Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All Good Things...

They say all good things must come to an end and so it is with mixed feelings that I have to announce the publication of the fourth and final entry in the Molly Forrester series, KILLER RIFF, by Sheryl J. Anderson.

Constantly reviewing well, this series has delighted fans through three prior entries, KILLER HEELS, KILLER COCKTAIL, and KILLER DEAL. Over and over, the books were compared to SEX AND THE CITY, as our intrepid protagonist chatted with her girlfriends over whom the murderer might be. And that’s a real credit to the writers, Sheryl Anderson and her husband, Mark Parrott. Yes, that’s right, the book was written by a husband-and-wife team. But given the audience, the publisher felt that it would best be published under a woman’s name. As their agent, I certainly agreed. It's a simple marketing decision.

But back to the credit. When this series was conceived, I was at the Journey Writers’ Conference in Arizona. While there, an editor asked me if I had any writers who could write a mystery series that was like SEX AND THE CITY, but with a dead body. I immediately thought of my client, Lisa Seidman, an accomplished TV writer who also had a mystery I was shopping. Lisa, in turn, mentioned the idea to Sheryl, another accomplished TV writer, who produced a three-page synopsis that was so dead-on perfect that I wish I could get such material from all of my clients. The original editor, unfortunately, would not buy on a proposal; she wanted a full manuscript. Not very reasonable, I said, as I told her I would be shopping this elsewhere if she didn’t want to offer. She said she understood and off I went with three chapters and a synopsis to every mystery editor I knew.

Two publishers offered quickly. One, interestingly enough, was a sister company to the one where the editor would not buy on a proposal! The other was the well-regarded Minotaur imprint at St. Martin’s Press. That one offer was paperback and the other hardcover made the decision easy for my clients. And I think it’s been a good run. Four hardcovers is an impressive accomplishment for a pair who had never written a book before pitching three chapters and a synopsis.

Why did they succeed? Well, for starters, they always approached this as pros. In their presentation, their communication with me and their editor, their attention to detail, and their commitment to hitting their deadlines, they always came through as professional and competent. Their manuscripts were astoundingly clean, well-formatted, and in need of very little editing. And since their reviews were—nearly without exception—positive, clearly their editor, Kelley Ragland, made the right call in going easy with the notes and the pencil.

I’m sure Sheryl’s work as a TV writer had a lot to do with this. She has an ear for dialogue that I’m sure has been fine-tuned by writing for TV, which I find interesting, since I’ve read other books by TV writers and always find them a bit TOO dialogue-driven and not that descriptive. But you never see that complaint in any reviews of Sheryl’s works, so it looks like she didn’t fall into that TV-writer-turned-author trap. And she and Mark have great people skills and know how to take notes from others without becoming defensive (a HUGE problem for most authors).

But you be the judge. There are four books out there now and you can buy them all or just one and see what you think. One thing is sure, though, just because this series is coming to an end, you’ll certainly be seeing more from this terrific writing pair.

Z



In Celebration of Thanksgiving, Please Give...

Long time readers of this blog know that I have done four century or century-plus bike rides with Team in Training and have raised thousands for them. I admit, though, that moving cross-country, getting married, buying a new house, and life in general has kept me off my bike for, literally, a year. I’m hoping to do some riding this weekend, though, and to get back in gear (pun intended).

In the meantime, though, I got this email today from our friend Ted. When I met Ted, he was Nadene’s first cycle mentor. A former navy pilot, Ted towered over me. And he outweighed me by a good fifty pounds, I’d say (I was skinnier then). And he was a very nice guy. I had the pleasure of riding with him a few times when Nadene and I were dating and I was flying back and forth across country. He had survived leukemia but had neuropathy in his feet, which made riding long distances painful, and he had developed a sensitivity to the sun, which required him to wear long-sleeves and cycling tights and full-fingered gloves no matter the temperature. So perhaps choosing to ride centuries in places like Tucson and Hawaii does not quite make a lot of sense. But he did choose, and in doing so helped motivate and inspire many others.

Last year, just as Nadene and I were starting to train for our second Tucson century-plus, Ted relapsed. He went back in the hospital and none of us knew if he’d come out. You see, getting leukemia these days is scary, but the survival rates are very, very encouraging. But getting leukemia a second time—relapsing—is a very different story.

One day, as the team was getting ready for a ride, a car pulled up. We all had gotten email updates about Ted’s condition over the prior weeks. He had clearly been fighting for his life. And he had, for the moment, won. They were sending him home. He would still need further treatment, but for the moment he could go home.

When Ted got out of that car, none of us could believe it. That big guy who towered over me had shrunk by half, it seemed. It was like a horror movie where you see the young, healthy character have the life sucked out of him, leaving him a shriveled old man. Ted had lost so much weight and so much energy, he could barely stand on his own. But stand he did, and thanked us for riding, for doing what we could do to help find a cure. His skin was peeling off all over his body; a side-effect of the chemo. He used a walking stick to support himself, and leaned on his wife or a friend.

I think we were all inspired by Ted that day and for the many days after, as his recovery continued. I’m very pleased to report that today Ted has ridden more miles in the last year on his bike than I have! He is doing very well and even participated in the recent Hawaii ride with Team in Training.

