Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pumping Insulin~yay!

Our son's been pumping insulin since about 2 yesterday afternoon. He did his first correction bolus at the insulin start meeting, his first meal bolus at dinner, and his first middle-of-the-night cirrection at 3 AM (258)... I rechecked at 5 (148) and intended to recheck at 7 but then just ended up crashing until 9:30 (203). I'm not that great at this night checking stuff. Plus, our son wakes up and snatches away the lancet to prick his own finger. He sometimes gets combative when he is being checked at night, and is almost always snarly.

We wouldn't have corrected that number when we were on shots. The beauty of the pump is that you can correct in these very small increments. As I look as these ramifications for his long-term care and control I'm very thrilled.

Still I ended up staying up 2 hours emailing with the Children With Diabetes list to make sure I had done the right thing, then doing a little research for my new novel. So there was no way to really fall back asleep between 3 and 5. Oh, well. It's worth it.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Guest Essay~Jillian Lafferty!

Jillian Lafferty is a remarkable young woman who has been living with diabetes for five years. Today, she will make the following speech at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk for the Cure kickoff in her local city. I asked Jillian's mother if I could share this wonderful piece of writing with my readers, and Jillian agreed. Thank you, Jillian, for sharing this incredibly moving essay.

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, the nurses in the hospital were surprised by me. They weren't surprised at my skinny, 56 pound body, or at the way I could drink a dozen cups of Crystal Light so quickly. They were surprised that I could inject myself so easily, right from the beginning, with just one hand. This was no big deal to me. I had watched my father do it for years. While I always knew my father had diabetes, I never fully understood it because my father didn't take very good care of himself. He didn't check his blood sugar, and sometimes he even skipped taking his insulin. Before I was diagnosed, I never even gave it a thought.

When most children are diagnosed with Type 1, they don't know much of anything about it. I happened to know a lot, and all of it was bad. I knew about taking your insulin, and low blood sugars that left you dripping in sweat and not knowing what happened or where you were. Sadly, those are just the little things. I also knew about kidney failure, amputations, retinopathy and death. I knew my father for 12 years. He wasn't healthy for any of them. Not one.

I treat my diabetes differently than my father. I check my blood sugar 8-10 times a day. I used an insulin pump for 4 years. Recently, I've switched to Lantus and Novolog, known as multiple daily injections. Sometimes I take 7 shots a day. I pay very close attention to my diabetes, because I know all too well the consequences of ignoring the beast. And sometimes, despite all my hard work, my blood sugar is still high. I get scared, discouraged and frustrated. But I won't give in to it. I need to keep on top of it every day, so that when we find the cure, I'm alive to receive it.

Diabetes is a scary disease. It is much scarier when your own father is put in an early grave by it. I don't want to be like my father. I want to live longer than 39 years. Sadly, there are many kids that are just like my father. We need to find a cure - for the kids who will never take very good care of themselves, for the kids who will otherwise never know a life without diabetes, and for all of us who do every thing we need to in order to stay alive every day.

Thank you.

Thank YOU, Jillian, for the inspiration and for allowing me to share this story with my readers. Now is the time to sign up for the walk, or simply to donate to the JDRF, and I encourage you to do so by clicking the following Link.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Pumping Saline~Some Tough News~and The Lovely Alesia!

Hi, all. Today we are PUMPING SALINE!!!! The insulin pump trainer spent two hours at our house today teaching us how to use the pump. Our son inserted his own infusion set (this is a needle about 2 inches long, thicker than the insulin syringe) on the very first try! (He didn't want any help. He's like that, and always has been. Was giving his own shots within 2 weeks of dx.)

We'll be using real insulin starting on Saturday. We'll be doing a modified "untethered" regimine where he still takes half his basal insulin via Lantus. But still, one shot a day beats the hell out of 4+ shots a day. Wheee.... let the ride begin!

And some sobering news from two friends from my diabetes list. One of them just learned her second daughter also has the disease. They're on their way to the medical center as we speak. The other mom is awaiting a glucose tolerance test on her child, whom she suspects has diabetes like her other child (hasn't had a normal bg reading in four days).

I can't imagine, just can't imagine having two children with this disease (though I am sure these two families will manage splendidly). And I know it is quite a real possibility our daughter will develop diabetes... her risk increased tenfold when her brother developed it. Still, chances are she won't get it... but it will always, always be at the back of our minds. I can't stop thinking about these two families.

So to segue... another MAGNIFIQUE Alesia in our lives (the pump trainer's name was Alesia): The GCC presents the lovely Alesia Holliday! Here's the scoop:

OK, first the hard part: pronunciation. Alesia is pronounced uh-LEE-suh (or exactly like it would be pronounced if it were spelled Lisa with an A on the front of it. That silent I has been the bane of her existence for 30 years.)

