A bunch of us writers are doing a charity anthology to help out a fellow writer in need.
Rob Wells is an author, a peer, and a good friend of mine. A few years ago Rob’s life fell apart because of severe mental health issues, and he’s been putting it back together ever since. Imagine your brain having your fight or flight reflex constantly switched on, and being unable to switch it off. Rob has constant panic attacks, depression, and severe OCD that pushes him to self harm. His mental health issues cost him his job and severely hampered his writing career.
Over the last few years I’ve watched Rob face these challenges and keep on pushing through. I think the best thing that happened for him was getting a service dog, because no matter how imposing the world was, Annie the calming dog was always there for him. Back when I had a day job, and was in town every day, we used to hook up for lunch once a week. It really makes you appreciate a restaurant that doesn’t freak out about a service dog.
Rob’s been getting treatment. I could tell when he was on a different medication because it would change how he talked, how he acted, even how he looked. Meds that helped the brain chemistry had debilitating side effects, and each one became a matter of tradeoffs. Yet, Rob just keeps on trying and fighting. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man.
He still forces himself to attend conventions and signings, and stays as long as he can until his brain demands that he get away. One time Rob and I were on a panel at LTUE, talking to a very full room. Every seat was taken, and people were standing along the walls, and blocking the exit door. This started to damage Rob’s calm, so he asked the people in front of the door to please clear the way. They didn’t do so fast enough, so I took up the microphone and explained in my typical gentle fashion that if they didn’t get their asses out of the way, I was going to scoop Rob up in my arms and carry him from the room like he was Whitney Houston and I was Kevin Costner. Rob asked if I’d really do that for him. Yes. But only if he sings the song.
So for this charity anthology, Rob has sung the theme from the Bodyguard and asked for my help, so now it is time to Costner up and kick some ass.
When you’re already dealing with mental health issues that are exacerbated by stress, there’s nothing quite as awesome as being up to your eyeballs in debt. Much of this debt is to the IRS, an organization known for its understanding and merciful nature. Rob has been writing, and his career is getting better, but he went from having a good paying professional job to losing everything. This has been a huge burden on Rob’s family.
Bestselling fantasy author Brandon Sanderson is another friend of Rob’s. When he heard how in the hole Rob was he decided to help out. Brandon had the idea of getting a bunch of authors who know Rob to kick in things for a charity anthology to help him out. To make sure that this money goes where it needs to go, Brandon is footing the bill for the printing and production of the whole project. Brandon is one of the coolest guys I know, which is almost enough to make me forgive him for the inevitable mud stomping that the entire Wheel of Time series is about to administer to the other Hugo nominees for best novel.
Despite my being the International Lord of Hate and most despised man on the internet this week, Brandon, Dan, and Rob know that I do a lot of stuff for charity and my fans (you guys) are total bad asses at working the internet. So they asked me to help plug the heck out of this project. There are a ton of authors in this thing. Since I was recently informed that my readers who voted in Sad Puppies must all be fraudulent figments of my imagination, let’s demonstrate again that the Monster Hunter Nation actually exists by punching mental illness in the face.
The idea is that Rob’s author friends have lots of fans who like our regular stuff enough to give us money for it. So why not get together a compilation of things that would appeal to our wide fan base that our fans normally wouldn’t be able to get? Brandon and Rob’s brother Dan put out a call for things that our fans normally wouldn’t see, like deleted scenes from our well known works, early drafts that were drastically changed, stories that were never published, that sort of thing.
This was hard for me because most of the time when something doesn’t work, I chuck it. I don’t save deleted scenes. And I’ve been lucky in that most of the manuscripts I’ve sent in haven’t been changed too drastically in editing. HOWEVER… There was this one really big fun fight sequence in Swords of Exodus that just didn’t fit. It was awesome, but it didn’t really work for various reasons (which you will see). And I actually had a copy of this because it was still on the draft I submitted to Baen. So, my contribution to this anthology is a pit fight between Lorenzo and Anders (that never happened in the real book!) where I demonstrate that Anders is a total badass and Lorenzo is not nearly as tough as he thinks he is.
My second contribution is to do something ridiculous and fun for charity. Rob isn’t a shooter, but he’s fascinated by it, and I’m an enthusiast… Okay, check that. I’m the biggest shooting fanatic you’ll find in this business. So capitalizing on our various talents for different reward tiers, Rob has asked me to shoot things for charity. You donate extra money to help Rob out, I will shoot things for your amusement, and we will record it. In order to kick things off, Rob is giving me a copy of the DSM to demonstrate his displeasure on. Since according to the DSM, I meet 7 out of 8 of the symptoms for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, this sounded like a brilliant idea to me.
So what shootable item troubles your mental health? Allow me to help you. And since you guys know I’m incapable of doing anything in moderation, when you ask me to shoot something on video for you, you know it is going to get mauled.
So the goal is to sell this anthology. Fans get a fun book of odd things from their favorite writers. Rob gets out of the hole. Any money raised over the goal will go to mental health charity. The goal is super high, but I believe they plan to have the project proceed no matter what.
So please, tell your friends and spread the word. Thanks.