Monday, April 27, 2009
I'm so excited to join the Kindle revolution, with my latest novel. Triptych is now available to Kindle users... at less than half the price of the print version.
Of course, to get the latest version, you'll have to spend $360 on the Kindle e-reader. Those of you who already have a Kindle, it takes less than a minute to download Triptych. For the Kindle-less folk -- myself included -- I strongly suggest buying the printed tale of death and infidelity, straight up, with an erotic twist. Half of my net proceeds goes to The Cancer Society of the Bahamas and 365 Pink Foundation.
Together, we must do everything we can to contribute to the eradication of cancer.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Why, you may ask. Like everyone, I had a general awareness of cancer itself. Like just about everyone, I had either known someone affected by or who had suffered from cancer. I’d been remotely aware of the cancer statistics. I’d had one scare when I was 26, but after a breast sonogram, my gynecologist advised me to have my first baseline sonogram at forty. Even with all that, I was, admittedly, lax about breast self-exam.
Flash ahead to the fall of 2006. I was thirty-nine, about to have my first mammogram. I had absolutely no qualms about it. In fact, my fortysomething friends who’d gone through the procedure told me what it was like and even shared jokes about it. I think that was to mollify the draconian nature of it. After all, there’s nothing remotely funny about placing a breast between two metal plates, having those plates pressed together to flatten out sensitive flesh, and then having to hold your breath through the pain as a technician takes an image of the inside of the breast. All this while you’re so self-conscious about being half-naked in front of a total stranger and worrying if you’re nervous sweat is producing its trademark funk, because preparation literature told you not to wear any deodorant for the procedure. Nonetheless, I thought I was sufficiently prepared for it all… until the technician told me that I would need to come back. She showed me the image of my right breast and said something like, “I think I see something.” As my mind tried to catch up with the moment, she told not to freak out... that this was not uncommon. She speculated that I would most likely have to return for a breast sonogram. She was right.
I traded cold metal plates for ice-cold gel and a metal probe, kneading my flesh. Another caring female technician confirmed that there was, indeed, something shadowy on the sonogram. Just as her soothing tone lulled me into thinking that this was not a matter of life and death, the radiologist – your typical insensitive male – appeared in the room to have a look at my bare breast and the sonogram, pronouncing, “You know, if this is what I think it is, about 80% of those tumors tend to be malignant.” Not what I wanted to hear, supine and exposed. “You mean benign, right?” I pleaded. As if I was a hardheaded child, he said, “No, I mean malignant.” Just to be sure, though, they promptly scheduled me for another sonogram, this one with a needle biopsy.
Reality set in at that point. I was terrified at the prospect of suffering painful, debilitating surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I felt weak… vulnerable… diseased. Plus, I reminded myself, I was single. If I had breast cancer, what man would want me after treatments had disfigured me? Then I imagined the worst. What would the world be like without me in it? I discussed fears with my mother, who, as a retired operating room nurse, was cool and calm. She was even eating while we talked on the phone. “You don’t know,” she simply said. “Yours could be among the 20% that’s benign.”
I tried to keep the day of the needle biopsy as normal as possible, booking it early so that I could knock it out and go straight to work afterwards. Typically, they were running behind. I was scared to death, so I wasn’t the most mannerly person on the planet… and that was before the lovely young Korean-American doctor proceeded to stick a mammoth needle in my breast. Guided by the sonogram, she would puncture the lump repeatedly and then take several samples with these loud clicks of the needle. No matter how much she numbed me, I acutely felt every moment of the procedure. Nonetheless, after the doctor covered my punctured flesh with a small pressure bandage, I went to work and began the agonizing wait for the results.
Days later, I was in a thick lather before my gynecologist finally gave me the good news. I didn’t have breast cancer. The lump was something called a fibroadenoma, a benign tumor comprised of glandular and fibrous breast tissue. They appear in 10% of women in general and in 20% of African- American women in particular. There’s no treatment. It’ll be a part of me and has become part of my baseline sonogram. Hearing that news… forget R-O-L-A-I-D-S. This was how I spelled relief!
My struggle was with the threat of breast cancer, but for others, cancer is very real. Just to give you pause, here are some sobering statistics:
- According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, “one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.”
- The National Cancer Institute recently decreed that rates for certain types of cancer have not declined, but, in fact, have increased. Breast cancer has increased 4%, as has lung cancer by the same percentage. Prostate cancer in white males has increased 12%; in black males, it is up 14%. Melanoma in whites is also up 14%. Lastly, colorectal cancer has increased 3%.
