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How to wisecrack and giggle your way through cancer. With Don Asmussen's illustrations. 100 limited edition copies.
180 backers pledged $8,206 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$8,206

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Hi there, my name is Mary and I live and write in San Francisco. This is the book I wish had existed when I was told that I have cancer. Since then, I've heard from a lot of people who are hungry for real information about what it’s actually like to be so sick.

Wig Diaries cover, oh yeah!
Wig Diaries cover, oh yeah!

I've already done the hard work and have the illustrations from illustrator Don Asmussen. Along the way, I've had mucho help from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, Bay Area Young Survivors, Commonweal, Young Survivors Coalition, and Laguna Writers.  Now I just need money for production costs to self-publish it. I'm so close to finishing and just need that extra push. 

Bald with gritted teeth - must be chemo time!
Bald with gritted teeth - must be chemo time!

After I was diagnosed, the most common question I heard from friends and family was, "How are you doing?" So I started sending out email blasts that I dubbed the Wig Report to share the outrageously funny things that were happening. I enjoyed wearing wigs, and named my blond one Andy Warhol. Later, these email tales evolved into the sassier, more relevant: The Wig Diaries.

Poetry and spiritual books with glowing candles on the cover are nice gestures from well meaning friends, but do not address my medical reality. I need to laugh and smile, and my odd sense of humor has been the best tool for navigating hellish phone calls with insurance and hospital staff about my mounting medical bills or ignoring adorable little mean girls who want me to take off my blond wig so they can see my bald head (that’d be a no, you little brats!).  

The Wig Diaries are my way of sharing what it is like to say inappropriate things to medical staff, get nipple tattoos for my mangled chest, be stuck in my bathroom, or have oozing and super smelly wounds (that look like thick coffee gravy) from so many surgeries. I’ve had the hots for the surgeon who cut off my breasts, and a crush on the kind nurse who wiped my butt in the hospital while I was sweating and crying and miserable.

My writing has appeared in the anthology Agony and Absurdity: Adventures in Cancerland: Young Women and Breast Cancer; the Writers' Grotto books 642 Things About You (That I Love) and 642 Stories to Write, as well as LitHub, Healthline, Playboy, Extra Crispy/Time Magazine, and SF Weekly, and the PBS affiliate KQED. I won the 2017 Litquake essay contest for my story involving a (wig-wearing) mannequin, and I brought her to the reading.

Don Asmussen is a cartoonist/illustrator from the San Francisco Bay Area. Universal Press Syndicate syndicates his comic strip, “Bad Reporter,” and his prize-winning illustrations have appeared in Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts magazine, Print magazine and the Society of Newspaper Design. He is a cancer survivor and author of two books of comic strips, The San Francisco Comic Strip Book of Big-Ass Mocha and Dog vs. Cat: A Nation Divided, a parody of the 2004 presidential election.

We know each other from the San Francisco Chronicle -- the newspaper where I got my first professional byline. Don’s emails to me (always) make me laugh. While this book project did start as a two-person dealio, Don is currently in TLC recuperating mode, and I hope he's back to the drawing board soon!

Mary Roach, Daniel Handler and Vanessa Hua are all fans of The Wig Diaries. Check it!

"I love this book." -- Mary Roach, author of the Grunt, Stiff, Spook and Bonk books.

"This looks like a hoot and a half! I want more." -- Daniel Handler pen name Lemony Snicket

"Clear-eyed, fun and reassuring, it's the perfect guide!" -- Vanessa Hua, author of A River of Stars and Deceit and Other Possibilities  

Risks and challenges

Creative projects are tricky and difficult! The great news is I am finished with the writing, and books are easier to scale than other items. I have selected a printing partner who can help meet that challenge -- barring any unexpected accidents or major illness.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Signed limited-edition

    Enjoy funny and poignant takes by Mary with comedic visuals by Don.

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    Signed limited-edition + audiobook

    Get an early signed-edition + audiobook.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Book + a book party invite

    Enjoy funny and poignant takes by Mary with comedic visuals by Don + celebrate at the San Francisco launch party.

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    Pledge $269 or more About $269

    Signed book + party invite

    Support this project in BIG fashion! Enjoy funny and poignant writing with comedic visuals + celebrate at the San Francisco launch party.

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    Behind the scenes (SF) lunch

    The chance to ask questions about writing, food and unlocking your creativity at one of my favorite restaurants, where I'll pay for lunch.

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Funding period

- (30 days)