We got the news that a cousin and dear friend was going to have surgery for colon cancer. Then we got the news that the colon tumor was removed but they found spots on the liver and chemo would be necessary. When I went to the PO the next day, worried about our cousin, I found one of those glossy brochures that usually advertise something I don't need or can't afford and end up in the PO recycling bin but this time my eye caught the word "cancer" in the upper left hand corner and I figured a donation to cancer research would be a way to garner some good karma for our cousin. When I opened the brochure I came face to face with the man who was my oncologist back in the mid nineties and a friend of my Dad's. He had died at the age of 92 and the brochure was a tribute to his life. Although I knew he worked with the a cancer research center I didn't realize he had founded it. I wrote my check in his memory to the research center with a little prayer asking my old Doc to inspire my cousin's doctors with all the knowledge they'd need to save our cousin's life as he had saved mine all those years ago.
Thinking about cancer reminded me of one of the priceless rewards of starting and working with The Wessex Collective. Shortly after Peter Burnham and I had decided to get this indie publishing endeavor going we heard from poet Laurel Speer, a friend of Peter's, asking if we'd take a look at a mss. by another friend, Paul Johnson. Paul was dying of an aggressive cancer detected too late and wanted to see his last novel published before he died. I was really relieved that The Marble Orchard was a really good book, a book we'd've been proud to publish regardless of the author's circumstances. We worked hard to get Marble Orchard out in time for Paul to hold it in his hand. We were pleased that he was pleased and I had the memorable pleasure of visiting Paul and his wonderful wife Fran in Las Vegas, NM. You have to admire a man who faces imminent death with such courage and humor. . . . and creative determination. Paul was so pleased to see Marble Orchard out there he decided to add one more novel to the opus he'd leave behind. City of Kings is a suspense novel but also a love song to his wife. Paul lived about a year longer than anyone including his doctors expected while he finished City of Kings and after he was satisfied with the editing he informed his Doctor he was ready to go, stop the treatments and about a week later he passed on content with what he'd accomplished.
I have often felt discouraged about my failure to garner sufficient recognition for the extremely worthy authors we've been privileged to publish and after such high hopes for this endeavor I have often felt I've let them down. But then I remember that Paul bravely faced painful chemo treatments (so painful it hurt his fingers to type) to finish one last book, a labor of love for his wife and he could do this with the faith that the book would be published by Wessex. The contribution Peter and I made to this last effort is a source of satisfaction and I am thinking I should have some faith also and not give up yet. Even as I write this a copy of City of Kings along with Night Voices by Helen Hudson, Envious Shadows by Peter Burnham, The Return by Margaret Guthrie and Little Bluestem by Brian Backstrand has been delivered to the A.R.T Dialog Literary Agency in Prague and we look forward to seeing these works translated and made available to readers in the Czech Republic.
As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, proceeds from the sales of our ebooks availble at:
https://secure.digitalcontentcenter.com/shop/627321/products will be donated to various causes. You can guess where proceeds from sales of City of Kings and/or The Marble Orchard will be sent.