A guest post from J.S. Wayne
When I first started Writing Out Child Abuse, I freely admit I did so in anger. Well, okay, rage, if you want to be nitpicky about it. I must say I think that’s only fitting: Child abuse is something people damn well should be angry about!
Most people would have stopped right there and said, “Okay, I’m doing this because I believe in it.” Being me, though, I had to take it one step further and bare one of the hardest and most shameful secrets I’ve ever carried to the world. (I know I shouldn’t feel that way. I didn’t ask to have what happened to me happen. But ask any child abuse survivor what emotions they feel and I’ll lay you long odds “shame” is right up at the top of the list.)
Why did I so bluntly explain my underlying motives? What moved me to slit my figurative wrists and drip the bleeding result all over the WOCA blog for anyone to see who cared to look?
There’s no simple answer, really. Anyone who deludes themselves that there is or could be is lying to themselves. The fact is I had a number of motives. One is that nowadays, any charity started by a public or quasi-public figure is going to be regarded with a healthy dose of skepticism, a “What’s in it for you?” quirk of the eyebrow. Another is that I remember all too vividly, even now, what happened to me and the terrible toll it took, and still takes today. And still another is that I truly, genuinely believe that we as a species, as a race, and as sentient beings are wholly unworthy of the airs we put on until we uniformly agree all around the world, in every language, that every child deserves to be loved, cared for, and protected.
My lot in life is not to punish the wicked, no matter how many vigilante Batman fantasies I may entertain. I may muse longingly about pulling the trigger, the switch, or depressing the plunger which banishes the abusers, the molesters, and the neglectors to a place where they can never harm anyone else, but ultimately I know and understand that’s just not me. But I still wanted to be a beacon, a bulwark against the darkness for these children, and to offer hope that the cruelty and malice of adults is not universally shared.
It sounds very self-aggrandizing when I break it down to such a degree, I suppose. I entertain few illusions about myself, and I know I’m no Superman. Hell, I’m not even Robin! The final result was I wanted to do something truly worthwhile and really selfless, something that offered no reward but the chance to know I was truly making a difference in this world.
To my relieved gratification, I quickly learned I wasn’t alone. Gillian Colbert, R. Renee Vickers, Amber Green, Eric Keys, and Phoebe Valois all answered the initial submission call for A Light In The Darkness. I’ve got plenty of space for more submissions and have already assembled quite a list of authors who’ve stepped up for the current call, which closes October 1st. (See below for more details on that.) My eyes still prickle with humbled gratitude every time I visit a fellow author’s blog and see the WOCA badge proudly adorning their little space on the Internet. All of these things tell me that child abuse really isn’t something people are willing to ignore or just let go anymore.
Whether you’re an author, a reader, or just dropping in to see what all the buzz is, you can help us in our fight. No one involved with WOCA is profiting from the sale of A Light In The Darkness. 100% of all profits are going directly into the WOCA coffers and will be dispersed monthly on an equal basis to a number of child abuse prevention and education initiatives around the globe. I myself have an ongoing personal pledge over and above this: 50% of all author proceeds from Shadowphoenix: Requiem, my first urban fantasy/horror novel, as well as 20% of all profits from my entire backlist of Noble Romance works.
Child abuse is an awkward subject, there’s no denying that. Where are the lines drawn? Who decides where the boundary between discipline and abuse blurs or vanishes altogether? When does a simple hug or touch become something more sinister? Because it’s so awkward, many people would rather pop it in a box and forget all about it.
Odds are, though, if you’re here today, you’re like me.
And I don’t roll that way.
I know the tone of this blog has been very serious, in direct contrast to most of my usual postings. This is a serious subject and should be treated as such. But the idea of WOCA and A Light In The Darkness is not and has never been to invoke depression or hopelessness. Quite the opposite! The task here is to create the emotion which, very much by design, is also the very last word in ALITD. And that word, gentle readers, is “hope.”
