I’ve been working on a secret charity project for two years and I can finally tell you about it!
Almost three years ago, my sister told me Kate Pickford (aka JJ Pike, a popular post-apoc author writing with Mike Kraus) was looking for stories for a charity anthology. An elderly relative (Erada, then 79) was being forced out of the home she’d lived in her entire life by an evil ex-nephew, and Kate was raising funds to hire a lawyer to fight back.
I love writing short stories, and the anthology title, Hellcats, sparked my imagination. I wrote “Hellcat Invasion” a standalone story set in my Folding Space Universe. Then a second anthology followed, Hellhounds, and I wrote “Do Retired Hellhouds Dream of Slower Squirrels” a contemporary fiction piece inspired by a dream and my beloved German Shepherd, Schultz. You can get both stories for free by signing up for my newsletter–just scroll down and fill out the form!
Those anthologies earned enough to pay a lawyer, but not enough to pay for half the house, which is what the corrupt courts in Armenia decided was “fair” to the well-connected ex-nephew. So Mike, who owns Muonic Press, proposed writing a post-apoc series with a group of volunteer writers, and he’d publish it. A very generous offer including a coordination space, covers, advertising and expertise. Plus, half the funds go to Erada’s GoFundMe, the other half is split among the writers; a fair deal considering the time commitment.
To start, 25 authors volunteered, some who’d never published anything but a short story. They were split into five teams, and I was asked to lead a team. We came up with several disaster concepts, got one approved, and started writing. It wasn’t easy–most of us hadn’t written post-apoc, which requires a lot of action, very active voice, and very few interior thoughts. A few people dropped out right away; mostly for health or time commitment reasons, but we continued.
Originally, I wasn’t going to write any characters. But when team members dropped, we needed words, so I ended up writing two characters. It continued to be hard work–we all read each other’s chapters, and gave blunt feedback. Those who perservered became better writers, and soon, each chapter got a single review, not multiple reviewers. Then my team had two more dropouts for health reason. Those writers left their characters and already written chapters behind, a generous gift that made my life easier, although I had to write a few chapters of those characters to finish their story arcs.
But I was dreading the wordcount I’d have to make up to create six whole novels. One day I was chatting with Kate, and made an offhand comment about “all the teams are only two or three writers now, so it’s too bad we can’t combine them.” Being the fabulous, flexible Kate, she took that comment and ran with it, combining four teams into two, leaving us with three series. The reconfiguration required a little adjustment to our story line, but overall, was extremely successful, adding new depth to our disaster scenario. My new teammates were fabulous–before long, we were humming along, writing words at a terrific pace.
We finally had enough words to create whole novels, so with a lot of help, particularly from Katy Hollway, who is amazing with timelines, we put books together. The first few went together easily. I wrote some filler chapters for the characters left behind by writers, and we got the first six novels done. The last two took more effort; and again, Katy’s expertise was critical, and S.D. Clayton wrote a last minute finale chapter. We had finally finished!
I reviewed and revised every novel, then handed them to Kate, who revised and polished each book too. The first four have gone to beta readers, and none of them figured out the books were written by a team. They loved the books and are anxiously waiting for the rest!
I could not have done this without the wonderful S.D. Clayton, Katy Hollway, S.M. Schaefer, Ann B. Harrison, Judy Clothier, Kate Pickford (who coached all of us) and Mike Kraus, who supported and published this series. Thank you for a wonderful, if exhausting, difficult and exhilarating experience that made me a better writer!
I hope you will help a lovely, elderly woman keep her home by reading Ruptured! Here’s a link (affiliate link; I earn a little extra without cost to you!) https://amzn.to/3Ry1Vdv
Thanks for reading my saga, and I hope you love the Shock Point Series! If you like this series, there are two more coming and Mike Kraus has tons of others great post-apoc for you to devour!