Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Just posted this morning at the Everest News site. Today, May 31, 2005, Will Cross has become the first person with Type 1 Diabetes to summit Mt. Everest! I am so happy as this proves diabetes doesn't have to stand in anyone's way!

Congratulations, Will!

Will is in blue, having just made it to the South Summit of Everest

Here is another article about the adventurous Will Cross.

Yes, I Am Alive

So sorry it took me so long to update! We were all SICK (I'm still sick), and then this holiday weekend thing came up. Well, I promised you pictures of forging steel, so here they are:

This is the forge. I had never seen one in person before.

This is me whamming an 1800-degree stick of steel. Look, I'm not even scared. (That's cos I'm half loaded on margaritas.)

This is the thing I made! All by my very self. It became a keychain.

This is the bike that sis's boyfriend is going to ride in the JDRF fundraiser. Beneath it is one of the suits of armor that he makes in the forge. People from all over the world hire him to make these one-of-a-kind suits of armor. I tried one on, but it squashed my boobs and the photo that sis took made me look deranged.

That's all I have the energy for just now! I'm fighting a cold that may be the flu.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Really Quickly: StemPac, Book News & the Contest!

Hi all, we've had a very busy family day and it's coming up on a four-day weekend, so I'm just posting VERY quickly.

First of all, don't forget to visit StemPac.com and find out how we're gonna get the bastards who don't support stem cell research out of office. The response to this grassroots movement has already been overwhelming, in its first week of existence. It's about time!

Here you can read Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R, Utah) story about how he met a young boy with Type 1 Diabetes and how it convinced him to support stem cell research. (Warning for sensitive types like myself, it contains explicit material about the boy's grandfather's very serious diabetes complications. Might want to grab your tissue box.) If a Republican senator from one of the most conservative states in the nation has seen the light about this promising research, I know it's possible for others too... particularly if we supporters make some noise. So visit StemPac.com and find out MORE.

And some BIG, BIG book news from the UK~The Bitch Goddess Notebook has debuted at #12 on The Bookseller's Original Fiction List and has sold out its first printing in its first week on the market. We're all very happy around here! I'll put the UK and American covers side by side...

I like them both!

Last thing, don't forget to enter the contest to win a free signed, first edition, first printing of The Bitch Posse. (The American edition of the novel is in its second printing too.) To enter the contest, just email this address and explain, in 250 words or less, why your high school sucks or sucked. The high school in this novel sucks very badly and most high schools do... so I thought it was an appropriate topic. I've gotten a number of terrific entries already, but the contest will run till Saturday at midnight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Brief on the Reading~and STEMPAC... Time To Fight Back!

Before I get to my really exciting announcement, the reading in San Francisco was lovely. What a fabulous bookstore, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books. Several booksellers commented on what a kick they got out of the fact that the store was mentioned on page 99 of the novel. And two very cool unexpected run-intos were my dear friend Trish, with whom I used to teach and who knows all my dirty little secrets. Haven't seen her for a couple of years now! And the other was the amazingly talented and supernice Stephen Elliott. If you have not read any of Stephen's books, I highly, HIGHLY recommend them, especially HAPPY BABY, which broke my heart. The reading was taped and will air on Writer's Voice Radio at 91.7 FM this Sunday between 6-6:30 pm and will repeat on Wednesday from 8-8:30 pm.

If you're in the Berkeley Oakland area I'll be at Cody's on Telegraph tonight at 7:30.

Don't forget about my contest (I've gotten some really funny entries so far!)...

Onto the nitty gritty, I am so, so, SO psyched about this story on Wired.com. It's reprinted in full on the STEMPAC web site, so I'll link there instead since that's where I really want you to go!

Gunning for Stem-Cell Naysayers
by Kristen Philipkoski
02:00 AM May. 25, 2005 PT

A pioneer of grass-roots internet movements is mobilizing a campaign to oust any legislator who opposes embryonic stem-cell research.

John Hlinko, the brains behind DraftWesleyClark.com, one of the most successful online grass-roots political movements so far, is creating a political action committee to raise funds and galvanize support for embryonic stem-cell research. Hlinko's new crusade is in response to President Bush's threat to veto legislation supporting embryonic stem-cell research

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 238-194 to fund embryonic stem-cell research using government money, and a similar bill looks likely to pass in the senate. But Bush promised that if the bill lands on his desk, he will kill it.

That got Hlinko's goat. Hlinko, vice president of marketing at PR firm Grassroots Enterprise in Washington, D.C., was already laying the groundwork for a pro-embryonic-stem-cell research PAC, but news of Bush's veto threat accelerated his efforts.

"If anyone really cares about this issue ... now is the time to put the 'ass' in 'grass roots' and get off their asses and do something," Hlinko said. "We want to very strategically do whatever is necessary to remove from office those extremists who are frankly blocking stem-cell research. Anyone putting theoretical possible life ahead of actual life is someone who should not be in office." ... {MORE}

I really really care about this issue, as I REALLY REALLY want a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. I want that fucking disease which affects each and every moment of my family's life to be a DISTANT MEMORY for future generations. And, of course, there are many other diseases whose cures may be found through stem cell research.

Please folks, go to the site, donate if you can, and sign on to help. At the very least steal their ad like I did (look to your right). (STEMPAC wants you to!) And bloggers... PASS IT ON!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Beating Diabetes

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that my son has Type 1 Diabetes. There are two things related to Type 1 Diabetes I wanted to discuss today.

First, I was so amazed to watch this BBC report on what scientists have been able to do with liver cells. My mouth was literally hanging open in shock.

Liver cells 'could beat diabetes'
Diabetes insulin injection
Many people with diabetes must have regular insulin shots
Scientists have turned adult liver cells into insulin-producing cells able to treat diabetes when transplanted into mice.

It is hoped the work will one day allow the use of a diabetes patient's own liver cells to treat their condition.

At present there are limited supplies of donor cells for transplants, and patients run the risk of rejection.

The study, by Israel's Sheba Medical Center, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... {MORE}

This is all very exciting and I cannot wait to see what happens next in this regard.

Of course, many of you know that I am very much in favor of embryonic stem cell research as well. A researcher at UCSF in San Francisco recently said for me... "I've cured a lot of mice... I want to cure some kids." Let's keep ALL the avenues open.

Many people do not know that the current stem cell lines that Bush wants to keep open and is using as political quicksilver by saying "Oh, yes, I support it, don't you see, I only support the current stem cell lines!..." HAVE BEEN CONTAMINATED WITH MOUSE TISSUE. Check out this SF Chronicle story about the matter... Studies at UC San Diego and the Salk Institute found that "all human embryonic stem cell lines approved for use in federally funded research are contaminated with a foreign molecule from mice that may make them risky for use in medical therapies."

Bush surely knows this. It's just very convenient of him to pretend not to.

There's a big stem cell vote in the House today. I hear it's likely to pass. Washington Post story here... Support stem cell research, people.

Back to the Future: A Q&A with Marianne Mancusi

Are you bored with the standard chick lit but still want some refreshing, getaway reading? Well, look no further than the work of Marianne Mancusi! It's great when a chick lit author takes on a twist and does something with chick lit that hasn't been done before.

Marianne Mancusi is part of my writers' co-op called The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit. In addition to being a witty writer, Marianne is also a very nice person. She helped a friend of mine negotiate the waters of the publishing world and gave her a ton of great advice AT NO CHARGE, LOL. Funny Writer+Nice Person=I Like. So I am thrilled to have Marianne here today! Welcome to the blog, Marianne!

About Marianne Mancusi

Marianne Mancusi is a multiple Emmy Award winning television news producer for WHDH-TV in Boston, Massachusetts. She has worked for news stations in Orlando and San Diego. A Massachusetts native, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her British husband Aaron and their dog Molly. She has six other adult and teen chick lit novels under contract with Dorchester and Berkley.

About Marianne's new novel, A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court

Once upon a time there lived an outspoken fashion editor named Kat, who certainly was not your typical damsel in distress. But when a gypsy curse sent her back in time to the days of King Arthur, she found she'd need every ounce of her 21st century wits (and pop culture references) to navigate the legend. After all, surviving a magical plot, an evil prince, and a case of mistaken identity--all without changing history or scuffing your Manolos--takes some doing!

