Friday, January 30, 2015

Tips 'Rollercoaster' author might use next time

'Rollercoaster' writer plugs book by other experts after he admits guilt (but no remorse)

Joel Friedlander
Betty Kelly Sargent
Okay, I'll confess.

I — Woody Weingarten — didn't use Joel Friedlander's latest book before I used my years of experience and expertise to write and publish mine, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

My sole excuse is that "The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide," which he wrote in tandem with Betty Kelly Sargent, didn't exist then.

But it's a permanent part of my here-and-now now, and I expect it may help me with any new edition of my book on male caregiving that I might publish. Or any future book(s).

So I only feel a teensy-weensy guilty.

The fact is, "Ultimate" could help a whole bunch of writers who'll put out books on their own — as well as many still being published by the few major houses remaining in New York, writers who often discover those corporations generally suggest you do your own promotion, marketing and desk-dusting.

Joel, owner/operator/desk-dusting guy at Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, labels himself a blogger, book designer, consultant, internet marketeer and speaker.

I know him. He's all that.

He's also funny — though you probably can't tell that from this book, which is almost exclusively a series of lists.

Betty Kelly Sargent was an editor at William Morrow and Harper Collins and other publishing houses before New York's literary world started shrinking faster than an Arctic icecap being assaulted by climate change. She also founded, the self-publisher's alliance.

I don't know her. So I don't know if she's funny.

But I do know they've come up with a volume that might save an author or wannabe tons of research time.

One of the best things about "Ultimate" is its reference links to what the compilers label the first collection "of curated and verified resources for independent authors…"

I tested some. To verify the verified.

The links are live.

Some references I might use next time fall under the titles of professional and trade associations, marketing and publicity, sites to list e-books, image sources, illustrators and cartoonists, writing contests and book awards.

Use of only a couple would certainly be worth the space I'm giving the book (which I and countless others were allowed to download free).

Although I feel zero guilt, shame or remorse about writing this item, I recognize that some readers may feel my plug will show there's no such thing as a free lunch — or a free download.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Writer of 'Booby Blog' lauds 'Rollercoaster'

Santa Fe author who traced own cancer says 'Rollercoaster' can help both men and women

Hollis Walker
Hollis Walker has given my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," her stamp of approval.

To me, that's no little deal. 


Because the Santa Fe author-blogger-minister has first-hand knowledge of the disease.

And she's the author of a book called "The Booby Blog: A Cancer Chronicle," which tracked her life as a breast cancer patient. My personal feeling is that if you want to look at breast cancer — or any life-threatening illness — up close from both sides of the bed, you should check out both books.  

I certainly appreciate Hollis' review, and particularly liked her quoted my favorite author — me:

"Rollercoaster" is, in author Woody Weingarten’s words, “a partial memoir-chronicle, partial love story and cumulative guide to hope” written about his journey with his wife through her struggle with breast cancer.

"Rollercoaster," she added on her blog today (Jan. 26, 2015), is "an honest and vulnerable narrative" that pulls no punches. 

She also labeled it "an engaging, fact-filled, intimate story that promises to be helpful to men who are accompanying a loved one through breast cancer or any life-threatening illness."

Furthermore, she said, it's "not a bad idea for the patient to read, either.

"Honestly, I was prepared to be pissed off at this book, afraid it would be a tale of one man’s woe at having to prepare his own dinners while his wife was hospitalized for a mastectomy, or perhaps more politically correct yet nevertheless self-pitying drivel.

I was happily surprised. Weingarten has written an honest and vulnerable narrative that focuses primarily on his own feelings and reactions to his wife’s illness but never loses sight of the fact that it is she who had cancer — until he gets cancer, too. Even so, he discusses his own cancer only briefly, keeping the emphasis on the story of her illness and their joint confrontation with the threat to her life.

"Writing 20 years after his wife’s diagnosis, Weingarten relies on his and his wife’s personal journals to detail the events and recall their shared but sometimes wildly different responses. Being caregiver for a wife with cancer made him 'a one-man pet-sitter, nurse, servant and counselor' overnight — all while he continued to work a full-time job. He admits to being 'fragile, persistently on the verge of tears' and says that often, 'instead of wanting to be a caregiver, I’ve wished to curl into a fetal ball and let out a bloodcurdling scream.'

"Weingarten doesn’t pull any punches about his anger with his wife’s demands at times. He unflinchingly discusses the impact of her illness on their sex life and the fact that they went to individual and couples’ counseling. Yet the two also suffered in concert. 'The illness is chewing up and spitting out our lives,' he journaled at one point, and even when things seem to be going well, 'an invisible force yanks us back into Cancerland.'

"In addition to their personal story, Weingarten offers a significant review of clinical advances in breast cancer since his wife’s illness and effects of cancer on caregivers. Throughout the book, he also discusses his participation and eventual leadership in Man-to-Man, a support group for spouses of women with breast cancer…The men provide serious emotional backup to one another, particularly when spouses die. He remains involved in the group even today, offering his experience, strength and hope to newcomers, men whose loved ones are newly diagnosed.