This is Alesia and her pug puppy, Daisy, in Alesia's book plotting chair. (SpongeBob pants optional!) Daisy will star in Alesia's upcoming series of legal thrillers, beginning with MURDER BY MASS TORT, coming in March, 2006.

Alesia grew up all over the world and even lived in Turkey for two years and the Philippines for another two years. She carried on the tradition of strapping roller skates to her furniture by marrying Navy Guy.

After a lot of angst over the fact that she really wanted to be a writer, she went for a real (read: boring) job and graduated from The Ohio State University and then graduated summa cum laude (rough translation: with much student loan debt) from Capital Law School, in Columbus, Ohio.

On Alesia's first media tour, she interviewed with the AM Northwest folks in Portland, Oregon, where she met another guest of the show: famous children's book author Sandra Boynton (and her giant chicken). Alesia's children are convinced Mommy's famous - she was on TV right after the chicken!

Alesia spent several years as a trial lawyer in complex class action and mass tort litigation, which means you never actually go to trial, you just sit around with a lot of old guys who tell you how great it was in the good old days when they tried three cases a day in the snow, uphill both ways. She wrote legal briefs that read like comedies, which might explain why she never made partner.

Her first book, E-MAIL TO THE FRONT, shared embarrassing personal stories with people and generated fan letters like "I laughed so hard I snorted pasta sauce out my nose." Causing people to spew foodstuffs out of their noses has been a personal goal ever since.

Alesia hard at work at a booksigning, wearing her new leather jacket. (Pink is the new black!) If you look on the right, you'll see the action figure of Super Jessie, who stars in Alesia's young adult books.

Addicted to making people laugh (and shed the occasional tear), when Alesia really, really couldn't keep the voices of all those fictional people locked in her head anymore, she started writing their stories. And look what that got her - a day job where she gets to work in her pajamas! She burned her pantyhose.

Now she lives in Florida, very near the beach, with her research department (and husband) Judd, two very short people who keep claiming she's their mother, and her pug puppy, Daisy. She's probably either hard at work on her next book, shopping for the perfect pair of high heels, or sneaking out for a movie-break lunch at this very moment . . .


Kirby wanted to meet a nice guy; She had no idea a double-dog dare about whether or not
SHE'S a nice GIRL would put her vacation, her job, and her self-respect on the line!


NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST is a hoot! This book is funny, entertaining, and heartwarming -- a well-written, fast-paced story all wrapped inside one little bookcover. . . NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST is a top-notch story for a summer beach read, and one not to be missed.
- Diana Risso Romance Reviews Today

Nice Girls Finish First is the perfect story for you to toss into your beach bag and enjoy on a lazy summer day.
- Lydia Funneman, Writers Unlimited

Readers cannot help but be drawn into the two women’s struggles, and cheer them on. This is a writer who will make you smile whenever you see that she has a new book released.
- Amanda Killgore, Huntress Reviews

And onto the interview:

MO'C: Your new novel, NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST, features a woman who is so nasty, someone bets her she can't even get another person to call her "nice." Have you ever known anyone like this? What was the inspiration for this book?

AH: Kirby isn't nasty as much as she is focused and driven - very ambitious. She's afraid to let any niceness show, for fear that she won't get taken seriously. But she comes up against that paradox that women must appear to be "nice" at all times or get called something that rhymes with witch. :) As a trial lawyer, I fought this battle a lot. My clients loved me, because I won cases for them and cared about them very much. But sometimes my colleagues (and especially opposing counsel!) thought I wasn't "nice" enough. It ticked me off because none of the guys I worked with had to play games to get ahead.

MO'C: I notice you've written about Reality TV. What is your favorite current reality TV program? (Mine is Hell's Kitchen) Who is your favorite reality candidate on any program and did they inspire anything in American Idle?

AH: I LOVE Survivor and American Idol. And they also drive me insane! :) The reality craze is a scary insight into our psyche - are we all so voyeuristic that we want to watch other people's lives rather than live our own? When I realized I was turning down dates with friends to stay home and watch TV, I started freaking out about it. Then I knew I had to write about it. I have a line in the book that goes something like "it's not reality TV that matters. It's that our only reality that MATTERS is TV." I didn't want to become that person!

On last season's Survivor, I LOVED the woman (can't even remember her name now) who was the sole survivor of the one tribe. (M'S note: Stephenie... :) fellow addict) She was pretty courageous and tried so hard, in spite of being stuck on the crappy team. I liked her spirit!

