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Impact Initiative: starring Irene Latham

I'll be picking a name for the SHADOWED SUMMER and PRINCESS FOR HIRE giveaway tonight. As usual, comment to enter. And although I'm not giving points for tweeting/blogging because it's just too much counting, feel free (someone asked if this was okay. Yes--I want this stories to be read! They're wonderful!)
With us today is Serene Irene. That's what I call this lady. Basically, Irene made Alabama home for me. She was so warm and welcoming, a southern belle minus the hidden snark and agenda. I miss her already, and her perspective on life has impacted how I view writing, my career, and even humankind. She is a great example of making an impact just by being who you are.


      So, impact.

      The word for me conjures images of meteors slamming into the earth, airplanes crashing into mountaintops, high speed trains screeching before they hit the hunk of metal that’s parked in the exact place it should not be.  Big, heart-stopping moments that change a person’s world forever.  Which is why, when I think about good impact, I instantly think of my sister.

      I have said on many, many occasions -- and even keep it posted on my website -- that one of the greatest gifts I ever got was my sister Lynn.  She was born just 17 months after I was, and I was so young that I can’t quite remember the slamming or crashing or screeching, but I am sure it happened.  Just as I’m sure that I will never be able to adequately express how grateful I am for all the ways she impacts my life.

      In childhood, she was the perfect little girl:  quiet, thoughtful, beautiful.  It was maddening at times to stand beside her and feel my own imperfections glaring bright as high beam headlights on a  rainy night.  But if there was one place I could be my own imperfect self, it was with Lynn.  She let me make the rules when we played -- when we played house, she happily took on the role of “father” when I would only be “mother.”  She let me go first.  She sat while I read to her, and sounded out words just like I instructed.  She illustrated the stories I wrote.  When we doubled up on the same horse, she let me hold the reins while she sat in back.  Whatever my dream, she accepted her role in it without argument.  And therefore she was in all of my dreams.  Still is.

      These days she’s the mom of three amazing kids and a busy pediatrician.  She sends me flowers when good things happen in my life and other times when I least expect them.  When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and we were navigating the insane ocean of chemo and hospital visits, Lynn sent me gift cards for fast food.  Whenever the kids are pelting me with unexpected challenges and I am on the verge of creeping out of my house in the middle of the night, there she miraculously is, ready to be whatever I need her to be, even if only by text or email or phone.   And since the release of LEAVING GEE’S BEND, she has bought and given away enough copies to dwarf the Empire State Building.  But that isn’t even the best part.

      The best part happened at the reading she hosted for me at Carpe Librum Bookseller in Knoxville, TN.  All her friends and patients showed up, not because of me -- because of her.  And one woman told me a story about Lynn that I’d never heard before, about how my little sister made an impact that I never knew about.

      Turns out, this woman’s son was seriously ill and was brought to the hospital where Lynn was a new resident.  The woman expressed her anger and frustration at the doctors and nurses she’d encountered, how they didn’t get what was going on with her son.  Then came Lynn, a doctor who listened.

      This woman told me that my little sister, my little Lynn, was essential in getting her son correctly diagnosed and treated.  And you know what?  Her story made my cry.  To think that the girl who has made such an unbelievable impact on my life has been out there making unbelievable impacts on others’ lives as well… the truth is, some meteors blaze with a quiet beauty and  make impacts that don’t make any of the news channels.  Thank you, Lynn, for being one of those.  I would be nothing without you.

      And LL:  when you write that “sister” book I’ve heard you talk about?  I’ll be first in line.  xxoo

* * *

 Irene Latham is a poet and novelist who writes heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure. Her debut midgrade historical novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010) is set in Alabama during the Great Depression. A resident of Birmingham, Alabama, for the past 25 years, she has published over 120 poems of various books, journals and anthologies, including a full-length collection WHAT CAME BEFORE, which was named Alabama State Poetry Society's book of the Year and earned a 2008 Independent Publisher's (IPPY) Award. Irene loves exploring new places and often uses "research" as an excuse to travel. Her favorite characters in books and real life are those who have the courage to go their own way. 


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
*sniff sniff*

Jun. 9th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
ugh..this entry is just full of awesome :-)
Jun. 9th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
I'm loving all these Impact stories so much!!
Jun. 9th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sisters rule!!
Jun. 9th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
Jun. 9th, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
What a great story. There is something sacred about the relationship of Sister. I'll not admit I teared up a little. I won't deny it either, though. Thanks for sharing! ~ Jackee
Jun. 9th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Jun. 9th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
Sisters are indeed a great blessing. (p.s. I have a sister book that will be coming out in Fall 2011)
Jun. 9th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
awesome contest =D
Jun. 9th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
That was beautiful and made me cry.
Jun. 9th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
awww great contest! I really want to read Irene's book. Putting it on my TBR list!
Jun. 9th, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
Sister books are great ( I just read Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce which is DEFINITELY a sisters book!) I don't have a sister so I am always jealous haha
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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