Susan’s Book, The Forgotten Gift, Is Now Available

03.7.2013 | 7:00 am

ForgottenGift Front 388x600I’m incredibly pleased and proud to announce that Susan Nelson’s novel, The Forgotten Gift, is now available for purchase on I’ll get to the details in a second, but first, here are the links to where you will hopefully go and buy this book right this very second:

UPDATE: It’s now also available at Barnes and Noble, both in paperback and Nook formats. 

The publication of this book represents a number of things. It’s the fulfillment of a promise I made to Susan. It’s a way for Susan’s efforts before she passed away to help her children.

And — most importantly — it’s a really good story that is very well told. 

(Oh, and by the way, I just dropped the price of the Kindle version of Comedian Mastermind to $2.99, just in case you want to pick up a cheap bathroom read and are looking to buy more than one thing today.)

Behind The Book

If you want 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 details.


The short version is that metastatic breast cancer attacked Susan’s body, making it hard to breathe and incredibly dangerous and painful to move (I once broke her collarbone simply by trying to lift her into a sitting position). Instead of despairing at her fate, though, Susan began a race against her cancer: she set out to write a novel before the cancer could take her.

And she got to the last chapter. Literally. In fact, Susan wrote the first three words of that last chapter: “I quietly went” — leaving the sentence, and the final chapter, incomplete. 

Which is why this is called “an interrupted novel.” 

But don’t go thinking this is some half-finished book. It’s 368 pages of terrific storytelling, with a satisfying big confrontation. What you’ll miss by not having a final chapter is some resolution between some important characters, as well as the setup for the sequel Susan had already begun thinking about.

ForgottenGift Back 1292x2000
Back cover

Help Make This Book a Success

I want this book to reach as many people as possible, and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of that. First — and most obviously — I hope you’ll go buy a copy, whether it be the paperback version or the Kindle version. Either way is great; pick whichever format you prefer. (For what it’s worth, though, I actually earn about a dollar more per copy from the Kindle version, even though it costs considerably less.)

Next, spread the word. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Tell others: If you like the book, tell other people about it.
  • Review it: Post a review over at
  • Buy additional copies: A number of you have mentioned that you wanted to contribute extra when this book comes out. Honestly, I’d rather you buy additional copies and then give them to others. If this book starts rising up the bestseller’s list, it will start getting attention beyond the people who’d be buying this book anyway (i.e., my readers).

Where the Money’s Going

Last July, I was kind of at the end of my rope. My 17-year-old son — already prone to depression — had been really struggling since his mom’s illness and death.

Finally, I had found a program that was really helping, but my insurance company  was actively fighting me on whether they should have to cover his treatment. Eventually, they did cover his treatment, up to a point.

Then they stopped. And now that’s thousands and thousands of dollars we need to come up with, both for the treatment he’s had and the treatment he continues to receive.

By the way, my son is now doing great. He’s back at school full-time, and is headed off tomorrow to participate in an academic decathlon. Also, he and I are training together to run in a five-mile race next weekend. 

I have to say, I think Susan would be really pleased at the idea of her novel covering the treatment that has done her son so much good.

Big Thanks

The Forgotten Gift is a self-published book, but it doesn’t look (or read) like it is. For the proofreading, I have my very good friends — and top-notch editors — Wendy Fritzke and Bob Bringhurst to thank.

For the cover design, Jenn of Tiger Bright Studios worked absolute magic. And for the internal design and both print and e-book production, Keith — the genius behind Ride and Ride 2 books — at Typeflow made this book look excellent.

Gone for a While

I’m going to be barricaded in various conference rooms for the next two weeks, which means this is going to be the lead post on my blog until at least March 18, at which point I hope to be able to post something (i.e., I’ll be in airports and planes on the 17th and so might be able to write something that day). 

In the meantime, thank you very much for your support of this book. I’m excited to have you read it.


Level.13: An Open Letter to Assos

03.5.2013 | 2:03 pm

Dear Assos,

I was recently perusing the April 2013 edition of Peloton magazine when I happened upon your new ad.

