A Long Way from Manuscript

Members of TEAM TSA (this group at Disney in 2012) participate in athletic events to support the mission of the Tourette Syndrome Association to discover a cause and find a cure for tourette syndrome.

This past Tuesday marked the start of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month (May 15 – June 15). I know this because I stay in touch with Brad Cohen, whose book (co-authored with Lisa Wysocky) Front of the Class was one of my former company VanderWyk & Burnham’s success stories.

I was alerted to the plan for the book in 2003 by an agent, but Brad was really the one who found me. His agent had exhausted her own list of publisher contacts but it was Brad who went online and looked for the small independent publisher with a mission that spoke to him. V&B’s mission statement is to publish books that promote learning, compassion, and self-reliance and make a difference in people’s lives. It surely was a match. Brad and Lisa finished the manuscript on schedule, and I made sure it was edited, published, and publicized (thank you, Kate Bandos!) on schedule. A lot of attention was paid by the media, but the big hit was a feature on Brad in People magazine (Sept. 12, 2005).

About 200,000 people in the USA have TS. Sounds like a small fraction when seen as a percentage (0.06%) of the country’s population. But I choose to look at it as a number that averages 4,000 per state. That means a lot of people, and a lot of kids, suffering from misunderstandings about the syndrome. It’s not about yelling out swear words, which occurs only in about ten percent of cases. It’s not something to make fun of, which occurs constantly and is especially hurtful to the youngsters, too often shutting them down for life.

Paperback cover

Hardcover cover

In my own life, publication of Front of the Class marked a milestone. It was not only one of the books that I personally had a hand in making happen, it has made a true difference in young kids’ and in families’ lives around the country if not the world.

DVD cover

Beyond the hardcover edition that V&B came out with—winning two awards, by the way!—the paperback rights went from V&B to St. Martin’s, which jumped on the bandwagon because the film/drama rights had just been sold to Hallmark Hall of Fame. The movie premiered Dec. 7, 2008, and has been rebroadcast many times since. If you haven’t seen the movie (or perhaps you’d prefer to read the book?), this would be a good time to do so. You’ll be glad you did, and you can spread the word to others in your own circles. It’s a worthy cause … and to think a good ol’ book helped it along. Ahhh.

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4 Responses to A Long Way from Manuscript

  1. Liz West says:

    That’s very cool! I saw the movie and had no idea that you were at all connected to the project. A feather in your cap, I’d say.

  2. Brenda Parks-Arms says:

    Thank you for sharing this important info! The coming together of Brad’s story, his wonderful informative book and then on to the movie have been more than a blessing in so many lives…especially the lives of so many children AND the parents who TRY so hard to guide them through each day! Add another feather to that cap! Thank you for your part in helping this to all come together! We are all truly blessed~

    • I was away from my computer, Brenda, and neglected to revisit all this when I returned, and so I apologize for this delay! Thank you for your comment and added experience around the beautiful aura of Brad’s book/movie/story.

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