07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Charity Can Find a Home in Fiction

By Courtney Pierce

One of my goals in life is to create a charitable trust that supports what is personally important to me―funded through book sales. We all want a legacy, and while my books will live on after I’m gone, there’s more I can do to maximize their impact on the world. Authors are in a unique position to communicate their personal wants and wishes by infusing their stories with an inspiration to help others. Like-minded readers will connect and spread the word. Plus, benevolence feels good.

In my books, charity takes shape in the humorous way my characters react to problems. They do the right thing for the wrong reasons, or they’ll do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Their choices create tension and moral dilemmas that force characters to push their limits. The result sparks a predicament. In the first book of my current trilogy, The Executrix, about three middle-age sisters, my characters sneak a standard poodle into a hospital by disguising it as a therapy dog. Of course, the nurses believe the ruse and send the dog on patient rounds. Humorous and poignant chaos ensues. Over three books, the importance of therapy dogs and their service becomes a major subplot, a touchpoint of emotion for my characters. Animals show what they can’t voice.

The addition of a benevolent plot device or personality trait promotes empathy for flawed characters. Even villains fall flat without a redeeming quality. When a fleeing bank robber stops to throw change into a homeless man’s collection cup, readers will see a new dimension to the character. He or she becomes 3-D and real. Readers make an emotional investment to see what happens next.

And then there’s using a charity plot device as a marketing strategy in the process of selling books. This is where I aim to go in my writing. Supporting a cause, either through a direct donation or cooperative marketing arrangement, provides a targeted strategy for promotion, event creation, and publicity. Now I’m cooking with gas.

Heightening awareness of our books in a crowded marketplace is the most challenging step for an author. In the creation phase the words flow freely, but once finished we must climb out the storm cellar to rebuild the barn. Even with a framework of social media, bookstores, and online distribution outlets in place, positioning a new work is difficult without an emotional connection. If the themes in my books can resonate with a specific community, I’m able to raise the stakes.

The writing mantra of “show, don’t tell” can apply to sending the message of charity. My strategy is to show generosity in my characters and incorporate a charitable angle into my plots. Fiction just might turn into something real.

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon. She writes for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, Courtney is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, She Writes, and Sisters in Crime. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at:

The Dushane Sisters are back with Courtney's latest release of Indigo LakeMore laughs, more tears...and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's latest trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrixthree middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth? 

Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in early 2017. Stay tuned!


Judith Ashley said...

Thoughtful post, Courtney. Therapy dogs are an important aspect of so many people's lives. Their unconditional love calms nerves and just brings joy into the lives of those who no longer have a dog.

Joan Ramirez said...

Can you add me to your mailing list? This is so worthwhile.
Joan R
author--baby boomer