A few months ago, with the release of Color Stories: the Short Fiction Coloring Book, we started a program called “Buy a Book, Save a Foot“. For each copy of Color Stories sold, one dollar from that sale would be used to buy socks (and underwear) for Seattle’s homeless population. Here now, are the first socks we’ve been able to purchase thanks to the folks who bought copies of Color Stories. We wish it was more, but it is more than none, so that is good. We’re going to work with Seattle’s MORELove Project to add these socks to their supplies the next time they prepare packs of essentials for the homeless population. So these socks will go out in bags along with other donated supplies like food, hygiene products, gloves, hats, blankets, etc. Thanks to everyone who helped us do our small part to address a big problem. We’re not done. If you or someone you know would like to get a copy of Color Stories and have your purchase deliver some good: we’re going to keep the Buy a Book, Save a Foot program going. Tell everyone you know!
Scroll to the end for details of “Buy a Book, Save a Foot”.
I met Chris under the freeway on Jackson Street. A year ago, he could have been me. Middle 40’s, successful business owner, had a house on an acre of property east of Seattle, wife, two kids, dog. But when I met him he was living under the I-5 freeway on Jackson Street. Why? He told me. He was an alcoholic and that had ruined his first marriage. But he got sober. He built a life that worked. He built a family. He built a construction business. Then one day he injured his back working on a construction project. He was prescribed opiates for the pain and it triggered his addiction. When the prescription drugs ran out, Chris turned to heroin and cocaine.
When I met Chris he was months into a downward spiral. I noticed he had two large, dark scabs peeling from his cheeks. I thought he might have fallen or been in a fight. I asked him what the scabs were from. The reality was far worse than I could have imagined: the cocaine Chris was still doing was laced with a veterinary drug — levamisole, a pig, cattle and sheep de-wormer. It’s a common and terrible additive in much of the cocaine circulating these days. Levamisole causes the skin of the face to begin rotting away and that’s what was happening to Chris. He knew it, he hated it, he wanted to stop doing the drug that was causing it. “But,” he said, “I know I won’t if I don’t get help.” He told us he had an appointment at a treatment facility in Renton the next day. He was worried he would sleep too long and miss his bus to Renton. He knew which bus to take, just not if he would be on it.
I was with a group from Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission rescue van program. A week after we met Chris, a couple of the others in my group called the Renton treatment facility to see if Chris had made it there. They had no record of his arrival. The group members went back to the spot under I-5 where we’d met Chris, but they never found him.
This is a difficult admission, but it’s true: in the past I have felt frustration and annoyance over the presence of so many homeless. But I realized it wasn’t because of anything they had done, I was annoyed because I didn’t know what I could do about the problem, though I felt compelled to do something. Since then I’ve decided the most important thing I can do about the problem is to stop judging it from the outside and, instead, get inside of it. My friend Larry Snyder (author, charity auctioneer, philanthropist extraordinaire) invited me to go with him on the Union Gospel Mission rescue van. I went. I’ve been multiple times since. What I’ve learned is that the problem is huge, but it looks bigger from the outside when I’m doing nothing. On the inside of the problem are people who are suffering. People who need. They need supplies—dry socks, clean underwear, toothbrushes, gloves, hats, blankets. They need food. They need shelter. They need a system that better supports them. Many of them need drug treatment and they know it. They need a lot of things. But most importantly, they need three things: 1) They need compassion, just as we all do. 2) They need the experience of being treated like people—you don’t have to give them money, give them a moment of your time and a “hello, what is your name?” 3) They need us to not give up.
No one person can solve the problem and, even collectively, street-level action is not going to reverse the tide. But we individuals can ease suffering and though the individual action is small, it is important
Buy a Book, Save a Foot
Here’s what I’m doing right now:
The first time I went out on the van I was amazed to see that, yes, the people were happy to get some food, and a warm drink and a blanket. Those things got them excited and it didn’t surprise me. Something else that got them excited and was a big surprise to me was socks and underwear. I thought about it afterwards and realized it shouldn’t surprise me. Of course! If you’re cold, wet and dirty from the skin out it just compounds your suffering.
