I love Hallowe'en. (Or Halloween. I prefer it with the apostrophe.) I was always an enthusiastic Trick-or-Treater when I was little. It would have been, I think, the golden age of that cultural phenomenon in the US -- a time before anyone had ever thought of anything like razor blades in apples (or the rumors of them), a time when no one was yet so terrified that you'd be snatched by some stranger that most kids were allowed free run during their play time, and therefore no one was unduly disturbed by the idea that you might be walking around in the dark in ones or twos at age seven or eight or nine; a time when mostly parents hadn't yet learned the art of depriving you of the night's loot, but were content to leave it with you, and let you discover the dubious delight (rarely repeated) of making yourself sick by overindulgence; a time when very few people seeing you wearing a witch costume thought that you were seriously advocating devil worship.
Particularly I remember doing the "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" thing. We were shown how to take the little waxed paper milk containers of the time -- my yearsmates will probably remember them, the ones with the little stapled-on pop tops -- and wrap these in the orange and black paper labels that the UNICEF people sent our school. We would go around collecting pennies and nickels and dimes for UNICEF while we were trick-or-treating, and hand the cash over to our teachers, on November 1st, to be sent back to UNICEF to help children in other countries have things we took for granted in the New York suburbs in the late '50s and early '60's -- like clean water, and vaccination against polio and measles.
So it was a little weird, the other day, to discover that UNICEF's "Trick or Treat for Halloween" campaign is just a year older than I am. When I realized that, I thought, "I ought to do something special for these guys." And so I offer you "Not On My Patch."
At a shade more than 14,000 words, it is the longest Young Wizards-universe short work to date (both "Uptown Local" and "Theobroma" are way shorter). (Continuity geeks: it takes place after the events of The Big Meow and A Wizard of Mars.) Up until the end of Hallowe'en in the USA, I asked people to make a contribution of more than USD $5.00 to UNICEF for the right to be one of the first to read this story. Now, however, the story is available for purchase at our Ebooks Direct store for a small fee that (again) goes to UNICEF.
Here's the formal pitch: “Not On My Patch” is the first of a series of planned YW short stories scheduled to be published together in late 2015 in a one-story-per-month anthology entitled The Wizards’ Year. We’re offering “Not On My Patch” to advance readers this year as part of an effort to help UNICEF celebrate the 60th anniversary of its annual Halloween “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” campaign. “Not On My Patch” is now available for reading on the Young Wizards website!
If you want to read it, there are two ways to go about it. (a) You can do what the early donaters did and go straight to my donations page at the UNICEF USA website and make a donation USD $5.00 or more directly to Trick or Treat for UNICEF. (Donors from outside the USA: please note that the “State” dropdown has a “none” option at the very bottom of the state list. Choose that so that the form will allow you to fill in other info and complete the donation. Don’t forget to change the country dropdown, too.)
Once you’ve donated: the UNICEF USA website will send you an email confirming your donation. When you receive it, just forward a copy of it to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll immediately send you back a link to a web page where you can read the story or download an e-reader-friendly file (.ePub / Sony Reader & Nook, .mobi / Kindle, and .lit / Microsoft Reader formats). The email will also contain a password that will enable you to open the page.
Or you can do it this way: go to the "Not On My Patch" page at our online Ebooks Direct store, where the story is available in all the major ebook formats for USD $2.99. All proceeds from the story will continue to be donated to UNICEF.
Please note, however, that it won't be there indefinitely! The story will onlybe available until November 30th, at which time it will be withdrawn and will not be available again until it appears as the October story in the anthology The Wizards’ Year in late 2015. ...So there we go. Friends, please help! ...And thank you. :)