MO'C: Here's a topic that's been discussed a lot. Do you ever encounter jealousy in this profession we call "author," and how do you cope with it?

AH: This is a tough one to talk about. I've had some very difficult times. When I sold my first book, and then even more so when I sold my first novel, I lost friends over it. It really hurt me very much.

MO'C: How would you define the term "chick lit"? How does your work relate or not

AH: I call chick lit books about the woman's journey through contemporary life. My books, at least, are a funny look at the stress put on friendships, family, work, and romance by the craziness of living in the world today. They're introspective and honest, and they tend to poke fun at cultural icons.

MO'C: You write in a variety of genres: teen fiction, general fiction, and romance. What are the benefits to this? Any disadvantages? Do you use a pen name? And, do you have any advice for those who'd like to write in more than one genre?

AH: Yes, plan to be very busy!! Seriously, I enjoy the opportunity to explore different genres. My first legal thriller will be out in March, so I'll get to use my years of trial lawyer experience. I do use a pen name (Jax Abbott) for my teen books, because they are very G-rated, and I want it clear that they are different from my Alesia Holliday books. I have a young daughter, and it's important to me that moms out there don't think I'm trying to steer their daughters to my rather R-rated chick lit! For the other genres, I'm using my own name all the way. Writing has been a dream for me for so long - I couldn't bear to put somebody else's name on my books!

MO'C: Why did you decide to leave the legal profession? Does your legal background help you with your work?

AH: I enjoy practicing law, but at least in my field, it's not very compatible with raising two small kids. I'm having a ball being able to be home when they get home from school, take the summer to be with them, and just generally do the "Mom" thing. Plus, as I mentioned, I'm writing a series of legal thrillers for Berkley Prime Crime, so I get to keep my hand in the field a little bit.

MO'C: I'm curious about the Literary Chicks blog. How did this blog get started? When did you step in? What have been some interesting experiences related to the blog?

AH: Lani Diane Rich gets all the credit for that! She wanted to start a joint blog and invited me and Michelle to tag along. Lani also designed and maintains the site. We loved the idea of similar writers getting together to do a joint blog - the synergy is terrific! Plus, when one of us is sick or on deadline or out of town, the others can step up so the constant pressure to put up fresh content is not on each of us individually. We also have "guest chicks" who come in and blog with us, and that's tons of fun.

MO'C: What has been the most rewarding part of the publishing process for you? The most frustrating?
AH: The most rewarding is seeing my stories in the bookstores and hearing from readers that I made them laugh. I have received the most amazing letters from people who are going through seriously horrible times in their lives, and they write to tell me that I made them laugh when they'd thought they might never laugh again. Of course, these letters make me cry, and they make me very proud to be a storyteller.

MO'C: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
AH: Write and write and write. Join a writer's group and meet people like you and write some more. And never, EVER give up. Study craft and learn the business and persevere. It's such an amazing moment when you hold your first book in your hand (actually, I just received author copies of my SEVENTH book - counting collections -- and it is STILL amazing).

MO'C: What's next for Alesia Holliday?
AH: A week in Reno at the RWA national conference, then a move from Florida to Virginia mid-August. The mass market reissue of AMERICAN IDLE will be released next week, and then in September, my essay, "The Evolution of Envy," is part of the book FLIRTING WITH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie. Then I'm in an anthology with 3 terrific authors in November, called THE NAKED TRUTH. It's a crazy busy year and I love every bit of it!!

That's it, folks! Thanks, Alesia, for your great answers! Don't forget to buy her new book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indie bookstore! Ooh, and devour a free excerpt here! I love Free, and it'll whet your appetite for more!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

How I Shall Glow!

'Member back when I did that interview for TV, Connie Martinson Talks Books? When I was sitting in the green room with the very-well dressed and very kind Martin Moran (whose book is on my To Be Read stack), I read through the TV interview tips... #1 on the list was "Don't wear white. It will glow on camera and distract from everything else on screen." What was I wearing? Like the big Dorkzilla that I am, I had chosen a flowing white peasant blouse. %$#@&!

Anyway, the interview is airing tomorrow (Monday)! You can see Connie Martinson Talks Books in most major cities. The ones I know about are:

Channel 26, San Francisco, CA, 9am PST
LA Cityview channel 35, 3pm PST and 11:30pm PST
NY WNYE cable channel 25 Monday 7:30pm EST

Here are other cities where the show airs:

Web listed local show times:
Las Vegas, NV - Los Angeles, CA - Mount Prospect, IL (Government channel) - New York, NY - San Diego, CA - San Francisco, CA - Santa Monica, CA - University of Maryland.

