A Late Mesothelioma Awareness Day

A Late Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Hello everyone! My publicist, Sebastian Starcevic, has agreed to guest post this for me, as I didn’t have any time to do so myself since it required research. Even so, I did promise to have this post for Cameron Von St. James, so here it is! Although it is no longer Mesothelioma Awareness Day, it is still important to spread word about this aggressive form of cancer. The woman depicted below is a survivor of it.

From left to right: Cameron Von St. James, Lily, and Heather.

Mesothelioma. It’s difficult enough to say out loud, but what about treating the disease? It’s not easy. In fact, there isn’t even a reliable cure. Surgery and chemotherapy or radiation therapy might improve the prognosis, but with only about 2500 – 3000 people diagnosed in the United States every year, it’s extremely hard to find evidence-based statistics.
What is it?

An aggressive cancer affecting the lungs, mesothelioma is the most deadly out of all the asbestos-related diseases. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and is mostly documented in working class men, though women and children are still affected, and could be in danger of secondary exposure – e.g. asbestos sticking to clothes.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may include chest pain, chronic cough, and coughing up blood. A body imaging scan, such as MRI, CT or PET, is necessary to diagnose the disease.

Heather and daughter Lily.

Want to help?

September 26 was Mesothelioma Awareness Day, but you can still spread awareness about the crippling disease by sharing this post, telling friends and requesting an info pack at: www.mesothelioma.com.
We were asked by a caregiver and staunch supporter to be a voice for victims of mesothelioma. Our hearts go out to people affected by this disease.

–Sebastian Starcevic

The Beauty of Romance as a Sub-genre

The Beauty of Romance as a Sub-genre

Some time ago I wrote a post on my least favorite genre, which is romance. I don’t like pure romance books because it seems a prerequisite for writing one is to have crap happen that muddles a relationship, and then it ends happily-ever-after. It’s not that I don’t believe that happy relationships aren’t possible, because I am in one myself, but it’s very formulaic. If I know they’re going to get together in the end, I frankly don’t give a crap what happens in the book to bring them up to that point because I basically know the ending, mmkay? I think romance is a sweet, beautiful thing, but if the outcome is predictable, I will not bother with the book. Period. And, really, most of the outcomes are predictable because romance is a wish-fulfillment genre. But the beauty about romance as a sub-genre is that the plot can do anything to that romance, and you have no idea what it’s going to be.

I am about to spoil The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, so if you have not read it and want to read it, I suggest not reading this next part. The primary genre of this book is basically sick lit, even though it is shelved in your basic teen fiction and is considered literature.The Fault in Our Stars.jpg But it is also a tragic romance, which I didn’t know upon picking up the book. I knew there was romance in it, muddled by cancer and teen things, but I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I began reading it.

This has become one of my favorite books of all time partly because of the sick lit and partly because of the romance as sub-genre.

As I began reading the book, I melted at the sweet romance, but I also began to realize this romance wasn’t going to end well, but I had no idea who it wasn’t going to end well for and why. Hazel has stage IV thyroid cancer and Gus is an amputee whose cancer is in remission. Now John Green masterfully creates foreshadow to show who is going to bear what tragedy, but it is symbolism that you have to really pay attention to. As the end of the book draws near, Gus’s cancer returns and it is Hazel who must bear the tragedy of witnessing Gus’s dying. This was completely unpredictable because Gus’s cancer had been in remission for a while and even though Hazel is on a treatment plan that has kept her cancer at bay, her lungs were basically useless, so she has to carry around an oxygen tank, and she still struggles with her cancer in ways Gus daoesn’t have to struggle with his. So Gus dies at the end, a rather horrific death, let’s be honest, and your feelings have been left slaughtered and bloody because you spend x amount of pages reading the romance between Hazel and Gus, only for the sick lit aspect of the book to tear it apart. It is sad and tragic, but Hazel draws strength from the tragedy and knows she can survive it.

TFIOS has made me fall in love with romance as a sub-genre because, really, the main genre can send the romance spiraling in a thousand different directions that romance as a genre doesn’t seem to do. And the romance itself can really muddle the main plot in a thousand delectable ways.

Do you remember some time ago when I said that When Stars Die’s sequel was not going to have romance? Well, I’m back to working on it now and have discovered that there is some romance. It’s not as much as WSD, but there is still romance in it and I have decided to keep it because, well, a lot of crap happens to Alice, and she deserves something amongst all the crappiness. But, of course, the romance aspect is completely unpredictable. I don’t even know where my MC and her love interest are going to end up. But I hesitate to say that this one can be defined as paranormal romance like WSD can be. This one will just be flat out paranormal. Possibly paranormal suspense.

Once I finish with the Stars trilogy and this contemporary fantasy, I am going to start on a sick lit, sort of tragic romance book myself. I’m thinking of doing a novel-length alternative version of a YA contemporary short story I did last month. But that won’t be for some time–but I’ll probably start outlining it anyway just so it’s there.




I Am the Bell Jar

I Am the Bell Jar

Everyone, I have finished edits for When Stars Die–at least, as much as I can edit. It’s not done yet. It’ll still have to go through copy edits, but it’s getting closer to completion, and I frankly can’t wait. I am so tired of looking at this dang book that it’s just one giant blur. I can’t wait until its in he hands of readers, and then the book becomes their responsibility, and it’s no longer mine.

I have also finished the rough draft of a short story I have titled “I Am the Bell Jar,” which is a part of a secret project. I am doing re-writes of it now as we speak. Then I’ll proofread or whatever and send it off to a beta reader. Afterward, I’ll get back to When Heaven Was Blue. I had hoped to finish WHWB before classes started, but that isn’t going to happen; however, I am comfortable with the idea of working on it during the semester. I just won’t be able to start the sequel to When Stars Die until December, but I can outline it. Luckily, the sequel to WSD is going to simply be a re-write. It won’t be a brand new draft or anything.

But this one, it’s not easy at all. It’s been a while since I’ve lost someone (human) that I care deeply about. I think I’m numb or detached or something. I don’t think it has quite hit me that she’s gone. I’ve known for months that she’s had pancreatic cancer, but I had hope that the chemo would do something and that she’d bounce back from it simply because she herself was just strong. She even held on in her final moments.

I visited her while she was in the hospital. She was in a coma. I don’t think I knew what to feel even then. I was shocked. I know that much. She was unrecognizable, and I had never seen anyone that way before. My parents never brought me to any of my loved one’s funerals because they were afraid I’d be scarred, but, the truth is, no matter how old you are, you can never be prepared to see someone you care deeply about so destroyed by their own dying. There is no preparation for that. Even seeing it a thousand times doesn’t seem like it’d prepare you.

Sure, I’ve cried a little bit here and there, but I just haven’t broken down. Not yet, anyway. I suppose I’m just waiting for it to really sink in. I heard about her death over the phone, after all. I plan to go to her funeral.

I know I don’t feel great, but I can’t even describe how I feel.