Zellie Blake, a generous and beautiful woman -- a fellow writer and dreamer -- died two days ago. She was 27 years old. Zellie was a tireless champion of my work. She once said I was an inspiration for her own writing career goals, but she will always be an inspiration for me. Her friends say that throughout her treatment, Zellie never lost her sense of humor or optimistic verve. She wrote often, and well.
Her personal mantra was, "Be the adventure you dream." I am hard-pressed to think of a more inspiring and empowering personal philosophy.
Perhaps most inspiring: she never lost the tenacity that is required of a Writer.
Writers write, and then they try to find homes for what they write. In Zellie's case, she was questing for a literary agent up until the very end. From her blog:
I've got just a few more queries pending. I haven't gotten so much as a partial request ... (but) this book is NOT going to be thrown in the ocean.
Hell yes, sister. Hell yes.
Zellie was surrounded by wonderful people throughout her life and recent treatment. I know this because Zellie blogged about these people. (Her friend Orin created a magnificent beadwork bracelet for Zellie that read Fuck Cancer, which absolutely rocks.) I also know these people are wonderful because they've contacted me via Facebook and email. Zellie was my biggest fan, they said ... and they were Zellie's biggest fans. A few weeks ago, her friend Callie asked if could I help lift Zellie's spirits.
A Japanese story says that if you fold 1,000 cranes, you are granted one wish. Callie had a wish ... and a deep belief in the power of positive thought. I autographed the pink origami crane that arrived two days later. It was one of 1,000 Callie and many other friends personally folded -- and one of more than 1,500, counting the ones Zellie's loving boyfriend had crafted too. Callie's efforts were heroic: she even snagged autographs from the puppeteers from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Zellie was delighted by the amazing work of her friends.
That was six days ago. And now she's gone.
But here's the brilliant thing about being a Writer. Zellie's not gone. Zellie's friends helped get her novel Lightning Spliced into print. They've released it through the print-on-demand publisher Lulu, and are donating all proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
You can meet Zellie in a way, within the pages of her book. You can discover what fueled her creative drive, and unearth what kind of stories she was put on this world to tell. She forever lives, breathes and dreams in Lightning Spliced. She will always be alive, thanks to her words and your imagination.
Your imagination -- and generosity -- will ensure Zellie's story isn't merely told, but experienced ... which is the greatest honor any Writer can acheive.
If you have the means, please support cancer research and the release of Zellie's book by buying a print or ebook edition of Lightning Spliced. If you insist on sampling the book before you buy, there are free audio and PDF excerpts available for your enjoyment.
For years, Zellie provided me with her unwavering support. And through her life and death, she also gave me a far greater gift -- soul-stirring inspiration.
To Zell: Thank you.
And to you, reading this: Be the adventure you dream.