Newest Television areas to add her show:
Vail Colorado, Malibu California, Oakland California (PCTV and gov channel KTOP), Coral Gables Florida, Tropico Park Maryland, O'Fallon Missouri (St.Louis), and Bismark North Dakota.

The times are on the individual stations' sites, linked at Connie's site. (Click on Internet TV) You can also see the interview via streaming video on the same page at Connie's site.

Watch me glow!

Friday, July 22, 2005

More Coverage for Non-Mainstream Sports!!!

I would like to pass this letter along, written by a very active parent on SwimTeam; I hope it will be printed in the paper:
Dave Allen
Sports Editor
Marin Independent Journal

Dear Mr. Allen;

On behalf of the entire Marin Swim League (MSL) I would like to voice my disappointment with the coverage of our July 16 annual Championship meet at Indian Valley.

The Marin Swim League is a non-profit youth swimming organization that represents 10 independent swim teams in Marin County. The MSL is the single largest youth sports organization in Marin county representing 1,500 individual swimmers and approximately 1,000 families. Members reside across the entire county from Sausalito to Novato. There are two teams in Mill Valley, one team in Corte Madera, four teams in San Rafael, two teams in Novato and one team in San Anselmo.

On July 16, 2005 we held the 44th Annual Championship Meet at Indian Valley College Aquatics Center in Novato. Unfortunately, this event did not get a fair coverage in the IJ.

During the 19-20 week season (usually May-Mid July) every Saturday the 10 teams participate in a dual meet. While the league has the option of broadcasting the swimmers’ league wide standing immediately, it has been a tradition to announce the results on Wednesdays in the IJ sport section. Despite the MSL’s faithfulness to the IJ, with much dismay, the IJ’s coverage of this important event is getting smaller and smaller.

In sum, this year, the IJ has disappointed 1,000 of its faithful subscribers, 1,500 hard working swimmers plus their grandparents, relatives, and friends. We expect our local paper to pay more attention to our local news and be more supportive of our most valuable treasures, our kids!


Sonya Perez

2005 MSL Co-President

Let's have more coverage for non-mainstream sports in local papers! Swimming is a LIFELONG SPORT, unlike baseball and soccer. Let's ENCOURAGE SWIM!!!!! Let's give it the coverage it deserves, locally AND nationally!!!! For instance, consider the following... why isn't this a New York Times story?? (I do not know a lot about Beard, but we are HUGE fans of Gary Hall Jr.. As many of you know, Hall has Type 1 Diabetes and is a 10-time Olympic medalist, garnering the GOLD at Athens in 2004 in the 50 m Freestyle):
Hall, Beard target 2008 Olympics

Norm Frauenheim
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Gary Hall Jr. and Amanda Beard are skipping the World Swimming Championships in Montreal, but a fourth Olympics are still in their plans.

"2008 is a very real possibility," Hall said in a e-mail from Miami Beach, Fla., where the former Phoenix Swim Club sprinter has lived the past few years. "It remains the plan."

Beard of Tucson and Hall decided against the World Championships for several reasons, including a busy schedule of endorsements....

Hall is second among American men on the all-time medal list with 10 - two silvers and two golds from 1996; one bronze, one silver and two golds from 2000; and one bronze and one gold from 2004. He is 10 for 10 - 10 Olympic events and 10 medals.

Now 30, he continues to work in the fight against diabetes. Hall, who is appearing in shaving-cream commercials on cable television, was diagnosed with the disease before the 2000 Sydney Games. He also continues to run his Race Club south of Miami.

"I am just getting back to training at a competitive level," said Hall, who stirred up controversy in Athens when he showed up at the starting blocks before his victory in the 50 freestyle in a red, white and blue boxing robe and matching trunks.

Hall's father, Dr. Gary Hall, said his son intends to compete at the masters level in the 30- to 34-year-old age group in national championships next month.

Hall's parents plan to leave Phoenix and join their son in south Florida. Hall's wife, Elizabeth, is pregnant with their first child.

"If it is a boy, I won't name him Gary Jr. Jr.," he said. {MORE}

Got The Call!

YAYAYAYAY! We just got The Call... Our son's been approved for the pump!

This was quite the surprise after all the rigmarole I heard the other day (see blog entry below) leading me to believe they'd put us through the wringer yet AGAIN!

He is getting a purple CozMo. The rep is coming on Monday to start training, and we will be pumping Saline as of Saturday (touch wood!) YAYAYAYAY!

Thanks all for your support, everyone who commented here, and eeryone who sent emails and IMs offering their help. I am so glad we didn't have to push things any farther than this, but am also so glad that so many people were willing to help and step up to the plate. My readers are the best!

XOXOX Martha

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Us Vs. Insurance Company PUMP SMACKDOWN!!!!

