Monday, November 16, 2009

Do The Right Thing

No, I'm not talking about the Spike Lee movie.

In addition to that movie, those four words mean a lot. Of course, Doing The Right Thing can mean different things, depending on whom you ask. Sometimes it means paying your taxes. Sometimes it means volunteering in your community in some way. To some people it means going to church and putting money in the offering plate. For others it may mean simply being fair and honest with customers and others.

Anyway, I want to talk about one more way you can Do The Right Thing. But first, a little background.

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have a heck of a lot. Seriously. My dad and mom both worked in textile mills in the South, and neither had a high school diploma. When I came along, it meant mom couldn’t work for a while, but finally she was able to get back into harness and let my grandparents watch me.

We had a string of bad luck there for about a year when I was five. First of all, our house burned down with just about everything we had in it. At that time, there was no county fire department, and the city limits ended about a half-mile away. The city firetruck stopped at the city limits and watched to make sure the fire didn’t spread to any homes in the city limits, while the house burned to the ground.

During the months following that, we were living with my grandparents, and late one night we were involved in an accident that totaled the car and put all three of us in the hospital. That meant neither my mom nor my dad could work for several weeks.

The years before that had not been easy, but that Christmas was a really tough one. Minimal insurance and being out of work meant that there simply was no money for gifts. That’s the way it was.

But relatives and friends of the family came through. Though I neither knew nor understood until much later, all my gifts that year, and many the following year, came from outside the family. We were lucky… no, blessed… to have a support structure of people who both cared and were able to help a five-year-old boy have a Christmas that was not a disappointment. And a disappointment like that, on top of losing everything in the fire and being on crutches from a broken hip, would have been pretty rough on any kid.

Fast forward 48 years. Times are hard now--probably a lot harder for many more people now than they were in 1961 when we had our series of catastrophes. And because of the way families have dispersed across the country now (due to job moves or joblessness, ease of travel, etc.), many hurting families don’t have the kind of support structure that helped us through that rough time. These families need help, and the most vulnerable members of these families are the children.

No, I’m not trying to turn on your tear glands. I’m trying to make you think a little about how you might be able to help someone. There are lots of ways, really, for you to Do The Right Thing. But I want to talk about one specific way you can Do The Right Thing and even enjoy it.

This is the fourth year that Wolfmont Press has published an anthology of holiday-themed crime stories with the intent of helping kids, and its title is The Gift of Murder. The first year Wolfmont was able to contribute $1,365 to Toys for Tots. The next year, we got it up to $2,000. Last year, with Dying In a Winter Wonderland, we managed to raise $3,300 for Toys for Tots. This year, we’re shooting for $3,400 so we can hit our target of $10,000 in toto over those four years.

The nineteen authors in this year’s anthology have donated their stories, and much of their time to promoting the book. The editor, John M. Floyd, did an awesome job of choosing from the approximately sixty submissions and in editing the book as well. The publisher is not making any money from the sale of this anthology. All the money over and above the cost of producing and selling the book goes to Toys for Tots, just as it has for the three previous books.

Your purchase of a copy of The Gift of Murder will help us to donate more to the Toys for Tots. Oh, I did say enjoy it, too, didn’t I? Well, this 278-page book has some awesome stories in it--stories that range from hilariously funny to darkly macabre, from day-to-day realism to extreme fantasy--but all crime stories that revolve around the winter holidays of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa.

And remember: one thing it will NOT do is to put a cent into the pockets of the publisher. I want to reiterate that all publisher profits from the sales of the 2009 anthology go to Toys for Tots. And I'll tell you the truth right now: at this point we're not even close to our goal.

The nineteen authors are: J.F. Benedetto, Stefanie Lazer, Stephen D. Rogers, Anita Page, Randy Rawls, Earl Staggs, Peg Herring, Deborah Elliott-Upton, Bill Crider, Carolyn J. Rose, Elizabeth Zelvin, Barb Goffman, Austin S. Camacho, Sandra Seamans, Steve Shrott, Gail Farrelly, Herschel Cozine, Kris Neri, and Marian Allen. These folks are talented, and generous, since they contributed their stories AND their time in promoting the book in various ways.

How do you buy a copy?

1. Get with one of the authors--some of them have a few copies left.

2. Order from The Digital Bookshop, which partners with Wolfmont to maximize the profits from the book, and thus increase the money that goes to Toys for Tots.

3. Order from your favorite independent bookseller.

4. Order online through Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

5. Oh! If you prefer an ebook version, it's available at The Digital Bookshop in ebook form, too, as well as in Kindle version on Amazon.

And if you don’t need another book, or don't want to do any of those things, how about this? Go by your local toy store, buy a couple of toys, and take them by the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots collection center. It’s relatively painless, and you’ll feel better after you do it.

Copyright ©2009 Tony Burton


Gail Farrelly said...


A very lovely post.

I enjoyed contributing to the book this year. I had fun writing my story "The Kindle Did It," although I've never looked at my Kindle in the same way again. It's quite an intimidating little gadget!

Aside from the excellent quality of the work of my co-authors, I just love the fact that it's an easy-to-read (nice size print), beautiful book. As usual, you produced a fantastic cover. And you and John Floyd were SO easy to work with.

One small quibble. I wish there were stories by Floyd and Burton. Two terrific writers.

Happy Holidays!


Morgan Mandel said...

This deserves some tweets. I'll get right on it.

Morgan Mandel

Barb Goffman said...

Hi, Tony. I never heard your personal story before. It makes your efforts to help kids now all the more meaningful. Thanks for putting out this anthology every year, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to help by donating my story. It's been a pleasure to work with you. Happy holidays early!

Carolyn J. Rose said...

Hi Tony. It's a privilege to be part of your wonderful yearly project.

Carolyn J. Rose

Earl Staggs said...

Great post, Tony. And what a great job you and John did of putting this wonderful collection of stories together. I'm honored to be part of it. I've read and enjoyed every one of the stories except one. I didn't read mine, of course. I already knew how that one ended.

Rob Walker said...

Thanks for the posting and in a small way making our ACME part of this wonderful cause, Tony. Enjoyed every word. You done done good.