Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Break from Me~Children's Congress 2005

Hi all, thought you might like a little break from me and my musings... by the way, this summer looks to be a very light blog posting season for me... we were not able to find any local camps to which I felt comfortable sending our son. You never really think about safety issues until you have a child with special medical needs. So many of them are staffed by high school and college kids, fine for a child with no special needs, I suppose... they were fine last year... but this year, I want people who are plugged into my child.

One camp seemed perfect. It had been founded by a former EMT and everyone at the camp had to be certified in First Aid and CPR. Sounds great, right? Then I was told, "But of course, he won't be able to keep his blood testing kit with him... it has a sharp lancet and could cause injuries. (!) It will have to be kept in our locked camp office." Well, sorry, but my son is not going to be separated from his blood glucose monitor. It could help to save his life. Locked in an office? That' s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Anyway, our summer is very unstructured, and I'll be in & out for that reason.

Children's Congress is a very special event that happens once per year. Children from all over the country travel to Washington DC to speak in front of Congress about Type 1 Diabetes.

Here's the story of the Children's Congress Chair, Lauren from Massachusetts:

Delegate: Lauren

Story: As Children's Congress 2005 ChairKid, Lauren, 13, like her mom, Moira, is driven by the need to speak out and make a difference in the world. "I want Washington--and the world--to understand that diabetes is not something that can be 'controlled or
regulated,'" she says, "and that kids like me have no other choice but a cure."

Lauren is someone who tries hard at everything--she gets straight A's, volunteers at school and at JDRF events, giving her all and usually succeeding. "But when it comes to diabetes, no matter how hard I try, nothing is perfect," she says. "I've landed in the hospital ICU. I've had highs and lows many, many times." Her aspiration is to "be someone who has been cured of a disease and now works to help other diseases be cured."

Here is where you can find many other stories and transcripts of the children's testimony before Congress.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Now Here's a Novel Idea

Guh, forgive me for the pun, but it's late, and I'm just a tad UNINSPIRED at the moment.

Would you bid on this auction?

******Advertise in my New Novel*****

Michael T. Owens is selling a full-page ad in his new novel, right at the front. From what I gather from his website, which I perused briefly, Owens writes erotica by, about, and primarily for African American men. About the book:
A Dream Come True

When Morris “Mookie” Lovett wins a hip hop talent contest, he leaves his sheltered life in suburban Orlando, FL and heads for glitzy Los Angeles, CA. With hot lyrical skills, charisma, and good looks, he feels he’ll be a star in no time. His girlfriend Pam Rivera, and their best friend Fatimus Brown, tag along hoping to chase dreams of their own. Pam dreams of being a Hollywood fitness consultant while Fatimus simply wants a life outside of online chess, Sci-fi movies, and stamp collecting. Soon the fast life of sex, lies, music, and drama takes its toll, turning their dreams into nightmares. By the time they realize the city of Angels might be the city of devils it could be too late.

The current bid is $200 at the moment, and I'll bet it goes higher before the auction closes.

Owens states:



Unlike major best-selling authors, I don't have a multi-million dollar marketing budget! With that said, HERE I AM EBAY! Potential readers are waiting to buy your products and use your services. YOU just have to reach them! Corporations like McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Pepsi advertise in movies all the time. Why not do the same in books??!!
Well, hmmm. Maybe. But how are we to know whether this is a good deal? Owens doesn't disclose information about print run and so forth.

But to tell you the truth, this is one of the better marketing ploys I've seen lately. I mean, who the hell is Michael T. Owens anyway? Did YOU know before this auction? I sure didn't. Now, I don't know if I'll buy his book... but I will remember his name, that's for sure.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Chilling Challenge

When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls... whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still... that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with GHOULISH DELIGHT!

Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion! I am your host... your GHOST HOST! Kindly step all the way in please and make room for everyone. THERE'S NO TURNING BACK NOW!

Our tour begins here in this gallery, where you see paintings of some of our guests as they appeared in their corruptible, mortal state.

Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of FOREBODING, almost as though you sense a DISQUIETING metamorphosis. Is this haunted room actually STRETCHING? Or is it your imagination, hmm? And consider this dismaying observation: This chamber has NO WINDOWS and NO DOORS! Which offers you this chilling challenge: TO FIND A WAY OUT!

Of course, there's always MY WAY....

We've now returned, bloody exhausted from The Happiest Place on Earth. I've been a very irresponsible blogger during that time! The hotel wanted $10 per hour for Internet access and I tell ya, after a few days at Disney, you get fucking tired of getting fucking screwed every which way and then some.

It was so fun though. Actually, I'm only checking in briefly before I bloody collapse. And before I give you the update, do check in at Beatrice for my Author2Author interview with Colleen Curran. (You may have to scroll down a bit.) I really enjoyed "chatting" with Colleen. Her book kicks ass. I read it in a day.

Vacation kicked ass as well. All went well, except:

1) DO NOT LEAVE YOUR REFRIGERATOR DOOR OPEN FIVE DAYS WHILE YOU ARE GONE. No. Not a good idea whatsoever. What broke my heart most, was the precious insulin that had gotten warm. All our backup insulin. I hope we can get refills from Longs for all this.

It is sort of embarrassing to admit this, but:

I hoard expired insulin in case of, well, in case of the worst.

You might think this was funny, unless you have ever pictured your loved ones in the aftermath of a giant earthquake or terrorist attack with no access to medical supplies. Although we always have a large supply of UNOPENED and UNEXPIRED insulin available, I feel you can never have enough. Because without insulin, my son would make it three days, maybe four.

I put all the expired insulin in a Ziploc, clearly labeled as to when it expired, in the Crisper drawer of the fridge. Expired insulin loses potency, but it isn't completely useless. It would keep someone alive. It's better than none at all and if you don't save it I suggest that you might.

However, it's all gone now. Luckily we brought most of our backup insulins to the Happiest Place on Earth with us, so the loss is not as great as it might seem. Still, tomorrow morning I am on the phone with Longs.

2) DO NOT TRUST PERSONS WHO TELL YOU THAT THE SODA IN FRONT OF YOUR SON IS DIET. I asked TWICE at Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney whether the soda was diet. "Yes," I was assured.

Well, at the fireworks, he was a bit irritable and crabby, but I chalked it up to many long days at Disney. When he asked for a soda, then a water, I started to wonder. On the bus back to the hotel, we tested.... 469. For those of you laymen that's approximately FIVE TIMES the normal blood sugar reading.

It couldn't have been anything but the soda because everything he ordered at dinner was what he'd had before, and he hadn't "sneaked." Fortunately he had no Ketones... (Ketones are the poison that the body emits as it burns fat and protein when glucose is too high in the blood... this is what causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis, coma and eventual death...) So, we dosed on Novolog at bedtime, checked two hours later... 339, OK, still high, but better. He ran high all night until morning when he was 228. I'm so angry with Rainforest Cafe. I'm going to write them a letter and explain the potential consequences of substituting a regular soda for a diet.

OTHER THAN THAT, Disneyland truly was the Happiest Place on Earth for us. I am as bad as anyone hounding Mickey for an autograph, or insisting we get FastPasses to go on Splash Mountain THREE TIMES. And the Haunted Mansion? Classic. I told my husband we have to move to Orange County, but as a San Francisco native, he wasn't exactly sold on the idea. Oh well.... there's always next year.

Also in the LA area, I taped a TV interview with the very wonderful Connie Martinson which will air in July in stations in LA, NYC and San Francisco. More details when they arrive! Connie was so easy to talk to. UNFORTUNATELY I wore white for the interview. In the green room, they had a Q&A about TV interviews... what's the first thing they say? NEVER WEAR WHITE. Ah well....

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Novel that is Larger Than Life

Welcome to Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Land again! There are MANY summer releases among the girlfriends, so you're not imagining this fast-forward motion!

This one is an intriguing treat from author Alison Kent: A sexy, gritty thriller called Larger than Life. It's been compared to Mission: Impossible, Die Hard and the James Bond series. Already, I'm panting to read this one!

