April 11 was the 4th anniversary of my novel’s publication date.
That morning four years past, I rose at 6 and baked a 150 banana bread cupcakes; went to yoga class to stay centered, then came home and baked 150 more. It’s not a Filipino party unless there’s food, so while the cupcakes were cooling, I stewed 15 pounds of pork adobo, chopped 7 pounds of mangoes into salsa, then hauled everything to San Diego Writers’ Ink’s reading room to set up for my very first book party, surrounded by family and 130 friends.
April 11 came round last Monday, but breaking news of a shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino erased all thoughts of celebration.
Later, news reports revealed the tragic symmetry of these two entirely unrelated events: a special needs teacher had been gunned down by her estranged husband as she worked with her students in class. Sadly, my novel about domestic violence had found affirmation in a horrific domestic violence (DV) incident.
How does one celebrate a novel that cleaves so closely to grim reality? By marking those who suffered in person rather than on the page. Karen Smith, 53, Jonathan Martinez, 8, shot by Cedric Smith who then turned the gun on himself.
*Photo credit http://ktla.com
In 2014 I established the Saving Beverly Campaign, literary events that raise funds for community organizations which offer support services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. With the help of Susan MacBeth of Adventures by the Books, and Michael Gil Magnaye a development director in the Bay Area, I organized fundraisers in San Diego, San Francisco and Anchorage which have collectively raised nearly $15,000 for DV support services.
Given this latest tragedy at North Park Elementary School, it seems the best way to commemorate my novel’s pub date anniversary would be to organize another Saving Beverly event. I encourage anyone and everyone who wants to help set it up to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.