Almost a year ago, I got the idea to write a collaborative novel online. I broached Second Wind Publishing authors with the concept, and I found eight other writers willing to participate in the experiment. It took a few months to hammer out the details, which seemed an endless task back then, but now I see as incredibly swift. The story was, after all, a committee production.
We started out with what we considered the most heinous of crimes — the death of a little girl. In the first chapter: Chapter 1: Melanie Gray — by Pat Bertram, which was posted on October 24, 2010, Melanie found the girl’s body stuffed in an abandoned television console when she was wandering in the desert, trying to come to terms with the death of her husband. Poor Melanie. So much death!
Each author created a character who might have a reason to kill little Riley. And each character was hiding something.
Could Kourtney and Jeff Peterson have killed their daughter, mischievous nine-year-old Riley, to protect their secret?
Moody Sinclair had once killed an eight-year-old boy. Has she killed again?
Fifteen-year-old Dylan McKenzie is a straight A honor student. By day. Did Riley discover the other Dylan, the one who prowls at night?
Cooper Dahlsing does strange things while sleepwalking. Could he have killed and not known it?
Mark and Jamie Westbrook, self-styled private investigators, show up to help solve the murder, but perhaps they had a hand in creating the crime?
Eighty-two-year-old Eloy Franklin sits on his porch and watches. But does he do more than watch?
Forty-three-year-old Melanie Gray found Riley’s body stuffed in a television console that had been dumped in the desert. But is she as innocent as she seems?
Sheriff Seth Bryan is bitter and cynical at having lost everything he values. Is he manufacturing crimes to bring him the notoriety he craves?
So many villainous characters! And until the very end, no one knew who committed the dastardly deed, not even the writers.
The novel was supposed to be a promotion stunt, but halfway through, it got derailed by life. One author had to deal with colon cancer, including three debilitating operations. Another author had to deal with a flooded house that was uninhabitable for six months. Still other authors had to deal with grief after the loss of significant people in their lives or heavy job pressures. When we started in again, we’d lost all our readers, so there was no longer any promotional value, but still we persevered.
And now the book is finished. You can read the entire novel online for free. If you prefer to read the book on an ereading device, Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story is available as a Kindle or in the ebook format of your choice from Smashwords. It’s also available in print from Amazon and Second Wind Publishing.
But . . .
That is not the end of Rubicon Ranch! Though some of the authors went on to other projects, enough wanted to continue the Rubicon Ranch saga, so we lassoed a few additional authors into creating characters. And now we have a new story.
Three months after finding the body of the little girl, poor Melanie is again wandering in the desert, still having a hard time dealing with her husband’s death, when she sees a congress of ravens pecking at a dismembered foot. Who was the victim and why did someone want him so very dead? Everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s life will be different after they have encountered the Rubicon. Rubicon Ranch, that is.
Although some of the characters from the previous collaboration are featured in the new story, Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces is a stand-alone novel. The first chapter will be posted Monday, June 11, 2012 on the Rubicon Ranch blog, and a new chapter will be posted every Monday after that.
I hope you will join us in this new serial adventure. It should be a devious tale.