This past Sunday, I participated in the launch party for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s fifth Community Novel. The community novel program started at TSCPL in 2012 with Capitol City Capers and followed it with two other traditional communal novels (Speakeasy and Superimposed) one Young Adult novel, Spirits of Oz, and a Pick-Your-Path YA novel, Time Harbor, in 2015. For 2016, a short story collection of alternate history/speculative fiction titled Twisting Topeka based around the Topeka/Shawnee County area was created, featuring eighteen local authors. My story, “What Fate Ordains,” posits how the moon landing ending differently affects a collection of Topekans gathered to watch the event, told through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy.
Each year, the level of author participation in the project has increased, from simply helping plan the topic to performing the feedback, copyediting, layout, and formating of the final product. Not only does our library offer us all of this support and opportunity, but they make every step in the process available to others in order to help other libraries and communities replicate the project for themselves. Our local writing community is given an opportunity and vehicle for publication, and a chance to learn skills that might help us publish and market ourselves as well. (Information on starting your own version of the project is available on the library’s website, here.)
You have a few ways to access the book. You can read the stories via the Community Novel website, purchase copies in person for $5 at the library if you’re local, or you can even pick up a copy on Amazon.com. And, of course, it’s available for checkout at the library as well.