help me give a little something back to her. The days ahead aren't going to get any easier for Kerry and her family and friends. She's exhausted, and they're all in pain, and they could all use a little hope and love. And if you're reading this, you most likely know the way that books (and book people) can touch and change your life. So, here's what I would ask of you.
Using the hashtag #WordsforKerry on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or wherever, post something for Kerry to see to help brighten up her day. It can be a cute guy with a cat, an inspiring or funny quote from a book you love, or just your well wishes, thoughts, and prayers for her and her family. As a community of book lovers, we might sit alone in our homes, reading our books alone, but I hope you'll help me show this book lover that she's not alone. It's such a small thing, and I hope you'll take the time to do that and show your support.
There are more ways you can help, too. You can email Kerry at email@example.com (or perhaps send your love by gifting an e-book that you love because those are better than cards anyway, am I right?). If you're an author, blogger, or a reader who wants to send Kerry books or swag or anything else to brighten up her day, you can do so here:
C/O Kim Koumbis 1532 West Onyx Way
Mustang, OK 73064
Or if you'd care to donate to Kerry and her family, they've set up a paypal account where you can easily contribute to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't know how to send money via paypal, you can read instructions here. Even if it's just $.99, the amount you would pay had I published this short story instead of posting it here, that can add up if enough people read and contribute.
Please know that this is me asking these things of you, not Kerry, or her family. I planned this with her friend without Kerry's input in the hopes that the book community would reach out and give this wonderful woman back some of the love that she's poured out over the years. And whether you're donating to her family or just tweeting her a message, I'm thankful for whatever you're willing to do.
Here's the tattoo I got that day in Dallas:
It was inspired by one of my favorite books, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Specifically to remind me of this quote from the book:
“Life’s all about the revolution, isn’t it?
The one inside, I mean. You can’t change history.
You can’t change the world.
All you can ever change is yourself.”
I wish I could do more for Kerry. I wish I could take away the pain and the stress and the fear. I wish I had more than words and prayers to offer her, but I'll give her what I can. And I hope you'll join me. And Kerry, I love you girl. Thanks for touching my life and loving my books and being such a beautiful person. I'm praying for luck and a revolution for you.
So without further ado, here's Kerry's story... INKING HIM:
I hope you enjoyed this little peek back into the world of Garrick and Bliss. And please don't forget to spread the support using #WordsforKerry. And if you don't mind sharing this blog post so more people can read and support, I would be so very grateful. Just so you know... this is not the same Garrick and Bliss short story that you'll receive if you pre-order All Lined Up. That's a separate campaign through my publisher that you can find out more about here.
Thanks again for stopping by and spreading the word! I appreciate it so much, and I know Kerry and her people do, too!