01.29.2013 | 12:53 pm

UPDATE: A number of people have left comments wondering about timing and format. This book will be published in paperback, Kindle, Nook, and iBook formats. Which will be available first just depends on which ones have the fastest / slowest processes for posting titles once they’re submitted. 

As for timing, the book is being edited right now and will be finished in a couple weeks. It should then go through production fairly quickly, and will hopefully be available in early – mid March. I’ll update this as the book progresses along. 

I don’t have a lot of time to write new posts right now because I’m trying to get all the pieces of Susan’s novel – The Forgotten Gift – in place and ready for publishing. Hopefully it’ll be finished soon and available within a couple months. 

Right now, I’m working on the Foreword. I’d like to share with you my first draft.

ForgottenGift LowRes FinalDesign

The Forgotten Gift: Foreword

The story behind The Forgotten Gift: An Interrupted Novel is sad. But it’s also pretty amazing. I’d like to tell you a little of that story.

Susan — my wife, and the author of this book — had breast cancer. She had discovered it, had surgery for it, had chemotherapy for it,  thought she was rid of it, and had moved on with her life.

But it came back.

It eventually went everywhere, but she felt it in her hip first, when a tumor first made it hard for her to walk, then impossible. No longer able to get around, Susan concentrated on making beautiful jewelry, and began reading. Voraciously. 

I’d say Susan read about three books per week. She may have been the first person ever to actually wear a Kindle out. Then she had an idea: why not write a book of her own?

Our conversations stopped being about cancer, and started being about plots and audiences. Susan had dozens of ideas, and began writing plot outlines. After a couple of weeks of this, she came up with a story she loved, and began writing.

And this became her passion.

I’d come home from work every day to find Susan had written another five pages, the story just flowing out of her like she’d been a novelist her entire life. And we both knew she had a good story on her hands because her friends and neighbors  she was sharing the story with would call on the days she didn’t write something new, demanding she get back to work.

It was fun reading this book, and not just because of the story. Susan wrote a lot of what she knew into this book. Her love of making jewelry. Her skill at old-school photo editing. Her interest in lucid dreaming. Her thing for guys with long hair. 

She even wrote herself into the book as one of the characters. You won’t be able to miss her.

But sometimes, writing would be impossible. When Susan would be deep into a round of chemo treatment, she’d have no energy, no creativity. Her story would sit, waiting for her “chemo brain” to clear. 

During these times, she’d outline what would happen next, once she had another break in her chemo treatments. Then, as she got back to writing, she told me, “I don’t know why I bother trying to write an outline. The story goes where it wants to. I’m not in charge of it.”

“Well, whoever is in charge of it is doing an amazing job,” I replied. 

“But it won’t all fit in one book,” she said. “There’s going to have to be a sequel. This one is the first battle. The next book is where the war happens.” 

“So this will end with a cliffhanger?” I asked.

“Not exactly, but it will be obvious that the story isn’t over.”

She told me how the book would end. Then after a few more days and twenty new pages, she told me another way it might end. The ending of the story shifted

Susan kept writing. I thought it was a great story, and she was writing it in record time. 

But it wasn’t fast enough. 

Her cancer kept spreading. Onto her spine. Into her liver. Into her lungs. And then, finally, into her brain.

Susan had only a chapter or two to go. She had written the big confrontation and now just had to set the stage for the second book. But she couldn’t write anymore.

“Tell me what to write; I’ll be your hands,” I said.

“I don’t remember what’s happening in the book,” she said.

So I tried reading parts back to her. It didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse. ”I don’t even know what you’re reading to me,” Susan said.

She couldn’t follow conversations. She didn’t recognize visitors and asked me to stop letting strangers come over. She asked whether we really had twin girls (we do), or whether they were just a dream.

She cried and asked me why I had left her alone on a snowy mountaintop, and begged me to bring her back down.

I knew she wouldn’t finish the book. 

But sometimes, the cancer would give us a short break. Susan would come back to us. For half an hour or so she would be herself again — know where she was, know who we are. During one of these times, I made her a promise. I told her that I would make sure her book got published. I’d try to finish it myself, and then I’d publish it.