Luckily, she's got her very own knight in shining armor, Lancelot du Lac, on her side. The honorable-to-a-fault and devastatingly handsome champion insists on helping her out, even though she's not quite sure she wants him to. After all, shouldn't he be off romancing Queen Guenevere or something? Will Kat manage to stay out of trouble long enough to get back to her beloved café lattes, cosmopolitans and cashmere? And what will Lancelot's forbidden love mean for the kingdom of Camelot?
And now, onto the Q&A.

MO'C: How did you get the idea for this book?

MM: I was reading a lot of Chick Lit style books in the summer of 2003 and I really liked the funny, irreverent, sarcastic voice. However, I saw that the market was getting saturated with the same old "good shoes, bad boyfriend, bad boss" kind of books. So I wanted to think of a way to really get an editor's attention. In the end, I decided throwing my Chick Lit character back in time to the days of King Arthur might do the trick. :-) I was always a fan of Arthurian legend anyway, so it seemed a good fit.

MO'C: What is your writing routine like?

MM: Since I work a full time job as a TV News producer, I am forced to wake up early every morning to write. I write from 6am-8am and if I'm really into a book, I'll also write on the commuter train into work (on my laptop). Sure, it's sometimes hard to wake up to that alarm clock when you know you could set it two hours later and still make it into work on time, but to me, writing is worth waking up for.

MO'C: Did you have any writing rituals or habits associated with writing this book?

MM: Hmm. Not really, except that every time I finished a chapter, I would bring it into work for a few non-writer friends to read. I also had a critique partner, of course, but I really liked getting the reactions of what worked and what didn't, from a reader's perspective as well.

MO'C: Did you have to do a ton of research?
MM: Yes. For both the medieval and the modern stuff! Even though I was familiar with the King Arthur legend, I still had to read a ton of Camelot related books to get all the details. I also read a bunch of medieval nonfiction so I could make the world of Camelot seem detailed and realistic. And finally, I had to do a lot of Internet research on my pop culture and fashion references.

MO'C: What are you working on now?
MM: I just finished a teen vampire book called "Boys that Bite." It's about a high schooler who accidentally gets bitten by a vampire (through a case of mistaken identity) one week before prom. It's very Buffy the Vampire Slayer'ish and was a LOT of fun to write. The first one in the series comes out in April of next year as part of the Berkley Jam line.

Thank you so much, Marianne! Visit Marianne's site, and buy her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my personal favorite, at your local independent bookseller via Booksense.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's Turning into a Photo Blog

First off, the OUTFIT. These are two different readings and I am wearing THE SAME THING. I don't really have any nice, fancy clothes. I don't like them. I prefer to hang out in my "Got Steam?" t-shirt from Traintown of Sonoma, or my Death to the Pixies shirt, or my Children With Diabetes shirt. So I don't really have any great clothes and I had to go on an emergency shopping trip to Berkeley with my friends when I found out I was being sent on a book tour. So~THE OUTFIT.

And before I start~I never linked this Choose Three Interview I did on Patry Francis's "The Marvelous Garden." It was fun to do and you might like to read it. Hang out at Patry's site for awhile too~definitely a great spot on the Internet.

And onto the photos. First, M is for Mystery. An AWESOME mystery/children's bookstore in the heart of San Mateo. Worth the drive.

At this reading I got to meet a lot of online friends I'd never met in person, but have felt as if I've known really closely for a LONG time! (No pic of gorgeous BackSpacer Terez, the beautiful blonde we all want to be. :o( Take my word though, she is hot~and really nice as well. Do check out Backspace as it's one of the best writers' forums out there.)

Me & Ed Kaufman, the owner of M is for Mystery. Very, very nice man~loves books & it shows. I dunno why this photo turned out so huge. Let's say, it's in Ed's honor as a very cool bookseller.

Me & two very precious Children With Diabetes friends, Keri Ann and Barbie. I'd never met either in person and it was so great to put faces with fonts! (Keri Ann is electric pink!) These gals are so special and bravely manage their children's diabetes each and every day, bless 'em. Check out CWD for TONS of information about Type 1 Diabetes and to sign on for the mailing list... my lifeline, and how I met Keri Ann and Barbie. I mean it. If you are struggling with T1D as a parent or as an adult with T1D... get thee there immediately.

Me & fellow MomWriter Melody and her 13-year-old daughter. Melody and her daughter are reading my book together! Now THAT'S what I call having a cool mom! By the way, check out MomWriters if you are a mom & a writer. The camaraderie and support can't be beat!

And a few pix from my reading at Bookstall in Winnetka, courtesy of my high school pal Mitch!

Me & my pretty blonde sister

Me & Mitch

Me SIGNING A BOOK! Wow, I have arrived!

Also, this is pretty well the last day to order a signed copy through A Clean Well-Lighted Place in San Francisco. Just click here and type Signed Copy in the Comments box at checkout.

More photos to come when sis emails them... I can't wait to post the ones of me pounding 1800 degree metal in her boyfriend's forge! In the meantime check out the big kee-RAZY contest, below. xxoo M

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Big Big KEE-RAZY Contest

I've decided to have a big big contest. Mostly to amuse myself but also for the benefit of my loyal blog readers, AND those who just happen to surf by.

I am going to offer a signed, personalized copy of THE BITCH POSSE to three lucky winners. WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN!

THE BITCH POSSE is the novel that Tatler called "As good a debut as it's cracked up to be... Don't disbelieve the hype. It's edgy, smart and sexy, like its heroines... What could have been just another coming-of-age story is redeemed by strong narrative voices, pungent writing and a splendid Grand Guignol finale.'

UK Glamour said: "There's a buzz about this book that tells us it's going to be huge this summer... it's more bitch lit than chick lit. Reminiscent of cult movie 'Heathers', it revels in the seedy underbelly of American life, and features the kind of female angst Alice 'Lovely Bones' Sebold would be proud of... The novel flits back and forth from school days to adulthood, where none of the girls remains in contact but all share a dark secret. Believe us when we say you won't be able to rest until you find out what it is."

in the US called THE BITCH POSSE "A sizzling page-turner";

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
said it "nails the intense, us-against-the-world, overcooked emotion that defines the friendship of teen girls and the druggy delirium of first, sexual love,"

and Bookreporter called it "quite unabashedly satisfying...prompting even this most jaded reviewer to stay up until the wee hours of the night just to find out what happened next...a thrilling ride."

Do you want it? It's free! You will receive a first edition, first printing as well. The novel's just gone into its second printing so again... these are limited. A collector's item if you will. All you have to do is send an email to this address and in 250 words or less (preferably less, a lot less), explain why your high school sucks or sucked. The high school in this novel sucks really bad and high schools mainly suck anywhere you go so that's the theme. I will pick the three most apt entries and those people will be the lucky winners!

Put FREE BITCH POSSE in the subject header.

Now, two small caveats. If you do enter, please indicate whether I can add your name to the newsletter e-mail list about the book. Will you get a ton of messages? NO! I haven't even sent out one newsletter yet. (That's pretty sad and pathetic, I know. In fact, someone at one of my readings wanted to know when she was going to get one! Call me lazy, call me overwhelmed, just don't call me late for dinner.) I expect these will go out once every few months, if I'm lucky. I don't sell or rent lists either, as I HATE AND ABHOR spam. BUT, you do not have to join the list to enter the contest.

The only other caveat is that you have to let me know what you think of the novel when you're done reading it. Just an email is good.

Are those two terms OK? If they are, then enter away!

I'm going to run this contest for a week! Enjoy.

Oh, my God!

Chicago ROCKED! I had so much fun. Sheesh, where to start?

We went out to dinner in a place in Oak Park called "New Rebozo." The whole theme of the place is "Oh, my God!" as that's what everyone says after sampling the food. The owner comes up to the table and explains everything you're about to eat and punctuates it all with "Oh, my God!" And it was GREAT. Cinnamon mole, pumpkin seed mole, and classic mole. Mango and goat cheese vegetarian tamales. Veggie tostadas with pinto beans. The most enormous margaritas I have ever seen (two of them apiece). Oh, my God!

Did I mention I now know how to use a forge? My sis's boyfriend is a blacksmith. So, after New Rebozo, we headed over to his forge and I, half loaded, took out my aggressions on an 1800-degree piece of steel. (Pix to follow when sis emails them.) I made a beautiful curly keychain and didn't even maim myself! That was way fun.

