Monday, June 3, 2019

Two Years Out

It was May 24. Never think I don't remember.

Less than two weeks ago I passed the milestone I'd been told was significant. It's not that I didn't notice but I was busy that day so I didn't actually mark the date in any particular fashion. But I did remember and I did think about it.

May 24 was two years since I had my last chemotherapy treatment.

My Hodgkin's lymphoma is officially in remission and from all accounts is expected to stay that way. But the effects of it linger, almost entirely in my mind rather than my body. (There is still a very small nodule under my jaw that will probably always be there but is not a danger as long as it doesn't decide to grow again.)

They don't talk to you that much about how cancer affects you emotionally. I mean, they do if you go to the support meetings and the educational seminars and all that, but when you're going through chemo you're not really inclined to do anything that requires, you know, movement. And when you're through you want to put the whole experience in the rearview mirror as quickly and completely as possible. So I didn't go to any of those things and figured I'd just move ahead.

I did, but it's not that simple.

Most of what lingers is the anticipation of a relapse, the "waiting for the other shoe to drop." I wake up many mornings with a vague sense of dread, and there's nothing to dread that I know about. Then I realize I'm wondering if there'll be a reason for me to be worried again. Now, rest assured I've been told there is none; the kind of cancer I had responds very well to the treatment I had, does not serve as a harbinger for other forms, and once it's in remission tends to stay that way about 95% of the time. So this isn't a cognitive, rational anxiety. But it's still there.

It's not cancer I'm afraid of, although there are certainly many forms of it more potent and dangerous than the one I had. It's the feeling of helplessness and the treatment that I'm worried about repeating. When FDR said we had nothing to fear but fear itself he wasn't talking about cancer, but he nailed it right on the head. I fear the fear.

But that's not what May 24 is about. It's about marking the time that has passed since the fear. It's about noting that I got through what I had to get through. I cherish the fact that I'm still here and that my life didn't get cut short or suffer some horrible transformation.

For all intents and purposes, compared to other cancer patients I had it easy. I went for five chemotherapy treatments spaced every six weeks, then a year and a half (give or take) of immunotherapy once every two months. Yes, my hair fell out and I was drowsy most of the time. Sure, my fingers and toes went through neuropathy and I had that chemo taste in my mouth for months. If the worst thing you can say about chemo is that you couldn't play guitar for six months, you had a pretty soft time of it.

And guess what -- the hair grew back (for the most part). The fingers and toes still have a slight tingle every now and again, but they can do everything they did before. My taste buds, alas, work just as well as they ever did. I'm the only cancer patient in history to have gained weight in the process. I need to start doing something about that, and I will.

The process is about regeneration. It's about going through what you have to go through and then noting it, appreciating the situation, and not forgetting. May 24 is about the end of something and the beginning of something else. My current life is pretty damn good. That I had a bad year (more or less) in 2017 is the price of doing business. I'll take it.

I still have to go in for PET scans about every six months just to check. Nobody thinks there'll be a problem, but the next one is scheduled for July, I think. I'll go and be anxious for a day or two and then I'll go about my life again. Maybe I'll even exercise. Because being in remission doesn't give you a pass on everything else.

Next year on May 24, I'll be three years out. Maybe we'll go on vacation.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Best of 2018!

Kings River Life Magazine has named its Best Books of 2018, and I'm very flattered to have one of them named here:

If you're an Agatha voter or a Lefty voter, please take note!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Coming January 8:


Alison's not looking for a mystery to solve. So one comes looking for her: Excavation behind the guesthouse uncovers a vintage Lincoln Continental, which is odd enough. But when a human skeleton is found behind the driver's seat... it's time for Paul, Maxie and the gang to get back into gear. But Alison refuses to participate - until her new husband Josh finds the whole thing fascinating and starts to investigate!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Because I Write "Humorous Cozies":

Because I write "humorous cozies":


  • People are surprised when I say, "Fuck."
  • Some people think I'm a gender other than the one I am (which is fine).
  • There are those who assume I'm good at knitting, or something.
  • No review of a book I wrote will ever include the words "shattering," "gripping," "intense" or "important."
  • People are generally very gracious when they recognize my name.
  • Readers ask when my books will be adapted by the Hallmark Channel.
  • I'm often asked if Louise Penny is nice (she's lovely--we've never met).
  • I am occasionally asked (online) which Disney princess I believe I am. (Sneezy.)
  • When I was in chemo, I received many knitted hats. (Thank you!)
  • Everybody wants to know if I believe in ghosts (that's specific to the Haunted Guesthouse books).
  • Once in a while someone will look at me and go, "Say something funny." (And when I reply, "Something funny," they don't look amused. You can't please some people.)
  • I will never be mentioned in the New York Times Book Review.
  • My name will never be bigger than the title. (Which is perfectly okay with me.)
  • People are equally surprised when I say, "Shit."
  • Some bookstores will place my books in the Romance section. I mean, fine, but... ?
  • There are those who will be unprepared for my characters to have actual emotions.
  • I have been gifted with a career by lovely people who like my books. (BIG thank you!)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Am a Jew

I am a Jew.

Some of you might not have known that. Some of you probably did. I'm hoping it doesn't make a difference to either group.