For a while, I thought I would finish the book myself, writing a conclusion based on one of the ways Susan had described to me. But those endings don’t make sense anymore. Those ending made sense looking in a straight line from where the story was at the time, not from where the story is now. 

And besides, the conclusion was never mine to write. It told itself to Susan, and then Susan told it to us. I wouldn’t get it right. Nobody would.

And so The Forgotten Gift will remain an interrupted novel. 

I want to call it an “interrupted novel” instead of “unfinished novel” for a couple reasons. First, because saying it’s just “unfinished” makes it sound like Susan was just too lazy to get the job done, and nothing could be further from the truth. She wrote quickly, passionately, and with self-discipline I have never exhibited in my own writing efforts.

The only reason this book has one too few chapters is because Susan was interrupted by cancer.

The second reason I call this an “interrupted” novel is because calling it “unfinished” isn’t really accurate. I personally find the conclusion of the book very satisfying. If you didn’t know that Susan had another chapter planned, the chances are you’d never suspect that another one was planned — one that would tie up a few loose ends, as well as prepare you for where the next book was headed. 

If you thought this book would leave you hanging — ending in the middle of a sentence — and you were considering not reading it for that reason, stop worrying. This book concludes, and concludes well. It’s just that it leaves you wishing there could be more. But there won’t be.

Still, this book represents a promise kept, and I’m proud of that. I know Susan would be so excited to see this. More importantly, though, this book also is also a way Susan will be able to combat some of the hidden effects of cancer. Losing a mom has been hard on one of our children in particular — one who already was prone to depression — and treatment to help him fight back against this disease hasn’t been cheap.

The proceeds from this book will go toward the costs of this treatment. I know Susan would be happy to know that something she wrote will make such a big difference in her son’s life.

So, thanks for reading The Forgotten Gift. I think that — like me — you’ll find that instead of being angry that it’s an interrupted novel, you’ll be glad there’s as much as there is.

Which I think is a much better perspective.

PS: For those of you who would like to know, Susan did have a title for the last chapter in her book. It gives you a clue as to where the final scene would have taken place.  It was Chapter 32: The Wedding.


  1. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 01.29.2013 | 1:16 pm

    This is a mighty fine thing you are doing.

    (If Susan had a “thing” for guys with long hair….. then you sir were one lucky man indeed.)

  2. Comment by Jenni | 01.29.2013 | 1:17 pm

    I love it.

    This almost made me cry: “It’s just that it leaves you wishing there could be more. But there won’t be.”


    I know this is hard for you, sending hugs and hopes that it’s cathartic and healing. A promise made is a debt unpaid.

    I’ll prepurchase my copy right now. And I’d like to use my anti-coupon, it adds 20%.

  3. Comment by Liz M. | 01.29.2013 | 1:21 pm

    Oh Elden, you are awesome for seeing this through. So glad the rest of us will be able to share this now. Looking forward to my copy — very intrigued to see how jewelry, photo editing, lucid dreams and long haired guys all fit together!

  4. Comment by ClydesdalePilot | 01.29.2013 | 1:22 pm

    Kudos, Fatty. I know I’m not the only one who has been waiting for more information about this book. I look forward to purchasing/reading it.

  5. Comment by Barefoot Rose | 01.29.2013 | 1:22 pm

    I don’t have enough tissues in my office today.

  6. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 01.29.2013 | 1:29 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading this as well as reading the rest of Susan’s story. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is drawn to her, even though I’ve never met her.

    As for your son, may he be blessed with peace and understanding. Having been married for almost half my life to a man that battles depression, I fully understand how heart-wrenching and debilitating the disease is. I pray that your son finds the coping mechanisms that are necessary to deal with his demons.

  7. Comment by Daniel Weise | 01.29.2013 | 1:35 pm

    Well written. I can’t wait to get the book itself. I know this is hard for you, but it is definitely the right thing to do.

  8. Comment by Mark | 01.29.2013 | 1:39 pm

    Great foreword. Sign me up for a copy of the book. Who is publishing it?