Oooh boy. I'm burning mad.

A little background... We've been trying for SO long to get our son approved for the insulin pump. We've been working on this since April.

Each time, insurance asks for more and more info, be it lengthier and more detailed bg/insulin/activity logs (for two weeks we wrote down every food he ate and exact carb counts... not just "granola bar, 30 carbs, breakfast" but "Nature Valley Oats N Honey granola bar, 28 carbs, 8:20 am"... not "15 minutes exercise" but "15 minutes swimming backstroke at moderate rate" etc etc.. THEN! They told the distributor that they wanted this same material, not for two weeks, but for TWO FUCKING MONTHS... I had to fax 27 pages of data to them!! 27!), typewritten doctor's notes (because they couldn't "read" the doctor's writing... so the nurse practicioner typed it up for us)...

In short, they are evil and do not want to pay for the pump. It is a $5000 item, but still. My son has Type 1 Diabetes. Insulin pumps are quickly becoming standard therapy for this chronic, incurable disease, and have been shown to improve long term blood glucose control and diminish complications. DUH!

Well, today, we WERE supposed to get our final reply. The pump distributor called us (she's been really helpful) and told us that insurance said...

"We aren't convinced this item is medically necessary for the patient. The patient's highest a1c (a1c refers to the amount of glucose floating around in the blood over the past 3 months... the lower, the better) was 6.2, and we look for a 7.0 or above."

WHAT? So, we are doing too good a job with shots to qualify for the pump?

We are being punished for taking too good care of our son!!!!!

Let's just slack off and be asses for awhile shall we? Maybe we can bump his a1c up to 10 or even, whatthehell, 12 if we just stop fucking testing and carb counting!!!! Woo hooo let's see just how badly we can damage his organs! What the hell it's for a good cause!

I'm sorry but this is the definition of FUCKED. UP.

They haven't exactly said "No" yet... but they are referring it to THEIR onstaff doctor, and then he is supposed to look over the records etc. If they disapprove the pump, we can still appeal. Our doctors can call their doctors and explain our son is still "honeymooning" (his pancreas is still making small amounts of insulin and his numbers are easier to control, which they won't always be), etc.

We should know more on Monday...

This is so fucking stupid. SO FUCKING STUPID. So, you would rather pay for heart bypass surgery years down the road at a cost of $60,000, than pay $5000 for an insulin pump now. You would rather pay $50,000 for a nontraumatic limb amputation, than $5000 for a pump. You would rather pay $45,000 per year for kidney dialysis, than $5000 for a pump that could prevent these complications. You fucking jerks, just go to hell.

'Kay so I realize these complications are not inevitable with shots. Many people do quite well with shots. My neighbor's one, and there are many others. We'd survive just fine on shots if we had to. 'Kay, 'kay, 'kay but you know what? When his pancreas resigns from his body for good, stuff won't be so easy. AND, there are social issues to consider. Eating spontaneously, like his classmates do. Integrating FOOD into LIFE in a way that SOMEWHAT approximates the way *I* integrate food into life. Hey, are you hungry? So grab an apple. See, it's not so easy for people with diabetes. They have to inject insulin for that apple that you and I just take for granted. With a pump, all my son would have to do is press a button for 15 grams of carbs. No sterilizing the insulin pen, "air shots", sterilizing injection sites or pinching up fat for an injection. I mean seriously imagine if every time you had something to eat, you had to do that. Isn't a device that makes that very human act of EATING, worth it, just psychologically?

Besides which, I still think that with a device that has been successful for so many people there shouldn't even be a question... WELL, a doctor should just be able to write a prescription and you get the fucking thing. I could walk into a huge variety of doctors in this state, and get a prescription for POT within fifteen minutes, because I am so stressed over all this diabetes crap. My son sees the finest diabetes doctors in the land at University of California-San Francisco. Insurance can't just take their word for it that he needs A FUCKING INSULIN PUMP and would benefit???

Fuck them.

Whoops, my naughty language is showing. Someone said to me the other day that I seem angry a lot on my blog. Ya think?

Well, SURREE, but Fuck It.

Regarding this situation, one friend of mine very wisely suggested that we consult an attorney. We plan to, should we hear bad news on Monday.

Another friend mentioned that her friend had had trouble getting the pump approved for her son. She contacted the media. And her son's pump start was broadcast live on New Jersey TV!

This has all given me food for thought. I am going to contact Michael Finney at Seven on Your Side to start with, along with an attorney, should we receive bad news on Monday. Michael Finney kicks big corporate butt and I think he would be VERY interested in this situation.

