Monthly Archives: July 2009

Updates

I am just back from my annual travels with my dad – he’s a great travel partner and our continued trips are the one upside of the irony that I married a fearful flyer. He’s all too happy for me to continue my trips with my dad. This year we were going to cancel because of the wedding and all (spent our usual travel money/time on that) but at the last minute work was offering voluntary days off so one day I said to dad, “hey, you wanna go somewhere?” and he said “sure”. So there we went.

We chose France because we had no time to do any research before going – it’s safe, we speak the language, etc etc. Easy-peasy. Basically we just rented a car and drove around the South – including my first trip back to Montpellier since studying there 13 years ago (ouch – it hurts to say that number!). And in short, my French-family is as wonderful as I remember them to be. The whole trip was fantastic – from tiny villages you’d never find in a guidebook full of nothing but adorable old, crumbing buildings and a Saturday market full of life…to body-covered beaches on the Cote d’Azur, Cathar Castles and fields of sunflowers. And may I just add – French people are so lovely. I am guilty as the next person as forgetting that, since I meet with Parisians almost non-stop, but we were warmly welcomed everywhere and I’ve fallen for France all over again. (Photos from my new fancy-pants camera coming soon.)

Update: As for writing, thanks for your cheerful support. I am feeling better and there has been a slight development. That is, I did end up writing an email to the publisher-who-must-not-be-named, though I kept it professional. And I did finally get a more personal email, stating that I was right, it was only fair they give it consideration since I had worked on it per their request. So, I at least felt better at that. I know it’s surely a token, but professional curtesy was all I was asking for. It’s a small score to be sure, but it’s a score nonetheless.

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Great Disappointments

Writing can be a thankless pursuit. I don’t talk about it that much, but I actually work at it pretty seriously in my spare time. (Admittedly, at some times more intently than others.) Most of my friends know about these pursuits on some level, but few people know any details of my pet projects.

There is one in particular, a travel guide, that I have been working on for 2 years. Working very hard, I might add, because I felt sure it was a good idea. The nature of the writing business is that basically you have to do a lot of work for free in order to even get someone to consider even listening your idea. A lot of work. Granted, the requirements are so stringent because there are a lot of people who clog the wheels with crappy work. But the only way to shine through the noise is to labor over professional presentation – which means extensive research and obsessing over the right word. (That’s how I do it anyway.) This means I am good, but I am not fast.

With this particular travel book, I had the luck of scoring an agent on my first send-out (one with a swank, glass-walled high-rise office in Manhattan at that). I couldn’t believe my luck – but then again I had worked really hard to go it right. Unfortunately, about the time she was shopping the project, a family situation caused her to leave the industry indefinitely. But hey, those are the breaks. Back to square one, she recommended I pitch the book directly to publishers. I was heartened she thought it was that good. A couple have turned it down, but that’s to be expected. It’s all about hitting the right mark.

Then today, I’ve had two crushing defeats at once. The first came from a huge travel guide publisher which recently posted a call for new book proposals. I was psyched for this perfect opportunity and spent weeks (with the patient help of my sis and husband) tailoring my proposal to the particular publisher, fitting my work into their specific format guidelines. Ready to send it in, I emailed them requesting the name of the editor-in-charge of these submissions (I bristle at sending bland “Dear Editor” letters); they took a week to reply, only to tell me that this was a mistake. “Our website will be corrected shortly; we can accept no submissions…” blah blah blah. I am pretty furious at this publisher’s complete lack of professionalism in this matter. Not so much as an apology for wasting my time (and that of countless other authors). What the hell is that about? I am fighting the urge to burn some serious bridges.

Then came #2 – even worse: I was at a book store killing some time before an appointment. I went to their computer to see what new books had come out about my topic since I last looked and – stab to the heart – “my” book is coming out under a publisher I had not yet pitched (though they were newly on my list) on September 1st.

Oh! Oh, the pain! How dare someone else have my idea and get to the right person first? It’s beyond deflating. What do I do with over 2 years of work now? Tailor my proposal to carve out the differences between my book and this new one, or take it like a (wo)man and start investing in another idea? I just don’t know yet – I’m too busy cursing the gods and mourning defeat to decide just now.

Sometimes I wish I had grown up with an avid interest in elevator repair. I hear it’s one of the most under served professions, meaning the most in-demand and well-paid. Couldn’t I have found that fascinating instead?

Cheer and advice welcome here.

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More Promising Cancer News

My dear husband forwarded an article to me a few days ago, which I almost didn’t see. Thank goodness I did because things like this produce a small sigh of relief in that part of my chest where I keep all those fears of a reoccurance bottled up. (You can’t live in fear, but anyone who’s had cancer and says those fears don’t crouch somewhere and occasionally pop their head up is lying.)

The news? That over 2 years, Australian scientists have had a 100% success rate treating cancerous mice with “Trojan horse” cells. One hundred percent!

Cancer cells pull this clever trick by where they turn on a gene to make proteins which resist cancer drugs. This new therapy injects something that the cancer cells let in unsuspectingly, when then turns taht gene off. Then, chemo drugs can target the cancer cells, and they have no defense. Obviously, I’m a layman of epic proportions, so read the promising news for yourself.

Human trials will be starting soon. I hope to hear more soon, otherwise my fingers will freezed in the fervently crossed position.

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