"The author, who is a writer and editor by profession, has written an engaging, fact-filled, intimate story that promises to be helpful to men who are accompanying a loved one through breast cancer or any life-threatening illness. (And not a bad idea for the patient to read, either.)

"And it’s [the] love story aspect of the book that lingers when the last page is turned.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blogger cites 'Rollercoaster' chapter on meds

Award-winning Texas writer, blogger calls 'Rollercoaster' honest and 'worth the read'

Maryann Miller 
Maryann Miller is a literate Texan who covers the book/literary universe on her blog, "It's Not All Gravy."

Her website lists her as an award-winning "diverse writer of columns, feature stories, short fiction, novels, screenplays and stage plays."

Among her numerous honors was being a semi-finalist at the Sundance Institute for her screenplay, "A Question of Honor."

"I've been writing all my life," she says, "and plan to die at my computer, hopefully after finishing a book, not in the middle of one."

Still very much alive, she posted a review today (Jan. 25, 2015) that recommends my VintagePress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

Here, in full, is what she wrote about "Rollercoaster" and me, Woody Weingarten:

Any person who has had cancer, or cared for someone with cancer, which means a whole lot of us, will find this book engaging and well worth the read. It is not meant as a caregiver’s guide, although one can take wisdom from some of the ways Woody and his wife coped with her cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

The book is an honest chronicle of the experience from day one, to a wonderful conclusion that is sure to make readers smile. With that honesty comes great doses of humor and the harsh reality that dealing with cancer is an all-consuming experience.

Although the book focuses in large part on the author’s reactions to the cancer roller-coaster, there are sections from the point of view of his wife, Nancy, and the reader is privy to some of her emotions, which also seem to careen wildly at times.

The chapter on medications alone is well worth the price of the book. It details the pros and cons of many medications, such as Avastin, which had been touted as a life-saving drug but lost its FDA approval in 2011.

There were so many medications that came and went that Woody wrote, “The drug debates were giving me a mental whiplash not unlike the impact of being rear ended in the middle of a seven-car crash.”

Several chapters cover the results of research over many years, much of it conflicting, as to the causes of breast cancer. In fact, the information is so varied that Woody wrote, "The causes are about as impossible to pinpoint as locating weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was.”

Some of the messages that rang out clearly for me as I read the book were:

• These feelings are normal.
• Even after successful treatment, fear is still always there.
   While humor can definitely ease stress, anxiety can be malignant.
   Focus on staying healthy.
   False information is rampant.
   Don’t wait. You can never be sure there will be a tomorrow.

I highlighted a lot of the book for future reference, and one of the lines I especially liked was, “Human hope is a wondrous thing to stash in your back pocket.”

I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Zero Breast Cancer provides new perspective

Art show features symbolic hats that show cancer also can evoke many positive feelings 

This is my first-ever hurry-up, wake-up and smell the roses or coffee or something-else-wonderful call-to-action.

It's all about an art exhibit.

And about hats.

But you only have two days to experience it before it disappears from The Marin Society of Artists' upper gallery, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Ross, adjacent to the Marin Art & Garden Center.

The exhibit, titled "The Zero Breast Cancer Hat Collection," closes Jan. 24, 2015.

So you only have tomorrow and Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m.

On display are hats — fascinating art pieces —created by the Plexus Arts Group, a slice of a 38-hat collection on loan from the permanent display housed at the Zero Breast Cancer offices, 4340 Redwood Highway, Suite C400, San Rafael.

The hats, which are a distinct pleasure to observe (and touch), are symbolic and prove to me that cancer needed be limited to negative feelings.

Items such as these assuredly can make patients and caregivers feel good.

The collection, according to the ZBC, was made in response "to the breast cancer recurrence of their fellow artist," the late Roni Peskin Mentzer. When she was re-diagnosed, the art group "wanted to do something to support her. Roni suggested that they create hats that would be beautiful pieces of art."

So they did.

My wife, Nancy Fox, heroine of my VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," which is aimed at both male caregivers and patients of any life-threatening disease, knew Roni.

She says she was "a very creative person."

ZBC regularly makes the collection available, free, to breast cancer and women's health conferences and art exhibits.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Social networks to feature VitalityPress blog

Blog items will be replicated, duplicated, copied to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

My VitalityPress blog items will — as of this very second — automatically be posted to my accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I hope.

In a sense, and if the technology doesn't glitch up, my items will be replicated, will be replicated, will be replicated like an old mimeograph machine gone bonkers, gone bonkers, gone bonkers.

That, my friends and neighbors, is what's called progress!

Ergo, if you want to read these items a second time, or a third, or a fourth, check 'em out anywhere.

And if you only want to read one once, do it here, please — and follow me, follow me, follow me. (I'm just asking, not begging, in case you were worried about my mental status or repetitiousness.)

Also, in case you didn't hear me the first 3,869 times, please read "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

It's available through your favorite bookstore, at Amazon and about a zillion other places.

The book is aimed at male caregivers, but women with the disease can also learn a lot — especially what the men in their lives may experience as a sidekick to someone battling a serious illness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weekly boosts breast cancer caregiving book

San Francisco paper bolsters 'Rollercoaster,' male caregiver's guide to light at tunnel's end

Woody and Nancy now

Like welcome magic, the first full-length newspaper feature about “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer” has appeared.

