Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Micro-stories for GISHWHES

For those who don’t keep up with such things, GISHWHES is an acronym for “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” It is an annual charity event organized by actor Misha Collins, who (among other roles) plays angel Castiel on the CW series Supernatural.

One of the items requested this year of participating teams — GISHERs, as they call themselves — was to procure a story of no more than 140 words in length, from a previously published sci-fi author, about “Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and an elopus.” (An elopus is an elephant-octopus hybrid, and the mascot of the event.)

Many GISHERs took it upon themselves to tweet, direct-message, and e-mail various authors, whether they knew them or not — and whether they were fans of those writers or not — to ask them to tap out original works of micro-fiction for their respective teams.

As one might imagine, more than a few authors got their noses out of joint over being asked to write for free, even if it was for a charity event. I suspect that most of the authors who were so aggrieved were likely far more popular and critically lauded than I am, and thus were deluged by an exponentially greater number of requests. To which I say: Cry me a fucking river, you prima donnas. We should all have your problems.

For my own part, I joked at first about my reluctance to work for free, especially at a time when I’m busy trying to beat a looming deadline. I tweeted:



Then I was asked by friends to record videos to help fulfill a different GISHWHES challenge: “Get a NY Times Bestselling Author or a Tony-award-winning actor or actress to record on video a dramatic reading from the California DMV Driver’s Handbook chapter on right-of-way.”

A ham at heart, I recorded two videos and had a blast doing it. Energized, I went to my computer and wrote three short stories just for GISHWHES:

“The People’s Queen”

“The Cliffs of Dover”

“The Gift”

Today I gave them to people who sent me selfies of themselves with my books, and I wrote a fourth — “Scoop” — specifically for a German fan who wrote me such a nice letter asking for my help that I couldn’t turn her away.

Next week, after the contest is over, I’ll share those stories and videos with the world here on my blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere.

And you know what? I’m still going to hit my quota on my manuscript today; I’ll still make my deadline; and even though I gave away the equivalent of about $88 worth of fiction (based on my current per-word rate), I am still able to pay my bills and not whine about the injustice of being asked to help strangers without the recompense of a profit motive.

And I’m okay with that.


UPDATE, 8.10.14: I’ve added links in the text above to later posts that feature the four stories and three videos I created for GISHWHES.

A Library Asks for Authors’ Help

My fellow authors: In West Warren, Massachusetts, there is a small-town library that needs your help.

When I was a young boy growing up in western Massachusetts, my hometown’s local public library was a big part of my life. Often on weekend afternoons, while my parents ran errands, they left me under the watchful eye of the librarians, and I whiled away my afternoons poring through all types of tomes: Peanuts cartoon collections, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, assorted science-fiction paperbacks and hardcovers, and various encyclopedias. To me the library was a magical place, safe and quiet, full of knowledge and entertainment. I still carry with me the fond memories of what a library can mean to its community.

I recently received an e-mail appeal from Thomas Cummings at the West Warren Public Library, which is located not far from where I grew up, asking me for a simple gift: An inscribed and autographed copy of one of my books that they can raffle off at their December fund-raiser. His message read, in part:

The West Warren Public library holds a raffle every year as part of its annual fundraising. The drawing is held on the first Sunday in December at our town’s annual tree-lighting festival. The Board of Trustees is already planning this year’s raffle. The board has decided to give books signed by the authors as prizes.

Would you please donate any of your books to help our cause? If you donate a book could you please write the following: “Read, and you will always be a winner!” — and, of course, sign the book.

Remember that all books donated to us can be used for tax purposes as a donation to a non-profit organization.

I have donated an inscribed and autographed copy of the omnibus edition of my Star Trek Destiny trilogy to help the West Warren Public Library, and I hope that all of you, my fellow authors, will join me by taking the time to inscribe, sign, and donate one copy of any of your works to the library.

Donated works can be mailed to this address:

West Warren Public Library
2370 Main St., P.O. Box 369
West Warren, MA 01092-0369
Attn: Thomas Cummings

Also, please feel free to share this call for charitable book donations on your own blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds. Here’s hoping that together we can make this year a great one for the West Warren Public Library.

