Somebody Stop Me

You know how I mentioned in passing I have my little book project I’m working on?  Well it’s starting to come together and in the back of my brain, I’m starting to think about next steps – like finding someone to publish it.  And this?  This is what happens when I’m left alone for more than six hours with an empty fridge and an ample wine supply.

Dear Secret Identity Publishing Rockstar Lady,

I’m a thirty-four year old cancer survivor that loves sarcasm and the occasional dick joke — but only if it’s a really funny dick joke. I’m also writing a book called Lymphomania about kicking cancer’s ass, and how cancer occasionally kicks back.

I think there’s humor in everything: life, death, war, peace…and cancer, especially cancer. Fortunately for me, I’m surrounded by friends and family that subscribe to the same theory. When I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2008, there was an unspoken pact amongst us that we would not stop laughing. As cliché as it sounds, you really either laugh or you cry — and only one of those things leaves you with a monster headache and globs of snot caked on your upper lip.

According to the latest stats, one out of three people will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. Seeing as how I’ve already knocked that hurdle out of the way, you should probably pick me to be in your group of three. Consider it my little thank you and a bribe to convince you to publish my book.

Maybe Neil Patrick Harris can round out our threesome. I’m obsessed with him and I bet you and I could convince him to help promote this book in exchange for cancer immunity. See? We make a great team already.

Cancer is a hugely important and weighty issue. This book is not about making light of cancer — it’s about finding the light in cancer, the shining moments that make the struggle to defeat The Creeping Death a little easier and remind us why we’re even bothering to try. If you’re not a patient yourself, it’s a chance to get a little insight and perspective on what your friend or sister or spouse is going through. If you’re just a hermit that’s never been affected by the disease, there’s still some really funny bald jokes in there just for variety.

This isn’t a guide to surviving cancer. It’s not even a guide to dealing with cancer. I guess it’s not a guide at all. It’s just a collection of snapshots, essays designed to capture a moment in time and the barrage of characters and emotions within that moment. And it will make the reader smile, at least occasionally.

A blogger myself, I’m a huge fan of [Superstar blogger who’s name I won’t include so you can’t figure out the literary goddesses true identity]. So when I read you were representing her, I decided to drink a couple bottles of wine and somehow scrounge up the courage to send you this letter. If you decide not to file a restraining order, I’d love to send you a sample chapter or perhaps a formal book proposal.

Thanks for your indulgence!

Warm Regards,


Dear Elly:
I’m incredibly flattered by your letter, you’ve clearly done your homework…unfortunately I think this would be tough for me. Without sounding incredibly crass, non-prescriptive books about cancer are very difficult, and while some have gotten a lot of attention (CANCER VIXEN, etc.) the sales haven’t been what you would think given the huge audience.  So I’m sorry, wish I was writing with better news, but best of luck in finding a home for your work.  If you’re a [Superstar blogger who’s name I’m still not including] fan it sounds like you have a great sense of humor so I’m sure it’s great.


Secret Identity Publishing Rockstar Lady

Dear Secret Identity Publishing Rockstar Lady,

I too am incredibly flattered that you took the time to reply to an unsolicited email from an unsolicited author.  Thanks so much for indulging me.

To your point, I worry that the cancer niche is somewhat saturated, but I like to believe the uniqueness and honesty of my story will help this work transcend the cancer genre.  Then again, I like to believe that Sting and John Cusack occasionally get together for a beer to discuss my staggering wit and beauty, so I may be somewhat overly optimistic.

In all seriousness, thanks for the time you’ve personally given me, and for the work you’ve done for the world of avid readers.  You make the book store (and my bedside table) a better place.  Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

Warm regards,


E: you really should try and get an agent, while I’m not biting I’m sure other editors would — but as you know, most of them don’t respond to unsolicited emails.

Secret Identity Publishing Rockstar Lady

As if you needed further proof I shouldn’t be left to my own devices.  Also I might need to install some of that drunk-proofing software on my electronic devices, eh?


  1. Dear Secret Identity Publishing Rockstar Lady,

    Please feel free to forward my hilarious email to some of them that you might know.

    Or Neil Patrick Harris.

    Whoever comes first.

  2. Well call me optimistic but that does sound like a good start. I mean you got a RESPONSE! Maybe next time cut out the middle man and go straight to Neil Patrick Harris and have his awesome do the rest. I mean he IS God, no?

    If it matters at all, I’d buy your book. And if I was struggling with the terror of finding out I had a potentially lethal condition, I’m sure I’d find great solace and amusement in it and that maybe I wasn’t so alone after all.

    What no sarcasm? No! Deal with it. 🙂

  3. I love this exchange! You have more moxy than Sting and Trudie Styler COMBINED and while I was a little sad that the minotaur isn’t in this story you must keep sending out inquiries left, right and center.
    Just make sure that once you get the literary agent you don’t start using them as a “buffer” to keep the common folk like myself away.
    There isn’t an agent powerful enough to loosen my grip from around your pantleg.