- The incidences of brain tumors seem to be increasing across the globe.
I felt like I had to do something. So, I chose to donate a portion of my proceeds from the sale of Triptych, the poignant story of a cancer sufferer’s struggle to protect his family, to the fight against cancer for as long as the book stays in print. I have the base to ensure that I achieve my goals of inspiring readers with a story of the triumph of the human spirit, and of contributing substantively to the eradication of a disease that is one of humanity’s scourges. I was lucky. I had access to medical care, and my situation turned out for the good. However, there are many out there without access to diagnostic facilities. 365 Pink Foundation of Plantation, Florida provides such help for the underserved. Many out there, once they have gotten sick, have to leave their families and familiar surroundings to receive treatment. The Cancer Society of the Bahamas helps provides a safe haven for them to reside, rest, and recuperate.
I chose to make a difference in this small way. That’s how change starts, as a certain man named Barack Obama recently showed us. And even if I, through my experience and my gift, help just one person, to paraphrase an old saying – to the world, I may be one person, but to one person, I may be the world.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Authors are no different. In this era of dwindling support for the midlist author from a broken industry, the decreasing relevance of bookstores, and stiff competition for the entertainment dollar, author in ever-increasing numbers are becoming generalists, not specialists, working at least one new and innovative sideline. Some turn their fiction into stage plays. Some have movies in the works. Some have turned to other genres, like YA and the graphic novel, in order to earn some kind of income at doing what they love. I, too, have joined the fray.
To increase my visibility, I've begun making the rounds as a guest blogger at Alphanista, Maryann Reid’s blog dedicated to the “Alpha Female perspective,” as the tagline says. Some of my pieces include some reasons why I’d never be a cougar, recession-proofing your mindset, and things to do once you’ve been laid off. Also, Felicia Pride, famously of The Backlist, asked for my thoughts in her inaugural column for The Root. Well, she asked eight other authors too, but hey... Check out the piece here.
Additionally, in my all-consuming quest to get paid for my writing, I've signed on as the DC Publishing Industry Examiner at Examiner.com, the online version of the Examiner newspapers in key cities across the country. Examiners cover their respective cities. My beat is, obviously, the Washington DC area.
I write locally-focused articles on our industry, from trends, to insider tips and secrets, to timely events, as well as profiles of local people and places of note. The articles show how the aforementioned impact folks in the DC area who are curious about what goes on behind the scenes of the publishing industry. So far, I've written about using art as philanthropy, about how Kindle 2 and e-readers might be the end of books as we know them, and about how mainstream authors are invading and changing the graphic novel genre.
Here's the link:http://www.examiner.com/x-6658-DC-Publishing-Industry-Examiner
If you're a local author doing something special, or if you're not local but you're heading our way for readings, signings, or whatever, please shoot me an e-mail. I would welcome the possibility of covering you in my column.
Ultimately, my hope is that these diverse investments in my career portfolio will bear steady fruit, over time, and lead me to my goals – success, security, and surety when I proclaim: YES, I AM A WRITER.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
As you know, I've been getting around more than a thong bikini on Spring Break. This time, fellow author Felicia Pride recently became the book columnist for The Root. She's the founder of The BackList, and is the author of The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs. Her column will appear on The Root every 1st and 3rd Tuesday. She also gave me this awesome quote for the back jacket of my baby Triptych:
"Triptych is an emotional, yet thrilling roller coaster that proves that life–and everything in between–is far from black and white.”For her first article, Felicia wrote a piece called If We Ruled the Literary World, for which she asked nine black authors to comment on the state of publishing. I was one of the nine. I's an excellent piece... very thought-provoking.
If you like it, log in and comment.
Friday, April 03, 2009
In my all-consuming quest to get paid for my writing, I've signed on as the DC Publishing Industry Examiner at Examiner.com. Examiners cover their respective cities; my beat is, obviously, the Washington DC area.
I write locally-focused articles on our industry, from trends, to insider tips and secrets, to timely events, as well as profiles of local people and places of note. The articles show how the aforementioned impact folks in the DC area who are curious about what goes on behind the scenes of the publishing industry. So far, I've written about using art as philanthropy and about how Kindle 2 and e-readers might be the end of books as we know them. My latest piece is about book trailers.
Here's the link:http://www.examiner.com/x-6658-DC-Publishing-Industry-Examiner
I'll still be making the rounds on the blogs of others in the industry. I still post on Blogging in Black, as well as at Alphanista. Check out my most recent piece about recession-proofing your mindset:
Look for me and please comment... just to affirm that I am not, in actuality, just talking to myself.