David Mack

Today’s shameless roast DVD plug

Fun fact about the new Bob Greenberger roast DVD: For a number of reasons that are explained in the producers’ commentary track, I decided to produce this show in classic-looking black-and-white, with color footage only for the opening and closing credits.

Has the experiment proved a success? Watch the teaser clips I’ve uploaded to YouTube and decide for yourself. Here’s the first one, featuring some of the opening remarks by roastmaster Alan “Sizzler” Kistler, the creator of host of Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series.

To buy a copy of the DVD, go to my website:

Support the Shore Leave charity roast!

Long story short: I’m looking for people who want to help finance The Third Annual Shore Leave Comedy Roast for Charity. Our guest of honor in 2011 is fan-favorite author, editor, and politician Robert Greenberger, aka Bob.

If you’re interested in making a donation to receive an on-screen producer’s credit and get on the comp list for a free DVD, click here to learn more.

You can also buy official Shore Leave Roast merchandise from our Cafe Press store. The first 70 fans who come to the roast wearing one of our official BOB T-Shirts will be eligible to take advantage of reserved premium seating for the roast. Be up close and personal when the insults start flying!

Proceeds from these sales will help finance this year’s ridiculously expensive show. If by some miracle, between sales and donations, we earn more than the show costs to produce, all profits will be donated to the American Red Cross.

What I Did Today

The supermarket where Kara and I buy our groceries has a frequent-shopper program, to which we belong. This year, as in most previous years, we had earned more than enough points to receive a free turkey, of any type or size we desired.

Normally, this would be cause for celebration, but this year we have no need of the gratis bird. We also have no room in our freezer or fridge to store an enormous turkey. Adding to our dilemma, if we don’t redeem our points for a turkey before Thanksgiving, they expire and we get nothing. So, what to do?

I took the advice of a stranger on Facebook, who made a wonderful suggestion in reply to a comment I made about this topic: I redeemed our points today, picked out a lovely, 16-pound organic turkey, and donated it to my local Salvation Army Food Pantry.

The woman I spoke with at the Salvation Army office said that requests for turkeys were way up this year, but that donations of turkeys were sharply down. (The national economy in action at the street level, folks.) Understandably, she was very happy to accept my donation.

It makes me happy to know that this Thanksgiving, a family who thought they would have to go without a turkey now will have one more thing for which to be thankful.

Run, KRAD-boy, Run!

Hello, gentle readers. Just a quick note to invite you to help sponsor author Keith R.A. DeCandido’s 5K run to raise money for breast-cancer research, in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday, September 13, 2009.

I am proud to support Keith as he lends his sweat and effort to a worthy cause, and I hope you will consider joining me in whatever way you can afford, even if it’s just a few dollars, because every little bit helps.

Help John Scalzi support Strange Horizons

awardFor today only (Friday, August 14, 2009), John Scalzi is matching tax-deductible donations (up to $500) made to support the online magazine Strange Horizons.

I’ve donated $100, and even if the $500 limit has been passed, I encourage you all to donate whatever you can afford, for all the wonderful reasons that Scalzi explains on his blog.

For his great generosity and willingness to give back to a publication that supported his early career, and give other new writers the same chance, I am proud to induct John Scalzi into my personal pantheon of Great Human Beings.

ETA: In case anyone thought my induction of John into the Great Human Beings pantheon was premature, his 27-hour “Scalzi Challenge” was even more successful than he had dared to hope. In the words of Strange Horizons editor Susan Marie Groppi —

So up there in Scalzi’s post when he said “What I would say would be an even better outcome, however, is an even larger pile of donations sent along to Strange Horizons, for which my and Krissy’s $500 is just the cherry on the top.” You guys far exceeded any reasonable expectations for that “better outcome.” I’ve just finished doing all the tabulating, and the grand total for the 27-hour Scalzi Challenge period came to $9590. When you add in the matching funds from John and Krissy, that’s just over ten thousand dollars raised.

I don’t think I can possibly express how much this means to Strange Horizons, and to all of our staff members. We’re going to keep the fund drive open for a while longer in case anyone else wants to donate, but we’ve totally met and passed our overall fundraising goal. I’m totally overwhelmed by the generosity all of you have shown, and totally scared for what might happen if Scalzi ever decides to use his powers for evil.