In the fall of 2019, Dean Wesley Smith launched a one-of-a-kind online learning event on our Teachable platform called “Shared Worlds: What Are They, How to Do Them, and Why,” which teaches the ins and outs as well as the good and the bad of writing in someone’s shared world. The shared world for this event is called Cave Creek. The tagline: Where the Unexpected Meets the Real World. (You can still sign up on Teachable if you’re interested…click here.)
The shared world of Cave Creek proved so popular, in fact, that we launched a hugely successful Kickstarter in March 2020 to publish three anthologies in this world, edited by Dean, along with a novel written by Dean himself.
If you missed the Kickstarter last year, here’s the description of the Cave Creek shared world:
A Mythical Town
Cave Creek, Nevada, where the unexpected meets the real world. It exists, but only in stories, written by some of the best fiction writers working today.
Cave Creek hides to the north of Las Vegas, on the California side of Highway 95, in a shallow hidden canyon. Various rock caves and a natural spring made the valley a perfect place for miners to explore. Gold and silver were found in 1900, causing a gold rush that caused the town to grow to over 8,000 residents.
One mine owner built a massive hotel and a rail line ran up to the town to get the ore out. A dozen saloons lined the main street filled with music and gamblers. But, right from the beginning, strange events happened to the residents. Unexplained things that often chased a resident down the valley and to safer locations. Finally, when the gold and silver played out, only a couple hundred hearty souls remained by 1910.
And for a time, Cave Creek was mostly a ghost town.
In the Depression things started to turn around. A couple mines were reopened, the hotel was remodeled and a dam was built a few miles below the town to form a lake. Rich movie stars and company presidents loved the scenic beauty of the valley and bought land in the 1950s and 1960s. Today the town and shallow valley around it boasts a population of over 10,000, two championship golf courses, and a lot of winter homes for sunbirds. And the lake is one of the most popular recreational lakes within fifty miles of Las Vegas.
But strange and unexpected things still happen with a frightening regularity. Think of Cave Creek as a place where The Twilight Zone kind of story still lives. In fact, if The Twilight Zone had a hometown, it would be Cave Creek.
Dean’s novel (Card Sharp Silver) introduces the world and some pretty awesome characters. The anthologies explore that world in its past (Bitter Mountain Moonlight), present (Open Ended Threat), and future (Promise in the Gold).
Here are the synopses:
Card Sharp Silver
Sheriff Blue West loves his pretend Sheriff job, tipping his hat to the tourists and reading all day. Fits him perfectly.
But when Annie “Silver” Stevens, a card sharp from 1900, appears in the modern Cave Creek, Nevada, claiming to be the real Annie Stevens, Cave Creek’s reputation for strange things happening strikes again.
Both Annie and Blue find themselves in very strange worlds and times that only the craziness of Cave Creek can explain.
The Twilight Zone needed a hometown. It found Cave Creek.
Bitter Mountain Moonlight
A mythical town nestled in a hidden canyon north of Las Vegas, Cave Creek attracts the strange, weird, and inexplicable.
Founded by a few settlers in the waning days of the 19th century, a gold rush in 1900 exploded Cave Creek into a boomtown with more than 8,000 residents.
But right from the beginning, strange events bedevil the residents. Unexplained things that often chase a resident down the valley to safer locations far, far away.
Finally, when the gold and silver play out, the weirdness continues.
The stories in Bitter Mountain Moonlight recount some of the strangest occurrences from the town’s past, and maybe even make you want to visit…
“Threats and Kisses” by Deb Miller
“Stepping into the Light” by David H. Hendrickson
“The Room of Possibilities” by Robert J. McCarter
“Family Secrets” by R.W. Wallace
“Writing the Past” by Jason A. Adams
“With a Little Help” by Rebecca M. Senese
“Manna” by Edward J. Knight
“Rider Jones and the Portal” by Harvey Stanbrough
“Two Si’s for Sister Sally” by Jason A. Adams
Open Ended Threat
In present day Cave Creek, a powerful and dangerous current flows beneath the town’s peaceful and prosperous surface.
Strange, unexplained events long chased residents out of this former mining town nestled in a hidden canyon north of Las Vegas from the very beginning. The first anthology in this series, Bitter Mountain Moonlight, illustrated that.
But now, portals to other timelines appear and disappear in the desert and rocks around town. Sometimes the portals open only for seconds, other times long enough to threaten lives.
The stories in Open Ended Threat recount the stories of those who slip through from the future or the past and explain how the residents keep the town’s secrets.
“Anniversary” by E.R. Paskey
“An Impossible Desert Flower” by Kari Kilgore
“Art of the Steal” by J.A. Bouma
“My Moment of Weird” by Robert J. McCarter
“Deep Cleaning” by Edward J. Knight
“Abandoned Mine”by Karen Fonville
“Moneyline Secrets” by R.W. Wallace
“Silver Mirage” by Kathryn Kaleigh
“The Run of her Life” by David H. Hendrickson
Promise in the Gold
Strange, unexplained events long plagued residents of Cave Creek, a former mining town nestled in a hidden canyon north of Las Vegas.
In two previous anthologies, Bitter Mountain Moonlight and Open Ended Threat, the stories recount the past and present of the mythical Cave Creek, where portals to other timelines open and then disappear in the desert and rocks around the town.
Promise in the Gold takes the reader into the future, where people who slip through the portals create new timelines—and past, present, and future cross paths in some very weird and sometimes scary ways.
“Echoes” by Caleb Monroe
“A Mother’s Protection” by Deb Miller
“Raven’s Many Shadows” by Kate Pavelle
“In Search of Historical Truths” by Céline Malgen
“Searching for Dave” by Richard Freeborn
“Second Youth” by Rebecca M. Senese
“Finding Mercury” by Judy Lunsford
“Buster” by Teresa Gaskins
Click here to go to the Cave Creek series page to learn more.
With all these new reading options, I suspect Cave Creek will become your favorite place to visit.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.