A story of courage – and how you can help!

Eric and Tj pic

I got my royalty statement, and I would like to thank both my reader and my publisher. The windfall of your generosity makes it possible for me to spread the love and contribute some more to the Eric Alvin fund.

The donation link is below – but let me get you caught up on this amazing story first. Eric Alvin and TJ Klune are both writers, and they fell in love. They got engaged, and it all looked on the up and up until Eric couldn’t feel his leg sometime before Christmas. Then he had trouble breathing. Only days later, he was scheduled for the removal of a benign tumor off his brain stem. His choice was to remain on a respirator for the rest of his life, or risk death, paralysis, and all those awful things that come with brain surgery. He didn’t hesitate. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” was his immediate battle cry. And battle he did.

His partner, TJ, stood by him as best he could, juggling his day job and the 4-hour drive between his home and the facility where Eric resided. He shared his struggle with his readers and fellow writers, and a support effort was born. A group of friends and family took turns driving, taking time off, and staying over so that Eric didn’t have to be alone.

Gas adds up. Hotel bills can be astronomical. Taking time off work can go only so far. Two things have happened since: Eric’s and TJ’s friends started a donation campaign to help offset the significant medical and care expenses associated with the support effort. Also, since Eric’s care in a respiratory hospital was severely lacking and TJ couldn’t take any more time off work, Eric was moved from Virginia to Ohio, closer to his family.

Moving a patient on a respirator is expensive, and the community of writers and readers pitched in again. I did, too. The story was compelling and heart-rending – if you were ever in a long-distance relationship, you know how hard it is to under the best of circumstances, and these are not it. Moving Eric halfway across the country occurred just about when I submitted “Broken Gait,” the sequel to “Wild Horses,” to my publisher. Every time  I do that, I reward myself by buying a book or a few, and reading for a while. I didn’t know Eric and TJ at all – I only read the good books written by their helpful friends.

“My purchases will increase their royalties,” I said to myself. “If I’m going to buy something, I might as well find out if TJ and Eric are any good.” (Remember, I didn’t know their books won awards at the time.)

And, boy oh boy, are they ever so good! I’d like to recommend both of them for a compelling read, not only because they can use the money, but because they are worth reading.

TJ Klune’s “Bear, Otter and the Kid” sucked me in like nothing else to date. I was held in thrall, caring for these characters, unable to put my e-reader down. There is a special immediacy to TJ’s writing. He crawls into the skull of his characters and stays there, and you see what they see, you feel what they feel, you love whom they love. This intensity would be overwhelming, were it not broken up buy judicious doses of humor and tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation. This is not just a romance – it’s a psychodrama, an adventure, a love story. It’s as cross-genre as it gets, and I love every single generous word of it.

Eric Alvin has a different writer’s voice. He’ll build the tension up, he’ll get you to where you’re seriously into it, and then the character will reveal an opinion about some everyday little thing that’s so tongue-in-cheek, you have to laugh even though the people on the page are approaching the Pit of Despair. The writing in Eric’s “Galley Proof” is brilliant and the words are unstinting in their texture and depth. You are there, you see it and you feel it, and there is beauty in the world.

I have travelled far in this Facebook-driven drama of love and recovery. My starting point was “Oh hell, I’d go crazy if something like that happened to one of mine – let’s see what I can do to help.” I am not at the end-point yet – that will come when Eric beats this thing with his his courage and his grit. Of that, he has plenty. He sat up yesterday for the first time in a month or so. He spoke, and he moved his foot, so things are looking on the up and up again. He will walk to the altar on November 8th and marry TJ, and they will live happily ever after. There will be texture and depth to their story, there will be the inevitable snags in the plot. It will be hard – but their love will persevere, and their loyal cohort of friends and readers will keep pitching in, be it by donating cash, or by recommending their books to readers yet unknown.

Please consider donating to the Eric Alvin fund. It’s good karma. And check out their books on the Dreamspinner Press website. (Incidentally, the publisher is running a 25% off winter sale now, so hurry.) I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


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