  9. Comment by yannb | 01.29.2013 | 1:43 pm

    Nicely written. Looking forward to reading the book.

  10. Comment by Alex W | 01.29.2013 | 1:51 pm


    I am not much of a reader, but I look forward to puchasing “The Forgotten Gift.”

    There are few things that I hate, but cancer, and mental illness are exceptions. I hate how each have hurt and damaged so many people (including many close to me). I wish nothing but the best for your son and your family as you move forward with your lives.


  11. Comment by David L | 01.29.2013 | 2:02 pm

    Thank you, Elden, for a great gift.

  12. Comment by Chad | 01.29.2013 | 2:03 pm

    You are one amazing person.

  13. Comment by Curtis | 01.29.2013 | 2:14 pm

    I’ll download this the day it’s available. Can’t wait to read it. It’s a great thing that you’re doing!

  14. Comment by Robert | 01.29.2013 | 2:18 pm

    I was holding it together until the last sentence.


    I’m in.

  15. Comment by Jay Zellmer | 01.29.2013 | 2:27 pm

    Thanks Fatty- so much. From an admirer of you both…..

  16. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 01.29.2013 | 2:40 pm

    @jenni. I’m in for the “anti-coupon”! I hope it’s an olf fashioned paper kind, something I need to cut round the edges. If it’s a promo code, scanny thing I’m toast since electronic devices are not my thing.

    You ‘re a good man Elden, and I consider myself lucky to have found my way here and this group!

    Wallet is open and ready!

  17. Comment by ChinookPass | 01.29.2013 | 2:54 pm

    Well done. Good stuff.

  18. Comment by Zach | 01.29.2013 | 3:17 pm

    Just about perfect. When can I get it?

  19. Comment by Wife#1 | 01.29.2013 | 3:21 pm

    Thank god I am working from home today. I almost went into the office today. Senior managers are not supposed to be crying in their cubicles.

    Cannot wait to buy, read it, and spread the good.

  20. Comment by Steve Z | 01.29.2013 | 3:24 pm

    It would have been so easy to not do this. You’re a heck of a guy Eldon Nelson.

    Steve Z

  21. Comment by Mike C | 01.29.2013 | 3:25 pm

    Thanks, Elden.

    I can’t wait to read the book. Thanks, again, for sharing these parts of your life with your readers.

  22. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 01.29.2013 | 3:27 pm

    “The Forgotten Gift” has a spot high on my reading list, and I will be looking for its publishing date and availability information.

    A promise kept – well done, Fatty. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the years, and I have huge respect for your commitment to the many causes you support and your dedication to Susan’s legacy. You set the bar very high for the rest of us, and I think that is one reason you have such a dedicated following.

    Take care and be well

  23. Comment by rich | 01.29.2013 | 3:30 pm

    um…ok…yeah, so I think I got something in my eye and had to stop reading this a couple of times….but I’ve finished now.
    Definitely going to order the book…good for you for doing this.
    Thinking of you and your family…

  24. Comment by Bee T | 01.29.2013 | 3:50 pm

    Being married to someone who battles depression… Yeah, it can be hell. I hope he is finding ways to exist despite those demons.

    In other news, it must be smoky in my office today. My throat is all burning and I’m really sniffly all of a sudden. Better call the fire department or something.

  25. Comment by babble on | 01.29.2013 | 4:05 pm

    Made me cry, too. Thank you for your strength of character, Fatty.

    My son suffers from depression, too, and seeing him safely through it is definitely my greatest challenge in this world.

    I don’t know how you do all of the wonderful things you do and still manage to handle that one. Hats off to you. xo

  26. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.29.2013 | 4:09 pm

    Two thumbs up.

    BTW, have I seen photos of the model for the cover art on this blog?

    No, I don’t think so. I have no idea who the model is. – FC

  27. Comment by Kenny | 01.29.2013 | 4:17 pm


    This is truly amazing!

