The concept started with author Catherine Ryan Hyde and her book, Pay It Forward. A kindness paid to another in reciprocation of a kindness done to you is the heart of the story and the movement that’s lifted and challenged millions world-wide.
Paying it forward isn’t about paying back the giver. It’s moving the kindness out, like wind breathing through pines. In some ways, it’s no different from any other form of altruism, but the original P.I.F. idea activates a basic truth: “we live today and into the future as one.” I gift my gratitude by helping or giving to another with the gentle caveat the receiver does the same for someone else. Pay It Forward has moved me beyond making gestures or just doing something nice. It has taken my hand and walked me through the feel-good gate into a garden of true connection.
I’m gifting a copy of my novel to a 13 year-old boy whose Mom wrote to tell me how excited he was about the first pages of the e-book version. Why? Because he loves turtles.
He rescued a land turtle and a tortoise from owners who didn’t know how to care for them. His animal friends are now healthy and happy. He and I have had a great e-mail exchange, and he and his mom will be looking for ways to pay it forward, too.
Thank you, Catherine for creating, and living on, the pay it forward path.
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behavior, photography, ignorance, and a meadow walk aligned like personal, fated stars one day last month.
My first photography show, Flora abunda is a wildflower image exhibit at CA State Parks’ Ford House Museum. As a hobby photographer and rank amateur in biology and botany, pulling all the pieces together has been a delightful, if sometimes challenging, eye-opener. A local expert made sure my plant i.d.s were correct, and pointed out, in passing, two plants that are food sources for the immature stage of two rare and endangered butterflies: the Behren’s Silverspot and the Lotis Blue – a species considered extinct here for over 30 years.
While compiling the show, I was also writing a short article for the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. They wanted my thoughts on women authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett who, like me, feature the environment (and related human interactions and impacts) in current novels. I’d recently read Flight Behavior and Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things back-to-back. One afternoon flower photos, Latin names, endangered lives, words and themes clogged my brain. I headed out to a nearby forest park and meadow to strain the mental debris. As I stepped out of the woods into the bright, grassland light, I had a my own “Dellarobia” moment.
Spring azure (likely). A common butterfly. Weren’t all our now endangered species once “common?” Photo: Katy Pye
A blue butterfly, barely bigger than a quarter, lit on a grass blade beside me. My feet became one with the path.
The Lotis! It’s got to be. Can’t be. “Are you?” I asked.
It took less than ten minutes to get home, retrieve my camera, and return to the spot. As I crept closer, it seemed impossible he would still be there. Ten minutes in butterfly years is probably twenty human years. He had precious little life to spend waiting for me. I’m sure I heard his rebuke at my approach.
“Finally! You people fly so slow.”
“Just give me a few seconds,” I pleaded, snapping shot after shot.
For a few hours I rode on hope he was the Lotis. Turns out he’s naught but a common variety blue. Still, my encounter proves–as if it needs proving–books fire imagination and the best ones, connection.
Normally, internationally respected and prolific authors like Catherine Ryan Hyde have neither time, nor need to reach out to a debut, indie author like me. I’m oh so grateful Catherine doesn’t believe in “the norm” — in anything.
Catherine was my workshop leader two years ago at the Big Sur Writing Workshop. She mentored five of us for two days, lending encouragement, manuscript tweaks, and bits of industry insider advice. When I wrote to tell her I’d published Elizabeth’s Landing, she proposed an interview for her blog series, “Better Than Blurbs.” The offer meant visibility to her world of devoted readers. Yep, plug in all the clichés about head, clouds, and dancing on air. Add a teeny jolt of terror.
Perhaps unintentionally, the interview questions made me look deeper at the book’s meaning, at how key moments in my life led me to and through the writing, and how the story resolution mirrors (or does it?) today’s political reality. The perfect “debriefing” for my six-year effort. And an amazing gift.