But the horrific, unconscionable act that took place yesterday in Pittsburgh makes it important that I make the point clear. I am a Jew. I'm not an observant one, not even a faithful one. I am, honestly, an atheist and have been open about that for some time. But being Jewish isn't all about attending temple or even believing the teachings other than some principles that make sense to us. We pick and choose as all people do, what we decide is right and what is not.

What happened yesterday is, by any measurement, not. It was absolutely outside the behavior of a civilized society. It was cruel, pointless and driven by an irrational hate. It was something no person should ever have to face. No person of any religion, no religion, any race or any background. No person. Period.

But I am a Jew, and have been especially the past couple of years concerned with what that means to me. There are those who consider us a separate race, however one defines a race. When I am confronted with the question of race on surveys or forms, I hesitate to check "white" and usually go with "other." When asked to be more specific, I write, "would rather not say."

My daughter teaches students in the New York City school system, and they often express curiosity about her ethnic background; it's a common way especially for first-generation students to establish an understanding of their teachers and their peers.

One of her students asked my daughter about her heritage, and my daughter replied, "I'm Jewish, so I guess white."

Her student, who is African-American, shook her head. "The white people won't think so," she said.

From the time we are small children we are taught, directly and otherwise, that we are "different." Many of us don't take part in Christmas celebrations at school. I remember clearly being asked to explain to my classmates the story of Passover when I was perhaps seven years old. I probably threw Superman into it because I was very big on Superman when I was seven.

There is considerable pride in being the outsider sometimes. I am not at all timid about my family's roots. My grandparents, three of whom came to America from Europe as children, did not consider themselves Russians, Poles or Austrians. They were Jews. Where they came from didn't define them in the eyes of those they lived with, or their own eyes. The identity was clear.

I have always seen myself as an American. I was born here to parents who were born here. I don't speak a language other than English, although the Italian lessons on Duolingo are starting to sink in a little. I asked my father once to teach me to speak some Yiddish. He gave me a phonograph record for children teaching the language and I don't think I've ever played it.

We're always aware that there are people who hate us for being Jews. It's hard to fathom that, as my ethnic background has never defined me in my own mind, and I'm aware that we're not trying to threaten anybody else's beliefs or ethnicity. But it's undeniable that some simply want us to disappear, and if we won't do it on our own they are happy to help. It's been tried before and at times has come close to succeeding, but we persevere.

The attack yesterday has caused me to rethink my point of view. I will check "other" and then explain my answer less vaguely from now on, I guess. If the world insists on seeing my ethnicity first and everything else second, I can work with that. But what happened yesterday can't be permitted to happen again. Action must be taken. The complicity of public officials in the blind, stupid violence against any group must not continue. Those responsible for the mindset behind the sick, awful man who walked into that synagogue have to be held accountable and removed from their offices as quickly as possible.

I am a Jew. When I meet you, I won't be thinking about that. Whether or not you do is your own choice.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Political Screed (With No Politics Included)

Politics, anyone?

I didn't think so. We've all had politics up to our eyeballs (and above, for those of us under 5'10") for years now, and it's showing no signs of letting up. No matter which side of the virtual aisle you might inhabit, there's been plenty to drive you bonkers for quite some time.

Those who know me even fairly well understand that I have very definite political opinions, which I am not shy about sharing. Sometimes I share them through my social media accounts, which I promise myself I will not do and then immediately break that promise. It's like the idea of dieting.

As an author, I'm naturally aware that the more people who buy my books the better off I will be personally. That's no small thing--this is my full-time job and I'd like to keep it for as long as I can. Those who will stop reading E.J. Copperman books because my politics disagree with theirs have every right to do so, but I need to be aware that their decision to do so will cost me directly.

So it's a difficult conundrum: On the one hand, we are clearly a divided nation (and world) at the moment and that does not seem like it will heal itself anytime in the foreseeable future. The stakes are indeed high, and not speaking out seems like a cowardly thing to do. One either has principles or one doesn't. On the other hand, if one doesn't have a source of income (or has a smaller one than before), one's possibilities are more limited. Besides, I want people to read my books. It's not something you do because you'd prefer nobody would take a look.

I know that I've offended some people with my statements politically. Probably not a lot of people but certainly some. I'm aware that I've had some readers turn off my Twitter feed or my Facebook posts because we disagree. And I'm no saint, either: I have unfriended a few whose posts had become, to my sensibility, infuriating. I will scrutinize the Likes and newsfeed of a friend request carefully.

Rest assured I'm not asking you to do anything at all. I'm not asking for advice about whether I should continue to share political opinions publicly. I know that from a marketing viewpoint I should not but I'm equally aware that won't stop me. I'm not asking you to change your political opinion if it differs with mine. We each think the issues are so clear it's ridiculous anyone would believe otherwise. So no minds will be changed. I'm not even suggesting you don't turn off my feed if it irritates you enough. I can't insist someone do something I wouldn't do.

It's more that I want you to know I understand if you disagree. I don't necessarily understand why but I definitely get what it's like. I have stopped listening to some musicians, watching some actors and shopping in some stores because I had serious disagreements with their positions. If you don't buy my books anymore, I'll understand. I'll regret it, but that's the price one pays.

I hope you won't. I'd like to make that clear. I'd like everyone to read everything I write and not just for financial reasons. It's nice to get feedback on the work.

But these are unique times. Pretending they aren't would be lying, and I try to avoid that whenever possible. Feel free to disagree. That's what an open society is supposed to be about.

Sorry. Was that too political?