    I just recently went through this breast cancer ride with my ex-wife. She fought the good fight for almost two years, but in the end, the cancer got the best of her on October 4, 2012. It has been very hard for my 17 year old daughter and I. Even though she was my ex-wife, it still to this day hurts for us both.

    As I read this post, the flashback of everything you described overcame me and I had to leave my office for a walk. I am quite sure once I purchase this book and read it, this same feeling will continue. It is a true testament of what a good man you are for keeping your word and completing the book!


  28. Comment by Marsupial MattC | 01.29.2013 | 4:18 pm

    You ARE doing an actual PRINTING (for those of us who don’t have the electronic reader-gizmo’s), RIGHT? (btw, ABSOLUTLY LOVE the cover…whoever designed it did a first-rate job!)

    I can totally see this book sitting in the very front of B&N where all the big titles sit when you walk in. When you get them printed I’m MOST ASSUREDLY in.

  29. Comment by Tracy W | 01.29.2013 | 4:31 pm

    I glanced over the introduction and started reading the forward and then thought “I’m buying this book! Now where is the link!” And after looking a bit, I actually READ the introduction. I can’t wait to read the book!

    And I agree with Marsupial Matt on the cover design. Very nice! I’m a librarian and know that no matter how good the book is and how much you talk it up, if the cover stinks you’re going to have a hard time getting people to read it.

    What a great testament to Susan.

  30. Comment by Sarah | The Cyclist's Wife | 01.29.2013 | 4:36 pm

    Wow, this is really wonderful. I hope it turns out to be a bestseller. My sister and I also lost a mom to cancer (her mom, my step) it is an incredibly difficult thing to go through. I’m so happy she wrote this book. It will always remain a testament to her strength.

  31. Comment by Jeff Bike | 01.29.2013 | 4:38 pm

    Eldon and Susan’s gift will never be forgotten. We learn and draw strength from you. My mother died just over a year and a half ago from acute respiratory failure. I’m just now starting to be able to talk about it. You having the whole world in your life, to share so much with us, is next to sainthood.

    My other mom (step-mother) is seven years breast cancer free. Miracles do happen. Dad is now recovering from bladder cancer. Looking for miracle number two.

  32. Comment by ClydeinKS | 01.29.2013 | 4:51 pm

    I have a feeling the content of this book is not my typically choice for a read, but know that it is one I will be needing to get through as quick as I can. Can’t wait to read it and also help the cause!

  33. Comment by Perry | 01.29.2013 | 5:11 pm

    Milton wrote: “be thy self Man among men on Earth”. I believe you’ve accomplished that…

  34. Comment by Jeremy Olsan | 01.29.2013 | 5:19 pm

    Beautifully said (like all that you write). Thank you.

  35. Comment by wharton_crew | 01.29.2013 | 6:31 pm

    Dear Elden,
    Almost always, the comments on your blog have one or two mentions of how nice/great/good of a guy you are, and that’s true. You’re top notch in my book.

    But right now, I feel like I’d like to say how much I think of Susan – although I’ve never even met her. To battle cancer is daunting to even think about, let alone to do it TWICE. For that, I salute her courage.

    But more importantly is how she inspired you, and others around her. I admire that most. And how cool is it to keep plugging away at a dream as long as possible.

    So thanks to her. Cheers.

  36. Comment by GreatAunt | 01.29.2013 | 6:36 pm

    I look forward to reading Susan’s book as soon as it is available. Keep us updated with pub dates and such, please.

  37. Comment by Nate Theobald | 01.29.2013 | 6:48 pm

    You are one hell of an inspiration. Now stop making me cry…

  38. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 01.29.2013 | 7:11 pm

    Good Man Fatty. You are a Good Man. Deeply touched by this.

  39. Comment by Michael G | 01.29.2013 | 7:15 pm

    I’m ready to download this and pre-order it… Please let me know when, where, and how much…


  40. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 01.29.2013 | 7:27 pm

    When I saw where you were going with today’s post, I knew it would be hard to read… in a good way. So I poured myself something to cry into and sat down to let it wash over me.