Back Cover Copy

With her wildly popular SG-5 series, Alison Kent proved that taut suspense and hot, sensual romance make for an irresistible mix. Now, in LARGER THAN LIFE, Kent ups the ante again with a story of two people caught in a high-stakes game where their hearts and lives are on the line…

After being beaten and left for dead in the New Mexico desert, Smithson Group agent Mick Savin tries to piece together his last few days. He remembers bits and pieces: gathering crucial intel. An ambush by Spectra thugs. And then…nothing, except waking up in some medical center in rural West Texas. His mission was top secret. So how did he end up here?

The answer is Neva Case. If the former big-city attorney hadn’t been out in her pick-up, Mick wouldn’t be alive. Mick’s never met anyone quite like Neva. She’s smart, sexy, and passionate. She also has a secret. Neva runs the Big Brown Barn, an underground shelter for young girls forced into unwanted polygamist marriages. Neva would do anything for these girls—and that’s what worries Mick. Neva may be trusting, but Mick’s instincts tell him that something’s not quite right. He’s not about to let someone get to Neva and the girls on his watch. Especially when one of the girls brings trouble straight to the barn's front door . . .

Now, with the shelter in unimaginable danger and time running out, Mick is in for the fight of his life, one that could cost him the woman he’s come to love more than anything…


"Hold on for a sizzling, heart-grabbing ride!"
~ NYT bestselling author Nicole Jordan

"A larger-than-life hero and nonstop action keep the suspense high in Kent’s latest SG-5 adventure. A heart-wrenching secondary romance adds emotional intensity and depth to this compelling tale."
~ RT Bookclub Magazine

"For me Alison Kent’s name on a book means that I am guaranteed to have a story that is realistic, entertaining, compelling and sexy as all get out. Larger Than Life is all this and more and Ms. Kent has added another winner to her memorable body of work."

“Alison Kent proved that taut suspense and hot, sensual romance make for an irresistible mix with Larger Than Life the newest in her wildly popular SG-5 series.”


Alison Kent sold her first book to Harlequin on national television. The sale was a featured segment on the “Isn’t It Romantic” episode of CBS 48 Hours. Since then, she has sold eighteen series romances, eight novellas, one non-fiction pop culture essay, and four single title trade releases to four different publishers. Alison is a 2005 Quill Award nominee ( for her February 2005 release, THE BEACH ALIBI.

Alison agreed to answer some questions for the site, and I'm so thrilled to have her here. Welcome to the blog, Alison!

MO'C: How did you get the idea for this novel?
AK: The idea came from a prime time news program about a woman who at sixteen fled a forced marriage to her cousin in the community of Colorado City in northern Arizona. She now helps other girls escape life under polygamous strongholds. I watched the show with the words "what if" swirling, and I knew I wanted to write a heroine who had taken up a similar cause. Strangely enough, I set my story in far West Texas never knowing a sect of the same polygamous community had moved into an area not too far from my fictional location.

MO'C: This book seems to take a shift from your romances. What do you find are the particular challenges about writing about gritty violence and sex? Did you find the change refreshing?
AK: LARGER THAN LIFE is still a romance, but the focus is as much on the action and suspense as the love story. It's funny how often I've heard the term "gritty" applied to the book because I never set out to write anything overly graphic. The grit factor rose solely from the characters, their backgrounds and situations, and the external plot. It's a dark story, yes, but I also think the commitment of the characters to their causes and to each other, not to mention seeing all the obstacles they've had to overcome, gives it an uplifting and empowering message.

MO'C: Did you plot out the story on a graph, or use an outline or another graphic organizer?
AK: I work with Christopher Vogler's "The Writers Journey" concept, and apply it to a three-act structure. I have a plotting board - an idea inspired by a good friend, Cherry Adair - that hangs on my bedroom/office wall. It's divided into sections for twenty chapters, and I use color-coded sticky notes to jot out the plot points and character growth that needs to take place in each act and each chapter. I also have a character board. I have to have visuals of all my story people and often of the locations.

MO'C: What kind of research did you do for this novel?
AK: A lot of reading - newspaper articles, interviews, personal stories - along with viewing news programs (since the issue came up in our state news while I was writing) on the practices and beliefs of these polygamous cults. The end result is, of course, purely fiction, but I included as much as was organic to the story of the principles that are the basis for these practioners' beliefs.

MO'C: What are your secrets for keeping a fast plot roaring along?
AK: I have to say the plotting board has done wonders for my pacing! I wish I'd been using it all along. I've always used "The Writers Journey", but the color coded scenes let me see exactly where one subplot might be taking a back seat to another that is overwhelming the bigger picture. It's truly magic.

MO'C: What are you working on now?
AK: I'm working on the next book in my SG-5 series, DEEP BREATH, due out in April 2006. LARGER THAN LIFE is part of this series that features a group of private covert operatives working for and funded by a philanthropist who is ex-military himself - and whose motto is "Boldly going where law-abiding, rule-stickling, by-the-book pussies won't - to do what needs to be done." *g* (Me: I LOVE this motto, Alison! I may just adopt it for MY own!)

MO'C: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
AK: Something that I've only put into practice recently. Protect the work. This is from the fabulous Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Too many times we ask for input on our work way too soon, and it ends up being a committee project or ends up diluted with nothing left of our original voice. I've learned to write through, and ask for help only when all hope is lost. *g*

Thanks so much for the interview, Alison! You may buy Alison's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, or through your local indie bookseller via Booksense. And don't forget to stop by Alison's site and blog!

I'll be scarce this week, but I'll be doing an Author2Author interview on Beatrice with Colleen Curran (author of the splendid Whores on the Hill), so you can head over there instead.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Major News!!!

This is going to be ALL OVER the papers and Internet so I thought I'd scoop it. HUGE, HUGE and VERY good news for people with diabetes.

The ADA (American Diabetes Association) just met in San Diego and here are some of their findings... thanks Lisa, who sent this to me! It's all very interesting but the first story was the most amazing! I am so thrilled I could dance around the room! That, combined with our recent endo appointment with a 6.3 a1c... well, we're pretty happy about these findings.

I don't know who wrote all this up (these are someone's notes from the conference), but thanks, whoever you are! I'm spreading the word!

Follow-Up Study from the DCCT Study...

The biggest news of all is the follow-up study of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT). You might recall that this was a study that showed that intensive glucose control reduced the rate of kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy and amputation. The trial ended some ten years ago but the people enrolled in the trial were continued to be followed. During the trial the control group's A1c was about 9 and the experimental group was at 7%. With a year and a half after the trial both groups came together and had an A1c of about 8 and they maintained that similar A1c for the duration of the 10 years of follow-up. The startling news is that brief period of intensive control - 6 years of intensive control - resulted in nearly a 50% drop in cardiovascular events, cardiovascular mortality, strokes, everything to do with cardiovascualar disease.

This is a huge story that will be covered in the newspapers. Early intensive control of blood glucose even for short periods of time results in a marked reduction of cardiovascular disease.

This may be the greatest therapy of all for people with diabetes. Have intensive glucose control - as good as possible and as early as possible in the progression of the disease - and you may significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cellphone Glucose Reporting for Teens...
Two great reports showed the benefits of a technology most of us use every day - cell phones. In these reports teenagers were told to enter their blood glucose readings into cell phones which transmitted the data back to a home base. In one study the cell phone was programmed to ring to remind kids to test their blood sugar. The kids who reported values outside of a predesignated range would receive calls back on their cell phones from nurse case managers who would offer assistance.

Using The Palm of Your Hand for Glucose Testing...

Another interesting report today showed that if you prick your palm to test your blood glucose level, you get the same result as fingertip testing. As many of you know, fingertips can be very sensitive and pricking your fingertips to test can be painful. This study showed that pricking your palm can be just as effective.

This is not advice to start palm-pricking. But I think this is the first report that shows you don't have to stick your finger to get the same result as sticking other parts of your body.

Stem Cells in Adult Pancreas?

Another symposium addressed the issue of regenerating beta cells - the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. One of the investigators was able to identify a particular cell type in the adult pancreas that acts as a stem cell to produce all the other pancreatic cell types, including beta cells. They also showed that, if treated properly, this cell could renew itself in the "undifferentiated" state (make more copies of itself). Then those cells go on to "differentiate" or become the various cell types found in the pancreas.