And, we may consult a psychologist I know who specializes in children with chronic illnesses. I'll bet she could come up with BINDERSFULL of information about how it benefits a child with a chronic disease to make their lives more like "everyone else's."

Wish us luck. I hate the waiting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Sold a Book Today & ... Gotta Love Tekakwitha

'Kay, so it was just ONE, and 'kay, so let's hope I sold more than one book SOMEWHERE TODAY, but this particular sale was really, really nice.

I happened to be in a Borders store with my daughter and decided, what the hell? I'm here, may as well sign copies of my book. They had 7! Which was cool in and of itself,. But also, the staff were SO nice to me~three different booksellers asked what the book was about. THEN, the man next to me said, "Sounds like a good book, can you inscribe one to my daughters?" I said, "Ummmmm sure but how old are your daughters?" "14. Do you think it's a good book for 14-year-olds?" I said, "Wellllll, very mature 14-year olds I guess." (I've gotten emails from readers as young as 12, but ya know, well, if you've read the book, ya know.)

So I told the dad that he may want to preview it first." (No worries, he's a ponytailed Marin County dad, but still.) He said "This is so cool, meeting an author. Wow! Wait till I tell my girls..."

So I made $3.00 on that hardback sale, but that little interaction made my day.

And as a PS... Tekakwitha gives a great account of her second date with Mr. Pastry Chef... really, this is just a comment on what life is like for people with Type 1 Diabetes every day, the explanations, misunderstandings, uncomfortable moments.... Go and Read It.

Quick & Dirty Tuesday

So a coupla things...

Thanks so much for all the supportive comments on my son's diagnosis story. We ended up postponing the amusement park (Too Damn Hot!) but we'll do it at another time.

There's an interview with me up at Conversations with Famous Writers...

And another up at Fiction Attic....

Dear daughter's started reading the new Harry Potter, like everyone else in the world, and has told me I'll have to sneak into her room late at night and steal it if I want a peek.

A very sad farewell from Mad Max Perkins. :(

And here's a big puzzlement: "Double Diabetes." ???

Saturday, July 16, 2005

MJ Holds Us in Suspense...

At last here's my interview with the inimitable MJ Rose! MJ's novel, The Halo Effect, is currently in mass market paperback. I got to read an ARC of this novel and LOVED it! Now that it's out in mass release, I'm going to buy some copies for friends.

Here's MJ's press release:
NEW YORK, July 5 – M.J. Rose, nearly as well known in some circles for the wildly creative strategies she advocates to a growing audience on her marketing blog, "Buzz, Balls, and Hype", as she is for her feverishly paced thrillers, has come up with the perfect strategy to capture overwhelmed consumers' attention in an overloaded marketplace for her newest release THE HALO EFFECT (Mira Books; Mass Market Paperback, July 2005).

The two-week "blog-a-thon" for the Anthony Award-nominated novel aims to connect book lovers with a good cause and a great summer read.

On July 5th, coinciding with the release of THE HALO EFFECT, Mira Books has teamed up with "VidLit" to produce a short film that uses animation and the latest in digitial multimedia illuminate the world within the novel. Rose has secured pledges from real-life supporters - her publisher, agent, family and friends – who will collectively donate $5 to the nonprofit literacy organization, Reading Is Fundamental, for each website or blog that links to Rose's THE HALO EFFECT VidLit before July 19.

Rose's goal is to get 500 blogs to link to the VidLit and raise $2500+ for the charity.

THE HALO EFFECT is the first book in the Butterfield Institute series, featuring sex therapist, Dr. Morgan Snow. In each book she struggles with the conflict of preserving her patient's privacy and the dangerous and sometimes criminal things she hears. She sees everything from the abused to the depraved, from the couples grappling with sexual boredom to twisted sociopaths with dark, erotic fetishes and the Butterfield institute is the sanctuary where she helps soothe and heal these battered souls.


"Potentially explosive… Rose's latest is not for the squeamish... [Dr. Morgan Snow] is an engaging guide to the world of dysfunction that Rose painstakingly constructs." –Publisher's Weekly

"The Halo Effect is tense, engrossing, and sometimes so real it's frightening."
- Linda Richards, editor of January Magazine

"Dr. Morgan Snow is a refreshingly vulnerable character whose spunky decision to go undercover in the demimonde is both believable and hair-raising. THE HALO EFFECT will have you on the edge of your seat from page one"
-Katherine Neville, New York Times bestselling author of The Eight

About M.J. Rose:

M.J. Rose, is the author of five novels, Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music and The Halo Effect. She also is a contributor to Poets and Writers, Oprah Magazine, The Writer Magazine, Pages Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in Pages Magazine, The Vestal Review and several anthologies including Best American Erotica and The Auntie's Book. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book. With a background in advertising (She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art), Rose used her business smarts and entrepreneurial acumen to become what Time magazine would call the "poster girl" of e-publishing. Signed to a major New York publishing house in 1999, Rose has gone on to help other authors creatively market their work through both of her popular and well-read blogs, Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

What's left? Watch the VidLit!