    This business with cancer is rather like that, no? Sometimes heavy rain, sometimes a storm surge, sometimes an annoying bone chilling mist.

    In my world, my husband is fighting the brave fight against a rare and stubborn tumor. Me? Stoic and rational, I keep the plates spinning and never cry about it, though I’ve been known to grumble a bit.

    Elden, what you write about Susan is so beautiful and moving. I think it puts into words the pain and fear many of us feel when the bad stuff happens.

    This is where I come to be entertained, inspired, intrigued and strangely comforted by someone I’ve never met.

    Thank you!

  41. Comment by AKChick55 | 01.29.2013 | 7:36 pm

    Yay! I’m SO excited for Susan’s book. Can we preorder? I also LOVE the fact that we can help your son and his treatment. Depression is so, so debilitating. It’s hard for those of us who don’t have it to understand it – I know firsthand since my mother was diagnosed with depression when I was very young. Your son is so blessed to have such a caring dad who will do what it takes to get him the help he needs. Of course, I would have bought Susan’s book anyway even if the proceeds didn’t go for such a worthwhile cause. Thank you for publishing her book. Can’t wait to hear how things are coming on your book. :)

  42. Comment by Vito | 01.29.2013 | 7:54 pm

    Way to go Elden! I read this and cried. What you are doing is an absolutely wonderful tribute to Susan and her and your family’s fight against cancer. Thank you so much for sharing this with the rest of us. You’re a good man:)

  43. Comment by Jay Ho | 01.29.2013 | 8:53 pm


    I’ve come many times to your site to laugh out loud. Tonite, looking to laugh, I cried. I am deeply moved by your words and am now anxious to read this book. Bless you and your family.

  44. Comment by BigShorty | 01.29.2013 | 8:56 pm

    Solid writing Fatty.

    I can’t wait to hold that book in my hands.

    100% for the anti-coupon.

  45. Comment by PaulW | 01.29.2013 | 9:36 pm

    Looking forward to reading Susan’s book. You have done her proud!
    I was just feeling sorry for myself as I couldn’t sleep, but reading this really puts that in perspective! Thank you.

  46. Comment by Heidi | 01.29.2013 | 9:44 pm


  47. Comment by roan | 01.29.2013 | 11:33 pm

    I’ll be passing this posting to many people. It was a tough read but rewarding too. My mind flashed back to the picture of Susan & you on the hospital bed. Cancer, kidney disease and depression have made inroads to friends and close relatives, I often wonder why. Perhaps I ride a bike so much because…my oldest son didn’t finish his last ride.

    I wonder if you approach a publisher with a pre-order list would be helpful ? Being old school I too hope for a hands on page turner.

  48. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 01.30.2013 | 12:41 am

    Elden, I will not download a copy of this.  This is not something meant to be flashed across the screen of a Nook or a Kindle like the current copy of USA Today; scanned through and then deleted to make room for the next day’s equally forgettable drivel.

    This is something that deserves a place on the bookshelf.  This sounds like something that demands one set aside some time, establish themselves in a comfortable spot, and then withdraw into the pages and let the rest of the world go by for a while.  This will be something that you may even find yourself returning to; to re-read and discover additional nuances and intricacies that you missed the first (or second, or third) time through.

    Making this available as a download is of course the modern way.  But so far as I am concerned, if this isn’t set in type, printed on paper, and bound between covers, it’s still only a work in progress.


    I appreciate that, and there will definitely be a paperback version available on day 1. – FC

  49. Comment by buckythedonkey | 01.30.2013 | 2:01 am

    Well done, fella. WIN!

  50. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 01.30.2013 | 7:05 am

    By the by, Fatty, do you have a publisher? If not, I know of a small husband-wife company that started up because she couldn’t find a company to publish her book. Now they provide that service to other authors. I can put you in touch.

    I’m self-publishing this one, though I’m getting help from an editor, a layout / production expert, and a cover designer. – FC

  51. Comment by David Morgantini | 01.30.2013 | 7:36 am

    Please ensure that it will be published as an ebook. I’d love to read it.