The print version was published Jan. 10, 2015. 

An online edition followed.

Editors put an intriguing headline on the piece: A memoir about cancer from the other side of the bed.

Here's the story, reprinted by permission in its entirety:

by liz harris, staff writer

Their love story is sweet and also remarkable: Woody Weingarten and Nancy Fox met as teenagers in New York and vowed eternal love. They dated for a while and then, questioning their commitment, cut it off and completely lost touch.
Decades later, after a chance meeting in Mill Valley, their love rekindled. At midlife, they became husband and wife.
Seven years into their marriage, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Life became a wild ride.
In “Rollercoaster,” a book 20 years in the making, Weingarten offers an unblinking look at how breast cancer affected him and Fox from diagnosis to the present day. Its primary focus is to help male caregivers through the process, thus the subtitle: “How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer.”

“Rollercoaster” is also meant to help others navigate the emotional and physical ups and downs, as well as the mountains of confusing medical studies and different treatment options, that come with the disease.

Today life is good, Weingarten declares during an interview in the couple’s sun-drenched hilltop home in San Anselmo. With Fox cancer free for many years, they travel, enjoy a busy social life and pursue lifelong passions. Weingarten, 77, who retired in 2007 after 24 years as managing editor of J. (formerly the Jewish Bulletin), still writes for local newspapers and is working on a new book. Fox, 75, a pianist whose white baby grand piano is the focal point of their living room, still performs at local retirement homes, senior centers and JCCs.

Weingarten acknowledges that “Rollercoaster” isn’t exactly an easy read, but he believes it is a valuable one.

“My major aim is to help people — men whose partners have any life-threatening disease,” he says. “What you go through. What you can expect.”

He utilized his journalism skills to craft a love story/“memoir-chronicle” and comprehensive resource for anyone affected by breast cancer, with current, meticulously researched information on medications, scientific studies and helpful resources.

He also includes a short list of books written for partners of breast cancer patients. “In the last 15 years there have been 15 books published by [and for] men,” he says, while noting that “most of them are way out of date, not well written.”

Weingarten’s book is “positive,” he says. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” It also is sprinkled with humor. In fact, asked for the most important piece of advice he can give

Friday, January 9, 2015

Caregivers have each other's backs — always

'Rollercoaster' author and wife turn caregiving and love into a permanent lifestyle choice

I, Woody Weingarten, always have my wife's back. 

And she, Nancy Fox, always has mine.

To whimsically stretch the metaphoric cliché, we always have each other's fronts and sides as well.

Much of that's been chronicled in my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

Its focus is caregiving.

For Nancy and me, that's a lot more than a word — it's a lifestyle choice, one we insist on making every day.

Sunrise view from hot tub in San Anselmo.
Ever since Nancy's diagnosis 20 years ago we've started every a.m. with a soft kiss, trading the phrase "Good morning, I love you."

We never add a "too."

Just an unadorned "Good morning, I love you" in each direction.

We met the first time almost 60 years ago.

The second time, the one that stuck, didn't happen until nearly 30 years later. 

Totally across the country.

We've now been married 27 years, and still make sure we spend a quiet 10 minutes each morning in non-sexual intimacy. 

Chatting. Touching. Smiling.

A lot of times the ritual takes place in the hot tub behind our San Anselmo home. Watching a sunrise.

Sometimes we sit in our deck chairs. Or on our living room couch. Or reclining in bed. The location doesn't matter; the good feelings do.

Sometimes we're silent. Sometimes we list the positive things in our lives. Sometimes we verbalize our love.

At night now and then, we climb into the hot tub and check out the twinkling stars or glowing yellow moon. Those occasions underscore the day's tendernesses.

We've never labeled exactly what we do. But I just thought of something that fits:

Each of us is a love whisperer.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Turning New Year's Day into Thanksgiving

Author offers a tribute to all 'Rollercoaster' purchasers and to all readers of this blog

New Year's Eve fireworks.
As I, Woody Weingarten, relaxed at home in San Anselmo this morning, I realized I needed to turn New Year's Day into a copycat Thanksgiving — because I'm so grateful for so many people for so many things.


First of all, I want to thank every buyer of my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

And every reader of this blog.

And every individual who helped the blog and book (now available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats through your favorite bookstore or Amazon) become a reality.

I also want to express my gratitude to the many members of BAIPA (the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) who handed me significant tip after significant tip after significant tip over the past year.

Then there's the small army of encouragers — men and women, way beyond my extended family, who believed in my success even when my belief in myself was shaky.

"Rollercoaster," which aims to benefit both male caregivers and patients, isn't quite a best-seller yet.

But sales are growing slowly and steadily.

Am I at all worried? No. My potential audience is enormous.

According to The New York Times, there are 35 million caregivers in the United States. Other sources double that figure.

In theory at least, each one might be a future reader.

Moreover, I have yet to promote "Rollercoaster" to medical associations, hospitals and libraries.

And as several friends and aides keep reminding me, "When you think of how this book will succeed, visualize a marathon, not a sprint."