For the first time it indicates that there may be stem cells located within the pancreas with the abilty to produce all the various cells found there, including the insulin-producing cells. If there are significant numbers of these cells we could potentially "harness" this ability to augment the body's own insulin-producing capability.

Me Again... here is the other big story from the conference, out of Reuters... this makes me hopeful, somehow... it convinces me even more that figuring out how to "turn off" the autoimmune reaction, the destruction of the body's own pancreas... that that's such an important part of the puzzle. Anyway, read on.


Insulin Cells Persist in Long-standing Diabetes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In type 1 diabetes, which by definition indicates a lack of insulin production, the insulin-producing "beta" cells in the pancreas are thought to be wiped out. However, that may not be exactly the case.

The results of a new study provide some of the first evidence in humans that the pancreas continues to form beta cells even in the setting of long-standing type 1 diabetes, suggesting a possible new treatment strategy.

"The implication is that type 1 diabetes could, theoretically, be cured if we could stop the new insulin-secreting cells being destroyed," Dr. Peter C. Butler from the University of California in Los Angeles told Reuters Health. Butler presented his team's findings at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

Type 1 diabetes results when beta cells are mistakenly attacked and destroyed by the body in an autoimmune reaction. Until now, the only hope of reversing the disease seemed to be replacement of beta cells by transplantation.

Butler's team has now shown that, among 42 individuals who had type 1 diabetes for decades -- in some cases up to 60 years -- the majority (88 percent) still had detectable insulin-producing beta cells in their pancreas.

"Most interesting," Butler said, "we note that these cells have a high death rate by autoimmune destruction, implying that there must be ongoing new insulin-producing cells being formed. Therefore, type 1 diabetes may be reversible by targeted inhibition of beta cell destruction."

A lot more work lies ahead before that becomes possible. "What we do not know yet is what rate these calls are being produced or how they are being produced," Butler said. "These questions are currently being actively addressed in studies by our group, funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation."

2005 Reuters Health

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Garden Angel

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Mindy Friddle to the blog as our Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit interview!

Mindy's written a highly acclaimed work of Southern fiction entitled The Garden Angel. It's gotten a huge amount of praise and was also a SEBA (South Eastern Booksellers' Association) bestseller! (Dustjacket is a hotlink)

From the book description:

In Sans Souci, South Carolina, talk is cheap, real estate even more so. No one knows this better than Cutter Johanson, a gruff tomboy who waits tables, writes obits, and makes every effort, however comical and in the face of her mercenary relatives, to avert the sale of the dilapidated ancestral home. And despite her plucky resolve, all appears to be lost--until she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth, a shy and fragile academic who puts both their fates on a permanent mend.

About the Author
Mindy Friddle is a former newspaper reporter. She received the 2003 South Carolina Fiction Prize and a Fellowship in Fiction from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. She lives in South Carolina.

And just look at some of Mindy's reviews... wouldn't we all commit homicide for these? I mean... getting compared to EUDORA FREAKING WELTY? Go Mindy!

"Mindy Friddle has a great comic touch, and her novel is a touching, heartfelt debut." --Richard Russo, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"Cutter Johanson is a heroine Eudora Welty would be proud to claim and one few readers will forget. The Garden Angel is a book I did not want to end." --Ron Rash, author of Saints at the River

"Friddle has a way with the comic yet apt image...funny, down-to-earth, and steeped in a sense of place." --The Washington Post

"A beguiling debut novel. Friddle...handles the juxtaposition of two highly eccentric cultures--small-town Southern society and small-college English department--with a light, quirky touch that keeps the story moving along and steadily entertaining." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thank you, Mindy, for joining us today. Let's talk a bit about your fascinating novel!

MO'C: Where did you get the idea for this book?
MF: An old boarded up house on a highway beside a Taco Bell provided the inspiration. It had once been a gorgeous estate and was for sale. I wondered what kind of character might live there and what lengths she would go to hold on to such a ruined family estate.

MO'C: From what I understand, THE GARDEN ANGEL became an underground sensation and even a bestseller. Can you describe how that experience unfolded? Was it something you expected?
MF: Well, I had no great expectations. I DID expect to work hard to find the book, my first novel, "readership," as they say. I've done dozens and dozens of book club visits and telephone conferences. I've visited a lot of independent booksellers who helped handsell it. I'm grateful it was chosen for a Barnes & Noble Discover book. I basically worked full-time as my own publicist for several months, sending out press releases and setting up appearances.

MO'C: One of your characters is an agoraphobe. Did you have to do a lot of research on this disorder? How does Elizabeth's agoraphobia affect her life?
MF: I actually read some case studies on agoraphobia and did some research. But it wasn't too hard to slip into the skin of Elizabeth (my agoraphobic character). It's a sort of panic disorder after all, and most of us have had a lot of anxiety or a panic episode or two. I multiplied that horrible feeling, that sense of being trapped. Elizabeth's agoraphobia is severe and cripples her life. She has difficulty leaving her house, driving, or holding a job. Her marriage suffers.

MO'C: Can you explain a bit how you see the South changing and how this impacts your novel?
MF: The towns are being swallowed by city sprawl and chains and superstores, but I suppose that goes for most of the country as well. The population is growing more ethnically diverse, which is a good thing. It tends to be a traditional, conservative region, but it's the place to have a flat tire or run out of gas. People are very well-mannered. Most folks still wave to strangers from their front porches.

MO'C: Where did you get the title?
MF: My agent suggested it. The garden angel is a cemetery statue in the family graveyard that figues prominently in the novel.

MO'C: What do you find the blogging experience has brought to your fiction? Do you recommend that authors blog?
MF: I've met a lot of fellow writers in cyberspace through my blog. I like to share my experiences good and bad, and provide any help that way. What works for book tours...interviews of other authors...that kind of thing. I think blogging is a good idea if an author has a burning interest in doing it. It does take some time. You don't want to be in the position of blogging more than writing. But it's a great way to feel part of the writing community.

MO'C: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
MF: I would reiterate the need for reading A LOT. And writing on a regular schedule. Toughen your hide and don't take rejection personally. Easy to say, I know. But resilience and discipline are the qualities I see most in authors who publish regularly.

Thank you so much for joining us, Mindy! Mindy's beguiling novel is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, or my own recommendation, your local indie bookseller via Booksense.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Slainte! to Damian McNicholl

I've recently finished a remarkable book called A Son Called Gabriel by an Irish-American author named Damian McNicholl. It's newly available in paperback, was a finalist for the Lambda Award, and was a Book Sense Pick of the Year. (Image leads to the online ordering page.)

Touching, tough, and tender, A Son Called Gabriel is a must-read. Young Gabriel Harkin lives in Northern Ireland during the 1960s and 70s, the times known as "The Troubles." As his life moves forward, he realizes he's not like other boys... devastating for him, as he comes from a strict Catholic family. Along with the outer turmoil of The Troubles, the reader follows Gabriel's sexual awakening as he wrestles with the fact that he is gay.

From the older boy who seduces him with sex games to the tanned and elegant man he admires on the beach, from the priest who abuses him in the classroom to the stranger that Gabriel himself propositions, our hearts beat and break in tandem with Gabriel's as he comes to terms with his sexuality. How can his family ever accept him? Gabriel wonders. His church?

Gabriel tries many times to "change," always unsuccessfully. Will he ever have the courage to tell his family the truth? And what will happen when Gabriel's Uncle Brendan, also a priest, reveals his own deep secret, one that McNicholl holds masterfully until the book's surprising, yet inevitable conclusion? The novel's ending doesn't tie up things neatly, but rather haunts the reader for days afterward.

The writing is lyrical and the dialogue is spot-on, with dry humor and wit. Gabriel Harkin's is a universal story, not just a gay story. There's a reason the Irish are known as great storytellers, and McNicholl's debut adds another notch in the belt of Irish writers everywhere.

The author, Damian McNicholl, agreed to answer some interview questions for the site! The interview appears below.