Learn more about Catherine‘s dozens of inspiring books, a life full of writing, hiking, photography, and her often amusing, always loving animal companions, Ella and Jordan. The “Pay It Forward” movement is growing around the world. Catherine’s Pay It Forward version for young readers is scheduled to reach booksellers August 19th. It is also available for pre-order online.
PAY IT BACK
DISCOUNTS ON ELIZABETH’S LANDING (Dec. 2 to midnight Dec. 15)
A portion of book sale profits this year go to sea turtle conservation organizations whose staff shared time and expertise with me as I developed Elizabeth’s Landing.
Paperback: CreateSpace e-store (gives highest author profits = more for sea turtles). Use this discount code B9GBX97Y at check-out for 40% off the list price.
Independent bookstore: The paperback is not directly discounted, but our beloved Gallery Bookshop is offering $.99 shipping (media mail) through December 31, 2013 on all books in-stock. Any out-of-stock books are shipped free when they are restocked. (707) 937-2665. Order the Kobo version through Galleryat the same discount as the Kobo online store.
I just received this endorsement from Diane Wilson, the most compassionate, courageous, and powerful woman I have the privilege to know. After being blown away by her book, I drove to a 1 day writer’s conference in Santa Barbara several years ago just to see her talk. I’d written the first “solid” draft of all the shrimping sections, having spent hours and days reading about the issues, the history of conflict over the turtles, and regulations shrimpers are under. I’d watched many YouTube videos to see how the fishing is done and described what I saw.
I cornered Diane on a break and told her about the book and asked if she knew a shrimper I could talk to, who might help me make sure I’d gotten it right. After hesitantly saying she’d be glad to help, the first thing she asked was, “Is Grandpa a Gulf shrimper or a bay shrimper.” Uhhh, embarrassing. I had no clue; didn’t know there was a difference. I’m surprised she didn’t walk out right then.
My desk during the rewrites. Diane’s book for courage, her photos for inspiration, and the sweetpeas as a reminder there is a garden and world beyond my computer screen.
But she stuck with me, read, corrected, re-read my fixes, and when she said Grandpa was real, I knew I could relax. Some of my favorite parts of Elizabeth’s Landing are there thanks to Diane’s own doggedness. Thank you, Diane. Your praise, and all you do and stand for, touch my heart. And give me strength!
If you haven’t read her books on her own environmental and social justice work, please do. Amazing stuff, read like novels, but all true.
“I can vouch for Ms. Pye’s dedication to the truth and her compassion for sea turtles. I’m a shrimper from the Gulf Coast of Texas, and when Katy Pye asked me to make sure her depictions of shrimpers and shrimp boats in her book was accurate, I was a bit hesitant. I am a fifth generation shrimper and despite our faults, funny and hard nosed ways, these are my people. I love them. I think many people don’t understand them so I’m a bit protective. But Katy was dogged about seeking me out! Wow, Katy! You are as bull-headed as any shrimper I know. So Katy’s narrator, Elizabeth, is pretty close to Katy. Same stubbornness. Same feistiness. I admire Katy for tackling this difficult subject and taking such care and thoughtfulness in her characters. Katy is as much the heroine of her life as her character Elizabeth is of this book. A wonderful read!”
Find Diane’s first book here at Chelsea Green or the usual online stores.
A photo Diane shared with me, which inspired an image in the book. These are wires connecting the boat to the net during a shrimp drag.
It’s true! It’s a miracle! Okay, that’s overstating it, but how it feels after six years. An e-book version of Elizabeth’s story is available through Barnes and Noble’s Nook site. If you don’t have a Nook device, don’t worry, you can download the app for free and read on your computer or other mobile devices. Go toB&N’s Mobile Apps webpage to sign in, sign up, and connect to the right download.
If you’re the something soft and flexible, tree-based-book type person, the Print-on-Demand version will be out by June through Amazon. A Kindle version will go up about the same time, maybe sooner if I’m successful formatting it myself, as I did the Nook. Watch my Facebook Author site, Follow me here, or leave your e-mail on the Contact Me page above for updates.
