Monday, October 20, 2014

Howl of the mechanical hound - Fahrenheit 451

 That's what my cough sounds like...

This past week has been difficult; at times frustrating, at others heartwarming. My return to social media was met with an outpouring I did not expect - with friends reconnecting on my new Facebook page, liking the new Underground Press page, and reengaging on other social outlets across the net. That has been awesome! It's good to be back and even better to be back in touch with old friends.

A couple of years ago my online friends, and the indie writer community in general, came together to support my son when he was diagnosed with leukemia. I am eternally grateful for that support. Many continue to this day; offering moral support to me and prayers and thoughts for my family. You guys are amazing! On my return everyone was asking how we are, and how Joshua is doing.

Joshua returned to school and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Philosophy. He still has about nine months of chemo left, he's had some medical issues and scared the hell out of us more than once, but all-in-all he is doing magnificently compared to those first few months of treatment. We're still taking it one day at a time, but we are starting to think about a future again – an actual time “after chemo.”

Last week I announced that The Underground Press would go non-profit to promote literacy, mainly by offering free books to cancer patients, but also through a variety of other literacy programs. I also announced a fundraiser to cover the cost of establishing The Underground Press as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which is quite high. My friends online rallied – shares, tweets, retweets, and posts spread the word around the interwebs.

You people rock! I didn't expect any of my dear friends who supported Joshua when he was first diagnosed, and made it possible for us to pay some of his medical bills and keep him in college, to donate to this fundraiser. You have already done more than enough for me and my family, but you folks jumped in even though I've been mostly AFK all week. I am so grateful to those of you who found time to repost, like, retweet, and promote The Underground Press as much as you have.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this has been a rough week. I announced the fundraiser Monday, Joshua's temperature went up Monday night while he and a few friends were at the coast. They had to cut the trip short and return home in the middle of the night. We rescheduled a meeting we had with the local children's hospital Tuesday to take Joshua to the doctor and drive his friends back to Greensboro. Wednesday, at the rescheduled meeting, we were told that bringing books to the kids and reading to them was probably not a great idea – we should “do a movie night and bring food or candy”! Thursday the flu hit me and I spent the end of the week in bed. I'm still hacking and coughing this morning, but I'll survive.

Apparently there isn't as much support for literacy as I had imagined, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging doctors to talk to parents about reading to their kids. I've seen a lot of talk in the media about a “crisis of literacy” and that kids are spending too much time on electronic devices and not enough on reading, but the government cut funding to RIF programs back in 2011 and continues to slash funding for education. We are told kids don't want books, they want movies, games, toys, and candy! Has anyone out there actually read Fahrenheit 451? Has Facebook become the modern equivalent of Ray Bradbury's “family”? Is that howling I hear in the distance?

As for me, I will keep chipping away at modern society's abandonment of literacy - one reader at a time if necessary. To my awesomely literary friends I say – Keep writing great books, there are a few of us still reading! I plan to get back to posting book reviews and publishing tips on my blog soon, so if you have a book coming out let me know. And there should be an announcement soon on The Underground Press page about upcoming literacy events in November. Stay tuned! We're going to get people reading again!


#UPLiteracy #Reader4Life

Monday, October 13, 2014

News Release ~ Underground Press Reader for Life

The Underground Press is proud to announce the formation of a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization for the promotion of literacy! Our initial project – Reader for Life – will provide books and emotional support to children and adults fighting cancer and other serious illness in local hospitals and clinics. In the future we plan to expand our scope to basic literacy, improving reading comprehension, and creative writing activities.

We need your help.

The Underground Press is currently running a fundraiser on – raising needed capital to cover the legal and administrative costs associated with filing necessary forms and paying fees to the State and IRS for certification of our tax exempt status. Chartering a nonprofit is an arduous and expensive endeavor. The funds raised will also be used to continue the Reader for Life program.

There are many ways you can help:

  1. Flood your social networks with links to the fundraiser page
  2. Tell your friends and family about The Underground Press
  3. Join us on and stir some buzz there
  4. Follow @UPRFL on twitter and RT our tweets
  5. Like us on Facebook and share with your friends
  6. Re-post this appeal on your blog or your FB notes
  7. Get the CrowdRise widget and post it on your blog
  8. Donate directly through one of our PayPal buttons
  9. Donate at CrowdRise through WePay
  10. Contact us to learn how you can donate books

My wife and I spent many hours in the hospital with our son while he was going through chemotherapy. A good book can be an anchor and a distraction to someone facing a life threatening disease. A journal can allow them to express things that are too hard to say. The sound of another human voice reading can be a comfort when they don't want to talk, but they don't want to be alone.