Both readings were WONDERFUL. At Barbara's in Oak Park, I got to read all my naughty bits in front of my parents, aunt, cousin and 90-year old grandmother (well, not the NAUGHTIEST ones... I'm not THAT naughty!). I'll have you know that my grandmother read THE BITCH POSSE from start to finish and while she found it "rather shocking," she said she enjoyed it very much.

Also, an old friend I haven't seen since she was in 7th grade and I was in 9th showed up! We went out for beverages afterward and caught up a bit. Then the next day, at Bookstall in Winnetka, another blast from the past as my PIANO TEACHER as well as an old friend of mine from high school were there!

This is the topper though: in the coincidence to end all coincidences, I was riding the plane from O'Hare to SFO and as I was walking toward the back I heard "Martha!" It was YET ANOTHER old friend of mine from high school, whom I haven't seen since graduation. He was on his way to Sydney and was reading MY BOOK! I signed it, of course, and we yammered away until the flight attendants wanted to get by us with drinks.

When I got back, the kids nearly KNOCKED ME OVER at the airport. And Husband appears to have held down the fort just fine. AND, on my dining room table was A HUGE BOUQUET OF FLOWERS from Orion, "to celebrate the UK publication of The Bitch Goddess Notebook"! Well, I am now COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY SPOILT!

Then, I slept. And slept. Now, I shall go to Whole Foods for vegetarian tamales. And eat. And sleep. Tomorrow, I hope to post some pix of the San Mateo reading, as it was a TON of fun also. (And I got a copy of the new Lee Child, a whole month in advance!~It was the UK edition.)

Much love, Martha

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It's All About Heat

Maybe it's just me. I'm pretty spoiled! But it feels stuffy and humid here in Chicago! My sis picked me up from the airport and my sis and I talk a LOT, so my throat is very tired from that, plus my reading last night in San Mateo. I must tell you about this great independent bookstore in San Mateo, M is for Mystery. The owner, Ed Kaufman, is an absolutely sweet and terrific man. M is for Mystery has evolved into a Mystery/Children's Bookstore. It is in the heart of San Mateo, downtown. I strongly recommend that anyone in the Bay Area make the drive. It's worth it. I got a signed first UK edition of Lee Child's ONE SHOT... it's not even published here for a month! I finished half of it on the plane to Chicago. It's THAT GOOD. Got some great photos of the reading which I'll post later... I'm not at my home computer.

Chicago area readings... TOMORROW at 7 pm at Barbara's Books in Oak Park (#1100 Lake Street Oak Park), and FRIDAY at Bookstall Winnetka (811 Elm Street Winnetka).

By the way, if you are trying to email me through the main site, I AM NOT IGNORING YOU. The Macintosh's hard drive has been completely fried and I can't get to my email from the site temporarily. I hope to be able to get to my messages by this weekend.

On a completely other note, Mark Farley, Bookseller to the Stars in London's Notting Hill Gate, told me never to read reviews and then promptly sent me one. From HEAT magazine, whose demographic is apparently quite the opposite of TATLER (who also loved the book):
"And now for something completely different... If you're tired of fluffy chick lit and fancy a trip to the dark side, the debut novel from poet Martha O'Connor is a bloody (very bloody, in fact) good place to start. It's 1988 and the Bitch Goddesses are three schoolgirls united in their passion for sex, drugs, alcohol, self-harm and general destruction. Rennie's a top student who's having an affair with her teacher, Amy's an ex-cheerleader with a terminally ill sister and alcoholic parents, while Cherry has a junkie mother, an abusive boyfriend and an obsession with Princess Diana. Fast forward to 2003, and things aren't much better for our three anti-heroines. We discover things have deteriorated one terrifying night years ago when a revenge plan went horribly wrong, resulting in one of them being confined to a psychiatric hospital. If you loved Heathers and The Craft, this is for you- it's dark, compelling and not for the faint hearted."
Well, thank you, HEAT! (and Mark) They also gave the book five out of five stars.

Mark has explored some creative merchandising ideas within his store and allowed me to post them here. Pardon me while I crash your browser again!

Creative Merchandising Idea #1-Travel
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Creative Merchandising Idea #2-Gardening
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Creative Merchandising Idea #3-Popular Psychology/Self-Help
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Creative Merchandising Idea #4-Mind, Body, Spirit
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Creative Merchandising Idea #5-Politics
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Creative Merchandising Idea #6-Art
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Creative Merchandising Idea #7-Religion
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And I actually choked up when I saw this photo from Mark... It's so great you'll have to go to his blog to see it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Do you have dialup? Then I'm about to crash your browser!

My friend Jodi is a photobug. She took these great shots of my reading in LA. Just to explain ~ outside the West Hollywood Barnes and Noble were a group of Catholic schoolgirls with a video camera. They were doing a school documentary on "What is the American dream?" and asked if they could talk to us.

Well, there was a huge poster in the B&N window with my photo and the book cover, and they videoed me in front of it talking about the book and how it was always my dream to be a writer. Then they all wanted to SEE the book and, er, READ the book, and, well, yeah, their parents aren't going to be very happy with ME! I advised them to remove the dustjacket and put black tape over the title on the spine and hide the novel very, very well in between their mattresses and box-springs.

I'll just post these along with little captions explaining. I'm at M is for Mystery in San Mateo this evening at 7 pm if any of you blog readers live nearby there!

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Me corrupting the Catholic girls. (Ann Marie Michaels helped)

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Here I am gesturing wildly at the girls. I'm probably explaining one of the sex scenes. Notice my CURE DIABETES bracelet ~ I never take it off.

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Ann Marie, me and Jodi in front of the sign, which you can sort of see. I don't know who that gal is in the background. She looked bored ~ I should probably have offered her a copy of the book.

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Gayle Brandeis surprised me!

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This has got to be a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit record so I put it in here even though I look crazed and demonic. FOUR of us together! Me, Gayle Brandeis, Ann Marie Michaels and Megan Crane.

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Me chatting with Gayle, Ann Marie, and ANOTHER Ann Marie, Ann Marie Garcia from Momwriters!
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Isn't this a nice spot for a reading? The West Hollywood Barnes and Noble is beautiful.

More photos later on from another photobug I know, Mark Farley!

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Kickass Auction to Kick Type 1 Diabetes in the Ass

Romance author Brenda Novak rocks my world. Brenda has a son with Type 1 Diabetes and ALL BY HERSELF, she has organized an online silent auction to benefit the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Type 1 Diabetes is a devastating, incurable disease which affects millions of children and adults. It is the leading cause of nontraumatic amputations and a major cause of kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, blindness, and other complications.

As many of you know, my 8-year-old son has had this disease since last summer. Brenda's young son also has this disease.

The JDRF is working so hard to find a cure.

Brenda is so dedicated and amazing with all that she has rounded up for bids. It really just about makes me cry to see all the items she has procured for auction. There must be hundreds. There are all kinds of spectacular items at Brenda's site, from helicopter rides to diamonds to sports memorabilia. Where does Brenda find the energy? I don't know, I truly don't. She is my hero though.

I helped Brenda a little with this by stalking famous authors and getting them to donate some books. So, Brenda's also got SIGNED FIRST EDITIONS of some very in-demand books including SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon, DAUGHTER'S KEEPER by Ayelet Waldman, SKINNED ALIVE by Edmund White (very rare and currently fetching top dollar at places like AbeBooks), ONE SHOT by Lee Child (UK AND! American editions), HAPPY BABY by Stephen Elliott, CORALINE by Neil Gaiman, THE DOGS OF BABEL by Carolyn Parkhurst, THE KITE-RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon (UK edition, hardback as well) and so many more (I'm sure I'm missing some! Cos everyone's been so great). And, everyone at the JDRF truly appreciates the generosity of EVERYONE who's donated.

Check it out! Bid high and bid often! And, if you write a books blog (or really any type of blog), PLEASE spread the word. It's all for a really good cause and your readers, especially if they are book collectors, will appreciate it. Thanks and many hugs to everyone who passes it on.

Do I Exist?