    It’ll be published in paperback, Kindle, Nook, and iBook formats. Thanks for asking! – FC

  52. Comment by bikgrl | 01.30.2013 | 7:55 am

    That’s fantastic. Don’t change a thing.

    Really looking forward to reading Susan’s book.

  53. Comment by Brian in VA | 01.30.2013 | 7:58 am

    What a wonderful gift you’ve been given and have, in turn, given all of us. Can’t wait to read it, Fatty.

    You, sir, are a good man.

  54. Comment by GenghisKhan | 01.30.2013 | 10:55 am

    Awesome! Related, does anyone know how Fatty happens to have more than 24 hours in a day?!

  55. Comment by Rich | 01.30.2013 | 11:15 am


  56. Comment by | 01.30.2013 | 11:24 am

    Thank you for keeping your promise. In this day and age of rush and hurry, this proves that some people truly say what they mean and mean what they say. You made that promise to Susan, you kept it and we will relish in the reading of this story. Moved to tears again, in a good way. Thank you Susan for writing what you did and leaving it the care of Eldon, for the rest of us.

  57. Comment by jessi | 01.30.2013 | 1:03 pm

    i will be buying this book. thank you for seeing her vision through, i can’t wait to read her words.

  58. Comment by George | 01.30.2013 | 1:26 pm

    I agree with Bicycle Bill. I’ll pay double(at least) for an autographed copy with a note from you.
    Thanks for all the good you do.

  59. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.30.2013 | 2:44 pm

    Like BicycleBill and Roan, I’m older than old school Since this is self published in a modern age, and you being a master of all things. Can i get my copy in cuneiform, please:

  60. Comment by old guy who likes to ride | 01.30.2013 | 3:11 pm

    read this one twice. tears both times.
    gotta go re-read “how I won the daisy” to balance my emotions and be productive today.
    I do not have the vocabulary skill-set to articulate how amazing all this is.


  61. Comment by Marsupial MattC | 01.30.2013 | 3:15 pm

    @davidh…you really crack me up! (I won’t even PRETEND to know what “cuneiform” is….but it SOUNDS darn funny!)

    And you wann’a talk OLD SCHOOL? My cell phone is JUST a cell phone (and just barely at that)…doesn’t take pictures, doesn’t surf the web, and I vaguely recall it will send a text (I think I sent one or two back during our FIRST team Fatty year when we all met up down in Austin). I’m barely one step ahead of the cans with string between them!

  62. Comment by ELandmine | 01.30.2013 | 3:44 pm

    Can’t wait to get a copy of this and recommend to the rest of my book friends.

    Ride on fatty!

  63. Comment by Susie H | 01.30.2013 | 6:14 pm

    Bravo, Fatty!

  64. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.30.2013 | 9:30 pm

    Denoting or relating to the wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Ugarit, surviving…
    Cuneiform writing.

    Clay tablets not required.

  65. Comment by Marsupial MattC | 01.30.2013 | 10:09 pm

    david, you crack me up almost as much as Fatty (sometimes more…sorry Fatty).

    Ahhhh..THAT Cuneiform!

    So…I take it you’re good with a hammer and chisel then…good thing you aren’t doing the printing of Susan’s book…it would weigh a bit, and at only $174,982 per ‘hardback’ copy (think 427 stone pages) it would be a steal! I’ll take 3 copies please…you’d best get busy! I’ll have the truck swing by your place in, oh..lets say a decade or so…you should have them done by then.

  66. Comment by Melinda | 01.31.2013 | 9:26 am

    Oh wow. That is amazing. I will be very proud to own a copy of this once it is published.

  67. Comment by Mamasue123 | 01.31.2013 | 8:51 pm

    Ugh you slay me with your words my dear. Looking forward to the release. Just found out today my mom has breast cancer. Hopefully Shirley will fight like Susan!

  68. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Susan’s Book, The Forgotten Gift, Is Now Available | 03.7.2013 | 7:01 am

    [...] to know the full backstory behind how and when Susan wrote The Forgotten Gift, I suggest reading the Foreword I wrote a little while ago. It goes into the [...]


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