Please help us help others.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Plea for Help - Reader For Life - The Underground Press

Those of you who know me, or follow this blog, know my son was diagnosed with Leukemia (T-cell ALL) in January of 2012. The past few years have been a roller-coaster physically, emotionally and financially for all of us. For my son... I can't even imagine. But he's been stronger and more determined than I could have dreamed possible. His treatment continues for another nine months, yet in the midst of chemo, radiation, infections, surgeries, and transfusions he graduated Summa Cum Laude in Philosophy. 

Throughout the long days and nights at the hospital my wife and I often talked about what we would do once Joshua was well again and off to Grad School. We never had a doubt, or never allowed ourselves to think of any other outcome. We always came back to two things – we wanted to do something to help others like our son and to help other parents facing the whirlwind of information overload and life changing decisions cancer brings. Looking back I remember that first seventy-two hours; from stepping into the hospital, to Joshua's heart stopping.

We had taken Joshua to our family physician for what we thought was a sinus infection. He took blood and sent us to have a scan of Joshua's sinuses. The doctor called as we were driving there and told us to take Joshua straight to the hospital. Once there we were taken directly to the oncology ward and hell opened up. I remember doing the only thing I could do – reading hundreds of pages on leukemia and treatment options – while doctors ran a battery of tests. 

At Joshua's age he was in that dangerous gray area between child and adult. They had taken us to the adult oncology ward, but pediatric patients have much better outcomes than adults and young adults. The adult oncologist suggested placing him in a pediatric clinical trial – more information to digest – and we advised Joshua to go for it. With leukemia, as with many cancers, clinical trials are often the best hope for remission. The trial the doctor suggested had been ongoing for two years and showed a lot of promise.

Over the long months that followed we met others at the hospital who were experiencing that same seventy two hours of information overload, lack of sleep, and life changing decisions we went through – parents, spouses, family members. That is often how cancer presents, a diagnosis and a rush to treatment because time is critical – leukemia can lead to death in a matter of days. In my son's case he was in a clinical trial and receiving chemo within twenty-four hours of diagnosis. Then his heart stopped and his kidneys shut down.

In ICU my son had no less than fifteen IVs flowing into him, a breathing tube, and was connected to a dialysis machine. I did what I had done when he was a young child – I sat by his bed and read to him. In our family, books are an intimate part of our lives. We read to the kids from birth, and encouraged reading as they grew older. Books are why Joshua graduated Summa Cum Loude. Literature engages the mind and spirit in ways nothing else can. 

We are beginning to see some light at the end of this long dark tunnel. Joshua still has a long process of regaining his strength after chemo ends in nine months, but he is starting to make plans for his continued education and adult life. And so we are looking forward and bringing the plans together for our lives after chemo. Again, the hope is to help other young adults, children, adults, parents, and spouses who are facing the battle.

Three years ago my book “TheCollective” hit the best seller list on Amazon, my blog was popular with writers and readers alike and I had thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook. I haven't written much since then, nor had time to promote or keep up this blog very well. But as of September 24th, 2014 The Underground Press (my publishing company) has become a non-profit charitable organization promoting literacy. I have retired from my day job in construction management and will devote my full time to reading, writing, and promoting literacy. Our goal is to provide free books to cancer patients, read to patients, and organize events promoting literacy, reading comprehension, and creative writing / journaling in the community.

In the weeks ahead we will be organizing an online fundraiser to cover the fees associated with incorporating a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and to host our first event – reading to the kids at the local children's hospital and giving away free children's books. We are exited to get started, but I need your support. Please friend/like/follow The Underground Press on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. 

The online community was there for us when Joshua was diagnosed. The amazing Eden Baylee started “IndiesUnite for Joshua” and hundreds of indie authors, publishers, and readers joined in to help. Now it's time for me to pay it back in some small way. Help me get this organization started so we can help others as we've been helped. Now get the buzz on. ;-)