DMCN: First, Martha, thank you for inviting me to your blog to answer your questions.

MO'C: It's my pleasure, Damian. Let's get started, shall we? {{pours two pints of Guinness, hands one to Damian}} First of all, Slainte! to you and your remarkable book. A Son Called Gabriel seems to beg for a sequel. Have you thought about exploring Gabriel's adult life in another novel?

DMCN: I do intend to write a sequel but am not ready to do so yet. I've just finished a second novel entitled UNUSUAL STEPS which is a dark comedy set in London and have now commenced a novel set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I found I just needed to get away from writing about Ireland for a while. But after I've written this American set novel, I feel sure Gabriel's adult voice will speak to me and I'll start his sequel. That's the beauty of sequels; they don't have to be written consecutively.

MO'C: Ireland has been dealing with issues of identity and oppression for hundreds of years. What do you feel the novel gains by having Gabriel's inner turmoil reflected by the political and social climate of Northern Ireland at the time?

DMCN: Ireland has indeed been dealing with these issues for a long time. I definitely intended the conflicts to be presented in parallel--the inner conflict of a young Irish boy as he grows to maturity and the wider, external conflict taking place in his world both in relation to ubiquitous sectarianism and the social conservatism in his rural Catholic community. I wanted this because I just didn't want to write a coming-of age novel. I wanted the novel to be much wider and felt the parallel conflicts would add depth and richness to the story, and that they would help the reader get a deeper understanding of Gabriel's life and circumstances.

MO'C: Did you have to return to Northern Ireland in order to do research or is much of the atmosphere derived from memory? How do you feel Northern Ireland has changed since Gabriel's time?

DMCN: A combination of both, really. I read voraciously about Northern Ireland for an earlier, unpublished novel I'd written. (That's why I said earlier that I needed to quit writing about Ireland for a while.) And, as my parents and siblings and their families live over there, I travel to Northern Ireland often which allows me to reacquaint myself with the dialect, culture and landscape.

It's changed in that the period of violence known as THE TROUBLES--which includes the years covered by the novel--has ended, albeitunofficially, and the political parties representing the various religions and cultures are trying to work together. I was brought up Roman Catholic and my siblings are really hoping politicians from both sides can negotiate and eventually form a stable and lasting government that will rule from Stormont, the seat of the Northern Irish parliament. My siblings are hopeful and anxious to co-exist in peace with their Protestant neighbors (indeed have many Protestant friends) and do notwant things to backslide to the days when opportunities for Catholics were negligible. Unfortunately, there is one extremist party on the Protestant side--they're our Christian Right, if you will--that does not want to be in government with Sinn Fein (which is the largest party representing Catholics) and are hell-bent on turning back the clock to the days of ruling the province as their Protestant birthright. But the clock can't be turned back: moderates on both sides are economically better off and recognize how pointless it is to divide the people and country.

MO'C: I know many Irish and Irish-American people because I'm married to the son of Irish immigrants. And the dialogue in A SON CALLED GABRIEL rings uncannily true. There's a whole incredible subtext, in many cases. For instance, a conversation about whether to purchase a new pair of shoes is really about the decades long feud between a pair of cousins and there's a huge discrepancy between what is SAID and what is MEANT. Do you find this to be the case as well and how were you able to pull off such genuine dialogue?

DMCN: Thank you. I think subtext is so important in writing. I hate things that are too overt in novels, don't you? I feel subtext allows the reader to engage more with the story as it unfolds, to really reach into the character's heads, to identify with their actions and become them at times, if you like.

With regards to the dialogue, I didn't have to think about that to a huge degree as it came pretty spontaneously. I'm particularly happy with how Gabriel's mother turned out. She's a lioness and quick-tempered and her expressions are so singularly Northern Irish, which is very different to what people associate as being Irish in the States. Here, Irish speech is always identified with the Southern Irish brogue. We, Northerners, tend to get lumped in with the Scottish, but the speech is quite different.

Also, I think it was easy because I'm born and schooled in Northern Ireland and still speak with an Ulster accent, although one that's modified because I went to university in Wales. So I remember all the great turns-of-phrase and idioms and stuff. As an aside, my accent had to change when I went off to law school because some of the students from England who were in my tutorial classes used to tease me about it; they couldn't understand a word I was saying...and, more importantly, neither could the lecturers. So I figured it was either change the accent a bit or fail law school.

MO'C: My novel also deals with young people and I found the writing process to be incredibly emotional, as I was reminded of my own past. Did you find writing A SON CALLED GABRIEL pulled up a number of emotions about growing up?

DMCN: Yes, our novels are very similar in that respect.

Writing this was very emotional for me both because I am an emotional person and also because I regard the novel as fiction rooted in experience. In other words, some of Gabriel's experiences, I have experienced, and I took these and developed them for the purposes of the plot. On some occasions during the writing, particularly if I hadn't read a section for a while and then reread it, I found myself bawling or laughing, etc. But the process was cathartic and I regarded my emotional outpourings as a very good thing.

MO'C: How long did it take you to write this book?

DMCN: The first draft went very quickly and only took six months. But then, as you know as well I'm sure, come the redrafts and editing which took another year-and-a-half. So all in all it took close to two years before I felt it was polished enough to send to agents.

MO'C: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

DMCN: Believe in yourself, believe in your writing, write the best book you can, and never give up on your dream of seeing it published once it starts doing the rounds. There are lots of great books that were turned down by publishers before they found the right house.

Thank you so much for spending time on my blog today, Damian! And for my readers, stop by Damian's site or blog if you can, and do try to get your hands on this book. There's also another really intriguing interview with Damian on Scott Esposito's site, Conversational Reading, as well.

I'll leave you with my favorite Irish blessing:

May those who love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles.
So we'll know them by their limping.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I Actually Smiled in a Picture and The Story of a Diabetic Seizure

First off! The LA Times printed their feature piece! It's really a lovely article overall, with a photo that I REALLY like.

Onre guy I know told me he was amazed I had actually smiled in a photo! And to be honest, I rather like the effect! The photographer was SO NICE~it was easy to smile for him! He saw my Cure Diabetes bracelet and knew right away what it was because his girlfriend has Type 1 Diabetes. We talked for quite some time about it!

I talked the reporter's ear off about diabetes, but he didn't take any notes and it wasn't because he was so wrapped up in what I was saying. It was because, sigh, HE WASN'T GOING TO WRITE ABOUT IT. I really wanted to raise awareness so that was disappointing... BUT, I did try, and I think I'm just going to have to write an article about diabetes myself.

Overall, I thought the article gave a really good sense of what the book's about and mostly got my publication story right. For additional reviews of the novel (The Washington Post,The Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Tatler, Glamour (UK) etc...) you may click here to go to my Readerville page, which has the most recent updates... scroll down. (For some reason, the only ones the reporter quoted were unsigned reviews from publishing trade journals and one from a professor at a religious university.) There's an excerpt at the Readerville page too, so you can see what you're in for. It's a novel that pushes buttons, that's clear. My favorite review of all time is from Mark Farley at Waterstone's Notting Hill Gate... "Stuck up middle finger punk fiction." Rock on...

(By the way, the talented Colleen Curran and I will be discussing reviews, reader responses and many other topics on Beatrice sometime soon. Colleen's novel Whores on the Hill has also drawn sparks of controversy and passionate reader responses. Bravo, Colleen! I think anytime you can spur the villagers into rushing into their barns to get their torches, you've done something right.)

Onto the public service announcement for the day... a true life story of a diabetic seizure. This happened to a friend and she's agreed to let me post what happened and what she did. I think it's really useful to know about this in case there is a person with diabetes in your life. She really kept a clear head and fortunately her story has a happy ending. (All names have been changed. The mom I'm calling Cheryl.)

Hopefully some of you parents and friends can learn from Cheryl's story... and, if you know someone who thinks diabetes is "no big deal" or you're "making too much of your child's diabetes" or that by focusing closely on diabetes you're "making diabetes too important in your child's life".. (and I, and people I know, have heard all these things.. even though it's been proven time and again that children whose parents are highly involved in diabetes management, advocacy and outreach run much less of a risk of long-term complications!) ... have them read this! I read a very sad story the other day about a man who died from a serious hypoglycemic incident. Cheryl saved her daughter's life.

