by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
I have a secret for you. I…am the Queen of the Outcasts.
No…really. With a few, rare exceptions I fit nowhere in society. Not at work, not at church, not among my family. Always I have been that awkward figure on the fringes wanting to be embraced and brought in to the crowd. Always. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t welcome or loved, just that in general the world—yes, even my family—doesn’t get me and can’t relate.
Halfway through my life I found my exception to this rule.
Fandom. From the moment I entered my first convention I was greeted with open arms, with smiles, with understanding. A heady experience, I can tell you! I think this, more than anything else, keeps me doing what I do, no matter that it often feels more work than reward. When I walk among the community I am at peace and I am comfortable. When things go wrong, I find support without even asking.
What does this have to do with Tell Me? Well…let me tell you…
Things have gone wrong. Very wrong. Not for me, but for an icon of the community, CJ Henderson. He has cancer. Again. Twice in less than six months’ time he is fighting for his life and losing his livelihood. With the first course of treatments unsuccessful CJ is now subjected to 96 hours of continues chemotherapy every two weeks. He can’t write. He can’t go to conventions. In short, he can’t make the money vital to his family’s continued well-being.
Here is where the community comes in. Within two days of learning of the reoccurrence of CJ’s lymphoma plans were already in place for a charity anthology, Dance Like a Monkey. From stories to artwork, to publisher and administrative and marketing staff not only was everyone on board, but everything was in place and ready to go. Jean Rabe got on board as editor. Gail Z. Martin stepped in as Promoter. Silence in the Library Press agreed to not only fund this anthology, but also run the crowdfunding campaign that would make it possible. Authors Timothy Zahn, Joe Haldeman, Gene Wolfe, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Jack Dann, Jonathan Maberry…I could keep going, but soon I’ll be running out of words. But in short, over sixty authors have pledged short stories, artwork, and music with absolutely no compensation to them. Before word even got out, fandom was lifting CJ up and helping to bear his burden.
Since then we have gone live with our campaign, Monkeying Around for a Good Cause. Unfortunately, due to Kickstarter’s policy against charity projects we have had to take this to another platform, Indiegogo, which is equally as able, but not nearly as frequented. Support has been heartening with over 220 donors getting behind the project, and whole legions of people helping us to spread the word via social media and news websites, professional organizations and fan bases. The love being shown to CJ heartens me every day. But sadly, it still is not enough. You would think something as inconsequential as a platform would not make a difference to such a worthy cause. Nearly ten days in and we still have not funded, let alone started to work our way through the many fabulous stretch goals that have been donated. But we have time and we have the support, so now it is up to us to spread the word. And that word is…
We aren’t asking for a handout. Really. Despite our purpose we are not asking you to GIVE us anything. No. We are offering you an amazing collection of fiction in either DRM-Free ebook or in print (depending on your donation choice), plus plenty of awesome pledge rewards and potential stretch goals—ALL donated—we offer you value that well exceeds any contribution we are requesting, and all the money save the platform fees, print costs, and shipping, go directly to CJ Henderson so he can stop worrying about bills and focus on kicking cancer’s ass.
Between his years of fiction writing, mentorship, advice, and general jocularity, CJ has given so much to fandom. Let’s give him something back. And not just something, but the very best we can manage. I have seen what that looks like and we aren’t even close yet. If you can’t participate in the crowdfunding please help us spread the word to those who might be in a better position to.