I woke up in a somewhat reflective mood this morning and as my mind rambled through various reflections, I stopped when I came to one of the authors I have known for a few years, PJ Cowan. I met PJ when I reviewed one of her children's books, and a friendship was formed. Over the years we have kept in contact, and I have read and reviewed more of her books, not because we're friends, but because I find her books delightful.
Through the years, PJ would contact me and ask for advice on things. When we first corresponded, she was over the moon because someone thought her "little scribblings" had value. Then as time went on, she became frustrated because sales weren't happening. Her frustration didn't stem from the lack of monetary gain, but because she simply wanted to get her books into the hands of readers. She suffered a huge disappointment when she tried to give her books to schools and they wouldn't accept them. So I asked, if she was willing to give them away, why she didn't give them to shelters?
When she said she didn't know where to start, I put her in contact with another friend, Linda Welch, author of the successful paranormal mystery Whisperings series, who was able to get her started and give her some pointers on how to proceed. She was ecstatic and the children loved her stories. But the next time I heard from PJ, she was distraught. Her husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and PJ herself has a degenerative eye condition which is causing her to go blind. She thought she'd have to give up her writing altogether, which saddened her, but her husband had to be her first priority.
Shortly after, I was delighted to hear that she decided she needed the creative outlet and she wanted to give away as many books as she could before she completely lost her vision. She proceeded to build up her list of shelters for donations to twenty. To assist her sight, she bought a 40-inch monitor and uses a magnifying glass to help her see, and hired an assistant to help with some of the things she cannot do.
Shortly before the holidays, I received an email from PJ -- and she had been on my mind, isn't that usually how things work? The email was to advise me that her husband's condition was worsening at a rapid rate, and she needed to give him her attention and love. And her eyesight was also failing at a more rapid rate, and she would now have to give up writing. She was going to send a last batch of books to the shelters on her list, and would be moving to assisted living to ensure appropriate care for both her and her husband. Her one regret? To not be able to give more book donations.
And that's when it hit me... this is somewhere I can help... and so can you. I'd like to issue a challenge to all: Purchase one or two of PJ's books and send them to a women's shelter or a children's shelter. Give the gift of books to children without, and make an author, who can no longer follow her passion, happy. Let's carry on PJ's legacy... It's not about the money -- it's about the children.
If you're interested in reading my reviews of PJ's work, they are:
The delightful illustrations are done based on PJ's concept by Mike Motz.
PS - My niece and nephew LOVE PJ's books and David's favorite books right now are the dragons because he gets to Rawr!