Category: #hopepunk

Hello all;

Hope you are all well and surviving in comfort. Between Covid and the wildfires, it all seems like a bit apocalyptic in the states right now, so I’m hoping that you lovely lot are all in safe places but there isn’t too much smoke and definitely no flames!

So the reason I have been quiet for awhile – apart from the usual episode of burnout – is that I was asked if I would like to submit a story to a charity anthology called ‘Hellcats’.

A friend of mine, Kate Pickford, has a relative who is 79 and about to be thrown out of her house. The whole story is on her go fund me.

But basically the old lady, whose name is Erada, is in a really horrible position and has been so stressed and down about it for so long that she was absolutely at her wits’ end. Kate came to me and said “We need to raise $70,000 in the shortest time possible. I am going to do an anthology – would you be prepared to put a story in?”

“Of course,” I answered. “Also, I have a formatting program, so if you would like, I will format the file when we’re finished.”

The three dots on the screen suggested that she was typing something else, and when the message came through she just said “That would be very kind. Normally I go via a publisher so I have no idea how any of this works.”

Righty then. Regulars will know that of course I jumped in to help her, and then to actually do it – after all, it was only a little charity anthology and I’ve done loads of things. Or was it???

The number of people offering stories got larger and larger . And then some people who make a really good living off their stories turned up and offered to help, and some people who have won prizes, and that sort of thing. Then other people heard that the larger authors were involved and they volunteered to write something as well. Did it snowball? That is the understatement of the year!

On the 1st of September, we started with a handful of authors interested. By hand-in date on the 16th of September, we had 69 stories by 71 offers. We also had six separate teams working on putting it together – a whole posse of people proofing and editing around the clock, graphics people, social media people, a particularly splendid website… Whatever we thought of, someone would stand up and say “I can do that. Would you like me to?”

In a undertaking under as much time-pressure as this, there is often a certain unwritten resignation to the fact that things can’t be done as best as you might like them to be done. This is emphatically not one of those anthologies. Turns out, Kate is a really top class editor. And half of our proofing team also have worked for Craig Martelle or Michael Anderle, who are big names in the in the indie world, so they really know their stuff.

The quality of people volunteering their services, and being willing to drop everything for a couple of weeks to make this happen, it’s just staggering. It’s joyous. And it has left us in the utterly flabbergasting and utterly epic position of having thrown together in an impossible short time a huge and very entertaining set of stories to a quality that we are really proud of.

We are about to unveil a new line of merchandise – and again, all of the proceeds from the merchandise as well as the books will be going directly to Erada once it has been paid. The paperbacks are processing with a view to going live any minute, and we getting very positive feedback about the book itself.

On the glossy website which Kenzie Giardina very kindly set up for us, there are autobiographies and summaries of each individual story, and we’re also doing a blog about each author, one per day. I really encourage you to nip over to the blog and look at it. Not least, the merch page….

Here is the link for your perusal – and in the days to come, we will have a few other guest posts, as well as updates on the progress of the fundraising for Erada.

If you’d like to buy a copy of the book, you can find it at or if you don’t fancy 69 stories of cat-related derring-do (or in some cases, derring-don’t), you can also help Erada by donating at her Gofundme here

If you feel so inclined, reads on Kindle Unlimited are particularly helpful, and reviews, shares, or just forwarding these posts are too.

It’s all for a good cause!

Thanks peeps. Take care, especially those of you where the air is bad or fires are near. I’ll be posting another blog soon. In the meantime have a lovely week!

J a C

Interesting article on Hopepunk

There have been some interesting reactions to the definitions of hopepunk as a genre.

I think this sums things up nicely.

On Costa, and hospitals, and Sanctuary.

They’ve just put a Costa in our local hospital.

We go to the hospital quite a lot because of my OH’s various ailments. The coffee in the hospital is awful – utterly tasteless and horrible so you may imagine how pleased we were to see that Costa had opened there.


Firstly because we both love a decent coffee, of course, and Costa’s not superb but it’s consistently decent. Dependable, you might say.

Secondly because when you are in a place like a hospital where everything is uncertain and nothing is within your power, you gravitate to the familiar. In Costa you know what you’re getting, you know you’re going to enjoy it, and you can have your usual favourite. It’s a dose of normality when you need it.

Costa isn’t sterile and clinical like the the hospital, it doesn’t smell of disinfectant and promote the use of hand gel in case you have a mysterious flesh eating virus; it smells all dark and rich with coffee beans. It has comfy chairs, and it looks the same as the High Street Costa you stop in for a chat and a cake with your family while shopping. It’s familiar, comforting, a refuge. And it makes it easier to go to the hospital.

Waiting for test results is easier in familiar territory. Being nervous or worried is more manageable. It gets so that you go to that hospital Costa not because you want coffee or cake, but because it makes you feel more able to manage what waits outside. That’s pretty powerful, and honestly, it’s a bit of a gift. It makes our lives easier.

To a certain extent, that’s what I’m trying to do with my stories.

We seem to be living in dark times right now. Everywhere you look, something terrible is happening. The news is rife with disasters, tragedy, stupid political decisions that will have all sorts of impact on real people’s lives. You hear of people in all sorts of terrible situations, all sorts of cruelty and hardship and hopelessness, and it’s very difficult to resist despairing of it all.

But actually, resisting it is what we need to do.

It’s not easy. You have to go out of your way to find the good stuff, but know what? It’s there. There’s a quote from Mr Rogers that says that when he was scared as a kid, his mother used to tell him to look for the helpers. I love this, and it’s true.

You can’t be blinkered about world events – you can’t ignore them, but you can choose carefully the aspects about them you pass on. If all we can do is highlight the pictures of everyone charging over to help, regardless of age or race or religion, even that is a little blow for the cause of hope.

And it is becoming clear to me that hope is something we need to fight for. In this day and age hope is becoming rare and precious; anything that keeps that spark alive, it’s worth doing.

For me, my stories are part of that. I try to be realistic in my view of humanity, so in my books dark events do occur and times can be bad, but always there is faith and hope and the determination to make things better, at least a little bit.

Sometimes things can be fixed; sometimes they really can’t, but often they can be ameliorated a bit, or made more bearable. If you can’t help all of the people, sometimes you can help one.

But that sort of fight is exhausting, whether in real life or fiction. We can’t fight all the time. No-one can. We get exhausted, and we need somewhere to go where we can recharge for a while, just to get our breath back, and our emotional reserves, and our determination.

For that we need a safe place, a refuge. We need to be reminded that, as Samwise Gamgee says, “there are good things in the world, and that they are worth fighting for.” We need to find hope, and the will to persist.

And that is why we need stories.

Stories where two hobbits cross a continent and save the world simply by persistence and faith, even if things can never be the same again for anyone afterwards.

Stories of a person who roams the galaxy in a police-box, who has to let go of the people he/she loves every time he/she regenerates, but still cannot resist the urge to help every new person he/she meets.

Stories that tell us that we can make a difference, even when it feels as if we are powerless.

Stories are our sanctuary, and if ever we needed a sanctuary, that time is now.

Find your story. Find your sanctuary. Find your feet.

And believe in hope, because like the helpers, it is always there.

Take care of yourselves – and each other.