A warm hug and a huge thank-you to Sarah Ballance for letting me come over and spread the word about what WOCA is up to! Before I go, here’s an excerpt from one of my contributions to A Light In The Darkness, “A Hope In Hell.” I hope you enjoy it and that you’ll consider purchasing a copy of ALITD for your own, and/or that you’ll get involved with WOCA another way. Either way, I appreciate y’all spending a little time today. Don’t forget to check back later this week for more from WOCA’s contributing authors!
Writing Out Child Abuse began as a simple concept: A network of publishing industry professionals dedicated to the credo that children everywhere deserve to be safe and to be children, and to provide hope, safety, comfort, and aid to survivors of child abuse the world over.
In A Light in the Darkness, the inaugural anthology from the authors of WOCA, a dark world awaits you. Spanning centuries of time, encircling the globe, and running the gamut from eerie historical fiction to gritty urban fantasy to page-scorching erotic romance, these authors unflinchingly dissect the horror of child abuse in all its forms. These authors have taken great pains to ensure the innocent are assured justice and the guilty pay for their crimes in the unique fantasy worlds they have created. Sadly, in real life, this is not always the case.
Some of the newest and hottest names in fiction have lent their talents to this collection, including Gillian Colbert, Amber Green, R. Renee Vickers, Eric Keys, Phoebe Valois, and J.S. Wayne. All of these authors are united by one core belief, and with this collection, they seek to turn their talents to a greater good.
One hundred percent of all proceeds from this collection are being donated directly to Writing Out Child Abuse. These proceeds will then be dispersed to charities whose sole aim is to help survivors of child abuse all over the globe. To learn more about WOCA or their fund-raising activities, or to get involved yourself, visit http://wix.com/writingoutchildabuse/intro.
Excerpt (rated PG-13 for disturbing imagery)
Versiel decided in moments that she didn’t care for the feeling of traveling across the veil. The nausea and discomfort the transit caused made her cranky and irritable, ready to take offense at the tiniest slight. On the other hand, that wasn’t wholly a bad thing, so long as she vented her ire in the right direction.
The ranch-style suburban house appeared perfectly normal to her regular sight. White siding, pale blue trim, lawn the size of a postage stamp. The shrubs butting up against the one-story dwelling were uniformly manicured and well-maintained, the first of the spring flowers peeping out between the branches.
She took a long sniff of the balmy evening air. It was still early enough that her presence on the street wouldn’t be taken amiss. After adjusting the hem of her green jumper, she reached up checked her beret to be sure it was squarely seated on her head. Normal, meaningless gestures that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation, but they would satisfy any observer.
Squinting slightly, she stared at the house again. Her stomach fluttered as she invoked the odd sense only her kind possessed. The pleasant, typical suburban home was stripped away to be replaced by a vision of the true nature of the inhabitant and the deeds the house had witnessed.
The house reeled and cringed on its foundation as if struck by a god’s fist, the paint peeling and cracking, running in some spots in bruises and lacerations as produced by Sherwin Williams. The windows spiderwebbed and jagged fangs of glass fell out of the panes to tinkle onto the porch, falling through missing boards in some places and crashing onto the warped wood in others. Soon only the empty holes remained, as lifeless and blank as a tragedy victim’s eyes.
She watched through the weed-choked chain link fence as the ground began to shiver and boil, vomiting up clods of earth and tangles of roots. Among the grasping fingers of the broken roots, brownish and reddish pebbles began to show through the spewing earth. The pieces became larger and larger, until she recognized a small thigh bone mingled among the destruction. A low moan like the rustling of a dry desert wind howled around her, the innocents who had suffered and died here screaming out from their unhallowed and unknown graves for surcease and revenge.
A head-to-toe shudder racked her tiny frame, and she fought the urge to recoil. She pushed away the vision by main force, blinking several times to try to erase the memory from her mind without success. Swallowing hard, she squared her shoulders and marched up to the door, a half-dozen brightly colored boxes tucked under her arm. She mounted the small flight of stairs leading to the porch and rang the bell, taking care not to touch anything more than absolutely necessary.
The dignified chime cut through the canned laughter of a TV show. In a few seconds, a rustling from the general area of the forced merriment told her the homeowner would soon be arriving. She took one step backward, hoping the queasiness in her stomach didn’t show on her face.
The porch light clicked on and the door opened.