Now, I firmly believe that when a company does something right, they ought to hear about it. They deserve our praise and respect. And that’s why I’m writing to you today: to give you kudos for your latest ad, supporting your limited edition SS.Lady ellisse jersey:


While I might quibble with your subpar Photoshopping skills, Assos, I can’t help but admire the fact that for your ad, you put a woman on a bike, in the outdoors, wearing biking clothing.

And while I personally believe that the jersey featured in this ad makes a personal statement along the lines of “I really miss 1974,” that’s neither here nor there.

The important thing is you show admirable respect for your female riders, treating them as what they are: an important part of our cycling community.

Oh, hang on. Wait a second. Hm. 

Well, this is embarrassing. 

As it turns out, that image above is something I put together myself in Photoshop. Here’s the ad you actually placed in Peloton:


In my defense, these ads are so similar to each other that it’s easy to see why I mixed the two up. After all, in both cases, the women are kneeling, wearing spike heels, and form-fitting shiny vinyl pants (over ridiculously sticklike legs) that  are specially designed to be so movement-restricting that they come with a warning that says, “WARNING: DO NOT WEAR.”

So the ads may be different in some ways, I guess. 

What Is It?

Assos, if this were just an ad featuring a girl — with legs so twiglike that it’s hard to imagine her walking – kneeling (nowhere near a bike) and wearing clothes that are specially designed to be bike-prohibitive, I’d just let the whole thing go. 

But I’m so confused, and I need your help. Specifically, I have been brought to tears over the near-impossibility of understanding your ad copy:


Oh sure, everything starts out just fine. I get “NEW” — it tells me this is a new jersey. I get “sS.ladyEllisse” — this is just a peculiar name for a jersey, but no moreso than “Oldsmobile Omega” is a peculiar name for a car, I suppose.

So we’re just going to let those parts go.

But then there’s the heading above the ad copy: “What Is It?”

Now, I think this heading is probably meant to be a question the ad copy addresses, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Instead, “What Is It?” is the question I was left with after reading this:

It’s the ASSOS celebration of the year 2013! ladyEllisse was created and designed as a tribute to our female customers and to please the eyes of the entire ASSOS community. Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13, symbolizing the manga.Yio state of mind, the perfect ride, ASSOS nirvana.

Well, of course. That all makes perfect sense. Except for the way it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you’re willing to go down the ASSOS-flavored rabbit hole, that is. In which case it begins to make a scary, twisted, creepy kind of sense. By which I mean, the kind of sense you would expect from a clothing company that shows an anorexic model dressed from the waist down in bondage-wear and calls it “a tribute to our female customers.”

Let us break it down, shall we?

Level 13

In your ad, Assos, you tell us that:

Number 13 has a special place in the ASSOS world: it’s level 13….

So this is a special jersey because it’s the year 2013, which reminds you of level 13.


But what, pray tell, is level 13

Well, I browsed, surfed, explored, and otherwise tried to find there’s no explanation of level 13 on the Assos site. Unless, of course, you take the arcane and devilishly clever step of searching for it using an obscure-but-powerful search engine known as Google.

At which point, you wind up with ASSOS’ very comprehensive description of level 13, which — I want to be absolutely clear here — I am not making up even a tiny bit:

Perfect World
In the real world, there are 50 million cyclists, but only a very few can join Manga.Yio. Qualify yourself & join!

In the course of a man’s life (lady’s too), he (she) reaches various levels and hopefully passes onto the next. The higher the level, the more difficult it gets to move up:

Level 0 birth
Level 1 party, party
Level 2 sex
Level 3 show time
Level 4 knowledge

Then, the privileged ones, move on to

Level 5 wisdom

For normal people, that is the top level of life. But, a selected few cyclists go on and explore the ultimate dimension of inner-balance:


The understanding that a “little thing” called riding your bicycle is the key to personal fulfilment and well-being!

  • Living a luxury life does not require millions.
  • It’s not about lifestyle, it’s about health status.
  • Details don’t matter anymore.
  • A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions.
  • An environment reduced to the essence.
  • Communication without talking.
  • No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency.
  • And whatever you do, it just feels perfect.

Manga.Yio – where YOU determine the pace of the ride. Fit the profile & join.

ASSOS welcomes you!

I’ve read and re-read this philosophy, and I have a few questions and observations.

