Writing Out Child Abuse


We Don’t Need Another Hero… by J.S. Wayne

This sentiment formed the basis of the theme song to the smash hit Beyond Thunderdome, starring Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. In the movies and in books, there’s really only room for one hero, or at most a small group of heroes.

Here in the real world, things are a little different. Comic-book archetypes form the basis of our morality, daring each of us to be an extraordinary person and stand against the darkness. Everyone has the opportunity to be a hero, and the fact is in this world, we need every one we can get.

If this holds true for adults, it is doubly so for children. How many times have you read a book or watched a TV show where one of the characters reminisces about wishing a superhero would swoop in and carry them away? It’s a sad but nonetheless true fact that too many children can’t even claim their parents or loved ones as heroes, because those very people who are there to shelter and protect children instead use them in vile and hideous ways, for their own pleasure and to deflect the shame of what they allowed themselves to become.

The authors and production staff of A Light In The Darkness, WOCA’s inaugural anthology, are not heroes. We’re all just regular, ordinary people who share a common cause and a common hatred of anything which harms children. But, in the long months since the initial call went out, all of these people have done extraordinary things, carving out great swaths of time and sacrificing sleep, time with friends, family, and other valuable matters to make this anthology happen.

In a way, I had the easy job: All I had to do was read and give my thoughts. Organizing, keeping everyone on track and on task, and making sure the wheels ran smoothly was largely due to the efforts of Gillian Colbert. Hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m the guy for ideas and extra muscle, but I’m not so shit-hot on minutiae. That’s where Gillian’s innate eye for detail and organization comes in, and she deserves thanks neither I nor anyone else can ever adequately give.

Renee Vickers played her role as well, helping me keep my mind right and focused on why I started all this in the first place. Being an editor sometimes feels like playing the role of a budget-rate Atlas, and my hat’s off to anyone who can do that and still keep their drive to write their own material. Having a good friend around to talk to makes a world of difference, and she managed to help deflect my doubts about my ability while still finding the time to write her own material!

Eric Keys and Phoebe Valois both brought great stories and a fresh eye to the table, as well as some new perspectives on why a project like this matters. I’m very proud to have gotten to work with them, and it’s going to be very exciting to introduce these inspiring new talents to the world.

And Laurie Sanders, with Black Velvet Seductions . . . well, I don’t KNOW enough superlatives to adequately describe her and her commitment and assistance with this project, so I won’t even try. Let it suffice to say that if there was ever a person the appellation “angel” described, she’s it!

Okay, okay, enough gushing.The point is, we DO need heroes. However many we manage to assemble, it will always have to be plus one to protect every child who needs it. By doing something as simple as purchasing this anthology, you can help.

You can be a hero.

I promised y’all an excerpt when we were talking at the bar, and I’m going to deliver. Here’s a snippet from “A Hope In Hell,” one of my stories in A Light In The Darkness. Don’t forget to check out the ALITD blog tour, coming soon from Sizzling PR and featuring the WOCA authors! In the meantime, I really hope y’all enjoy this excerpt, and I’ll be back soon!

(The cover was supposed to go here, but an ID10T error prevented me from posting today. Next time, folks. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.)

Edit: Wait no more! Thanks to R. Renee Vickers, it’s here!

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.
This book contains scenes of graphic violence and honest depictions of child abuse. Readers who may find such material unduly disturbing, objectionable, or “triggering” are strongly advised not to read it.
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.

She 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
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.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne



R. Renee Vickers on Surviving and Change by Diamonds and Dogs

Please join me in welcoming R. Renee Vickers, contributing author to A Light in the Darkness, to the WOCA Blog. Renee can be found regularly at her blog Muse Ampoule.

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I would never say the words “I had it bad.” I faced problems and difficulties, like so many of us do, and I survived them. They’ve made me who I am today, for the good or not. It’s hard to discern if the obstacles I faced as a child are the root cause of the strife I carry in my adult life or if my anxieties, insecurities and broken feelings are simply flaws in my character, but I’ll share my experiences and allow you to come to your own conclusions.

My brother and I were raised by a very young single mother who made sure we had clothes on our backs, food in our bellies, and a roof over our heads – no matter how temporary.  That being said, as an adult and a parent myself, I know a child needs much more than the basic necessities to thrive. Stability, security, and parents who are emotionally available are some of the things I noticed lacking as I look back on my childhood. What people would consider neglect today. Poor choices and facts of reality lead to annual moves, changes in towns, schools, friends, and changes in family as marriages and divorces occurred. Year after year, I learned to gain new friends quickly only to have them ripped away as I found myself placed in new and unfamiliar situations. And, as a consequence there were many times I was exposed to emotionally abusive people. I can only be thankful that it wasn’t worse than that. I know it could easily have been.

I consider myself lucky. All of these situations taught me to adapt and be flexible, they taught me that it was only my opinion of myself that really mattered in the end, and not what others thought of me. Yes, I still struggle with viewing myself as worthy or good, but it gets better as years march on. I never had the mentality of a victim, and only thought like a survivor. I took everything negative in my experiences and turned them into lessons of what to do and what not to do.  I believe it’s because of this that now, as an adult, I can look back on my childhood and pull what good there was in there and forgive the bad because really, my upbringing showed me that people are worth so much more.

When J.S. invited me to be on this project and told me what sort of story he’d like to see I said of course I’d like to participate, but really had no idea what to write. It took me a while to come up with something but when it did it hit me like a freight train. As a parent, I couldn’t fathom writing a story showing the very worst of what happens on a daily basis to children, but I could write from the perspective of a survivor, and that’s the story line my piece takes. My main character Grace de Pierre takes the wrongs that were done to her as a child to effect a change on her world. She works tirelessly with police detectives to find abducted children before it’s too late, to give them the chance to retain their innocence. When Madeline Sanders is reported missing, Grace’s uncanny ability to track down the perpetrator leaves her face to face with the horrors from her past. Madeline’s life, and the opportunity for Grace to heal the wounds of her past are on the line.