Cheryl writes:
Theresa had a severe hypoglycemic seizure this morning at 3:30 am. We've had diabetes in our family since Michael was diagnosed 1/1996 but this was the first time we've ever lost consciousness. I won't go into all the numbers and details - I know it was a mix of some bad luck and miscalculations - but I thought I'd share these insights from the experience with you:

In the thick of it;
- Split the paper prescription label on your glucagon so you don't have to fight with it when you need to open it.
- I tried to inject the glucagon holding it like a regular syringe and the needle bent. It was as thick and sharp as a tack. I had to hold it like an ice pick and JAM it into Theresa's rear. She was struggling against it even though she was unconscious. I couldn't have done it without Michael (her 12 year old) restraining her.
- The 911 guy was great. After I administered the glucagon and we were waiting for the paramedics, he said, "Get all pets and animals out of the room." Huh? "Do it!" he commanded. I quickly understood why. 4 to 5 (I'm not sure!) guys were soon in my crowded hallway and Spot - who would not hurt a fly - was going nuts on the other side of my son's bedroom door! He probably just wanted to say hi, but Spot was one thing I did NOT need to deal with just then. Good advice.
- If your child is also celiac, grab something gluten free for him/her to eat on the way out the door. This is not the first time I found that ERs have only graham crackers and the like!
- Give the sibling something to do! As I said, as a single mom, I could not have pulled this off without the help of Michael (12) and Dana (7). I think it kept them calm to have something to do, some way to help. Michael called 911, got the glucometer, helped with the glucagon, took care of Spot and then at my request comforted Dana. Dana turned on all the lights, got me towels, helped me get dressed and flagged down the paramedics. I have today praised them repeatedly for their composure and teamwork. I have also listened as they relived their fears.
- God bless good neighbors! I rang the neighbor's doorbell at 4: 15 and didn't even have to say a word. They swooped up Dana and Michael (who were being brave but were petrified) and off I ran, confident that they were in good hands. I did the same for their young daughter when their toddler son collided with a coffee table, hence acquiring a very fashionable Harry Potter-esque scar!
- I decided to bring her to the ER when she was physically stable (it seemed) but not mentally lucid. Very scary. They asked her where she was, she looked around her room and answered, "Lake Tahoe", where we have been only once, 2 years ago! Dr. Littenfeld today endorsed this decision. He thought it best to go to the ER until total stability was confirmed. I chose Stanford, not the closest, but they are attached to Lucille Packard and I have strong feelings, from experience, that children are best treated at a children's hospital.
- I don't think you can ever tell anyone effectively to keep calm, but I do keep calm in diabetic crises and it really helps me, the professionals and my other kids.
- I am going to teach my neighbors how to administer glucagon!

- She is very tired and weak today and her thoughts are quite foggy and muddled. I have her on 50% basals and less than 50% boluses and she is still going low but not feeling it.

OK, Here's how I have kept guilt at bay, mostly:
- There are 365 days in a year and most of them go pretty well!
- When Michael was first diagnosed, our fantastic endocrinologist said something to this effect: In every diabetic's future, there lurks an ambulance ride, an ER visit, a glucose IV drip. Keep doing your best, but when these things happen, do not feel that you have failed or that things are somehow 'worse'. You haven't and they are not. It's all just part of life with diabetes. Deal with it but don't dwell on it.
Cheryl writes further to explain what may have caused the low:
- We ate dinner at Chevy's and eating out carb calculations are never as exact as at home, at least for me...

- She didn't bolus 4 (as I had told her to) at dinner. She bolused about an hour after, while rollerblading, which meant she had more insulin on board when I checked her pre-bed blood sugars than I realized.

- She rollerbladed hard for about 45 minutes after dinner, and I don't think I took that into account enough.

- I did take these things into account, though, so when her BG was just over 200 at 9:30, I did not correct, as I normally would have, a little.

- Since I checked her before bed at 9:30 ( very late for her) and I went to bed at 11:00 (very early for me), I did not test her at 11:00. I normally test her around midnight.

- Also, I had been supecting that her nighttime basal was too high, because she was waking up around 80, which I think is too low for a kid. But I was still in wait-and-see mode. An error, in retrospect...

- Oh yes, one more thing. Six days prior she had the slight 'tummy bug' that has been going around our school. She had a tummy ache and I couldn't get her BG above 100 all day on the previous Thursday and she stayed home from school just feeling bad on Friday but felt fine by the evening. From my experience, even slight illnesses can influence BG long after the symptoms are gone.

So I think if you put all that together, in our case on Wednesday, you got a big disaster! Hope there's something in all this for you to remember to avoid the same!
I'm really appreciative of Cheryl's willingness to share this online. I hope it can help others in a diabetic emergency. We have our quarterly endo appointment today, so wish us luck!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bitch Underground

The Bookseller to the Stars went Tubing this weekend and snapped these photos of the Bitch Goddess Notebook posters for me... thereby PROVING that the email I received from my British editor telling me this was going to happen, was not a hallucination. I'm really flipping out because this is just a lot of fun to see.

If you can't read the text on the posters, it says "Discover Your Inner Bitch" on the top and then the quotes:

If you loved Heathers and The Craft, this is for you – it's dark, compelling and not for the faint-hearted. Five stars. ~HEAT (I'm told HEAT is like the UK version of PEOPLE)

More bitch lit than chick lit... There's a buzz about this book that tells us it's going to be huge this summer. ~GLAMOUR (It's the UK version of duh, GLAMOUR)

Don't disbelieve the hype. The Bitch Goddess Notebook is as good a debut as it's cracked up to be. ~TATLER (This is like the UK's VANITY FAIR)

Then at the bottom it says, "Find Trouble Before It Finds You."

Bitch at Notting Hill Gate

Bitch at Bond Street Station

Bitch, The White Stripes, The Bookseller to the Stars, and 13 Conversations at Notting Hill Gate

Bitch, 13 Conversations and Some Beer, Energy Drink or Condom Ad (I can't tell which) at Marble Arch

D'you spose that The White Stripes or the people who manufactured that Energy Drink/Condom are flipping out over their Tube ads? Dousing themselves with champagne, or at least some cheap chardonnay? [Cos, ya know, some of us can't quite manage the Dom Perignon at the moment... Bitch is selling well, but not QUITE (heh) like Elephant did or how Satan likely will... And I'll NEVUH hope to sell as much as ANY brand of condom (or beer or energy drink, for that matter) Ah well, Two Buck Chuck will do nicely]

Honest to Betsy, d'you think those Famous Types are running up and down their block yelling YAHOOOOO! without even any eye makeup on?

I somewhat doubt it, but I don't care. As long as I keep my clothes on, I think I should be all right.

And Two Buck Chuck in a coffee mug... that'll do QUITE nicely.

See ya tomorrow~xoxox

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Word by Word Radio Interview is Archived! & I Love England

The interview I did with the very smart and talented Jordan Rosenfeld on KRCB/NPR is now archived on the web! You can listen to it here.

"Word by Word" is a wonderful show. There are a whole bunch of really talented authors whose interviews are linked on the site. I could spend HOURS there!

Some other good news for the book~the response in the UK has been so amazing that Orion have designed 100 posters to be displayed at various Tube stops all over London. They are about 1 yard by 1.5 yards and say "Discover Your Inner Bitch," feature the book jacket and three great quotes (from Glamour, Tatler and Heat) and at the bottom they say "Find Trouble before It Finds You." I just got my copy. It's beautiful! are also doing a special leaflet mailing along with all their book shipments, so if you order something from in the near future, you may very well see something about the book! I am not sure if I mentioned that The Bitch Goddess Notebook (the British title) debuted at #12 on the UK bestseller list (The Bookseller) and it's since moved up to #8.

I love England!

The earth is a place on which England is found.
- GK Chesterton.

In spite of their hats being very ugly, Goddamn! I love the English.
[Fr., Quoique leurs chapeaux sont bien laids,
Goddam! j'aime les anglais.]
- Pierre Jean de Beranger

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1

Guest Article...