  1. Shouldn’t levels 2 and 3 be switched?
  2. Why is there a period after “Level” in “Level.13?” 
  3. When I read “A world ruled by concentrated, pure emotions,” I think of an eighteen-month-old child, having a tantrum. Is that what you’re going for in Level.13?
  4. I assume that “Communication without talking” means that one conveys meaning primarily through the medium of waggling one’s eyebrows meaningfully, punctuated with the flaring of one’s nostrils. And maybe sometimes wearing very tight, shiny pants. Also, I feel I should point out that pre-verbal children communicate without talking…through the medium of tantrums.
  5. When you say “details don’t matter anymore,” you’re not doing a ton to bolster my confidence in your dedication to quality products. JFYI.
  6. When you say “Living a luxury life does not require millions,” is that a willful suspension of disbelief kind of thing? As in, we’re not supposed to consider your pricing?
  7. “No interferences, no hold ups; everything tuned to your personal frequency” — hm. Let’s see. That reminds me of something again. If only I could think of what it is.
More than anything else, though, Assos, this explanation of Level.13 makes me think that you’re just lazy, skipping levels 6 through 12 like that. Or maybe it’s part of the “details don’t matter anymore” aspect of the Level.13 philosophy?

Regardless, based on my thorough understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (i.e., I read about it on Wikipedia once), I think I can interpolate what would go between levels 5 and 13:

  • Level 6 impertinence
  • Level 7 despair
  • Level 8 I forget what 8 was for
  • Level 9 the all-too-frequent consumption of cheese-flavored snack foods
  • Level 10 red sports car
  • Level 11 irritating tendency to make jokes about “this one goes to 11″
  • Level 12 Cialis

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? I even bolded them for you and everything.


Sadly, the “Level.13″ nonsense is only a fraction of the ridiculously cryptic ad copy here, Assos. In the same sentence as the “Level 13″ schtick — as if we haven’t already been thoroughly beaten about the head and shoulders with ad copy that ought to come with a decoder ring — you tell us that Level 13 symbolizes “the manga.Yio state of mind.”

As if we didn’t already know that. Pfff.

So, being the courageous user of Google that I am, I go ahead and try to find what these mystical, mysterious words —  ”manga.Yio” — could possibly mean.

It must be something secret. Something that commands reverence. Something as deep as Level.13 itself.

Or maybe it’s just the name of a store in Switzerland where you can buy Assos stuff.

Yep, that’s really all it is. So when you’re in “the manga.Yio state of mind,” they mean you’re in the state of mind of a really pretentious-looking store, with hardly anything in it. Here, take a look:

So what is the concept behind this store / state of mind? Well, both manga.Yio and I are very glad you asked:


In Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland, “Terra di Ciclismo” and home of ASSOS, the Assos manga.Yio is the Assos Experience Superstore. It’s more than a store.

Assos manga.Yio is fully focused on the Assos values. See, feel, touch & endorse.

Assos manga.Yio, where you can live the unique Assos experience

Assos manga.Yio, where you can indulge, share and receive answers.

Assos manga.Yio, that showcases and makes available our entire Assos product collection

Assos manga.Yio, created to identify and service your needs.

Assos manga.Yio, to provide your perfect outfit for your perfect ride.

Questions? We do have the answers.

We strive to have only happy customers. And we are happy when our customers enjoy a perfect ride!

Thank you for visiting & enjoy Assos.

“A situation which I dislike very much, is to find myself in a restaurant with an endless choice of courses. Total confusion and waste of time. What I appreciate instead, is having the cook welcoming me, looking in my eyes, identifying my needs and finally serving me the dish I was dreaming of.” Nice!

Roche Maier?
créateur & ceo Assos of Switzerland SA

Or in other words, manga.Yio is a store where instead of you buying what you want, some guy stares at you for a minute and then tells you what you get to buy. (thirty-year financing available upon request).

I am so excited to visit manga.Yio, Assos. And you can bet I’ll come over as soon as I reach Level.13. 

Assuming, of course, I can walk that far when wearing these shiny black pants.

Kind Regards,


I Am In Open Defiance of Physics

03.4.2013 | 12:45 pm

I’ve been working hard on my diet. Between the beginning of January to the end of February, I dropped from 183 pounds to 162.8 pounds. That’s twenty pounds in two months. No, it’s more (0.2 pounds more, but still) than twenty pounds.