Today I got an email from Ted that struck me as so eloquent and so perceptive that I just had to share it. I think I’ve described that Team in Training is a “perspective-adjusting” event. What seemed so important when you started training seems far less important after you meet those who have fought this battle. Here is Ted’s email:

The Cause:


When I was in Honolulu, I saw this quote: “Standing before a grave, who can be sure that he has done his duty? It is a hard thing to have survived when we owe our place to the dead.”—Rene Quinton, Soldiers Testament (1930). While this is about soldiers, it is directly applicable to the battle against Leukemia. I am alive today because of those who have died as doctors developed the protocols that have kept me alive. I think about those I know who have died, whose graves I am figuratively standing before. The man I never met in the room next door who died the day I had my first transplant. John, the only person I had ever heard of who had survived the same type of Leukemia I had for more than 2 years. I was devastated and scared when he died. Amy, I helped do Bone Marrow Drives for her. We found a donor, but she died of complications during preparations for her transplant. Mary, my elderly friend, who chose not to get treatment. Bob, whose chemo never worked. Linda, who came to visit me in the hospital last year with her husband the day she was re-admitted to the hospital with a relapse. I never saw her again. She died the day before Christmas.

Hope:

There are others who survived. People like myself, Dave Christensen, and Colleen Heublein. Cycle participant and marathoner Sean Voisen. Marathon participant Maria Petri. Teammate Anna’s husband. My nephew’s new Father in Law. A young girl named Alexis, who had the highest viral count her doctor had ever seen. My Transplant Twin Craig, who got his transplant the same day I did. When I relapsed last year, he did too. Michelle, from the San Diego LLS. Also from LLS, Dianna Wake who just celebrated 10 years cancer free, and Jenna Kolb, the San Diego/Hawaii chapter Executive Director. My friend Dean, who has had 3 transplants. I could go on and on. These people represent hope for new cancer survivors. Hope is good, but YOU represent the Dream.

The Dream:

We each have our personal dream. My dream is to hold my grandchildren or great grandchildren on my knee, and know that blood cancers have been cured. To know that they will never have to suffer what any of the people I have mentioned have suffered. I am participating in these programs to make that dream a reality.

The Heroes:

Every battle has its heroes. Heroes are exceptional people who do exceptional things to help those who can’t help themselves. Heroes are people who unselfishly help people who need help even when they don’t know them. You can be a hero. You can help make my dream a reality. You can help make it easier for me to stand before those graves, knowing that, with your help, I did enough, that we conquered the foe and won the battle. Your participation, no matter how small, makes you a hero to me. Help me to know I have done my duty for those who have gone before. Your donations can make a difference. You can donate by credit card on my web site at
http://www.active.com/donate/tntsdh/tntsdhTWilcox2.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I know that I am thankful Ted is still with us, and I am especially thankful for the health and well-being of everyone in my own family. If you can, please mark this celebration with a donation to Ted’s efforts. Every donation is tax deductible, of course.

My best wishes to all for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Z

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is our #1 ally in the Middle East?!

Forgive me for getting a bit political, but this one just left me dumbfounded. Here's a little tidbit about our #1 Arab ally in the Middle East. Just makes me feel warm inside to know that these are the folks we do the most business with and work so hard to ensure are safe!

Saudi gang-rape victim is jailed
By Frances Harrison BBC News

An appeal court in Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of lashes and added a jail sentence as punishment for a woman who was gang-raped.

The victim was initially punished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack.

When she appealed, the judges said she had been attempting to use the media to influence them.

The attackers' sentences - originally of up to five years - were doubled.

Extra penalties

According to the Arab News newspaper, the 19-year-old woman, who is from Saudi Arabia's Shia minority, was gang-raped 14 times in an attack in the eastern province a year-and-a-half ago.

Seven men from the majority Sunni community were found guilty of the rape and sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years.

But the victim was also punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man.

On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.

The rapists also had their prison terms doubled. But the sentences are still low considering they could have faced the death penalty.

The Arab News quoted an official as saying the judges had decided to punish the girl for trying to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.

The victim's lawyer was suspended from the case, has had his licence to work confiscated, and faces a disciplinary session.

Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7096814.stmPublished: 2007/11/15 18:34:13 GMT© BBC MMVII

And people look down their noses at the United States for having capital punishment? For Abu Graib? Listen, I'm not saying either one of those things is defensible. But where is the worldwide outcry and demand for change in Saudi Arabia? What is the US doing to pressure Saudi Arabia into changing their ways? We are so upset about emergency decrees in Pakistan, but we don't give a crap that they are whipping women in Saudi Arabia who were raped? Seems to me this woman has been punished enough! The US should be demanding her release and offering her and any other woman from Saudi Arabia who wants it asylum from a brutal political and religious system. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!

If you agree, write to the president, your senators, and your congressional representatives. It makes my head spin that we demand so much from so many countries in terms of political behavior, but we ignore Saudi Arabia. It's time we started paying attention to that "terrorist" regime, because if whipping a woman who was raped isn't "terrorism," I clearly don't know the meaning of the word.

Z