PLEASE, once you’ve finished the book, leave feedback and ratings at these sites, Goodreads, Facebook it, blog it, etc., because…
A portion of all my book sale profits support worldwide sea turtle conservation and education programs. B&N has e-book gift cards. Bookstores do, too. I’m just sayin’ . . .
Flags are flying–get out your calendar. The revised book launch date at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, CA. is June 30th, 6:30 p.m. Tux, tails, and formals optional, but my tiara’s getting steam-blasted and the side seams of my Senior Prom dress are sprung WAY out for the event.
I’m working on Grandma Linnie to do some of the catering.
Deepest thanks to everyone who has given writing help, an ear to moments of pain and joy, celebrations at key steps, and for believing all these years I really was writing a novel.
Indie publishers and indie bookstores are trying hard to work together so each can survive and grow. I’m publishing with the “big houses” (interpret at will) because it is the most direct, profitable way for me to get books into readers’ hands. Please support your local, or any independent bookstore, and encourage them to carry books you want to read. I’m working to collaborate with them, too.
Port Winston—home to sun, sand, and shopping. What’s not to like? Everything, to 14 year-old Elizabeth Barker, uprooted mid-school year to the Texas coast. When Grandpa, with more judgments than the Old Testament, pronounces her 10¢ shy of worthless and headed for trouble, Elizabeth bolts for Wayward Landing beach—the county’s last wild haven.
A chance encounter with an endangered, nesting sea turtle ignites new purpose, friendships, and trouble even Grandpa couldn’t predict. Her fight to save the Landing unearths complex family ties to the powerful developer and catapults her against those she loves. When the Deepwater Horizon oil slick threatens the turtles’ Louisiana feeding grounds, Elizabeth’s journalist mom hits the front lines. And Elizabeth’s fears and plans hit overdrive.
Elizabeth’s Landing, a compelling environmental and family saga, bridges risk and loss to hope and hearts —human to human, human to animal, human to world.
Ages 10 and up.
P.S. Turtle nesting season has begun along the Gulf coast. Info under Elizabeth’s Sea Turtles tells you the best places to visit to see turtles or hatchling releases. Donations are always welcome.
Last year, after four years writing drafts, absorbing critiques from family, friends, and fellow writers at home, I decided it was time to leave my safe chair. Time to brave, first hand, the rapidly changing world of agents and publishing. To my delight and relief I discovered the client/agent relationship is rarely Toto vs Miss Gulch.
The large group lectures served up valuable insights about today’s publishing world — hello, reality checks — what goes into choosing cover designs, and what to expect when your hot book property heads to Hollywood. The small group workshops (5-6 people) sent me back to my room after dinner with good ideas to fine-tune my manuscript for the next day. Social events before and during meals gave me a chance to talk to other authors and several Andrea Brown agents, one-on-one, in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. I came home renewed and more confident in the future of my writing and my first novel.
Princess Emma has real princess problems–she’s clumsy, insecure, hates pink, doesn’t reign supreme at school, and, if she loses the big All-School Princess contest, there could be trouble. Melanie Florian’s illustrations humorously capture Emma’s come-here, go-away princess predicament.
A beautifully crafted story ofacceptance, hope, and redemption, Hyde’s crisp, immediate prose creates a complex world of emotional depth for her characters and their situations. The sensibilities of the story resonated with parts of a long-ago me.
Her international best-seller,PAY IT FORWARD, spawned a movement and a touching movie. But read the book first! ThePay It Forward Experiencewebsite documents how people, including some astounding kids, are daily re-imagining and energizing the book’s (Catherine’s) core idea of transforming lives and the world.
Thanks to Laura, Catherine, and my fellow workshop authors (talented writers, all) for their generous and supportive feedback.
The Big Sur Writing Workshop: Children to Young Adult, is now taking registrations for March 2013. This year’s faculty of agents, editors, and author presenters is here. It fills quickly. If you write for kids, give yourself a gift and go.