Undergarments are often overlooked when we’re thinking about what needs we can address. And I’ve heard it said since that first outing that, when you’re homeless, “if your feet go, you’re in really big trouble.”
I have this publishing company, Iron Twine Press. We’ve just released a new book: Color Stories: the Short Fiction Coloring Book. It’s a lot of fun, this new book. Thirty-two flash fiction stories paired with coloring pages inspired by the stories themselves. It’s the coloring book for lovers of story, the story collection for lovers of coloring books. You can find it on Amazon.
From today until the end of the year $1 from each copy of Color Stories purchased will be used to buy new socks and underwear which Iron Twine Press will then donate to The MORELove Project for Seattle’s Homeless. This great organization directly supports the UGM Rescue Van program and can get the supplies to the people who need them. I know, socks and underpants are funny…unless you don’t have them when you need them, then they’re kind of serious.
Please consider buying a copy of Color Stories. And even if you don’t buy one, please spread the word about this, lets see how big an impact we can make together. If you do get a copy, I know you’ll enjoy the book and you’ll have the added enjoyment of knowing that you’re helping ease a little of the suffering around us.
Thank you all!
Founder and President, Iron Twine Press
PS: Come to Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, October 30th @ 3pm to hear the Color Stories authors read selections from the book and other works.
$100 1st place, $75 2nd place, $50 third place
Open February 19, 2016, our Home Is…short fiction contest will highlight great writing on the theme of Home and benefit charities serving the homeless.
12 winners will be published in an upcoming Iron Twine Press fiction anthology. Anthology sales will benefit homelessness charities for as long as the book remains in print.
FULL CONTEST GUIDELINES
Welcome! We are accepting submissions to the Iron Twine Press Home Is…Short Fiction Contest from February 19, 2016 – May 1, 2016.
$225 in Prizes!
There is a humanitarian crisis growing in our own backyard. We look around our cities and see need huddled on freeway off-ramps, tent communities of the displaced growing under overpasses; we see piles of blankets on city benches, in alleyways, in doorways covering men and women who, too often, we choose to look past because we don’t know how to help. In the face of an epidemic of need, it is hard to know what to do. We can only start with what we can do.
This writing contest is our start: together, let’s do something good with your great writing!
Robert Frost famously wrote: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” What is home to you? Submit your previously unpublished work of short fiction (up to 5,000 words) that addresses the theme of Home. What home is…what home isn’t…searching for home…losing home…living without a home…returning home…leaving home. It’s really up to you. If you think your story says something about the idea of Home, we want to read it.
Awards will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the contest. $100 for 1st place, $75 for 2nd place, $50 for third place.
The three prize winners and 9 other entrants (12 writers total) will be published in an upcoming Iron Twine Press anthology. Winners may list this anthology as a professional publishing credit. Iron Twine Press will obtain listing for this anthology in leading distribution catalogs worldwide to maximize exposure for winning authors and will promote the book through traditional and social media and place the book for sale through major book retailers. Authors chosen for inclusion will receive a complimentary copy of the anthology and will be listed by name in press and marketing materials promoting the anthology.
- Contest open from February 19, 2016 to May 1, 2016
- $10 reading fee
- Fee supports our ability to produce and promote a quality anthology and to increase exposure for winning authors
- A portion of reading fee proceeds will be donated to charities serving the homeless
- Anthology sales will benefit homelessness charities for as long as the book remains in print
- One submission per reading fee
- No more than two submissions per author
- $100 1st place, $75 second place, $50 third place
- 12 contest entrants will be included in the anthology
- All entries must be received via our Submittable page
- Only entries via Submittable will be considered
- Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file format only
- DO NOT include name, address or any other personally identifiable information in the manuscript document itself
- Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished
- No simultaneous submissions
- By submitting, you grant Iron Twine Press publication rights to your work if selected and you verify that you have the necessary authority to grant us that rightSubmission Guidelines:
- Authors retain copyright for all work submitted whether selected or not