Boffins are my super-heroes

With Mr T chucking missiles out, left right and centre, insulting America’s allies, and continually displaying his ignorance about the rest of the world, I can understand it if world affairs might be leaving you a bit wobbly. So, today, I thought I’d share something positive. Something encouraging. Something nice. The scientists – that great community of dedicated boffins – are slowly but surely winning the war against cancer. Go Team!  Okay, there are still plenty who don’t win the fight, and it’s especially devastating when it’s a young person. But, just think: twenty years ago, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was told that if it came back there was nothing they could do for me. I would die. So, when it did turn up again in 2011, I thought I might not make it to Christmas. But, here I am in 2017. I’m discovering that there are lots and lots of us who are living with cancer, rather than dying (quickly) from it. Okay, we’re all going to die of something, some time, and for me it most probably will be the cancer, but for a lot of us this disease is no longer a bullet train into eternity. YAY! Back in 2012, I was one of the first patients to whom my oncologist gave Denosumab. (Denosumab helps my bones fight the invading cancer cells and reduces the pain levels. God bless it.) It was still “experimental”. But these days, I often meet other people living with metastasised cancer, who are on this wonderful drug. Instead of sitting hooked up to a drip for half an hour every month, we get a quick jab in the tum; all over in minutes. Okay, for the next couple of days, I feel lousy, but it’s worth it. I was in the chemo room yesterday, waiting for my jab, when I met a lovely lady whose husband is also on the big D. He has been living with metastasised prostate cancer for the last nine years. Nine years! I can remember the days when that was an automatic death sentence of months, if you were lucky, not years. So, hooray for all the boffins, slaving away in laboratories all around the world. God bless you and your work…and I pray you’re kept safe from stray missiles and nasty budget cuts.   PS Please don’t send me diet tips; links to sites about marijuana; information about ‘faith healers’; links to articles about how the medical community are keeping the secret of the cure from me, in order to make money, or anything about the wonders of mung beans, tofu and aromatherapy. You might think I’m pathetic, but I choose to trust my oncologist. So far, what he’s doing is...

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TA – DA!

I have often wondered whether this day would ever come. I watched the years go by, with no indication of a result. Oh, I had little victories: several short stories sold and published; a few non-fiction articles; a regular spot in a satirical magazine for a few years; bucket loads of reviews published and, finally, a self-published book of which I was proud. But still, the big one eluded me. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I’ve written several novels but couldn’t get anyone willing to take them on. I have been ignored by some big names in the publishing world; not even a “no thanks” email. Others were very encouraging. “We like your style. We love the story. Your characters are interesting. But, you don’t suit our list/We don’t think we can sell this/No thank you.” I’ve been told by an agent that they were excited by the book and were passing it on up the food chain, only to find out – about six months later – that particular agent had left the agency and the group no longer dealt with fantasy. I’ve been asked to rewrite a book to change it from adult to young adult, but when I did that the agent told me it was “too young” and the publisher told me it was “too adult”. I’ve been told by a publisher, who specialises in authors and stories particular to my state, that “true stories don’t sell”. Even though, that’s their speciality. When I finally scraped some of my husband’s money together and self-published, I had trouble selling enough books to make it worth while. It’s really hard to do it all on your own. (Okay…it’s difficult for me.) But now – finally – I can announce that I am under contract!  A traditional publisher, Stone Table Books, has signed me up. They’re going to publish Dragon-friend (book 2 in the series: The Flight) and also do a reprint of Beast-speaker (bk 1). They will be launched together, later this year. That’s because I haven’t finished book 2 yet. That’s right! They signed me up for two books on the strength of my writing in the first book. Amazing! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have someone believe in my work. Someone who is willing to back me and support me, and push to get my work in print. When I was first offered the contract, I admit it: I cried. I still find it all a little surreal. Is this really happening? What’s the catch? Perhaps I’ll finally believe it when I see the new covers, done by a proper illustrator. Perhaps I’ll finally believe it when I’m sitting at the book launch, signing copies. And, if it’s all a dream, then WOO HOO! Dream...

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