Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Your Last Year for Dummies

The publisher of those yellow and black books, the for Dummies series, has asked me to submit a proposal to write my second for Dummies book for them. (My previous was Cool Careers for Dummies.) This one would be Your Last Year for Dummies. (alternate titles: Dying for Dummies, Dying Well for Dummies.)

Here it is. I welcome your reactions and suggestions for its improvement.

In life's December, people and their families need a book that, while authoritative, has a light touch--perfect for a for Dummies book, in my opinion. It will be written so it would be of value for the person with a year or less to live, their family members, or professional caregivers.

Table of Contents

PART 1: So You're Terminal. Now What?

Chapter 1: "I have WHAT?!" The art of getting a great second opinion.

Chapter 2: Dealing with the (damn) health care system. Deciding what you want, and getting it from your health care providers and insurers.

Chapter 3: Hope against hope. This chapter will explain how to find pockets of hope even if you've accepted that your time is running out.

Chapter 4: Getting to feel okay about dying: a buffet of ideas from diverse religious and secular perspectives.

PART 2: Developing Your Dying Well Plan

You can die well: accomplishing what you want, nurturing the relationships you want, leaving the legacy you want. This Part will show you how to do it.

Chapter 5: Go gentle into the good night? What do you want to accomplish, and how will you make it happen, even if you're aren't your ol' self? They say that no one ever died wishing they spent more time at the office, but one size does not fit all. Isaac Asimov, who wrote or edited over 500(!) books, when asked, "What would you do if you had six months to live?" replied, "Type faster."

Chapter 6: Your relationships: dealing with your spouse, children, friends, perhaps parents. For example, how do you tell them you're pending? I'll include sample scripts. With whom do you want to spend more (and less) time? Doing what? Which estranged relationships do you want to try to fix? Deathbed rapprochements are unquestionably dramatic but only sometimes wise.

Chapter 7: Your legacy. How can you give your life's work "legs?" For example, if you've been a ...for Dummies editor, might you want to write an article on the art of being a for Dummies editor? Being a parent? This chapter will also help readers figure out to whom and what to leave their money so they feel good about their legacy. The chapter will also help the reader decide which kind of will or trust will be most helpful.

Chapter 8: Getting all those stupid records in order. You don't want to saddle your family with a confusing mountain of paper. This chapter will show how to shrink it as quickly as possible. You have better things to do with your life than fuss with papers.

PART 3: Nuts and Bolts

Chapter 9: Planning your memorial: Should the event be sober and reflective? The (ahem) ultimate party? How about your gravestone? For once, no one will edit your writing. What do you want to say, really?

Chapter 10: Finding a wizard. The right executor can vanish your now-simplified mound of paper and fulfill your every desire. This chapter will include a basic guide to executor wizardry.

Chapter 11: Dealing with the funeral industry (or avoiding it)

Chapter 12: Hospice. If you need it, a lovely option.

PART 4: The Part of Tens

Chapter 13: Ten secrets to finding a doctor's doctor, lawyer's lawyer, etc.

Chapter 14: Ten wondrous things to consider putting on your bucket list.

Chapter 15: Ten ways to avoid procrastinating on the yucky tasks.

Chapter 16: Ten ways to be get more done in less time. Time is the one thing you don't have lots of. Let's make the most of it.

Chapter 17: Ten ways to make pain less of a pain.

Chapter 18: Ten ways to depress your depression

Chapter 19: Ten bang-for-the-buck charities to leave money to

Chapter 20: Ten tricks for living better with memory loss

Chapter 21: Ten great last parties

Chapter 22: Ten smart (or funny) quotes about death and dying.

Chapter 23: The Last Lecture. I'll write the last lecture I'd give if I were about to die. Then, I'll ask questions to help the reader create their Last Lecture.

About the (alive and kicking) Author

I've been thinking about death and dying my whole life. When I was just seven, I'd lie in bed calculating the percentage of my lifetime I likely had left. As a young adult, I became a hypochondriac, which further increased my focus on death. Fortunately I'm now cured but still quite aware of my mortality. That helps me make the most of every minute, an example of which would be to write this book. My lifetime interest in mortality makes me enthusiastic and writing and promoting Your Last Year for Dummies.

More objective qualifications to write this book: My Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley specialized in evaluation and in educational psychology. My expertise in evaluation will inform the book's sections on choosing a doctor, lawyer, executor, developing a treatment plan, indeed, all the book's fact-centric sections. My background in psychology will help me more wisely guide the reader through the challenging psychological issues that older people and their families face.

I have a decent platform (23rd year hosting a show on NPR-San Francisco, popular blog and website, frequent guest on major shows, award-winning keynote speaker, and am an enthusiastic book promoter. For example, my previous for Dummies book sold over 100,000 copies and spent a month at #2 on the Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller list, behind only a book that's rather tough to beat: What Color is Your Parachute has sold 10,000,000 copies.

A final qualification: I've written books for four publishers and find the for Dummies people and its publishing process the best. I'd welcome working with you guys again.

If a co-author or writer of a foreword is desired, here are some possibilities: Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bill Cosby, Jack La Lanne (oops, he just died,) or Dr. Phil (McGraw) who is a client of my agent, Dupree-Miller.

1 comment:

Dave said...

1. Contact Len Tillman, KGO's radio lawyer for an essay on trusts and how to protect what you have from state/federal govt and healthcare systems when they come around to collect bills due

2. Reach out to hospices to find people who are having fun dying. I remember a 60 minutes piece on Art Buchwald who was given x weeks to live and he laughed himself out of the hospice because he didn't die on schedule


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