Dee passed away last Friday. I don't know details, but it was well known that Dee suffered from a heart condition diagnosed after the birth of her daughter. She was featured in this CNN report this past January in support of the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign.
I met Dee at a Faith and Fiction Retreat a few years ago. At first I was a little put off by Dee, to tell the truth. She had a warm, sunny smile, but she also had a very determined attitude and steel in her eyes. No time for slouching and no tolerance for excuses or mess. At that time, Dee was a writer hoping to be published, but she was already a journalist and a PR professional. It showed.
Yet, I came away with an appreciation for Dee and a love for what I quickly came to know as her heart of gold. Despite her challenges, Dee had a moment and a word of encouragement for everyone in the writing world. She believed in finding and seizing opportunities and was selfless when it came to sharing with others, which is why, just a year later, upon contracting her first novel, A Good Excuse to Be Bad, Dee didn't hesitate to hire me as her freelance editor. (Here's my review of that book.)
We had only a couple of weeks to whip her manuscript into shape. It was already on an extension. There were lots of late hours and lots of anguish on mine and Dee's part. See, she didn't simply want to be a published author. She wanted to be respected as a good storyteller. And that she was.
Multicultural Fiction column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She hosted her own Christian Fiction blog and wrote for The Master's Artist. She sat on the committee for the International Thriller Writers's Debut Authors program, a program in which she debuted in the class of 2010/2011, as well as served as the Thursday columnist for The Thrill Begins, ITW's blog. (Her last column posted just hours before she passed away.)
On top of all that, Dee continued her PR work for a growing stable of clients in publishing, music, event planning and other industries. Dee believed in and embraced technology as a means of developing relationships and spreading the word. In addition to publishing that first book, as author Miranda Parker, Dee's second book in the Angel Crawford series, Someone Bad and Something Blue, was released in June, and she was steadily at work on book three.
Dee, along with author Shelia Goss, taught a plotting workshop last year which was a game changer for me. It really helped me to solidify my approach to writing as well as put me in contact with a group of writers who have become my go-to folks for help, inspiration, support...whatever I need. Long after the workshop ended, Dee continued to encourage us in all of our writing endeavors and also in life.
Dee was also a mother. Her daughter, lovingly called "Girlie", was her raison d'etre, or reason for being. Dee was all about making cupcakes, participating in Girl Scouts, crowing when Girlie got good grades in school, and doing everything within her power to raise Girlie in a manner of which she could be proud. Even as she prepared for an upcoming move and fretted over her impending surgery, Dee was posting FB messages about Girlie getting 100 on an AP math class exam. Selah, you should be as proud of your mother as she was of you. She shall be sorely missed!
After working together, Dee encouraged me to hang my shingle, so to speak, and get into editing as a regular side gig. For her support, I'm grateful. I've done a little, but I intend to do much more. Dee's untimely death--she was scheduled to have a pacemaker implanted this week--reminds me of how short life really is and why carpe diem needs to be the motto of the day.
Dee and I shared February birthdays, just one day apart. I don't think I'll celebrate another birthday without thinking of Dee.
Dee, I hope someday I make you proud.
RIP, sweet angel.
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Be deliberate. Believe.