Dec 23 2013

Sometimes the wind comes out of nowhere and knocks you sideways.


I’m sorry to say that I have some very bad news. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to tell this just before Christmas, but for no clear reason, I feel that I ought to. Just to get it said and done, I suppose.

The bad news is this: I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now that I’ve dropped that stunner, I want to immediately reassure you: my prognosis is good.

The treatment of cancer has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and breast cancer in particular has been very well-studied. The type of cancer I have has targeted treatment available, and the track record on this is good.

Let me pause to stress that: Track record is good. They know what to do.

I have a lot of confidence in science. If you’ve read my books, you know that.

My doctors and I have decided on a course of treatment, and tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the nurse oncologist to finalize my schedule of chemotherapy, and my date for surgury and so on. So far, the plan is for aggressive chemo starting December 30th, surgery sometime in May, followed by a less difficult course of chemo through the end of 2014. If the chemo works really well, I might be able to do without radiation entirely! We’ll have to see how it pans out.

And oddly, at the moment, my spirits are actually pretty good. And this is because I went through a battery of advanced (and frankly geeky-techno-cool) tests (CAT scan, MRI, mammograms, ultrasounds, radioactive bone scan, heart test involving making my actual blood radioactive!) and the word is — no cancer elsewhere.

That’s great news! The day after I was told that, I had these waves of happiness wash over me periodically. I had to ask myself, Why am I happy? Hello, I have breast cancer!

Because it’s ONLY in my breast and nearby lymph nodes. This is treatable.

All this happened in the past two weeks, and it’s been a whirlwind. And during everything, my worst fear was that the cancer would be advanced, and untreatable — but that’s not the case.

This cancer is treatable, and the treatment is endurable.

It will be difficult, miserable, unpleasant in the extreme at times — but the chances are very high that it will work.

I’m also lucky that my sister Sabine will be with me through all this. There will be times when the treatment will leave me very ill, and it’s good to know that she’ll be here to help me out. I’m more grateful to her than I can possibly express.

I’ll get through it. And we’ll probably be at Worldcon in London, too. I’ll be past the worst of the treatments by then, and on a lighter course of chemo, every three weeks. We’ll just slip London into one of the gaps, there.

But between now and then, it’s going to get tough.

And some of you are aware that I was working on launching a Kickstarter campaign that would allow me to quit my day-job and write full time.

Unfortunately, yes, that had to go out the window. For the next year, at least. For two reasons:

1. My day-job provides my health insurance. And this stuff is going to be crazy expensive.

2.  I could not in good conscience ask people to pre-fund a year off to write when I might spend significant portions of that year too ill to do much of any use.

So, sticking with the day-job.  They do tell me that they’re willing to work around whatever schedule I need.  Which is nice of them.   Yep.   Sticking with the day job.

Man, that’s especially disappointing!  I was so looking forward to just walking out that door…

Well, that’s gloomy. What we need here is a little ray of sunshine.

Ooh! How about this:

 Steerswoman coverYes, this is the eBook. Yes. I said YES.

 You know I had been working on the eBooks, right?  Many people have complained about me not releasing them yet…

The reason I hadn’t released them was that I was planning on using them as rewards for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign.  (Like, for $10 you would have got an eBook of the new book when it was done, but for $25 you would get that PLUS immediately, the eBooks of all four previous books, no waiting involved!)

With Kickstarter out of the picture, the eBooks can begin to roll out!

And I really,  really, wanted at least one to be on sale by Christmas.  And, oh look!  There it is.

Because, you know.

I had assumed (with the Kickstarter) that I’d have until the end of January to finalize the covers and formatting, and all the attendant self-pub chores that you don’t realize until you’re in the Bowker ISBN registration website, trying to click on all the clicky things to get your official registration done.  And then on the the Kindle Pub site for more of the same.

But I really wanted it done by Christmas, sort of as a statement of confidence, if you will.  So, I took all the stuff I’d set aside for January and did it yesterday and today. For the first book in the series that is.  And only on Kindle so far.

I’d have loved to get them ALL on sale by Christmas, on all platforms… but it just wasn’t possible at this short notice.  Still,  having done one, I now know the ropes and the others will move out pretty quickly.

I have to say:  Thank you, thank you Scrivener for streamlining the conversions!

And, there it is.  I can’t believe I did all that in a day and a half.   It Was Fun.  But exhausting.

Oh, did I mention that the eBook version of The Steerswoman makes an excellent last-minute Christmas gift?   I feel I should mention that.

So, there you are.

Despite all expectation, I seem to be having a very merry Christmas.

I hope you have one, too.  You deserve it.  As do we all.