Which meant I had only 5 more pounds to lose in the final month of my big 25-pound weight loss contest / challenge / mutual accountability support group thingy I have going with Adam Schwarz.

Easy. Right?

But last weekend, The Hammer and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. And we celebrated it the way we always celebrate it: by going to Zion’s National Park, staying at the Lodge, and hiking and riding our bikes pretty much until we feel like we’re going to pass out from exhaustion.

What, that doesn’t sound like a romantic weekend getaway to you? 

Oh, and in addition to hiking and cycling pretty much all the time, we ate like normal people. Which leads to a problem I observed this morning. I’ll get to that in just a moment.

We Are Very Athletic

So here are the things The Hammer and I did while we were on our vacation.

  • Went on a 100-Mile Bike Ride: Friday, we got on our Shivs and rode from Zion’s National Park to Saint George, and then back. We meant to ride 100 miles but miscalculated and wound up riding 102 or so. With around 5800 feet of climbing. 
  • Went on a 9-Mile Hike: Saturday, we got up and went on a big ol’ hike to a gorgeous overlook of Zion’s National Park. It’s an extremely vertical hike, but more than worth it in terms of the view. Hey, let me show you some pictures:
Yes, I’m wearing running tights and a black wool base layer t-shirt. We were speed hiking, dammit. 

I know, it’s not nice to take pictures of people’s backsides without letting them know. Sorry.

The Hammer at rest

I swear, I am not posing in front of a backdrop. 

  • Went on a Mountain Bike Ride With Kenny and Heather: After our 9-mile hike in the morning, The Hammer and I drove to St George, where we went on a fun mountain bike ride with Kenny and Heather. I had specifically requested we ride the Bearclaw / Poppy trail, because I’ve been itching to make a video of this incredibly fun trail. Unfortunately, this was the first time I had used a chest mount for my camera, and pretty much all my footage looks like this:

Trust me, you don’t want four minutes of this. 

  • Rode the Bike Portion of the St. George Half-Ironman: The Hammer has got it into her head that she would like to try doing a half Ironman. Luckily for her (and possibly unluckily for me), St. George will be hosting its inaugural half ironman May 4. And so yesterday, naturally, we went and rode the bike course (but only the hardest 30 miles of it, because we needed to get home).

So, that’s a fairly active weekend, wouldn’t you say?

We Are Somewhat Hungry

You would think that, with all this exercising and whatnot, we’d be completely free to eat whatever we want.

But no. We are much more responsible than that. Especially since I’m trying really really hard to get down to racing weight by the end of March. And so we tried to keep our appetites in check, with the following items being the main things we ate during this trip:

  • Fajitas at Chili’s: On the way to Zion’s, we stopped in Cedar City and split an order of fajitas. 
  • Free Breakfast: At the complimentary breakfast buffet served at the Zion’s Lodge, we ate a reasonable amount, staying away from the muffins and sausage and hash browns and stuff. Mostly, I just had scrambled eggs each morning.
  • Jazzy’s: Our favorite place to eat at St. George is a little place called Jazzy’s. We stopped there as the halfway point of our 100-mile bike ride and split a California wrap and an order of sweet potato fries.
  • Soup: Trying to be both frugal and nutritionally responsible, we actually brought some leftover chicken soup we had made a few days ago and heated it up for one of our lunches. 
  • Egg Whites: We made egg whites and avocados for at least two of the meals while we were there.
  • Five Guys: Our one truly big splurge was at the end of yesterday’s TT ride, where we each got a burger and split an order of fries at Five Guys. 

I ask you: were we crazily out of control, foodwise, especially when you take into account our activity level? Because it seems to me like we weren’t.

The Damage

So I weighed myself this morning — the first time I’ve been able to since leaving on our trip on February 28 (on which day I weighed 162.8).

I weighed in at 168.6 pounds.

Yes, over this weekend I gained 5.8 pounds. Which, I believe, proves the following:

  • Life isn’t fair.
  • I am able to create mass out nothingness.
  • That whole “To lose weight, simply eat less and exercise more” thing is nonsense.

26 days left, 10.4 pounds to go. Pfffff.

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