Other resources:

Buzz, Balls & Hype:


About VidLit:

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I caught up with MJ for an interview. I think you'll learn a lot about writing, publishing, and promoting by reading MJ's answers to my questions. Welcome to the blog, MJ!

MJR: Thanks for having me.

MO'C: You take risks with subject matter and theme, to put it mildly! About The Halo Effect, Publishers Weekly says: "The mutilated body of a prostitute in a nun's habit, her pubic hair shaved into a cross, appears on page one of this suspense thriller, making it plain that Rose's latest (after Sheet Music) is not for the squeamish. " Did you take any flack for such an edgy opening and did you experience any trepidation when writing it?

MJR: I haven't gotten any flack for the violence. And I didn't have much choice about writing it. It was in my head that way, demanding, I guess I'd say, that it be told like that.

But I have gotten a lot of flack -- surprisingly to me -- for creating a therapist (she's a main character) who has serious conflicts and real problems in her own life.

Readers and reviewers have actually questioned if anyone with Dr. Morgan Snow's troubles would be allowed to be a therapist.

It makes me want to laugh - that anyone would think therapists are beyond human nature and immune to problems. And it annoys me that anyone would think I'd would write a character as complicated as Morgan without doing my homework. (I have two to four therapists I work with on any given book and the each book is vetted by them. )

MO'C: I have to ask about the butterflies because they're a motif in my novel as well. What do butterflies mean to YOU and how do they work in the book? Why did you choose to use them as a symbol?

MJR: I know this is going to sound crazy, but Morgan chose them. I spend about six weeks to three months walking around with my main character, seeing the world through her eyes, making a scrap book of her life, collecting bits and pieces that make her whole in my head.

So one day I was walking around New York City, with Morgan, and I (we) were in Soho and there was a store that had hundreds of butterflies, each in its own Plexiglas container in the window. I stopped and I knew - these fabulous insects had something do with Morgan.

Of course there was the obvious metaphor of the stages of metamorphosis that a butterfly goes through which corresponds to the stages someone in therapy might go through.

But after doing some research, I found out other facts that proved just how perfect the metaphor was. For instance, in ancient Greece the word for psyche and the word for butterfly were the same as well as being is the basis of the word psychology.

And do you know about the sexual life of butterflies?

Once I found out some mate for 16 hours at a time - that settled it.

MO'C: You were originally self-published. E-published, if I'm correct. How did that come about and how did the transition to e-publishing to traditional publishing happen for you?

MJR: Getting published was an adventure. I self-published my first novel Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn't know how to position it or market it since it didn't fit into any one genre. Too commercial to be literary, too literary to be commercial. Too erotic not to be erotica but not erotic enough to really be erotica. A little bit suspenseful, but not enough of a mystery to call it a mystery ... you get the idea. Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for the book despite it not being easy to classify, I set up a web site where readers could download the book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

MO'C: Do you recommend that writers who've "struck out" with traditional publishers try self-publishing? Why or why not and if the answer's yes, do you have any services you think are better than any others?

MJR: Self-publishing has been around for hundreds of years and has not done harm to literature. There will always be a few authors who deserve to be published that get passed over for one reason or another, yet who believe in their work enough to persist and publish it themselves. Mark Twain, D.H. Lawrence, e.e.cummings are among the hundreds of authors who have self-published their books at one time or another.

On the other hand, I do think the Internet has become flooded with self-published books which can overwhelm readers. Daily it becomes harder and harder for any of them will be discovered. It's just too much for anyone to wade through in the hopes of finding one of those hidden gems.

So I believe self-publishing should be a last resort. I think authors should try to get agents and get published traditionally. They need editors to help them grow and improve. Self-publishing is very arduous and very speculative and a difficult journey.

MO'C: How much of your fiction do you draw from life? Can you give any examples?

MJR: Not very much in one way. A lot in another.

Specifically, I write about the subjects that interest me.

I studied to be a painter in college and am still very involved in the art world. I also went back to school (in my 30's) to be therapist. I've lived in New York City or Connecticut most of my life.

So those subjects and places do show up in my fiction.

I think untimely; I am my books in the way that matters. I don't look like my characters, I have not lived their traumas, I don't act the way they act, but the themes the book address are issues in my life - even if only intellectually. The questions the books ask are the questions I ask myself.