I think so~! Both signings (Corte Madera and LA) were GREAT, a TON of fun, saw and met a LOT of people, ate WONDERFUL food, and I have so much to tell, but I need to collapse. The brilliant gal who did my hair in LA, Tessa, tells me I must put black tea bags on my eyes and rest. I'm sure she's right. (You know it's bad when you misspell Corte Madera five separate times, and you've lived five miles from the town for the last seven years.) Corte the Who?

There were a few more interviews with me I didn't link to: Natalie Collins and Lara M Zeises. I feel I become less and less lucid with these interviews as time goes on and I leave more and more brain cells behind me. Anyway bear with me, I will answer emails LATER, again you are all so WONDERFUL and I'm so happy about all the wonderful people who came out and supported me in LA, from my Girlfriends Cyber Circuit friends to Momwriters to Readervillians and the inimitable Henry Baum... all of whom I'll go back and LINK once I edit this post, after I sleep... SLEEP? What is this SLEEP you speak of? xoxo

Friday, May 13, 2005

So Bloody Exhausted...

...the next and final item of the day is the actual READING. Then I fly out to LA bright and early. Whew! Everything's going great though. I explained to the LA Times reporter I just didn't manage painting my living room and replacing the dining room floor in order to prepare for his presence. He was really understanding about it.

Just stopping by to give you my virtual tour stops:

Thursday, May 12, 2005

An Amazing Study Just Off the Wire

This is stunning to me and I posted it all in addition to doing a link. I would love to hear from other D-bloggers what you think the implications are. Like a lot of studies, it is not particularly useful for people who already HAVE Type 1 Diabetes, but if we can prevent anyone else from getting this DAMNED, DAMNABLE DISEASE, I would be very happy.
Study at UCDHSC Identifies Crucial Islet Target in Type 1 Diabetes; Finding Is Likely to Transform the Study of Diabetes Autoimmunity
Wed May 11 10:00:01 2005 Pacific Time

DENVER, May 11 (AScribe Newswire) -- Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center have identified a crucial target of islet cells in the pancreas that white blood cells attack, leading to type 1 diabetes.

The study, led by Dr. George Eisenbarth, executive director of the Barbara Davis Center, will be published in the May 12 edition of Nature. The UCDHSC study is likely to transform the study of diabetes autoimmunity and also has implications for other autoimmune diseases and illnesses, suggesting that autoimmune diseases may not be as complex as once thought.

Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States and currently affects 18.2 million people, or 6.3 percent of the population. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the specific destruction of cells within the pancreas that produce insulin. Researchers have long thought that multiple actual and potential targets exist and the UCDHSC study indicates that for the intensively studied model of childhood diabetes, the target might be a small piece of insulin itself, a peptide termed B:9-23.

"One hypothesis to account for diabetes was the possibility of crucial targets of islet cells in the pancreas and, if there was a single or primary target, altering the attack on that target could and should prevent diabetes," Eisenbarth said. "This study demonstrates there is a crucial target and with the existence of primary targets, genetic techniques to change a single target can prevent a complex autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes."

This information, combined with a related study in Nature this month from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, points to the central role of insulin as a target and indicates the importance of the insulin gene for genetic susceptibility to diabetes. The study there identified a piece of insulin as a major target of white blood cells in cloned T-cells of pancreatic lymph nodes of patients with type 1 diabetes.

Cyber Circuit Stops

Quickly letting you know that I'm at Mindy Friddle's blog and at Shanna Swendson's LiveJournal today.

I will be scarce tomorrow! I have three interviews and then the book tour kickoff with my first appearance, at Book Passage in Corte Madera. Then it's off to LA on Saturday morning!

And They're Off!

The competition looks pretty fierce! The folks over at Nerve.com have just announced their May Henry Miller Award nominees for best literary sex scene. As most of you guys know, The Bitch Posse is among them.

Now of course, it goes without saying that if you go to that site, you will be taken to a webpage where sex scenes are posted. So, do not go there if you do not like to read sex scenes. This maybe sounds really obvious, but you never know.

Once you get to the site, you will be able to rank each scene based on a variety of criteria. It was kind of interesting to see which scene in my novel they chose.

I could really get obsessed over checking my standings! It could be as bad as obsessive Amazon-ing.

Anyway, get your vote in... IF you like it, that is... pass it on...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What Do I Do with the Expanding Tigers?

Hi all, first things first, my Backstory is up at MJ Rose's blog! Backstories are the stories behind the novels~how they came to be written. My road to publication was long, winding, and probably not what you'd expect. Check it out and do stick around for MJ's other Backstories, all very interesting.

A few of you've emailed about my REAL LIFE tour stops... they're all posted here.

Late-breaking virtual tour stops:
Kathleen O'Reilly mentions me in her Diary and quotes my favorite bookseller in the review!
And Andi Buchanan commiserates in Mother Shock.
Ann Marie Michaels will blog about me later in the week to plug my LA reading... I GET TO MEET ANN MARIE! YAY! So I'll linkety link her then.

OK, now onto my panic attack. (These have become daily occurrences.)

I've just learned a reporter from the Los Angeles Times is COMING TO MY HOME on Friday to interview me. Yes, they are going to enter my home, sit down in it and speak with me. They are going to view my home, as in my refuge... as in MY DISASTER.

Guess what I've been doing for the last several hours?

Hint: I'm high off the Windex fumes RIGHT NOW.

It is so enjoyable, picking up dirty underwear off the ottoman (NO, sorry to disappoint you, but they're not MINE), throwing away various varieties of drink boxes (NOT MINE), and driving the bulldozer into my office... (YES, I do claim that nightmare as my own, but not the Triscuits sprinkled into the computer keyboard... I don't eat Triscuits!).

Here is my current puzzle and it might just send me to bed. Perhaps you, my loyal readers, can help.

There are some expanding tigers in the kitchen. You put them in water for three days and they grow to 100X their original size. Right now they're soaking. They've grown quite a bit and somehow apple seeds have fallen out of them into the water. Or else someone dropped apple seeds into the soak-bowls, which is entirely possible. (You can see how little control I have over my home.) The tigers are starting to become fluffy and disgusting, and, as a matter of fact, revolting. But of course they are very important. They are a scientific experiment.

So my question is as simple as this.

What do I do with the expanding tigers?

And on a similar note, there are some new rules for the house. I'm going to pitch them tomorrow. Here they are:
  • No one is to walk across the clean floor.
  • No one is to sit on the freshly plumped up sofa.
  • Got that? No standing, no sitting.
  • No food is to be eaten in the house. All food is to be consumed outside on the grass.
  • No one is to use the bathrooms, especially the toilets. If you need to use the bathroom, walk down to the market and use theirs.
  • No sleeping on the freshly made and plumped up beds. Instead, sleep on the grass to mush the food scraps into the lawn so they are unnoticeable.
  • Brush your teeth near the tree in the backyard. Spit. Rinse well with hose. Under no circumstances is toothpaste to be spit into the sink.
  • No one is to sneeze within the house.
  • No one is to breathe within the house.
  • I think that all sounds really reasonable! How about you?

Broken Flash and More Book Tour Stops...

Getting back to the diabetes topic (that IS one of my topics, isn't it? I'm noticing all these links lately from diabetes websites, and I imagine they're a tad disappointed to hear me YAMMERING ON about book tours and so on. SO, to placate those folks, and also just to VENT a wee bit)...

...our son's Freestyle Flash blood glucose meter BROKE yesterday. On the way to swim practice. It wasn't the batteries (changing the batteries on the Flash requires an instruction manual, but that's a whole OTHER TOPIC... ). The meter turns on but won't recognize any test strips.

He can't swim without a meter. It's dangerous. We need to know what his number is before he swims so we can load him up on carbs. What if he goes low in the water?

We had to cancel swim and go to FUCKING Longs to buy another FUCKING Flash which was not covered by FUCKING insurance and therefore we're out $93.99. And in the car, of course, come the tears and the "I hate diabetes."

"I hate it too," was all I could really say to respond.

When the world gets calm enough for me to call and scream at Therasense, I'm sure they will send me a new one. They'd better.

Hugely rushing but the Virtual Book Tour continues. Near Melanie Lynne Hauser's Refrigerator Door, we have one of those really frank in-your-kitchen talks, speculating as to whether people have sex in Indiana. Three other gals should have their entries up by tonight... will post them then.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Big Con~and More Virtual Appearances

I am a liar. A dirty, rotten, stinkin' liar.