    1. Okay I just read Tom’s reply and now I know that MOXIE is not spelled moxy. This is why hangers on like myself without the gift of proper spelling probably aren’t helping the cause here.
      I’ll try harder, I promise.

  4. This made me smile – the fact that you want to write that book and the exchanges. I hope you find someone willing to bite 🙂

  5. Dearest Elly, it takes a lot of courage to take that one step. You did it! When I read this, I remembered the news story of Kurt Vonnegut’s library/museum opening up in Indiana. (And yes, we need to make a trip together there one day!)

    “Edie Vonnegut, who is loaning the library some of her father’s rejection letters, says Vonnegut loved libraries and would have wanted aspiring writers to see how difficult the route to publication could be.

    “We have boxes of rejection letters, letters saying ‘You have no talent and we suggest you give up writing’,” she told the Associated Press. “He did not have an easy time of it, and I think for anyone who wants to be a writer it will be important for them to see how tough it was for him.”

    We are all here rooting for you. Holding you. Like your most-trusted bras. Love.

  6. You’ve got spunk, kid! Just because she doesn’t see the awesome doesn’t mean the next one or the next one or the next one won’t. Try the agent! He’ll have you on Conan O’Brian with NPH in no time!


    Publish it yourself and start selling it here!

  7. If you can kick cancer’s ass then finding an editor who will publish your fantabulousness (yes, I made that up) should be considered done, or my vagina doesn’t look like a taco.

  8. Will you autograph my copy when your book is published? Try to work in a reference to that time we vajazzled together or something so people know we’re best buds and it’s not just one of those impersonal autographs you get after standing two hours in a lineup at the mall bookstore, okay?

    1. Seriously. Are you on a full court press to seduce me lately or what? Do you always have the perfect response to everything? Can we spoon and watch silly kitty videos?

  9. I like your Moxie girl! I totally agree with Toy with Me. if you have the perseverance, and humor to survive cancer and come away wanting to write this book, then a bunch of publishing weenies won’t stop you from becoming the superstar we all know you to be.

    If I’m one of the first 100 people to buy the book will you throw in a copy of your first Album?

  10. Also? I think that was the best possible response to get other than the “Here’s your 2 mil advance to take all of your family and bloggy friends to an island retreat to write this FANTASTIC book!” response.

    1. Yeah I can’t complain. She was absolutely lovely to even indulge my email. Now if I could just get motivated, finish this shit, and start slutting. I’m just in a rut at the moment. Hoping that it’ll be easier to write again after Tuesday.

  11. I can’t wait to read your book! Perhaps if we ALL started sending letters WITH you? A barage of letters from your already devoted friends might be hard to ignore. As would the threats of violence. I’m in!

  12. 1) When you get your book published, I will then be sending drunk emails to YOUR publisher, so this is a natural cycle.

    2) I realized when you didn’t leave me a comment on my monsters presentation that I now rely on your constant validation, you’re my crutch! I need you to tell me it’s okay! This is obviously unhealthy, and I should find some other blogger to seduce, but I just can’t quit you.

    1. You can decide which dead insects to cast for the film version of my book. Though I refuse to be a praying mantis. Or a stink bug. Anything else is fair game.

  13. All I normally do when left up to my own devices is pig out on mac & cheese. Bad habit, don’t ask. You, on the other hand took a step towards your dream. Bravo! Don’t give up.

    PS: Can you imagine how blogs would get if they did install breathalysers on computers & other electronics? I shudder to think.

  14. “Unsolicited emails” or “unsolicited inquiries.” Could a writer hate a phrase MORE?! Actually, I also hate the phrase “pig fat” and most phrases used by my former boss, but still, I HATE it when publishers say “unsolicited” anything. It’s actually better when they don’t even respond. Okay yeah. I’m a little bitter.

    1. I hate it when people use the word noodle as a verb.

      I’m thrilled she responded at all, honestly. Maybe all my query letters should have the phrase “dick joke” in them. I might try to work in “pig fat” just for good measure.

    2. I just send them back a note telling them that I am really busy at the moment, and don’t have time to accept unsolicited rejection letters, but that perhaps if they sent their letter to a lesser writer they might have better luck.

  15. Having been brought into the inner sanctum of this email exchange earlier, my favorite thing to read above were all the comments. Your peeps rock, and are spot on. Your book is going to blow the doors off. Special nod to Tom G and his quite accurate reference to “publishing weenies.” May they drown in their single-sided printouts and overstocked Corporate pantries.

  16. You have balls woman. Big arse balls that put me to shame. Mind you I don’t know how you walk or sit with such a big package, but those practicalities are outweighed by their impressiveness.

    I’m happy to organise your down under book tour. I think it should be called “The Happy Motherfucking Booze Time Tour”, complete with ukes and vagina cupcakes.

  17. Elly, I was in a little coffee shop in Brazil last weekend putting the final details on my manifesto, and I overheard Sting, John Cusack AND Bono discussing your staggering wit, beauty, and phenomenal uke playing. Then Neil Patrick Harris walked in and said, “Oh-are you guys talking about Elly? Can I join in”. No. Lie.

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