Author Spotlight: Getting Silly to Help CJ Henderson

CJ Henderson montage flippedCJ Henderson is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, as well as a good friend and mentor to many authors who write speculative fiction.

Right now, he’s fighting for his life against aggressive lymphoma.

As most writers and artists know, medical fees are a huge burden with how little so many of us make–and not being able to pay what insurance refuses to cover costs people their lives.

For all his life, CJ has helped and supported so many of his peers–so we’re coming together to support him. We revel in his natural silliness with a battle cry coined from his oft-said sales pitch of “I’ll dance like a monkey for a nickel.” With primate jubilation and the willingness to do anything for a friend, a few hundred people have already howled out a social media campaign and now an anthology called Dance Like a Monkey.

But the battle’s not over. Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Gail Z. Martin–two of the authors spearheading this campaign–and some more of CJ’s friends share even more on the Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester blog.

Where can people find some of C.J.’s writing? Find out about him as an author?

There are loads of sites that contain information about CJ but the primary one is his own website, of course: http://cjhenderson.com. Not only does he sell his fiction through his website, but he also has free fiction posted there as well.

Where will people be able to purchase the Dance like a Monkey anthology?

Right now they can purchase the anthology by supporting the Monkeying Around campaign. For $10 they get the DRM-Free ebook version of their choice, for $25 they receive a print version of the book. It will include over thirty authors and have hundreds of pages of quality fiction.

After the campaign completes they can buy the book through the Silence in the Library website, as well as through most online booksellers as SitL will be putting the book through the usual distribution channels.

I believe CJ also intends to carry it on his own website: http://cjhenderson.com/store/

For those who don’t know, who is C.J. Henderson? Who is he to you?

DA-M: CJ Henderson is one of the most beloved curmudgeons I know. He is personable, supportive of others, and real cranky if you happen to resist his spiel. He doesn’t expect everyone to buy his books, but the showman in him rails at those who won’t even stop and look. But even so CJ is always willing to share advice on writing and publishing, even shares submission opportunities with fellow writers. He always has a story to tell and delights in the simplest things. Many a time he has stayed at my house to be closer to a show he’s attending, and we have shared good food and classic Trek or other genre viewing. I would not be where I am without CJ and his mentoring.

Gail: CJ was one of the first people I met when I started doing conventions as a professional writer. We ended up at several conventions together that year, and he was always an encouraging presence. We’d talk shop and he would tell me cautionary tales about one thing or another, but mostly it was just knowing that there was a friendly face who was cheering for me. He’s always been a tremendously supportive friend, and I want to repay the favor.

Jean Marie Ward: I really can’t add much to what Danielle has said about CJ. He really is all that. But sometimes it’s hard to picture someone when all you have is other people’s descriptions. Fortunately, we also have video:

http://buzzymag.com/c-j-henderson-author-of-the-the-brooklyn-knight-series-exclusive-interview/

Sorry I didn’t catch him dancing like a monkey. But next time…

Besides being a great writer, C.J. Henderson is a wonderful person–kind and fun to hang around with. What is your Final6x9-Ron-JC-Dancefavorite C.J. story?

DA-M: Well, this actually ties directly into the Dance Like a Monkey anthology, which is fitting. At Lunacon one year, CJ had his table in the hallway, rather than the dealer’s room. Mike [McPhail] would go out to keep him company. Part of CJ’s spiel is telling prospective customers that he will even “dance like a monkey for a nickel to make a customer happy.” Well, when CJ wasn’t looking Mike went to our car and grabbed all the nickels from the bin where we keep change for tolls. When he went back inside to CJ’s table he put the nickels on the edge of the table where CJ couldn’t see them. I think it was the most exercise CJ has gotten at a con. Customers kept handing him nickels and sure enough he kept dancing. Mike had a difficult time keeping a straight face as CJ would get kind of cranky in between customers because few had really taken him up on it before, and he couldn’t understand why all of a sudden now. At one point, CJ suddenly realized the nickels were coming from his table. After he danced for the last customer, he stalked around the table, swiped the remaining nickels into his hand and pocketed them before sitting down again—and for the rest of the con. Mike broke out laughing and still fondly tells the story to this day. And yes, CJ still gets cranky about it.

Gail: I can’t top Danielle’s story! I just love CJ work his table at a con—how well he interacts with readers, how much he enjoys the conversations, and his trademark extra giveaways when you buy from him in person—a “wacky bookmark” which is usually a trading card of some kind, and a “free magazine” which is usually a comic book or issue of an old genre magazine. Oh, and then the question of “naughty or nice” when it comes to the type of comic book! Buying from CJ isn’t just getting a book—it’s an experience!