Redbook has a column about healthy eating. The current issue mentions how people should avoid sugary drinks to prevent "diabetes."That's it, just... "diabetes." No distinction at all between Type 1 and Type 2.

Understandably, as a mom of a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes, my friend Betty Redmond was upset. And so she wrote the following, which she's agreed to let me share. It's so well-written, well-reasoned, and elegant that it's really more accurate to call it an article!
I recently picked up a copy of your June 2005 issue with Tim McGraw on the cover. As a first time reader of Redbook, I was delighted with the content until I reached pages 122 and 126. The media (and now your magazine) fails time and time again to properly define which type of diabetes they are discussing when warning readers against poor diets and sugary drinks. Please make sure that in the future you clearly state that you are discussing Type Two Diabetes. Do not lump all Diabetics together under the "diabetes" headline.

I invite you to meet my daughter Kryssy. (Betty attached a cute photo of Kryssy, who's a junior cheerleader with a great smile.) She was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at age 6. She is healthy, active and skinny - yet she has "Diabetes." Kryssy is one of approximately 1 million children in the United States with the auto-immune version of Diabetes which is NOT preventable, is NOT curable and has absolutely NOTHING to do with diet.

When you write an article and print warnings about getting Diabetes, you make Kryssy's life more difficult. Children with Type One Diabetes have to continuously explain to the world that they did not do this to themselves. You won't believe how much damage the media does with this one little slip. Type One Diabetes is not something Kryssy could prevent. It is simply the result of an auto-immune attack on her beta-cells that caused her to stop producing insulin. No matter how many organic, low carb, low calorie meals my daughter consumed as a toddler, she still developed the disease. Diet had NOTHING to do with the onset for her and the other one million children with Type One Diabetes.

To a person not familiar with the disease, they may read your article and say "Oh, if Kryssy just didn't drink a soda, she wouldn't have to wear that insulin pump day after day." When Kryssy (before she was more educated in her own disease) was younger and she was told time and again about an article someone read that said you can go off shots if you lower your carb/calorie intake each day, she was given false hope. Kryssy will never again make a drop of insulin. This is a life-long sentence for her. The least you could do is print the appropriate message - just add Type Two to every article you write about "Diabetes" until one day you decide to cover an article on the beautiful, happy, healthy and fit children afflicted with Type One Diabetes.

Thank you.

I invite you to visit Children with Diabetes to get a better understanding about how very different Type One and Type Two Diabetes are. Visit the faces and places pages to see many of these healthy, fit and active children living with the disease.

Thanks so much for this great article, Bettty! I hope that people reading it will get as much out of it as I did.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

dLife {hearts} Me!

About once a day or so, I log into my stat counter, just to see where visitors are coming from. I noticed a bunch of hits coming from the dLife site and so I went there to check it out. And, hot damn, I am listed as a resource for dLife! Just as though I actually know what the fuck I am talking about and stuff! LOL

dLife is a program on CNBC which discusses life with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2. It's been hosted by amazing spokespeople with either Type 1 Diabetes (former Miss America Nicole Johnson) and Type 2 Diabetes (actress Della Reese). Along with several great diabetes bloggers like Amy and Violet, I'm listed! Folks cruising over here from dLife must be thinking, who the hell is this woman? She wrote some book I'm supposed to care about? Where the fuck is her diabetes discussion? I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

OK, OK, here's who I am. I am first and foremost a mother. And I am a mother of a child with Type 1 Diabetes. We are coming up hard and fast upon our anniversary of diagnosis, July 14, 2004. On that day, I plan to post our diagnosis story. I've written a very bad, first-draft version of it for another site... that's all I can manage right now.

I can't look at those horrible moments when my son was (unbeknownst to me at the time) just hours away from diabetic coma. The moments when I heard he'd be insulin dependent for life (actually a relief, because at the time I thought he was going to die). The moments I learned that potential complications included blindness. Amputations. Stroke. Kidney failure. As the pieces of news hit me bit by bit, I eventually became resigned.

By the time we hit the dentist, I knew enough to say... Kay hun. How does diabetes affect his DENTAL health? I wasn't shocked to hear about increased chances of gum disease. It's the capillary damage that gets ya. That seems to be the common denominator in all these complications. So we got special toothpaste and mouthwash, and yet another admonition to "keep blood sugars in range." Like that wasn't already my goal. We're trying. With 8-10 blood sugar tests a day (more if we're dealing with serious lows or highs), we're tryin'.

Before dx (shorthand for "diagnosis" to those who are lucky enough not to have had to deal with this in your lives), I didn't know much about Type 1 Diabetes. Nothing really! Didn't know about the complications. Didn't know you had to do much more than give a few insulin shots per day. Certainly didn't think he'd be getting four to five injections every day. Blood sugar tests? What??? He has to poke his precious little finger 8-12 times EVERY DAY? Making my son bleed 8-12 times every day. For some reason, that tugged my heartstrings A LOT.

I didn't know about the legal, school, and social issues. I didn't know we'd have to fight for his medical needs. And we are the LUCKY ones. We have a pretty supportive school district. I know people who've had to take their school districts TO COURT to make sure their kids have their medical needs covered at school.

It's a lifestyle change. A major one. For everyone.

These moments, from the medical ones to the legal ones to the emotional ones, are just difficult to face.

You can only face them a bit at a time.

But, who else am I? The dLife people are wondering, why the hell is she blathering about the publishing world, book reviews, print runs and so forth? Here is the other part of the story.

I am a writer whose first novel has just come out amid a buzz of controversy due to its subject matter. To put it bluntly, I don't write like a girl. I don't throw like a girl either. So sue me.

The novel is about three teenagers in the 1980s who form a group called The Bitch Posse. They get into a lot of trouble and are swept into a violent act. Fifteen years later, they are all in different parts of the country and are all dealing with their pasts in various dysfunctional ways. They're haunted by their crime and must come to terms with what they did.

What does this have to do with diabetes? my dLife visitors may be asking. Nothing really. Except... on my book tour, my cellphone was turned on, ALWAYS. Through each and every reading I anticipated a phone call about blood sugars going too high or too low. Low blood sugars can lead to seizure, loss of consciousness, even death. And over time high blood sugars can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma and eventually death. Before insulin, kids died of Type 1 Diabetes and that's how they died. My son would have died. He was on his way. That is very clear to me now.

Normal blood sugars are 80-120. These numbers happen so rarely for us that we inaugurate a parade down the block whenever we get one. We had a 137 at bedtime tonight and I was ABSOLUTELY. THRILLED.

I heard about a 55 while on book tour. (Husband managed it perfectly. YAY HUSBAND!) And I heard about a 258. These aren't horrid emergency-state readings really. We've been in the 40s and we've been in the 400s.

FORTUNATELY, neither of these two icky BLOOD SUGAR readings happened during a BITCH POSSE reading.

But if they had, what would I have done?

I would have stopped the reading. I would have given Husband diabetes advice that he probably already knew, but that I needed to KNOW that he knew. And I would have said to my audience, SORRY FOLKS. But my child is dealing with a chronic illness. An illness that affects every moment of my family's life. So, talk amongst yourselves and I need to take this call.

Cos there is nothing more important than my son's health.

So.. are you a dLife visitor? If you are, welcome. I blab a bit about book publishing and stuff too... BITCHING AND MOANING is my forte, whether it is about diabetes or book publishing. But I do blog about diabetes at least a couple of times a week.

And if you're here because of my book... well, know that my family deals with a chronic illness every day. Diabetes has changed our lives.

If you would like to support research to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, there are a few things you can do. First, my dear sister and her boyfriend are riding in a bike ride in October to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The JDRF was formed by parents of children with diabetes and is among the most efficient charitable organizations in the world. It's been written up by Forbes, SmartMoney, and other publications in honor of its efficiency. The majority of money goes to research and only a small percentage to administration.

