Ten authors have donated their work to a box set of novels and novellas to raise money for the medical expenses of a colleague stricken with breast cancer. The LAST HERO STANDING box set, which is set to release on Oct. 28, features 11 novels and novellas for only 99 cents, including a novella and a bonus short story from New York Times bestseller Dianna Love. All the proceeds from sales of the box set will go toward the medical expenses of USA Today bestselling author Pamela Clare, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this past April and has been unable to work since then.
“Writers love to write, and we try to do it around every obstacle in life, because we have stories to tell and we love our readers who are eager to read those stories,” Love says. “But the life of a full-time writer is tough for those who wake up one day to find they’re facing a demanding disease such as cancer. Pamela Clare is in a battle with breast cancer, which means her writing takes a back seat while struggling through chemo treatments and other unexpected health issues that have popped up as well.
“For that reason, Norah Wilson and I brainstormed an idea that has turned into reality. I have the honor of being part of an incredible group of authors who jumped up to donate books for the LAST HERO STANDING box set that will be available only during the month of November, and we’re giving all proceeds to Pamela,” Love says.
In addition to two stories from Love and a novella from Clare, the set features the work of New York Times bestsellers Cynthia Eden, Elisabeth Naughton, Joan Swan and Bonnie Vanak; USA Today bestsellers Mary Buckham, Adrian Giordano and Norah Wilson; and award-winners Stephanie Rowe and Tracy Devlyn. The stories span the sub-genres of romantic fiction from contemporary to suspense to paranormal.
“When my friend and fellow author Pamela Clare received her breast cancer diagnosis, it quickly became obvious that she would need to take a hiatus from writing to devote herself to the battle,” Wilson says. “I wanted to help her, but was at a loss about how best to do that. The answer came in a conversation with Dianna Love, who volunteered to publish a benefit box set with a limited one-month run if I could wrangle willing authors. Let me tell you, that was the easiest job I’ve ever been given! The authors I approached were eager to lend their books to the cause. I am so proud of the lineup we were able to put together on very short notice.”
Everyone involved in the project donated 100 percent of their time, including the photographer and designer. The authors approached Jenn LeBlanc of Studio Smexy™, who is a personal friend of Clare’s, and asked her to donate the art. Brandy Walker of TEZ Graphics designed the cover, while IRONHORSE Formatting provided formatting services.
“There was no hesitation when Norah messaged me about the cover for this very special anthology,” LeBlanc says. “I told her they could have any image from my site as an exclusive for this cover. It means a great deal to me because Pamela is one of my dearest friends, and I was happy to be able to help however I was able.”
Clare wasn’t made aware of the project until many of the pieces were already in place.
“When they told me what they wanted to do, I burst into tears,” Clare says. “It’s easy to feel alone when you’re going through chemo and miserable and bald. More than anything, this made me realize how many people in the romance community care.”
Clare was diagnosed with stage 1C breast cancer in April after a routine mammogram showed small calcifications in her left breast. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy in June, which revealed that the cancer had already spread to a single lymph node. She has almost completed chemotherapy and will be starting radiation treatments in November.
Although Clare has insurance, she is still required to pay co-pays and co-insurance, which add up quickly with multiple surgeries and drugs that cost more than $1,000 per injection. But the real struggle is paying for medical bills while not working. A full-time author, Clare hasn’t been able to write since she was diagnosed.
“The six weeks before surgery were like a waking nightmare,” she says. “I had no idea what I was facing, and the stress was overwhelming. I had three surgeries in the two months that followed, and then started chemo. I haven’t felt well enough to read, let alone write.”
New York Times best-seller Elisabeth Naughton knows from personal experience how devastating a major medical crisis can be to the life and livelihood of an author.
“Five years ago, I wound up in ICU with septic shock after a routine medical procedure,” Naughton says. “Thankfully, I survived the ordeal, but for at least six months after, while my body was busy healing, I was unable to write a single word. When the body is working so hard to repair itself, creativity takes a serious hit. I know what it’s like to be unable to write, so I’m happy to help Pamela in any way I can. This box set is just one way to show my support.”
The other authors in the box set understand this dilemma.
“As a full time writer, you’re kind of out there without a safety net,” Wilson says. “As long as you can write and publish new books regularly, all is right with the world. If you’re lucky. But when serious illness strikes and you can’t write or even promote for months at a stretch, your income dwindles pretty quickly. And that income shrinks at exactly the time you need it most.”
The box set is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. It will be available through November 30.
“The romance community is made up of some of the most generous and caring people on earth, both readers and writers,” Clare says. “And the thing that choked me up the most about this box set? The fact that they made my name pink and put me in the middle of what they called a ‘group hug.’ I’ll take all the hugs I can get.”
To read Clare’s breast cancer story, visit her blog at pamelaclare.blogspot.com.
Says Love: “I’m proud to know so many authors with generous hearts.”