Let me explain. A week and a half ago we welcomed two new arrivals to our home.

Meet Julie Andrews:

And Indiana Jones:

Ah, bettas. Otherwise known as Japanese fighting fish. It's been so long since I've owned a pet, I became a little emotional about these guys. From day one, the little fucker above (and I say this with great affection, and am swearing ONLY BECAUSE I AM SO ANGRY AT THE WORLD... it is one of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's Stages of Grief, ya know... oops I'm giving the story away) REFUSED TO EAT. Anything.

I went out and got two different kinds of betta food. Washed out his bowl a bunch of times. Called the pet store. NO GO.

Yesterday I learned that dead fish do not float.

It happened while the kids were at school. And I just couldn't bring myself to go through the whole fish burial thing. The put-him-in-a-jewelry-box, dig a hole in the backyard, say a prayer and make a headstone, cry your eyes out thing.

I got a new one. {Hides face in shame.} An identical betta to the one who perished. He's really beautiful and he EATS. I made the pet store lady prove to me that he would eat before I would buy him.

Interestingly, our son changed his fish's name yesterday. Now he's Indiana Jones Gryffindor. I think some part of him knows.

We've had some awfully nice reviews of late (including a really spectacular one in Tatler if you're in the UK), and the Writer's Digest profile just appeared, but I'm starting to lose track of them all. The main reason being that I just don't have the time!

Oh, and if you are the Sonoma/Napa listening area, I am doing a live radio appearance during drivetime on the KVON/AM (ABC) show "Morning Edition." It's my first live interview, so forgive me if I sound like a big giant dork.

Some more virtual appearances before my real tour starts on Friday!

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Virtual Book Tour Begins!

Here's where I am today:
This next thing isn't part of the Virtual Book Tour, but someone in the commenting section drew my attention to the fact that Sarah Weinman blogged the book today! We loves Sarah too.

More later, I'm in a rush....

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Everyone's Staring, Again

There's a profile piece about me in the Sunday Marin Independent Journal, in the Lifestyles section. One cool thing you will read in the article~the book debuted at #6 on the Marin Independent Journal's bestseller list for books that are selling in Marin County. That's great as our county loves to read~lots of authors live here like Anne Lamott, Isabel Allende, Martin Cruz Smith, Joyce Maynard, Kay Boyle before she died, etc etc etc~so being a book lover is practically a requirement for living in Marin.

This was my first real interview and I'm a little too spooked to read it. Even when I got that link for you I just copied the link and closed the window RIGHT AWAY, just like you would if you were gazing at an S&M site and your boss sailed by.

But my husband read the article for me and said it was fine. Rather than really read the article I've decided to believe him.

It's really claustrophobic-making to see stuff written about yourself in the newspaper; even if they're being nice, they're bound to get something wrong, misquote you, or not write the story quite the way you would. And they did get a couple things wrong, my husband said~I went to school in Ohio, not Kentucky, and Cherry never did heroin with her mother~that was a different character. Oh well. On whole, he said they got it. But I'm still afraid to read it.

I have learned that I'm like a deer in headlights when it comes to media attention~and this is just the local paper, for heaven's sakes. By nature I'm a really shy person, and EVERYONE IS STARING.

Hope everyone had a fabulous Mother's Day. My virtual book tour starts this week, so look for a lot of links to blogs where some very lovely and talented gals will be hosting me!

Happy Mother's Day~

~to ALL you moms out there... particularly moms who are raising a child with special needs. I've posted this essay before, but I thought it worthwhile to share this again~

To You, My Sisters
by Maureen K. Higgins

Many of you I have never even met face to face, but I've searched you out every day. I've looked for you on the Internet, on playgrounds and in grocery stores.

I've become an expert at identifying you. You are well worn. You are stronger than you ever wanted to be. Your words ring experience, experience you culled with your very heart and soul. You are compassionate beyond the expectations of this world. You are my "sisters."

Yes, you and I, my friend, are sisters in a sorority. A very elite sorority. We are special. Just like any other sorority, we were chosen to be members. Some of us were invited to join immediately, some not for months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse membership, but to no avail.

We were initiated in neurologist's offices and NICU units, in obstetrician's offices, in emergency rooms, and during ultrasounds. We were initiated with somber telephone calls, consultations, evaluations, blood tests, x-rays, MRI films, and heart surgeries.

All of us have one thing in common. One day things were fine. We were pregnant, or we had just given birth, or we were nursing our newborn, or we were playing with our toddler. Yes, one minute everything was fine. Then, whether it happened in an instant, as it often does, or over the course of a few weeks or months, our entire lives changed. Something wasn't quite right. Then we found ourselves mothers of children with special needs.

We are united, we sisters, regardless of the diversity of our children's special needs. Some of our children undergo chemotherapy. Some need respirators and ventilators. Some are unable to talk, some are unable to walk. Some eat through feeding tubes. Some live in a different world. We do not discriminate against those mothers whose children's needs are not as "special" as our child's. We have mutual respect and empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes.

We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with whatever materials we could find. We know "the" specialists in the field. We know "the" neurologists, "the" hospitals, "the" wonder drugs, "the" treatments. We know "the" tests that need to be done, we know "the" degenerative and progressive diseases and we hold our breath while our children are tested for them. Without formal education, we could become board certified in neurology, endocrinology, and pschylogy.

We have taken on our insurance companies and school boards to get what our children need to survive, and to flourish. We have prevailed upon the State to include augmentative communication devices in special education classes and mainstream schools for our children with cerebral palsy. We have labored to prove to insurance companies the medical necessity of gait trainers and other adaptive equipment for our children with spinal cord defects. We have sued municipalities to have our children properly classified so they could receive education and evaluation commensurate with their diagnosis. We have learned to deal with the rest of the world, even if that means walking away from it.

We have tolerated scorn in supermarkets during "tantrums" and gritted our teeth while discipline was advocated by the person behind us on line. We have tolerated inane suggestions and home remedies from well-meaning strangers. We have tolerated mothers of children without special needs complaining about chicken pox and ear infections. We have learned that many of our closest friends can't understand what it's like to be in our sorority, and don't even want to try.

We have our own personal copies of Emily Perl Kingsley's "A Trip To Holland" and Erma Bombeck's "The Special Mother". We keep them by our bedside and read and reread them during our toughest hours. We have coped with holidays. We have found ways to get our physically handicapped children to the neighbors' front doors on Halloween, and we have found ways to help our deaf children form the words, "trick or treat." We have accepted that our children with sensory dysfunction will never wear velvet or lace on Christmas. We have painted a canvas of lights and a blazing Yule log with our words for our blind children. We have pureed turkey on Thanksgiving. We have bought white chocolate bunnies for Easter. And all the while, we have tried to create a festive atmosphere for the rest of our family. We've gotten up every morning since our journey began wondering how we'd make it through another day, and gone to bed every evening not sure how we did it.

We've mourned the fact that we never got to relax and sip red wine in Italy. We've mourned the fact that our trip to Holland has required much more baggage than we ever imagined when we first visited the travel agent. And we've mourned because we left for the airport without most of the things we needed for the trip.

But we, sisters, we keep the faith always. We never stop believing. Our love for our special children and our belief in all that they will achieve in life knows no bounds. We dream of them scoring touchdowns and extra points and home runs.

We visualize them running sprints and marathons. We dream of them planting vegetable seeds, riding horses and chopping down trees. We hear their angelic voices singing Christmas carols. We see their palettes smeared with watercolors, and their fingers flying over ivory keys in a concert hall. We are amazed at the grace of their pirouettes. We never, never stop believing in all they will accomplish as they pass through this world.

But in the meantime, my sisters, the most important thing we do, is hold tight to their little hands as together, we special mothers and our special children, reach for the stars.

xoxoxo, Martha

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Smack It Hard

This is good for getting out aggressions. Particularly if you dislike penguins.

Some people enjoy penguins. I drove behind a car today that had a license plate frame stating I LOVE PENGUINS. This brings to mind an interesting thought. This person enjoys penguins so much that they would actually seek out a fucking license plate frame proclaiming that fact. Not STOP THE WAR IN IRAQ. Not I DON'T EAT ANYTHING WITH A FACE. Not even MY CHILD IS AN HONOR STUDENT AT THE BETTER-THAN-YOURS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.


*THIS* is the statement you are going to make to the world?