If you would like to contribute money in honor of my son you may contribute to my sister's ride (Ingrid Larson) and if you'd like to contribute in honor of my son's dear friend with Type 1 Diabetes, you may contribute to her boyfriend's ride (John Gruber). My son's little friend is exactly his same age and was diagnosed just one week after him. We live in Marin and his friend lives on the Peninsula, about an hour away. These two little boys are both so tough. They have been each other's lifelines. And his mom has been mine.

Here is the notice from my sister. You may easily contribute via a credit card. I hope you will be able to contribute to BOTH rides.

[My nephew's] current hero is Gary Hall Jr., an Olympic swimming medalist [who has Type 1 Diabetes as well] with an awesome story. He has tried out for a One-Touch diabetes testing commercial with B.B. King (although he wasn't chosen) and applied to be a children's congress delegate for diabetes. His twin sister is a tough kid too. Though she is not diagnosed, she may be at an elevated genetic risk; the causes of Type one haven't been nailed down yet. [My nephew] tests his blood levels - he doesn't like pricking himself for the blood test, but he does it like a trooper -about 8 or more times a day, and gives himself insulin injections by himself, usually into his tummy. This summer, he's being fitted with the insulin pump, which while an improvement, is still tough.

His parents haven't told him about all of the risks of growing up with diabetes yet - understandably. They are really scary. They include, along with a lifespan shortened by about 15 years, possible kidney failure and transplant, blindness, painful nerve damage, foot and skin problems, premature heart disease and amputation. A bit much for an 8 year old. The GOOD news is that medical research is really advancing in incredibly hopeful ways. JDRF is really forefront in advocating and fundraising to support that research.

"In the next five years, some $2.5 billion will be spent on type 1 research around the world, including projected JDRF funds of $500 million, industry investment, and a $750 million supplement for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, passed as a result of JDRF advocacy."

JDRF is recognized as being an absolutely stellar example of a charity organization by Forbes, Barrons, Smartmoney, Consumers Digest, the American Institute of Philanthropy, and Charity Navigator.

Here is the reason I think JDRF is so vigilant about every penny: It was founded by parents of children with diabetes, and if you get involved in JDRF, chances are, you know and love someone with Type 1.

Here is the site about the bike ride.
And here is JDRF's website.

And the donation link:

Donations to this ride are 100% tax deductible and if you donate more than $250 then the JDRF will send you a receipt for the full amount.

Another thing you may do to help in the search for a cure is to visit This an amazing new political action committee begun by the man who started It's already gotten a ton of press and is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Please support this valuable research that could save so many lives, and either link to them on your blog, send in a donation, or both

And, as an altogether insignificant sidenote, if you like to read, think about reading my book. I cannot tell you that reading this book will help cure Type 1 Diabetes. It won't. Other than the fact that Diabetes is my charity and any extra money I have goes there, it is a huge and major stretch to pretend The Bitch Posse has anything to do with diabetes. Honestly~it doesn't.

BUT~if anyone on Earth wants to read a second book of mine, chances are it will have to do with Type 1 Diabetes. I wrote The Bitch Posse before diabetes tore into our lives. Now that our lives have been changed so much due to this horrid D-monster, I think I really owe that to people who deal with this disease each and every day. But that is another book... which I WILL write.

About The Bitch Posse-There are some reviews about it below. If you do not like books that deal with dark subject matter, you probably would not like it. But, if you would like to read a book that might fuck with your head a bit, check out The Bitch Posse. Or don't. It's the least important of the things I am blogging about today.

Lots of love,

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I {Heart} Washington Post Book World... and Word of Mouth

Damnation, people keep emailing me reviews when I am NOT. SUPPOSED. TO READ THEM. But this one went so well with my morning coffee! The Washington Post Book World reviewed The Bitch Posse yesterday. Here's the link (scroll past Berg, Kurlansky, and Ephron) and some of my favorite bits:
The Bitch Posse is compulsively readable because things just keep getting worse for these girls... O'Connor scatters delicious and slightly macabre details of the mid-1980's alterna-teen culture throughout... It's easy to see Posse as the descendant of [Julian F. Thompson's The Grounding of Group 6] and other thrillingly gloomy YA classics such as John Neufeld's Lisa, Bright and Dark, Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden or Paul Zindel's oeuvre....

It comes hard on the heels of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, another story about high school (also narrated by an outsider). The Bitch Posse may change the writing rules for these books a bit. To what, remains to be seen.
I was thrilled to get this, especially so soon after The Chicago Tribune review (their headline: Debut Novel is a Riveting, Emotionally Charged Read).

So my day got off to a fabulous start! It only got better yesterday evening when I attended the Bay Area Word of Mouth gathering. Word of Mouth is (according to the site) "an association founded to enable women authors to provide one another with friendship and professional support. We have no hierarchy, no president or vice-president, and no membership fees or dues. We meet to discuss our work and share our experiences as writers. " Word of Mouth was in the news lately becuse they presented a letter to Oprah Winfrey asking her to go back to choosing contemporary authors for her book club.

The Bay Area chapter of Word of Mouth is being spearheaded by the lovely Ellen Sussman (author of On A Night Like This, a novel about two high school classmates who fall in love despite the fact that one has terminal cancer). Ellen invited several local women authors to participate, and I accepted with many, MANY blushes. (Maybe it's from not being one of the It Crowd in school; I couldn't believe I was actually being asked. ME? Really, ME? No, seriously. ME???)

Nearly 40 women writers gathered in one room to talk about writing, publishing, balancing work and motherhood, and the difficulties faced by women writers in a world where the book review sections of most newspapers are dominated by men (my personal pet peeve). The group will meet monthly and this was pretty well a planning meeting for what we envision the group to be and to do. Every gal there was incredibly talented and kind and generous and I can't wait to see what we do next!

And you'll never guess who I carpooled with... Joyce Maynard! Joyce lives in Mill Valley. She makes a brief appearance in the "party scene" in my novel (Chapter 13) where I included all the authors who were so famous and talented there was no chance of my ever meeting them ever ever ever!

I met her.

She is SO nice. So warm, intelligent, giving, and modest. An all around A+ individual. I gave her a signed copy of my novel. Having talked with her made me want to read her work even more. In addition to her still-controversial memoir (A Life in the World, controversial because she *gasp* DARED to write about her relationship with JD Salinger... I never quite "got" the hooplah over that; aren't you allowed to write about your own life in a memoir?), Joyce has written several novels including her newest, a YA novel called The Cloud Chamber that looks to be a very interesting and multilayered story of a boy whose father attempts suicide and is put into a mental hospital. She was a wonderful traveling companion and I can't wait to read her books.

Word of Mouth. Ellen Sussman, I thank you on bended knee for putting this together.

And that's all she wrote. I forgot to sleep last night!

PS--> I just heard from my British editor... the book's gone into a THIRD printing over there! It's only been out since May 19th! Great news.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Our Lucky Winners and an Enchanted Novel

Time to announce our lucky winners for the "why high school sucked" contest... Congratulations to Deb in Australia, Kelley in Ohio, and Joe in Texas for your wonderful entries. All three winners will receive a signed copy of The Bitch Posse for their reading pleasure. The runners-up are all eligible for signed bookplates, handy Bitch Posse fridge magnets, and Bitch Posse bookmarks. And in fact, if you want any of these items, send me an email and I'll ship them out until they're gone.

Now onto my lovely guest, Shanna Swendson of The Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit.

Shanna's just published what looks to be a really fun novel titled ENCHANTED, INC. From the press release:
Shanna Swendson's debut mainstream novel, ENCHANTED, INC (Ballantine Trade Paperback Original, $12.95, May 31, 2005) is a magical story featuring Katie Chandler, a 20something, small-town Texas girl, who finds that being average in New York City is anything but. Katie loves the energy of Manhattan, and if she finds some of the people odd, well, that's New York, right? Where else would you see a person on the subway wearing fairy wings? In fact, if Katie wasn't completely sure those wings must be a costume, she'd think they were real, the way they flutter in the breeze. Certainly the gargoyle that perches above the door of the church she passes on the way to and from work isn't real. Its eyes seem to follow her, and she could have sworn it winked at her once, but now that she thinks about it, it was really hot that day, and she hadn't eaten lunch....

