On Saturday, April 3, 2021,  I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Over the past twelve months, I’ve rarely ventured outside my neighborhood.  

As vaccination day approached, I realized I would spend at least an hour inside a mass vaccination site that held more people than I’d seen all year. 

That alone scared me.

But I believed the jab was my ticket to freedom, so I kept the appointment. 

The vaccination site had been set up inside an old department store. A medical team had decorated the chipped floor with tape lines that resembled runways. Volunteers in bright orange shirts smiled with their eyes as they directed traffic. 

The closer I got to the needle the more my heart pounded. 

I wanted to get the vaccine, but as a person with autoimmune issues, life has shown me there are far worse things than COVID isolation. 

After answering the required questions, a warning appeared on my file. Damn, I thought, wondering if they were going to send me away. But I was told they’d give me the shot in exchange for a thirty-minute wait.  

I said a quick prayer, accepted my shot, then plunked down in the chair so I could scroll through my email. 

To my right, a gentleman named Leroy chatted with anyone who looked in his direction. Like me, he had an extended post-vaccine wait. When he laughed, his whole body shook with a force that made his wheelchair squeak. He was happy to be around other people and so eager to share plans for his post-vaccine life that others shared their plans too.  Eventually, I struck up a conversation with Leroy about weekend plans. He told me a friend had invited him over for Easter dinner, which was a gift since he didn’t have family in the area. 

In a few days, I’ll turn forty-seven.

The vaccine and my conversation with Leroy were my first two birthday gifts. 

Long ago, I learned that the fullness of our lives resides not in the gifts given to us, but those we bestow on others. They create a chain reaction inside us that increases our openness, receptivity, and happiness.

In an open and receptive state, we’re more likely to hear our muse, show up to our writing lives, and work on the stories we care about. 

During the month of April, I want to give a few gifts of my own. In this month’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can use chain reactions to turbocharge your stories while also giving you some opportunities to create those chain reactions in your writing life. 

This week I have two opportunities for you. 

If you’ve recently finished (or have almost finished) your novel, I’m giving away one spot in Lindz McLeod’s Query Writing Seminar which takes place this Thursday, 4/8/21, from 2:00 PM EDT – 4:00 PM EDT. 

I met Lindz in New York City while we were both attending the Writer’s Hotel Conference. Her talent and skills are off the charts. Over the past two years, I’ve been blown away by her productivity, determination, and publishing prowess. You can find a full description of the session below. 

Here’s what I can guarantee to the lucky recipient. You’ll have a fabulous time during the session, and you’ll leave with an arsenal of tips and tricks that will help you land an agent. 

I’m giving this away to the first person who sends me an email. 

 

UPDATE: The free spot has already been taken, but you can still sign up for her course by clicking here
 
I ask that you pay this gift forward in two ways:  

  1. Follow Lindz on Twitter: @lindzmcleod
  2. If you love her course, write a review and share it with her and on social media. 

And, for those of you who are somewhere between your first word and the finish line, I’ve got a special gift for you. 

On Thursday, 4/15/21, from 1:00 PM EDT – 2:30 PM EDT, I will offer a ninety-minute pay-it-forward generative writing class. It’s an opportunity to give back, get mindful, draft something new, and ask questions about the writing process. 

To reserve your spot, I ask that you send me an email that includes one of the following: 

  1. A screenshot of a donation to a charity or writing organization of your choice (minimum $10). 
  2. A screenshot that shows your support for a fellow writer. This could be anything from reading and sharing their essay or short story on social media to writing a 5-sentence review of their book on Good Reads and Amazon, to telling others to follow them. 

To receive your spot, send me an email with a screenshot of your act of generosity. That’s it.

Doors for this opportunity will close on Wednesday, 4/14/21,  at 5:00 PM EDT. 

I hope to see you on 4/15.

Until then, tell me about a time when doing something for others improved your life. I’d love to hear your story. 

 Happy writing and happy spring! 

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