Filthy Rich

 

I’m filthy rich. And I got that way by writing books.

Yeah. Almost every author I know collapsed into giggles at those two sentences. Unless Neil Gaiman is reading this, they know I can’t possibly mean rich in actual dollars. (I’ll keep working on that, though, just as Neil does.)

What I mean by “rich” is rich in the things I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had. But mostly I mean rich in the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve formed. Here’s a thing I now know that some might have not yet ventured to discover: The world is full of wonderful, amazing people living in places we might never get to visit, leading lives very different from our own. And all we have to do is say hello for them to become supporters, and even friends.

One in particular is sticking out for me today. Cynthia Taylor became, if my memory serves me correctly, my first overseas book cheerleader. Yes, if you’ve read The Secret Spice Cafe book series, that name might ring a bell. I named my character after my real-life friend and champion, Cynthia. She and I met on a blogging site. That’ll sound familiar to readers of the trilogy too. (Heh. And people ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas?”)

Like my character, my real-life Cynthia is undaunted, courageous, ethical, and loving. Like my character, real-life Cynthia would do anything for her daughter, real-life Sarita. Both Cynthias lead colorful and interesting lives, but the life of the flesh-and-blood woman has not been easy. Cynthia battles a neurological disease, and it has affected every aspect of her existence, including her financial status.

I wish I could change that, other than on the page. But I can’t. All I can do is write Cynthia as I see her in my mind. Even though she is upfront about her physical constraints, reading her words, she seems able-bodied. But I mean no disrespect by that to those who deal with diseases. What I mean is…well, let’s put it this way…I wrote the character as tall, but Cynthia is as petite as I am. Yet in my head, I am an amazon, and so is she. There’s nothing wrong with being short, but it can have its limitations. (Everyone in my family walks into the footstools I leave out everywhere.) I know I’m short. And I know Cynthia has to work around a lot more—a hell of a lot more—than that. But when I read her posts, how she goes about life, I see her as she is, to me. She feels tall, she feels strong. She has told me I’m her role model, but so is she mine.

And we’ve only met in person once, for a quick coffee in Paddington Station, when I was with my husband and we were on a layover in England. We’re not in each other’s lives on a regular basis. She reads my books, I read her posts. But we know that each of us is “out there,” that there’s another strong woman who thinks about us, who is inspired by us. And when times get tough, that is a remarkable, powerful thing to remember.

So, last Saturday, Cynthia posted this on her Facebook page. And she made the card in the photo. I screenshot these, because I want to keep them it on my desktop, always. The writing is choppy because I cut out some bits about her personal life that she might not want my entire social media list to read. But the message is there. She posted it for her followers to see. It made me feel damn grateful. And I wanted you to see it. Just so you’ll know what being rich means to me.

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