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.
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.