However you feel about penguins, thwack one every once in awhile and you'll feel better. (Thanks to Mark Farley, who gave me the link & initiated me into penguin-smacking, long ago...)

315.7 is my personal record.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Food, Glorious Food

It will probably sound crazy, but I take great comfort in being a bit of an ascetic about food. Not in any really organized way of course. But for example. In the last month, I have given up meat and eggs, and am trying to eat all organic foods (except for the occasional Mentos indulgence). I feel great and have lost five pounds... a Nice Bonus, but not why I'm doing it. I'm glad vegetarianism is better for the environment but that's not it either. It's not even the animals really. I just like having rules related to food.

Back when I was writing The Bitch Posse I felt this enormous need to attend a Passover Seder. Doesn't that sound bizarre? I'm not even Jewish. It was an impulse so strong I couldn't ignore it. My best friend knew I wanted to go to one and graciously invited me to hers. It was absolutely beautiful, and so powerful and sacred. I wept. And when the novel was up for sale I ate nothing except matzo ball soup every single day. Something just told me to.

Food! It's an incredible thing. Of course, Communion is related to food, and words, and the power of them intertwined. "This is my body..." It's an incredibly cleansing ritual. I always feel better when I've had Communion.

Yet I sometimes think humans don't really appreciate the power of food outside of religious experience. Food is a visceral and amazing thing, but people take it for granted. They just shove it into their mouths and enjoy its taste on a surface level, maybe, but never really think about the spiritual and sensual power of food.

I have a hunch Gayle Brandeis knows what I am talking about. Her book FruitFlesh is an incredibly inspirational text on writing, all related to the sensuality of fruit. Words and food... there's a really powerful connection there.

Now that my son has diabetes, we suddenly have all these rules about food~counting carbs, avoiding certain types of carbs at some times and eating them very quickly at others, writing everything down... Maybe that's fueled my own obsession a bit.

The macrobiotic diet really intrigues me. A lot. But it seems like a ton of work~Here are some of the principles of macrobiotics:

The earliest recorded usage of the term “macrobiotics” is found in the writings of Hippocrates. Translated literally, macro is the Greek word for “great” and bios is the word for “life.” Macrobiotics is used by its practitioners as a tool that allows one to learn to live within the natural order of life. Throughout history, philosophers and physicians from many parts of the world have used this term to signify living in harmony with nature, eating a simple, balanced diet, and living to an active old age.

The modern practice of macrobiotics was started in the 1920s by a Japanese educator named George Ohsawa. Ohsawa is said to have cured himself of a serious illness by changing to a simple diet of brown rice, miso soup, and sea vegetables. At the core of Ohsawa’s writings on macrobiotics is the concept of yin and yang. In Chinese philosophy, the opposing forces of yin and yang govern all aspects of life. Yin—representative of an outward centrifugal movement—results in expansion. On the other hand, yang—representative of an inward centripetal movement—produces contraction. In addition, yin is said to be cold while yang is hot; yin is sweet, yang is salty; yin is passive, yang is aggressive. In the macrobiotic view, the forces of yin and yang must be kept in balance to achieve good health.

The macrobiotic diet, therefore, attempts to achieve harmony between yin and yang. To this end, foods are classified into yin and yang categories, according to their tastes, properties, and effects on the body. The two food groups—grains and vegetables—that have the least pronounced yin and yang qualities, are emphasized in the macrobiotic diet. Eating these foods is thought to make it easier to achieve a more balanced condition within the natural order of life. Foods considered either extremely yin or extremely yang are avoided.
I could totally get into that diet I think. I think I would feel an enormous sense of power on that diet. But to tell you the truth I don't think the family would put up with it.

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."~JRR Tolkien

Thursday, May 05, 2005

How To Order a Signed Copy of THE BITCH POSSE

Hi everyone...

I'd like to thank all my blog readers for the support you've offered to me all this time about the upcoming publication of my novel, THE BITCH POSSE. The book is now in stores and late next week I'll embark on my tour. (Click here for dates.)

A lot of people have been asking about whether there is any way to get a signed copy without attending a signing. There is. I have worked out a wonderful deal with San Francisco's legendary bookstore, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books.

Simply order the book on their website, and when it comes time to check out, write "Signed Copy" in the Comments section. I will sign copies at my reading on May 24th and books will ship soon after. This way, anyone anywhere may order a signed copy!

Click here to be taken to the ordering page on the bookstore site.

Here's the dustjacket blurb so you can see if the premise intrigues you~
These are the confessions of The Bitch Posse. Cherry, Rennie, and Amy were outcasts, rebels, and dreamers. And their friendship was so all-encompassing that some would call it dangerous. This is the story of three women-as seniors in high school and as women in their mid-thirties-who formed a bond in order to survive the pitfalls and perils of their lives. In the present day, one of them is a wife and mother-to-be, trying to live a "normal" life. One of them is a writer who engages in a number of self-destructive relationships. And one of them is in a mental hospital-and has been ever since that one fateful night fifteen years ago, when a heart-wrenching betrayal and the unraveling of relationships led them to a point of no return, where their actions triggered unimaginable consequences. These secrets have torn them apart, while inextricably binding them to one another. What happened to them? And can they survive their shared history, even today?

The Bitch Posse is an anthem for friendships that defy society's approval or disapproval. It's a novel of secrets, courage, sacrifice, and hope against the odds. It is both a journey back to being a girl on the verge of adulthood, and a journey forward, showing how the events of our past can unearth the best in us today.

Dare to jump in.
Thanks again, everyone!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

In Which Amy Kicks Ass and Is Famous

Amy Tenderich is famous!

She is the LEAD MENTION in a Wall Street Journal article today about "patient blogs." Check it out...
Diagnosed with diabetes five months after the birth of her third child, free-lance writer Amy Tenderich, 37, wanted to share what she was learning about glucose monitors, insulin injections, carbohydrate counts -- and coping with the disease. Last February, she started her own Web log, or "blog," diabetesmine.com.

The ubiquitous personal Web sites known as blogs have become a significant new forum for health-care consumers... {more}
Go Amy!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

8-Year-Old Saves His Dad's Life

Okay, this is a must read. It makes you remember what is REALLY important.

from The New York Daily News...
Boy's wheel hero when illness hits


An 8-year-old Boston-area boy was hailed as a hero yesterday for saving his delirious dad's life - by talking some sense into him.

Steve Vellucci persuaded his father to give up the SUV keys after his pop suffered a diabetic reaction and began driving erratically, police said.

"I knew something was wrong, because his eyes were barely open, he was sweaty," the second-grader said. "If I cried, I knew I would make it worse. I said, 'Dad, I need the keys really badly, and he gave them to me.'"

Steve's saga began Saturday when his father, also named Steven, began driving them home to Tyngsborough, Mass., after baseball practice, police said.

Vellucci, 36, told cops he felt a little woozy because he'd skipped lunch and his blood sugar had dipped. He said he figured he could make the 2-mile drive home.

Instead, Vellucci barreled his Nissan 20 miles down Route 3 into the town of Bedford before admitting to Steve, "I don't know where I am," police said.... {MORE}

Wonderful story, and with a happy ending. The best kind!

Monday, May 02, 2005

In Which I Become FreshMakered

I am just a TAD tense lately. I realize this. Wiser folks than I would tell me to take a long bath and go to bed early tonight, which I'll do.

And even WISER FOLKS THAN THOSE WISE FOLKS would tell me to pop a Mentos.

I know I am not alone. Cop to it. You love them too. Soon the freshness will overcome me and I will be able to conquer the world once again.

