What is the Fighting the Storm Campaign?
Anneke: Fighting the Storm campaign is about putting a light on those invisible illnesses no one else talks or even thinks about.
Ashley: We really wanted to bring awareness to those suffering with an illness that you can’t see. There’s a stigma out there that in order to be sick or disabled it has to show. Whether it’s a wheelchair, walker, oxygen tank, etc.
Zamma: That’s what happens when you cry your eyes out for days after reading a book written by JLA! I just wanted to do something to show Jen that we’re not all dicks (Can I say dick?) Jen gets a lot of weird looks when she asked people for help because she can’t always see or read signs. When I read that in Storm and Fury’s acknowledgements I got angry and then sad. So I got this super crazy idea to help raise awareness for RP. Like Peanut said – I messaged her and asked her what she thought and she was all for it. Then Anneke joined and Izzy demanded that I should make her admin so she can invite people on her own instead of bothering the rest of us (So happy that we became friends Ash!) Ursula joined us later when Stony started to bother me a lot and I could not do all the admin stuff I wanted. Ursula is my bestie for 8 years now and she saved my butt by joining the admin team! Thanx girls for all your help! The campaign would have been a fail without all of you helping me!
Ursula: Fighting the Storm, was put together, to help raise awareness for invisible illnesses, more importantly RP, which our favorite Author suffers from.
Kristen: The Fighting the Storm Campaign is a campaign we started after the release of Storm and Fury and so many of us were touched by the MC Trinity who suffered with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Excuse the pun but it really opened a lot of our eyes to the world people like Jennifer live in. It was one thing to know that she had this disease but another to see it so well described in a book. So it started out with Zamma messaging me about spreading awareness for this illness that not many people are aware of and then later on to invisible illnesses. So this is our movement to spread awareness of the invisible and to show the world there is more to what just the eye can see and that behind every person struggling with a chronic invisible illness is a fighter and a very strong determined soul trying to survive. This is all under the banner of Fighting the Storm. It isn’t just that it relates to the book title but the deeper meaning behind this name chosen. Everything we know about this illness and other invisible illnesses, they are 100% without a doubt like fighting a storm, and through this campaign and raising awareness it is our way of head-on fighting that storm that tries to control us. We fight the storm while it fights with fury. But the one thing it didn’t count on were love and friendship and that is truly what helps us to continue fighting.
Could you take a moment to introduce yourselves with 3 sentences or less?
Anneke: I’m Anneke! I’m from the South of Jo’burg in South Africa. I love reading, Game of Thrones and playing Sims.
Ashley: I’m from the U.S. Reading is my favorite pastime because I can mentally escape for a while. Being someone who struggles with mucho bad anxiety life wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have books.
Zamma: I’m Zamma AKA Tink. I love reading and I love book boyfriends (Don’t read that last sentence, Sethie! I only have eyes for you!! I’m not crazy! My mother had me tested!
Ursula: hi, I’m Ursula Kruis, I’m 29 years old and I live in cape town south Africa. I love Reading, baking and doing crafty things.
Kristen: Um Hi I’m Kristen or better known as Peanut within the campaign. I’m from Down Under and live in Sydney. I’m never found without a book, I love drinking coffee, Music is life and love being with my family. I’m also kind of a bit awkward and have tendencies of being a bit of a mother hen because I stress a lot.
What made you want to start this project?
Zamma: I think I already answered that in the first question… sorry I’m an eager little beaver.
Ursula: I entered the Campaign later than The other admins, Zan-Mari asked me to join, and I was ecstatic, being able To show my support to such a great Author Was amazing, it also gave me the opportunity to educate others on everyday illnesses that not many people know about.
Kristen: We really thought it was important to spread awareness for things others struggle to naturally see. It all came about with the Storm & Fury book Jennifer wrote. If you actually read in the back of the book in the acknowledgements one of the questions asked to her was “Can you still see the stars at night?” She mentioned this in the story. And it really sparked a fire in many of us and we couldn’t let the invisible continue to be so. To take something that may seem so trivial like say just looking up and seeing the stars. A lot of us take it for granted. And this is what this is all about. To help others become more aware, that something that might be seen or taken as granted by one is a struggle for another.
The catchline for the Fighting the Storm Campaign is ‘Can You Still See the Stars at Night?’ where did this come from and what is the significance?
Ashley: Jennifer Armentrout’s book Storm And Fury is inspired by her illness- Retinitis Pigmentosa- a type of blindness. In the Acknowledgements page she explains that she was diagnosed in 2015. Her specialist asked, “Can you still see the stars at night?” It really struck a chord with Jen and wound up in her novel.
Zamma: It’s what Jen’s doctor asked her during one of her appointments. We wanted to remind Jen to keep looking at the stars while she can still see them. It also fits in with that beautiful tattoo on her arm. After Jen found out about the campaign, she said she’s sure her doctor would have never guessed that his question would end up on so many items! HAHA!
Ursula: the catch phrase comes From The book storm, where the main character suffers from the same eye illness as Jen. Can you still see the stars at night was such a deep and profound question, something most people take for granted and makes you think deeper about what everyone with the illness Goes through on A daily basis.
Explain what retinitis pigmentosa is and who is affected by it.
Anneke: An eye disease in which the back wall of the eye (retina) is damaged.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare, inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment.
Retinitis pigmentosa affects 1 in 4000 people.
Zamma: Anneke already did such an awesome job answering it. I can’t even pronounce that illness and I have to use spell checker to spell it so i call it RP instead!
