Friday, July 17, 2015

Dear Kindle Singles

From my notebook.
Kindle Singles publishes short work—essays, short stories, novellas. Writers submit their work for consideration, and Kindle editors give it a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Approval means your work will attract a much larger audience than it is likely to get as a lonely bit of straw in the giant Amazon haystack. I know a writer who published something about beer as a Kindle Single and sold thousands of downloads, which then boosted his sales on Amazon. I really want the story of my mother's battle with Big Pharma to get out there, so this morning, while drinking coffee at my kitchen table in Washington Heights, I sent the following query:

Dear Kindle Singles:
In January 2007, at the age of 85, my mother suddenly developed a mysterious illness that not even the best doctors at Dartmouth Medical Center were able to diagnose. Until then, she had been in good health, very active, and able to live alone. The cause of her illness remained unknown until December 2009, when an orthopedic specialist at the community hospital in her hometown diagnosed her with stress fractures in both femurs caused by Fosamax. The bone-building drug, which has been prescribed to millions of women since it came on the market in the 1990s, has been at the center of several lawsuits. My mother was 84 when she began taking Fosamax, and she did not live long enough to pursue legal recourse, nor was that her intention. She was angry and hurt when she learned that medical science had turned against her, but she did not want to pick fights. She wanted to enjoy, as much as possible, what little time remained. She died in 2012, at the age of 91. Meanwhile, my husband and I completely altered our lives, giving up two good jobs and moving 300 miles in order to help her. We did so before any of us knew the cause of her illness, which caused severe and crippling pain. I am the one who first correctly diagnosed her illness, almost three years after it began, when I heard a report about Fosamax while listening to NPR. Much later, after my mother died, I read through the comments left by other women on a web site that enables patients to rate prescription drugs. They were heartbreaking. Many of the comments were left by the daughters and nieces of women who had suffered from the debilitating side-effects of Fosamax. My mother's illness is the pivotal event in "An Irruption of Owls," a 75,000-word book. I would like to rework several chapters, notably chapter 11 (where the cause of her illness is revealed) for Kindle Singles. I would include some material from other chapters that puts her illness in context. She was a doctor's wife and knew about the hazards of prescription meds, and yet she did not read the Fosamax label carefully enough, and neither did her doctors. The fault lies to a great extent with our medical system and how it works (or doesn't work), which I discuss in the book. The emotional heart of the story is how my husband and I responded to the crisis.

I have recently completed the above-mentioned title and offered it on Kindle as a preorder (delivery: July 31, 2015). I would very much like this story to get out there, as I know for sure that many women and their families have had similar experiences, not only with Fosamax but with other prescription meds, whose side-effects are not fully known until they have been on the market long enough for experience to accumulate, often for years. Today, women are told to go off Fosamax after five years; my mother experienced stress fractures after less than two years on the drug.

Could this story be offered, condensed and reworked, as a Kindles Single? Estimated length: 20,000 words. 

I am a professional writer, a journalist who writes often about travel. My first book, Our House in Arusha, has sold well on Amazon. An Irruption of Owls is my second book.

Sara Tucker

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