Lisa Donaldson is a regular poster on WordCloud, where she is known as Autumn. I met her at York, where she showed me an excerpt from the book she has written, recording her journey from cancer diagnosis, through treatment and to the point where she declares that 'she had cancer but cancer no longer has me'.
I could see at a glance that Lisa's book was compelling and well-written. The first agent she pitched it to said that it was gripping and asked for the full MS. But, knowing the way the industry operates, I had some concerns. I remember Dina Rabinovitch (a well-known and highly respected journalist, who sadly died in 2007) being told by one publisher that they 'already had their cancer book for that year'. I knew that Lisa's book would speak to many people and had the potential to attract a wide readership. But was she ready for the bruising encounters that are implicit in seeking a traditional publishing deal?
In our conversation, Lisa took me back to her reasons for writing the book:
- She wanted to record her experiences.
- She wanted to share them with people in similar positions and their families and friends.
- She wanted to make money for charity.
- She wanted to write a complete book.
It was clear to me that she'd achieved all those aims except the one where her book was available to others to read. Actually, she'd achieved an additional and very special one. Writing, she said, had helped her to find her voice. Following an online course, she has decided to turn her hand to writing commercial fiction.
In order to ensure her first book was 'out there', Lisa has made it available to read on her website. All she asks is that people make a donation via JustGiving, where all the money will go towards Breast Cancer Care. You can do that here.
So, go on, what are you waiting for? Read the book. Think about what this project means to Lisa and how little she's asking of you. Tell others about it. And then go and donate. It's not much to ask, is it?
And now for something completely different ...
I recently spent a glorious weekend with a bunch of Wonderful Women Writers. Yes, WWW is appropriate as I would never have met any of them in real life if it wasn't for t'internet.
One of them was Helen Hunt, who blogs here. Helen has virtually cornered the market for short stories. (She's also very, very lovely.) It seems like hardly a week goes past without hearing she has had another story accepted by a woman's magazine.
She has decided to share her expertise, and believe me, no one is more qualified to show people what the market requires and how to craft stories for magazines. Keeping the costs ridiculously low IMO, she will be running one day workshops. For £30 (!!!) you will have access to one of the most successful WOMAG short story writers around, plus lunch and a critique of a story submitted in advance.
Get in quick! The course takes place in Northampton on 30th July. If it's successful, Helen hopes to repeat the course in Sept. Details here.