Need some convincing? This is such an old site I can't believe I only found it recently. But at last, I did. WHEW! If you need some FreshMakering as well, head over to the Mentos FAQ immediately! Here are just a couple goodies from the Commercial Synopses section (They've got Lucky 13 Synopses... IT MUST BE THE MENTOS!):

1. The Broken Shoe (or 'High Heel Treachery')
A sassy young lady sashays past an open air French style cafe, gaining the attention of a business man, and at the same time interrupting his newspaper enjoyment. As she glides past, a footwear malfunction occurs, leaving her sans one heel. She reaches for her secret freshness inducer, Mentos. After administering a piece of the magic elixir of nuttiness, she breaks off the remaining spike, proclaiming to the world her resourcefulness, and endless freshness. The man in the cafe is undoubtedly impressed.
2. The Fake Photographer (or 'Those Crazy Kids I')
A young lad and his pals file through a mob of fanatics and paparazzi, in order to get a closer look at their favorite star. However, their adventure takes them over the legal boundaries of said activity, which is then pointed out to them by the authorities. After a bit of contemplation, and a hearty dose of freshness ala Mentos, our hero cunningly disguises himself as a member of the media, and breaks through the defenses of the establishment.
3. The Airport Tram Ride (or 'Baggage Claim Blues')
A young woman finds herself in a bit of a pinch, as she discovers that she has packed too much, and her bags are a most bothersome burden. But she has no fear, it is a burden which is not insurmountable, especially with Mentos on her side. She unsheathes her glimmering blue tube of freshness, and holds it out stretched like the mighty Excalibur, and although shortening it by 1/14 this weapon has not lost its power. She consumes the pellet of perkiness, and decrees that she and only she shall be the one to ride the baggage cart, and all the other most unfresh patrons of the airport shall bear the full weight of their baggage. Her friends cheer, and dream of one day achieving a freshness such as hers.
On the site, you can even learn to FreshSpeak like an expert with terms like:

Empowermento (noun) The state or condition of being empowered by freshness.

Mentodramatics (noun) The overwrought emotion one feels when wronged, leading to the desire to down a Mento and correct the situation.

Mentophile (proper noun) A person (like yourself) who understands the many entertainment aspects of Mentos, and their all-important contribution to Western Civilization as we know it.

Mentostopheles (proper noun) A person who uses Mentos for evil means rather than Freshness

Mentowledgement (noun) The knowing look an adult gives a teen who does something crazy under the influence of Mentos.

YIF (acronym) Yours In Freshness

And there's so much more. Head over, and become FreshMakered yourself. (Warning: The server can be slow. Pop a Mentos while you're waiting.)


Are There Gods in Alabama?

Why, yes, there are, y'all! Proof is in this brand new Southern novel, gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. By some lovely twist of fate Joshilyn is in the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit with me, so YAY! Lucky me! I got to interview her.

Thank God someone finally kneed Southern women's fiction in the balls and cracked it over the head with a tequila bottle. Fuck the Ya-Yas. Joshilyn Jackson is the real deal. Oh~and for you Yankees (or Brits) her name is pronounced JOSS-I-LYN. And do not call her "Josh." Her nickname is "Joss."

Do I like bad books? No, I do not. I can genuinely say I liked this one, VERY MUCH. It was a true page-turner. At the end I felt I'd had a lovely Southern meal of fried chicken, fried okra, black-eyed peas, cucumber salad and biscuits, topped, of course, with a healthy portion of Jack Daniels.

And I'm not the only one who thought so ~

"Joshilyn Jackson's stellar debut has all the elements of great southern fiction, a plucky heroine with a sense of humor,a gripping tale and a mysterious dead body that needs explanation. Arlene Fleet, with a crystal clear voice and purpose takes the reader on a wild ride of despair, hope and redemption that no reader is likely to ever forget. What a storyteller! What a new, original voice!"
- Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia.

"Forget steel magnolias---meet titanium blossoms in Jackson's debut novel, a potent mix of humor, murder, and a dysfunctional Southern family."
- Library Journal , starred review

"This winning novel is the kind that readers crave: you can't stop turning the pages, but you wish it would never end."
- Christina Schwarz, author of Drowning Ruth and All is Vanity

"Southern heroines rarely leap off the page as full of life and trouble as Arlene Fleet, the headstrong protagonist and erstwhile alter ego of young Atlanta writer Joshilyn Jackson, whose marvelous debut, gods in Alabama, is fixing to slap some sense into modern Southern fiction.....Sweet Home Alabama meets Guess Who's Coming to Dinner as Arlene stumbles toward a redemption that even Rhett and Scarlett would never have imagined. Foulmouthed and hilariously frank, gods in Alabama is just the shot of sour to counter the diabetic-coma-inducing sweetness that seems to have overtaken Southern literature lately."
- Bookpage

Yes so now we have established that as a novel gods in Alabama KICKS ASS. But! There's more! Not only has she received all that acclaim, but Joshilyn is an incredibly nice person as well. Do you know Joss has taught me how to deal with reporters. With family members. And how to do that "target="_blank" thing on my blog. Joshilyn has a big-sisterly instinct and she has truly been a sounding board for me~always, always giving and supportive. Joss is the girl you would pass notes with in class and probably get in a little trouble with, but you'd be loyal to till the day you died. Joshilyn rocks. From Joshilyn's press release:

There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself, back in Possett. I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches. So begins Joshilyn Jackson’s stunning debut novel, GODS IN ALABAMA (Warner Books Hardcover; April 13, 2005; $19.95).

When Arlene Fleet heads up north for college, she makes three promises to God: She will stop fornicating with every boy who crosses her path; never tell another lie; and never, ever go back to the "fourth rack of hell," her hometown of Possett, Alabama. All she wants from Him is one little miracle: Make sure the body is never found. Ten years later, God has broken His end of the deal. Alabama has landed on Arlene's Chicago doorstep in the form of her high school arch-enemy, a young woman who wants to find the golden-haired football hero who disappeared after their senior year.

To make matters worse, Arlene's African-American boyfriend, Burr, has given her an ultimatum -- introduce him to her lily-white family or he's gone. Arlene would rather burn up in a fire than let him meet her steel magnolia Aunt Florence; her eccentric, half-mad Mama; her sweet-as-pecan-pie Cousin Clarice; and all the rest of her deeply racist kith and kin.

But the fickle finger of fate is pointing her south. All too soon she and Burr are on their way to confront Arlene's redneck roots, the secret she ran from, and the crime that stole her peace of mind. Back in the small town of her girlhood, Arlene's demons are closing in -- and after a decade of running away, Arlene must face them all. Yet while the truth threatens to destroy the life she has built for herself, it just may open her eyes to a love powerful enough to revise her past and alter her future.

Crackling with humor, defiantly endearing characters, and plot twists that will astonish even the most jaded reader, GODS IN ALABAMA will send you careening from tears to laughter and back. Most of all, it brings a unique, rough-around-the-edges heroine to life and makes her a permanent part of your own.


Joshilyn Jackson is a native of the Deep South, a former actor and award-winning teacher, and now a full-time writer and mother of two. Her work has previously appeared in TriQuarterly and Calyx, as well as the anthology ChickLit II. She lives with her family outside of Atlanta, GA. You can visit her website at www.joshilynjackson.com.

Right now Joshilyn is painting the entire South red on her author tour, but thanks to the wonders of email I got to interview her on the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit.

MO'C: How did you get started writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
JJ: Yes. Always. I've been telling stories ever since I had language. My mother has quite a few of the books I self-published using the crayon-and-stapler mothod as a child. Always, Always, Always, I wanted this.

MO'C: Sounds like you have a spectacular agent. Can you talk a little bit about him? And how did you get this great agent?
JJ: His name is Jacques and he IS a great agent. He's bigger than life in a lot of ways, very tall, stately, an older man with years and years in the industry. His mother was Austrian royalty and his father was an American Fly-Boy. The word everyone who meets him uses to describe him is "Gentleman." We've never had a contract. He told me exactly what he would do and what was expected of me, we shook hands, and that was the end of it. He's completely boutique--no secretary even. He answers his own phone. I LOVE THAT!

Short Version: I cold queried him. So, for all those writers who think that can't happen---keep querying. I live in the wilds of Georgia among cotton and kudzu and I had ZERO connections. As one woman at my church said (with absolutely NO IRONY), "Joshilyn! I thought it was impossible to break in, but if YOU can do it, I guess ANYONE can."

Long version: Oh Lord! Take me out for a glass or two of wine and settle in and I'll tell you sometime. It's a long story filled with Calumny and Lies and Magic and Coincidence and ending in Deus Ex Machina--as are most "Road to Publication" stories. If you write good books and work consistently to sell them, you are playing LOTTO. Every good book you write is another ticket, and you have to both keep writing good books and keep querying and asking and knocking on doors until the right book gets into the hands of the right editor on the right day.

MO'C: How much of yourself and your hometown are in gods in Alabama? I realize of course that you never killed anyone, but were your days in Chicago anything like Arlene's? What got you to settle down finally?