My story, “Chasing Ashes,” is of one survivor doing everything in her power to ensure that there are as few additional victims in this world as possible. Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do?

So, even if the only way I have to help support the victims of child abuse and potentially help keep other children from abuse and neglect all together, is to lend my voice to the growing number of people who say, enough is enough, I couldn’t ask for a better project to participate in. Thank you J.S. for including me and thank you to the other authors and to Laurie Sanders at Black Velvet Seductions for your participation.



How I Came to Write “A Single Act of Prolonged Vengeance” by Diamonds and Dogs

Please join me in welcoming Eric Keys to the WOCA Blog. Eric is one of the contributing authors to A Light in the Darkness, the upcoming WOCA anthology. 

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Honestly, I’m not a “cause” person. I don’t get involved in crusades or even walk-a-thons typically. If a friend or co-worker asks me to donate or pledge, I try to be generous, but usually my involvement is quite abstract. I do it because it’s important to a friend rather than because the cause means something to me. That’s kind of how I got involved with WOCA. A friend of mine – Gillian – suggested I write a piece, and my first impulse was to dismiss it. But, because she was my friend I decided to mull it over.

I had mixed feelings about this at first. On the one hand I definitely am anti-child abuse. But, I am opposed to it in much the same way I’m opposed to so many other evils in this world that have not affected me. Perhaps I am a selfish person.

People are by nature dreamers. We think about what could be and what could have been. I have a son who is two years old – Zeke. He and I were riding the subway together and I saw a very unhappy child about Zeke’s age. I have no reason to think that this other child was abused, but the fear and pain in his eyes was real. As often is the case, my heart went out to the little tyke and to the child’s parents and to my own son. I know Zeke will see pain.

What if the pain he experienced was not the run of the mill pain that I have experienced in my life? What if the pain he experienced was pain that I dare not even imagine? What would it be like to know about that?

That is how Andon was born. He’s just a man with a humble job and a family. Perhaps he is even a good man. Well, as good as anyone in this corrupt world is. What happens when a man sees what no man should ever see? What would happen if he was given tools to act out his impulses? Would he still be good? Would his goodness disintegrate or simply be buried ? What if someone came into his life who forced him to decide if he would continue on the natural, the oh-so-understandable path he was on, or if he would try to recover some of that goodness? And, that is how Cera was born.

People need other people. It’s such a cliche and it goes against my inner cynic, but it’s true. I needed Gillian to give me the encouragement to write this. Andon needed Cera to help him make the choice he needed to make. My son needs me just to survive some days. Even cynics like me need people.

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Gillian: Eric, thank you so much. I’m humbled. We need cynics like you just as much!



I Want to, But … by Diamonds and Dogs

Note: As many of you may know, J.S. is recovering from a health mishap. So, while he wrestles with the existential question of how to relax and still be productive, I’ll be holding down the fort over here on the WOCA blog.

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A lit candle

A light in the darkness

When I first saw the call for the WOCA anthology, I immediately knew I had to be a part of it. Child abuse touches us all in a variety of ways and the concept of being part of an endeavor that actually could provide a tangible benefit to abuse victims was irresistible. I jumped on board and began to communicate with J.S. about my submission and anything else I could to do help.

It came as quite a shock to me to find out several months later that J.S. was actually short the number of authors he needed in order to get the anthology published. I had honestly assumed that there would be no shortage of submissions. Once I heard this news, I knew there was no way I was going to standby and not at least try to recruit some more submissions. If that didn’t work, we’d try something else, but it hurt nothing to post a request up on my blog. Many of my readers also write fiction.

I posted my request and much to my consternation I received many emails that started, “I want to, but…” Insert whatever you want behind the statement. My heart broke with each one of those emails. In the end, I had to reach out specifically to two of my readers whose writing I really enjoyed and both agreed to write and submit a story. We had our quota.

What I got to thinking about, however, is how often we all say, “I want to, but …” I’ve done it more times than I can count. As I pondered the many times I stepped away from an opportunity, it occurred to me that it would be so much better if we amended that statement to, “I want to, but what if I don’t?”

Like everyone else, I’m juggling tons of things in my own life. I’m a full-time technical writer for an R&D firm, I have my own writing projects, I have a family and two dogs and I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing. In order to write my submission, I had to take time away from work and stay up late into the night. I pulled out over 10,000 words in one day and by the time I typed that last word I could barely focus on the screen in front of me.

I’m not trying to pound my chest, I’m only trying to say that this project meant that much to me because whenever I was tempted to say, “I want to, but” I thought about “what if I don’t.” What if all of the authors writing for this anthology said the same thing? Then the anthology doesn’t get written. Then there is no chance of raising any money for a worthy cause. Then a child somewhere has no chance of the scars being inflicted on them at this moment, fading into something they can live with.

Are we changing the world? No, but just maybe we are changing one child’s life. For me, that was worth staying up late, working overtime to meet a deadline at my 9-5 and requesting an extension from my professor to hand in my assignment late.

The anthology is now in its final stages and more and more people are helping out and donating their time. I’m so honored to be a part of this endeavor and can’t wait to see the final product. When that time comes, however, I can tell you up front, that we’ll be reaching out to you and to many others to help us get the word out. We aren’t Random House or Amazon, we have limited reach by ourselves. When that time comes, I hope you’ll all join me in saying, “But what if I don’t?”




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