Katie is still adjusting to life in the big city while working a for a nightmare boss, when she gets a fantastic offer to work for a mysterious company, MSI, Inc. Through her new job and the magical folk she meets, Katie comes to find out she isn't quite as average as she thought; and the fairy tale life she has longed for begins to come true in surprising ways.

What Katie doesn't realize is how rare and important being ordinary can be. In fact, it is her ordinary characteristics that make her the perfect secret weapon for MSI, Inc. Suddenly the very qualities she thought made her average are what make her special! Now she has magicians and fairies meddling in her attempted romances, a secret life she needs to keep hidden from her non-magical friends, not to mention that dangerous pull she feels for Owen, an attractive but shy wizard who might be the most powerful magic man since Merlin.

ENCHANTED, INC is a magical delight that will be a fun summer read for anyone who's wished upon a star or hoped for a sprinkle of fairy dust.
And check out this adorable cover:

Welcome to the blog, Shanna! Shanna makes a great interview subject, and she even got her answers back to me super-fast after I got them to her super-slowly! Maybe all that pixie dust slows down time for the magical Shanna.

And onto the interview:

MO'C: Shanna, you have such an interesting premise for ENCHANTED, INC. How did you get this idea?
SS: It mostly grew out of one of those "wouldn't it be great if ..." daydreams. I'd grown to hate my job and thought one morning about how great it would be if I opened my e-mail and found an offer for a dream job. In the daydream, that became a magical job, and then I thought that would make a good book. I love the kind of humor that comes from a clashing of two kinds of worlds, so I thought a book that clashed a chick-lit world with a magical world would be fun. The rest of the book very slowly came together from that concept, in bits and pieces.

MO'C: What is your greatest inspiration when writing?
SS: I think about the books I've read and enjoyed, and how much pleasure they've brought me. I write mostly to amuse myself, but I feel like if I can amuse myself, it will amuse somebody else. I dream about being the author who keeps someone up all night, swearing they'll just read one more chapter before turning out the light. When I get stuck, I imagine that reader.

MO'C: Who is your favorite magical character, from film, TV, or literature?
SS:My absolute favorite is one of my own, Owen Palmer, from ENCHANTED, INC. He started as a secondary character who was going to serve as background scenery, but he really came to life for me. He's this incredibly powerful wizard who is more of a boy next door -- this really nice, unassuming (but very cute) guy who happens to be the most powerful wizard of his generation.

If I can't pick my own character, I'd say it's Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, from the TV series Angel. I'm not sure if you'd technically classify him as magical, but he could translate ancient magical texts and work a spell or two when needed. He was such a deliciously complex character, and it was fun to watch him develop over the years from bumbling comic relief to tragic hero. Plus he had pretty blue eyes and a sexy accent.

MO'C: What are you working on now? Do you have plans for a sequel to Enchanted Inc?
SS: I've already written a sequel. It's scheduled to be published about this time next year (now, if I could only come up with a title for it!). I'm mostly working on promoting this book right now, but I'm working on a proposal for a young adult fantasy book. I'm also trying to brainstorm a main plot for book 3 in my Enchanted series, assuming the first book sells well enough that Ballantine is willing to look at a third book.

MO'C: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
SS: The key to success in publishing is having the right story at the right time. That means you have to write your story, the one that's burning its way out of you, the one that no one but you can write the way it needs to be written -- regardless of what you think the market is looking for. Then you have to believe in that story and keep trying. If it doesn't sell, you have to find another story inside you and start all over again. I went through an eight-year drought between books when I was wallpapering New York with books and proposals, and it was only when I nearly gave up and let myself write a book just for fun that I broke through. (My note: Shanna nailed it! This is exactly what happened to me with THE BITCH POSSE.)

Thanks so much, Shanna! Visit Shanna's site and buy ENCHANTED, INC at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my personal fave, your local indie bookseller through Booksense.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Is 8 Years Old Too Young To Start Drinking Coffee?

I come from a Swedish family and I started at 12! But seriously, everyone, a friend passed me this brand new study, just off the wire as of TOMORROW MORNING, and it was so fascinating. Now, if you or a family member are not personally struggling with Type 1 Diabetes, you may not know why nighttime hypoglycemia is a problem. Hypoglycemia means that blood glucose levels have gone too low and the patient may seize, pass out, even die. Not. Good. Especially if it happens at night when you are sleeping. So, here's a brand new way to prevent nighttime hypoglycemia:

Caffeine Benefits People With Type 1 Diabetes
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- People with type 1 diabetes who regularly consume caffeine may be getting an extra boost from that morning cup of java. New research shows caffeine reduces the risk of nighttime low blood sugars.

Hypoglycemia -- when blood sugar levels drop too low -- is a major concern among people with type 1 diabetes. One way to reduce these dangerous episodes is to “relax” the target blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. However, having blood sugars that are too high poses serious health risks and is directly related to many of the complications people with diabetes often endure, such as retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney damage, and heart disease. Researchers say other ways to reduce these low blood sugar episodes need to be explored.

Recently, researchers have shown that prolonged episodes of hypoglycemia can be missed -- especially during sleep -- if patients are only relying on warning symptoms or fingerstick blood sugar checks. Now, a simple dietary change may make a big difference.... {MORE}

This is great news for all of us struggling with T1D, actually. I may have my son switch back from caffeine free diet Coke to the regular diet Coke, at least once a day.

Radio and Dutch Footnotes

Hi everyone,
It's been another of those crazy days but really quickly... tonight, you may hear me being interviewed on KRCB/Cotati-Rohnert Park, the NPR affiliate, being interviewed by Jordan Rosenfeld for "Word by Word." Jordan Rosenfeld is very cool and I really enjoyed talking with her. She "got" the book. The show airs at 7 pm Pacific time and can be heard on Radio 91 FM in the Bay Area as well as online here.

Also, the reading I gave at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books is being broadcast tonight between 8:30-9:00 pm for "Writer's Voice" radio, 91.7 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had to edit out the naughty bits for radio, if you are the type to follow along at home.

Speaking of following along at home... I've just received my author's copy of the Dutch version of the novel (De Bitch Posse) and if you didn't know, "fuck" in Dutch is "neuk." "Shit" is the same and so is "stoned." And so is "burrito." Guess what else, they've put FOOTNOTES in the novel to explain stuff! I was amazed. Everything from Prom to Christina Rossetti. (They didn't feel the need to explain Degrassi Junior High though. Maybe it was big over there.) Here are the footnotes:

1) Homecoming behoort samen met de Prom tot de belangrijkste feesten van het schooljaar.

2) Trol is de bijnaam voor de bewoners van het Lower Peninsula.

3) De strofe For there is no friend like a sister is afkomstig uit Christina Rossetti's gedicht "Goblin Market."

4) De Dominican University of California is een pretigieuze katholieke universiteit.

5) De National Honor Society is een Amerikaans genootschap voor topstudenten. Het hanteert een strikte gedragscode.

6) De roman Less than Zero van Brett Easton Ellis, over drugverslaving, is in 1987 verfilmd.

7) Franciscaan, ontdekkingsreiziger en kolonist Junipero Serra heeft in Californie 21 missieposten gesticht, de eerste in 1769 in de buurt van San Diego. Zijn verjaardag is in Californie een feestdag.

8) De Bible Belt, ofwel Bijbelstreek, is een gebied in de Verenidge Staten met veel protestants fundamentalisme.

9) The Crucible (1953) is een toneelstuk van Arthur Miller.

10 Cutty Wren is volgens de overlevering tot de koning der vogels uitgeroepen, nadat in een wedstrijd was vastgesteld dat hij het hoogst kon vliegen. Zijn belangrijkste concurrent was de arend. Wren--het winterkoninkje--klom tijdens het vliegen op de rug van de arend. Hoe hoog de arend ook vloog, het kleine vogeltje vloog altijd hoger, een klassieke overwinning van verstand over spierkracht. (I don't think even *I* knew that much about the Cutty Wren!)

Anyway, I'm impressed with how they went out of their way to explain things about American culture. The translator's name is Josee Koning and I think he did a great job. Not that I speak Dutch or anything.

That's it for now! xoxo