JJ: It's fiction. It is really really really fiction. As for settling down---I was the NICEST girl in high school. I was GOOD. I shone with the holy white light of goodgoodgood goodness. I dated NICE boys that I broke up with IMMEDIATELY if they tried to ease past second base and I didn't drink or smoke or even have a lot of impure thoughts. I used bad language every now and again and ONE time I borrowed ONE secret short skirt to change into when I left the house---I thought I was hot stuff for THAT.

College was a different story. Isn't it always? I was wild, but Arlene beats me by MILES. Arlene is MINE, but she isn't me. All of these people are MINE, but they are not me. They are flecked with little bits of me: Arlene has my sense of humor, Flo has my relationship with motherhood, Burr has my pragmatism and my weakness for legal thrillers. The plot is peppered with tiny details of transmuted moments in my life: My husband and I DO play versions of most of the made up games in the book, There really WAS a Phoebe the Chicken (with a much different owner and much different final fate), I did go to grad school in Chicago. And of COURSE thematically I am writing about the things that rule me: my longing for redemption, my yearning for goodness and my frequent failure to BE good, how I define myself by the people and places that make up what I call home, what love is and how it works... It's all mine. None of it is me. It's all reflective of what I think is truth. None of it is true.

MO'C: If gods in Alabama is ever made into a film, whom do you envision playing the major roles? Who, do you envision directing and doing the soundtrack?
JJ: I don't care---really. I see so many ways this book could become a film, so many ways different actors might interpret Arlene... If my film agent sells it, I am going to be FASCINATED, but I'll approach the film as an audience, not as the writer/creator. It's an attitude left over from my playwrighting and acting days. I've passed my own plays to a director and actors, and then watched them use it to make something that was more theirs than mine. As an actor, I have felt an ownership for roles I did not write; of course I was working within the framework of someone else's play, but acting a role also involves a separate creation. I am THRILLED, actually, by any prospect of the book becoming a movie, but not possessive. If Michael Cain wanted to play Arlene as a 60 year old gay man and set the whole thing in Scotland...yeah, go for it, Michael. I'll buy a ticket and a bucket of popcorn.

MO'C: I just discovered the following assessment that Ayelet Waldman made when she quit her "Bad Mother" blog: "Don't, don't start; it'll suck you into the screaming vortex of the blogosphere, and then you will never get out. …It was incredibly fun, but it's a bad thing for a
fiction writer to do, ultimately. And when you have this new medium of the web, there's no gel time — it's just all liquid. It just all comes out right away. And I was taking all these things, these moments and thoughts and experiences, and just putting them right out there. And once they're out there, once they're expressed, they're gone — I think. I think, for a writer, once you've put something down, it sort of both freezes it and expresses it, and you lose it from yourself." As an author who blogs, what do you think of this statement? Are there advantages and disadvantages to blogging?
JJ: She's right about blogging, but it has a different effect on me. It is actually good for me. I don't revise or craft my blog the way I revise fiction. I just YACK. It's a small, personal, anecdotal, friendly sort of blog. I also VERY strictly limit the time I spend blogging when I am not on the road. 20 minutes a day, unless I get tickled and begin REALLY amusing myself...then 30 minutes, tops. At the end of the time, if the entry is not finished, I hit save and finish it the next day. At that point, I have discovered, the blog has WARMED my brain, gotten the part that WRITES awake and clicking along and engaged. My writing days generally go BETTER once I have blogged.

MO'C: What has been the most surprising part of the publishing process for you? The most frustrating?

JJ: Surprising: That I am here, with a book out and another due out next spring. It does't feel real yet. Whenever I walk into a bookstore and see the physical, actual book there for sale, MY BOOK (!!!) my heart TRILLS instead of beating.

Frustrating: The waiting. Things. Move. So. Slowly.

MO'C: What advice do you have for someone who wants to write and publish a book?
JJ: Love the act of writing SO MUCH that it doesn't matter if it ever sells or not. Only pursue publication if you KNOW you'd be writing anyway because you can't imagine your life without the pleasures of it. Enjoy the work even when you are getting your umpty-teenth rejection letter and are frustrated and angry and afraid and that side of it is just a misery, because there will be moments when that side of it IS a misery, and you can't let that infect the writing. You have to accept that rejection and criticism will come, and it will hurt and be awful, but hold the writing somewhere seperate and safe and personal. Remember, some philistine somewhere turned HAVEN KIMMEL down.

I WRITE for me, because I love it. I pursued publication to be READ, which is WONDERFUL, but that also has to stay separate. It typically takes years and multiple manuscripts to break in, so you keep the rejection seperate, and when you win the lotto and get published, you STILL have to keep it separate so you don't get the big-head and become unable to see where you can get better. Don't let success OR rejection or anything that happens in the world touch the closed relationship between you and the writing. It hurts to be rejected, but that's just dues paying, and it's wonderful to be published, but that's just gravy.

The writing will sustain you.

And that's all she wrote. Thank you so much, Joshilyn! You can buy gods in Alabama at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion or MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION, your local independent bookseller through Booksense.

*FOOTNOTE ABOUT THE BOOKPAGE SILLINESS: I had to put all of my commentary about this review in a footnote because it was distracting from Joss's KICKASS NOVEL, which deserves better than this silly review.

The way this BookPage reviewer gave such a cavalier mention to a serious, chronic, incurable and lifethreatening disease, upset me so badly. BUT~this person probably has no idea what it is like to deal with the disease called DIABETES every day, and never lived through the crisis moments at the hospital when we did not know if our son was going to fall into a coma or not. Diabetic comas ARE NOT FUNNY.

I know BookPage is reviewing me so I'm prolly gonna piss them off, but I can't let this insensitive idiocy go without comment (COS I'M A BIGMOUTH, THAT'S WHY I WAS IN DETENTION ALL THE TIME.) Bookpage, listen, AND LISTEN CAREFULLY. DO NOT~I REPEAT, DO NOT~JOKE ABOUT A DIABETIC COMA UNLESS YOU HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH, OR BEEN CLOSE TO DEALING WITH ONE YOURSELF.

Diabetic comas? Try watching your son teetering at the edge of one, wondering whether he would live or die. NOT FUNNY NOT FUNNY NOT FUNNY.

Joss's book? FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY. God, she deserves better than this absurd comparison, and that's really part of why I'm so pissed off.

I don't want to be reminded of diabetic comas because we were an hour or so away from experiencing one, and as a reader I find mentions of them incredibly distracting, when you could just say something lovely about the book AND BE DONE WITH IT.

Love Joss's book, but this review PISSED ME OFF. Again, her book deserves intelligent commentary, not a think-they-are-funny-person joking about a serious, chronic and lifethreatening medical condition.

Think about seeing an 8-year-old boy hooked up to an oxygen tank and three IVs, including a potassium IV which burns so much he cries all night in pain. Think about wondering whether your son is going to make it and watching a team of doctors trying to save him from falling into a diabetic coma.

Diabetic comas. Lori dealt with one and it's a miracle she's alive much less blogging about it. And a young man named Jonathan Cooper nearly died in diabetic coma after suffering a stroke. He may have permanent brain damage. His parents were told he was going to die for sure, so they're just so grateful for the miracle Jonathan is even alive and showing so many signs of cognition and mental processing.

I do not know Jonathan but I do know people who are visiting him and are in correspondence with his family. And I do know his family is grateful for each moment with him. Each puzzle piece he fits together in therapy. Each expression he gives to his family. Each word he speaks.

Long-term, will Jonathan be able to think, read, write? No one knows for sure, though Jonathan is fighting hard. He is only 8. Is this funny? Are you laughing?

Would someone joke about AIDS this way? I don't think so.

Dear Bookpage Reviewer, Please just shut up about diabetic comas, and give Joshilyn Jackson the accolades she deserves, without being a big stupid insensitive jerk about it. I'm sure you didn't know you were being a jerk but now you know. The End.

I am so sorry everyone, but I couldn't leave that unsaid. {OFF SOAPBOX}]

So, buy gods in Alabama. You will not be sorry. One thing is for sure. You will receive a more intelligent novel than might be indicated by a remark saying that it, or any novel, is the antidote to a diabetic coma, which is only alleviated by insulin, potassium and some grace from God.

Read this book.