Your campaign supporters are called ‘Stormies’ and they came out en masse, did you expect this large of a response?
Anneke: I remember the struggle to recruit people, cause Facebook somehow thought we are spammers, but after this came out we were overwhelmed with invites for the group. But it was crazy! I think the greatest response was great when some of the Stormies were wearing their gear to meet Jen at her book tour stops.
Ashley: Oh my gosh no! It was a challenge recruiting people. And all of us admins at some point or another ended up getting blocked on Facebook for ‘suspicious’ activity. It really did blow up the internet in a way and we couldn’t believe it! It exceeded our expectations. I cried on Post Day
Zamma: Not at all! We tried our best to get as much Stormies on the secret group as we can so we could break the internet on P-day but I did not expect almost a 1000 people to join us! I think I realized how big it was when people started posting on P-day and it popped up on JLAnders. (Thank you Liz and Jillian for helping behind the scenes and approving all our posts. When Jen finally realized what was going on and made her post to thank us, I cried so hard! All we wanted to do was show Jen how much we loved her and that we will support her no matter what. It was so worth it to get blocked from sending inbox messages for about 10 times.
Ursula: oh gosh, it was so hard getting people to Join, without blowing the secret! But once it took of, it got so huge!! Seeing hundreds of posts on post day was the most amazing feeling ever! Gave me goosebumps.
Kristen: Honestly it blew me away the support that was shown in this movement. I have been truly humbled by the response and the loving, caring natures of each one of these members. It was simply the most beautiful thing in the world to see all these Stormies we collected along the way and how we all came together for this special task. The friendships we have made along the way are something I will never forget. We may be crazy book nerds but the hearts of these stormies are as big as the Grand Canyon.
Stormies have produced some incredible rally products for the Fighting the Storm Campaign what are some of the most impressive items have you seen?
Anneke: Personally I was blown away by people’s creativity. I mean we gave them one “simple” design and they took it and made it something amazing! I mean we did not just get shirts. We got mugs, pillows, light cases and even a snow globe. It was amazing!
Ashley: Everything you can think of they did it. The only thing that hasn’t been done yet is a blown-up cutout of Jennifer with the campaign logo. Ha! I got a campaign T-Shirt, a pillow and a beautiful charm bracelet.
Zamma: The candle, the puzzle and the guitar pick was my favorites! The Hungarian Stormies even had balloons made. Oh and Jenny’s chapstick was amazing! Everyone was really creative when it came to this campaign. I am so glad we listened to Asis when she said we should allow people to make any item they wanted. My idea was to have everyone print a T-shirt! How lame would that have been? So thank you Asis!
Ursula: there are so many! Everyone was Thinking outside of the box big time, we has snowglobes, and necklaces, we had light boxes, tablet covers and hand made Rose’s, we have some amazingly talented stormies!!!
Kristen: I have to pick one thing? Honestly I have just loved the creativity and uniqueness of everything that was created. It showed our individuality while also binding us together under our design by Zamma.
Where do you go from here?
Anneke: Wouldn’t you like to know? Hahaha, but keep an eye on us, big things are coming!
Zamma: I almost spilled the beans but luckily Anneke and Ursula took away the can opener! All I’m going to say is… #SeeTheInvisible (Peanut came up with that hashtag BTW)
Ursula: ….. phase 2….. what is phase 2 you might ask???….. whatcha this space, great things coming your way!!!!
Kristen: Well isn’t that a loaded question. Recently we just let leak out that we have a phase 2 and its going to be amazing. It’s a new step but while still under our movement it’ll be focused more on #seetheinvisible …keep your eye out…there may be some Gargoyles heading your way.
Is there a verified charity recommended by your group for whom to donate?
Zamma: Peanut remembered the name! Thank Hades! I kept forgetting the name! See why I needed her? She had to contact all the important people as well because I kept freaking out and wanted to curtsy every time I had to talk to them. This is the organisation Jen supports and this is also the one we’re sending all the profits from Rebel Peanut to.
Kristen: The charity we chose is one that we know Jennifer supports, which is the National Federation of the Blind. If anyone wishes to donate the link to their site is here: https://www.nfb.org
Any last thoughts or shout outs?
Anneke: I’d like to give a huge shout out to the Stormies! You guys took something simple and made it beautiful. You guys didn’t think out of the box you totally threw the box away! So a huge thank you and shout out to you awesome people!
And to people suffering from some invisible illness, remember you are not alone, someone knows exactly how you feel. And if you feel like giving up, go and look at the stars at night and know someone is doing exactly the same!
Zamma: To my amazing Stormies… thank you for helping us to turn one crazy idea into reality! We could not have done this without you! My admins and moderators – This would have been a flop if it weren’t for you! And thank you for helping every time when someone almost accidentally spilled the beans! I can’t believe we kept it a secret for almost 3 months! And thank you to everyone for helping me get through this terrible time. My body did not want cooperate most days even though my brain wanted to. I had some dark days and you got me through them.
You can download the Can You Still See The Stars at Night vector file here or the jpg file here. You can also join the Fighting the Storm Campaign Facebook group to download the Adobe Illustrator file.
And if you would like to win some awesome Stormy gear and swag enter the Storming the Shadows Giveaway; there are 3 signed copies of The Burning Shadows up for grabs too.
And to see Jennifer Armentrout’s book tour stop at Mysterious Galaxy I invite you to visit the Have Coffee Need Books YouTube channel.