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Monday, June 22, 2015

Shout Out for Charity

June 2015

by Courtney Pierce

As a baby boomer, I’ve maintained my idealistic view of the world and the belief that one person can initiate change for the good. It must be my combination of dogged determination and Peter Pan Syndrome. I blink, wide-eyed like a child, when we humans make bonehead moves that benefit the few and devastate the many. That makes no sense! What are we thinking?

Beneath the humorous and emotional prose in every one of my books lurks a theme of charity. Serious adult problems are met with an adolescent response and humor. My characters charge ahead, creating no end of trouble for themselves to reach a goal that benefits someone else. In my first trilogy series, Stitches, Brushes, and Riffs, a boomer couple unravels the question “What would you do today if you had the chance to be immortal at the end of natural life?” My characters make that decision over three books and – no spoilers – become inspired to make their mark on the world with a touch of magic. They accomplish their mission through what they love: art, music, and animals.

David Castillo Dominici
In my current series, The Executrix, three middle-age sisters stumble into their charitable aspirations after their mother dies. Each sister makes a mess of their benevolent path in their own way, but when they come together they’re unstoppable at honoring their mother’s memory, transforming an unruly poodle into a service dog, and helping an elderly mobster reconcile his life by writing his memoir. The fun continues in the sequel Indigo Lake, which if I can stop laughing will be out by the end of the year.

None of us wants to fade away. We want to leave something behind to say “I was here.” Through the gift of story, my goal is to make readers laugh, cry, and to whip up endorphins that inspire. Charity starts with empathy, whether for a character, a cause, or a connection to something bigger than ourselves. Then it must become tangible. For some, a donation of money or a trip to Goodwill completes the circle. For others, charity can be as simple as holding the door open for a stranger or taking a second trip around the block to search for a neighbor’s missing tabby cat.

I wrote a short story last year called The Nest for the Windree Press Christrmas anthology A Gift of Christmas, which was based on my husband’s and my deep love of animals. The inspiration for the story came from a true incident of our finding a baby owl temporarily blinded from hitting a window. While I fictionalized the tale with magical realism and characters from my Stitches series, the real process of nursing the bird back to health was magical truth. After leaving a healthy donation to the kind vets who helped us, we walked on air for weeks. The bird was finally released back into the wild with our hearts lifting its wings.

Small gestures can generate big returns.


Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She enjoys writing for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling with best-selling author Jennifer Lauck at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. She is also a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association.

In Courtney's latest novel, The Executrix, three middle-aged sisters come together after the death of their mother, and the manuscript they find in her safe will test the thickness of sibling blood. While Mom’s prose makes her larger in death than in life, it is the elderly neighbor and his unruly standard poodle who inspire the story that will change the sisters' future. 

Visit Courtney's website at www.courtney-pierce.com. Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.

3 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

So true, Courtney - the little things we do for others is a kind of charity if we look at the real definitions of the word. And I loved "The Nest" in The Gifts of Christmas Anthology! I don't think I knew or it registered that you and your husband had actually found a baby owl. That in and of itself in my world was magical.

Courtney Pierce said...

Thanks, Judith! Truth goes into the compost pile, percolates, and generates organic, rich fiction. I think the best fiction writers are born from decades of life experiences.

Sarah Raplee said...

I LOVED "The Nest", Courtney! Great post!