by Stacy Miller
Imagine you’ve just signed your first book contract, met your publisher in person at a writer’s conference, who responded to your one-minute pitch for your second book over cocktails with “Love it” and “I want it” and later shook hands on the plan for four more. You return home, ready to roll up your sleeves to begin working with an honest to goodness professional editor. But the more screen time you log, the more your vision blurs, so you make an appointment with your optometrist. You expect a new prescription for reading glasses but are met with devastating news. Something is wrong with your eyes—both of them. That happened to me.
One month and two doctors later, I was diagnosed with a rare disease that only retinal specialists can pronounce. Macular Telangiectasia Type 2 has no cure and no approved treatment. I’m faced with losing my central vision—the ability to recognize details. Its devastating effects have already begun. Faces appear blurry, and letters disappear from screens and signs. “Flames” looks like “Faes” and “New York” looks like “Nw rk.”
Since I’m a smidge below the moderate stage with this disease, my vision will only get worse. While MacTel 2 won’t result in complete blindness, my visual disability will make me legally blind. The world will be a blur while looking straight ahead, but my peripheral vision will still be sharp enough to catch my granddaughter stealing cookies from the kitchen counter. However, I won’t be able to drive, read, or watch television. My only hope is cutting-edge science in the form of a clinical trial and an eye implant the size of a grain of rice. With a little dash of this from scientists and a little dash of that from a brilliant Stanford doctor, the disease might slow enough in one eye to allow me to accomplish my goal—write and publish six books in three years.
Even if the implant is approved for use, which won’t be for years, it will come too late for me. The device only slows disease progression, not treat or cure it. The damage will be done, and the day will come that I won’t be able to read. Reading from printed books is already impossible without using a hefty magnifier, and when I lose my central vision completely, reading from an e-reader will also be an impossibility. Like so many visually impaired persons, my only option to enjoy a book, including my own, will be through text-to-speech (computer-generated voice) or audiobooks.
Suffice it to say that last October, I was elated to learn Tantor Audio had picked up the audiobook rights to both Out of the Flames, my debut novel, and the second book in my Manhattan Sloane thriller series, From the Ashes, that released this past December. I did a virtual cartwheel when Bella Books told me they’d secured Lori Prince to narrate. What an honor and pleasure to have this brilliant actor lend her voice and bring my work to life. Her voice provides more than entertainment, though. It gives me a way to experience my work long after my eyes fail. And knowing that my stories can now be listened to by other visually impaired readers makes me the happiest author on the planet.
Lori Prince describes her experience while recording Stacy Lynn Miller’s Out of the Flames
About the Author
A late bloomer, Stacy Lynn Miller took up writing after retiring from the Air Force. Her twenty years of toting a gun and police badge, tinkering with computers, and sleuthing for clues as an investigator form the foundation of her Manhattan Sloane romantic thriller series. Visually impaired, she is a proud stroke survivor, mother of two, tech nerd, chocolate lover, and terrible golfer with a hole-in-one. When you can’t find her writing, she’ll be golfing or drinking wine (sometimes both) with friends and family in Northern California.