I’ve asked a few people I respect to look at the current book I’m writing, but before I describe it, I’d like to share a few sentences about my last book, to show I have some experience with story-telling. My last book is called Walking Out of the Dark and is about the time my brother lost his sight and attended a school for blind adults. That’s sad stuff, but blindness didn’t keep him from making people laugh, taking risks, and falling in love. My novel captured much of that, and I’m happy to say it has 4½ stars on Amazon, based on over 20 reviews.
It was so much fun writing that book that I have to write more. My current book is about getting advanced cancer and cycling across the US, but this time, it happened to my brother’s brother, me. That’s sad stuff, but it didn’t keep me from making people laugh, taking risks, and falling in love.
The pictures below show some of the story I’m writing. One of the pictures shows a woman cycling with red panniers/saddle bags. That picture is special because she’s wearing a cast after breaking her arm on the first day of the ride, which was also her 60th birthday. She told a doctor to put on a cast that allowed her to cycle. She wore that cast for the first 1,000 miles of our ride. Another picture shows my Garmin with the number 51.46, my fastest speed. A final picture worth mentioning is where I’m pointing at a thermometer, in Hell’s Canyon. It was 100 degrees in the shade. These pictures show a lot, but a lot more happened on that ride.
I have some skills with writing, but I think my strongest skill is getting comments on my writing from people I respect and carefully considering those comments. They’ve led to cutting entire chapters. That was hard, but I’m thankful for the comments that led to it.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from my first book is to make it hard for a reader to stop reading. I try very hard to make each page engaging—without exaggerating. I also make it easy for people to give me comments. Each chapter starts with issues for reviewers to consider, and each chapter contains a few questions embedded in it for reviewers to answer.
I appreciate that you’ve read this much, and if you can send me a few comments, I appreciate that even more. Each chapter is summarized below with a link to the entire chapter. You can pick which one(s) you’d like to read.
Chapter 1 has been reviewed a few times, and it’s sadder than the rest. If you’d like to start at a later chapter, Chapter 3 is also a good starting point. Important: The links below sometimes do not work in Chrome. If you’re asked for a password, try a different web browser.
Ch 1: 3 Years
This and the next chapter are pretty sad since they occur when and soon after my cancer spread. These chapters have made people cry, but in my writing and in my life, I can’t stay sad for too long. Life is still wonderful, literally full of wonder. Too much sadness makes us miss special moments, especially laughing with special people. This chapter has that too.
Link to Ch 1 v15a: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5RkeQRdPUlhEWcPdhbqg?e=BFlEr7
Ch 2: Spirit
This chapter shows how I dealt with my sadness with an intense bike-ride. I wrote it in a way that tries to make you feel what I felt, on my bike, in my muscles, and with my emotions. This chapter is also sad, re-reading it still makes me cry. The chapter refers to a knot of emotions that I’m untangling. Many of the emotions come from getting used to a new lifestyle with cancer, maybe a short life, but emotions about my dad also come out. We were very close. Like me, he was the youngest in his family and had cancer first. He lasted 3 months, after the diagnosis. Even though it’s sad, this is one of my favorite chapters, since it went in directions I never expected.
Link to Ch2 v31: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5Rke4KTuiM8732ypxj2w?e=i3pTvn
Ch 3: Only a Bit Broken
Ch 3 starts with me and my girlfriend exchanging little jokes in a small exam room, in a hospital. For me, the more serious something is, the more I need to laugh a little. In this exam room, things were serious because I was sure my oncologist would recommend chemo, and with my cancer, that’s usually the beginning of the end. My oncologist did recommend chemo, which was hard to hear. I cried, and my girlfriend helped. After a big surprise, my treatment changed from chemo to a new medication. With that news, I decided to cycle across the US, since my cancer could still get bad again. Later in the chapter, I’m at the start of the ride, and I realize my bike is a bit broken too.
Link to Ch3 v11: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5Rjooc34QcYdlKF5TqsQ?e=6xeJSR
Ch 4: Starting a 4,000 Mile Ride
This chapter starts late in the morning when I’m trying to wake up, with little success. My girlfriend tries helping with some playful texts. I reply that I’m still in bed because I didn’t sleep well, which happens more because of my medication. Later in the chapter, I meet the group I’d be cycling with. They really are ordinary people with extraordinary stories, similar to my story of cycling across the US with advanced cancer.
Link to Ch4 v10: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5RkeYS3-uQdxPZstQ_5Q?e=eijymx
Ch 5: Journey’s Sharp Turn
Ch 5 opens when I’m coasting into a campsite and hear the words, “Hello Steven” from a woman with a German accent. I had no idea who she was, and while talking with her, I felt more attraction than I’d felt since getting cancer. I didn’t know I could feel that attraction again, partly since shutting off my testosterone was my primary cancer treatment. She’s a teacher who took a sabbatical and travelled the world for a year—by bike, backpacking, and by herself. That fascinated me, but she also had a very independent spirit, which was why she travelled the world alone. The chapter ends the next morning when I see her cycle away by herself.
Link to Ch5 v21: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5Ri6YiU5yJxdTia1Zq-Q?e=xYhdoY
Ch 6: A Good Lost Cause
I try catching up to the German woman, but she’s very far ahead. After not seeing her, I “get into the zone” of cycling on a bike tour, from endorphins. I’m in Virginia, and a lot of American history happened on the exact roads I was cycling on. In this chapter, I try to bring you with me on this ride while I think about and feel that history. The chapter ends with a surprise I don’t want to share here.
Link to Ch6 v13: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5Rke9Wvy2BXC6kD5R7Bw?e=SAtpbd
Ch 7: Dark and Light
Anna and I go swimming and share more stories of our travels. I was surprised that my attraction to her grew. Part of that feeling was seeing her in a swimsuit, but I wasn’t supposed to have that reaction anymore because I had no testosterone for months. Feeling attracted to her also leads to strong feelings of guilt because my girlfriend Sara.
Link to Ch7 v8: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AvS-D-m9Ul5RlqQhG83MyTDcMPJeLQ?e=85vYoK