JMW: My favorite story is actually my husband Greg Uchrin’s. Greg met CJ at his first con as a vendor in Artists Alley. CJ saw Greg’s purple t-shirt with its screaming man logo and decided he couldn’t live without one. So he introduced himself and asked for a free t-shirt on the grounds that he was the biggest billboard around. Greg agreed with him, and CJ’s been wearing the shirt ever since. You can see it at the 30-second mark in the Dance Like a Monkey video.

What’s your favorite piece of writing from C.J. and why?

DA-M: I am really partial to CJ’s Rocky and Noodles stories just because he has had so much fun with them and really poured himself into the universe. It is wacky and quirky and just a lot of fun. Think of a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis GI-buddy movie in space…and on paper 😉

Gail: I love his Piers Knight series as well as his Teddy London books. I thought his whole magic system in the Brooklyn Knight books was intriguing and his mix of noir detective and horror in the Teddy London books was also done very well.

For those of you who have included him in your anthologies, what drew you to the pieces you chose?

DA-M: Really? The answer to that has to be CJ. He is a skilled and diverse author. Able to write fast and clean and on any theme you might need. He writes in a variety of genres and he writes quickly. Above all, he is nearly always entertaining. In all the years I have been doing anthologies, I have only turned down one of CJ’s stories. An anomaly, a true anomaly, but it happens.

Outside of helping C.J., what can readers expect from Dance like a Monkey? What makes it a great anthology?

DA-M: Wow…hard to top the helping part, only because of how much of the community has rallied behind him, it kind of really ties in to absolutely everything else that makes the book great. All of the stories are reprints—except for two, by Ed Greenwood and Peter Prellwitz—but the authors who have donated those stories just astound me. Nowhere else will you find such a cast of talent all in one volume. The base authors (those who are automatically in the book once we fund, which we have) are: Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, Maggie Allen, Jack Dann, Ed Greenwood, Joe Haldeman, Nancy and Belle Holder, Tanya Huff, Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Rabe, Mike Resnik, Hildy Silverman, Janine Spendlove, Michael A. Stackpole, Anton Strout, Kelly Swails, Robert E. Vardeman, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Bryan Young, Jean Marie Ward, Gene Wolfe, and Timothy Zahn. And, of course, CJ Henderson. Those authors who will be included in the book only if we hit their stretch goals are: Aaron Rosenberg, Alan M. Clark, Allan Gilbreath, Alma Alexander, Tera Fulbright, Cynthia Ward, Davey Beauchamp, Dylan Birtolo, James Chambers, Jeff Young, Jennifer Brozek, John Hartness, Maxwell Alexander Drake, John L. French, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, KT Pinto, Michael Ventrella, Misty Massey, Patrick Thomas, Pete Prellwitz, Sheryl Nantus, Stuart Jaffe, David B. Coe, Vicki Steger, and Mike McPhail. In addition to the authors you have the publisher, Silence in the Library Press, the editor, Jean Rabe, plus a whole bunch of the fannish community donating art and music in support of the anthology as stretch goal rewards and such.

How can more people help out CJ Henderson?

There are many ways to help out CJ Henderson during this difficult time.

First, we are running an Indiegogo campaign for a charity anthology called Dance Like a Monkey. Everyone who donated $10 or more receives some variation of the anthology (depending on what reward they choose) and any stretch goal rewards that are reached. Since everyone involved in the project donated their time and talents, CJ receives all the proceeds once production costs (printing and campaign fees) are met. In addition, once the campaign is done, the publisher, Silence in the Library Press, will maintain the title for one year, with all profits going to CJ.

Monkeying Around for a Good Cause campaign – Dance Like a Monkey anthology: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/monkeying-around-for-a-good-cause/x/6753223/

Second, there is an ongoing donation site to help CJ with his medical bills. This is through www.youcaring.com and all the donations go directly into CJ’s Paypal account with no fees deducted. CJ receives 100% of any donations. People can also leave comment there for him.

Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson donation site: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/society-for-the-preservation-of-cj-henderson/87881

Third, buying books directly from CJ’s website is a help because he keeps more of the proceeds than if you buy his books through a third-party site and he gets it immediately. http://cjhenderson.com/store/

Fourth, if they are brave enough, they can post a 30-second video of themselves or someone they know dancing like a monkey. All we ask is that they state in the video that they are Dancing Like a Monkey for CJ Henderson, and put in the description of the video “XXX dancing like a monkey for CJ Henderson, who is battling aggressive lymphoma for the second time in less than a year,” and include a link to the Monkeying Around for a good cause campaign.

And finally, one of the BEST ways they can help CJ Henderson is to spread the word and help us get supporters for the anthology because the more supporters there are the more fiction there is in the book. If we reach enough of our goals there will even be a second anthology.

Oh, and please, please keep CJ and his family in your prayers.

Thank you Danielle, Gail, Jean Marie, all of CJ’s friends…and CJ, himself, for all he’s done. ABSW will also keep CJ and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

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