MO'C: Successful suspense plotting can be a challenge. Do you outline your books? What are some tips you might have for creating effective suspense?

MJR: Thanks for suggesting that the books are indeed suspenseful.

Yes, I do have an outline. A 20-point outline that just helps me understand the landscape of the book. For me, to write suspense I have to know the end before I even start to write the first word. It's like a journey. I need to know where I'm beginning and where I'm going to wind up. But I'm willing to get lost on my way there.

As for tips, I don't think I have any. But if you hear of any could you let me know what they are, I'd love some help.

MO'C: I'd like to hear a bit how your very successful blog, Buzz, Balls, and Hype, (linked on the right in my blogroll!) came to be. What are some ways in which blogging has helped your literary career?

MJR: As a reporter, I had a three-year gig covering publishing for and got to understand the ins and outs of every aspect of the business. Around the same time I stared hanging out at an online forum called where I wound up spending a lot of time answering questions about things related to publishing and buzz.

Then blogs started up. I didn't have one. But Michael Cader over at Publisher's Marketplace had an idea for offering blogs within his site and asked me if I wanted to be his first blogger and beta test his system.

I said sure. And then forgot about it for a while until I got an email one night telling me he was ready for the blog and could I get it up two days later?

Sure, I said again. Except I had no idea what to blog about. I only knew I didn't want to do: I didn't want to blog about myself, because I think I'm boring, and I didn't want to have a blog that just aggregated news.

I was also suddenly worried about where I'd find the time to blog.

I was writing my novels all day, every day. And in my spare time, I was posting at Readerville. Where was I going to find the time to blog, too?

That was when I realized I should blog the stuff I posted about at Readerville: opinions on and analysis of marketing and promotion as well as how authors can become more empowered and what we need to understand about publishing.

As for how it's impacted my fiction, I know there have been readers of the blog who've read my fiction who never would have been exposed it otherwise.

MO'C: About authors blogging, Ayelet Waldman recently said: "Don't, don't start; it'll suck you into the screaming vortex of the blogosphere, and then you will never get out... One of the things that you do as a fiction writer is you sort of take the experiences of your life and your memories and you kind of wait for them to gel into something and transform into something that you then write about in a very different way. And when you have this new medium of the web, there's no gel time -- it's just all liquid." Have you experienced any downsides to blogging?

MJR: I haven't had Ayelet's experience at all which is probably because I have never used my personal life as material for my blog and I don't ever plan to.

It's just not what I'm interested in putting out there.

If I had to explain it, I'd say:

My novels are deeply rooted in the questions I personally have about emotions, philosophy, and psychology.

My blog is rooted in my experience as both a creative director of a NY ad agency and a reporter covering publishing. The blog gives me a forum to brainstorm, raises issues authors have with publishing and play around with some crazy ideas.

The only downside, is that there is some sense of responsibly now that the blog is doing well and if I ignore it for too many days I start to feel guilty.

MO'C: Can you talk a bit about authors self-promoting?

MJR: There are 125,000 books published a year. (195,000 if you count self published) There are 10,000 novels published a year. (25,000 if you include self published.) Let's just focus on fiction.

That's up from 6000 in 1998 but readership is down since then. And the price of books has gone up.

There are almost 300 novels published a week. Review sources are down 20% -50% across the board. Only 500 novels a year get any serious review attention a year - that's less than 5%. And then readers say they don't care about reviews anyway. There is no real advertising for 90% of the books published.

So what's left. Table placement for books in bookstores? Yes, but the reader has to want to pick up the book on the table. The only thing that makes them do that is word of mouth or attractive covers. And only one of those is something the author can do something about.

The way I explain it is this: If you don't get involved and become a marketing partner with your publisher, if you don't get online engage with readers, if you don't go into every bookstore you can and make nice with the booksellers, when you book fails you have no idea if you would have made a difference. If you do all the right things and the book still fails to find an audience, you can never blame yourself. Knowing you did your best will make a difference. And I find that in general, authors who get involved the right way, do help their sales.

Unfortunately most of us are writers because we love being home, in our robes, or sweats, not talking to people, living in worlds of our own creation to the exclusion of the real world out there. So getting out and promoting can often seem like the most impossible job. It's counter to everything we are.

It helps to have a split personality if you want to be a successful author. Or have a twin who loves to socialize.

And that's why tours like this one online are so important. The web really does allow writers to connect to readers. Hopefully, something like this tour will encourage readers to take a chance on my book - to pick it up if they see it - to go to my website and read an excerpt.

Writers too have to make a huge effort to support other writers and buy each other's books. It's a known statistic that writers who read and buy other writers' books have more successful careers and get published sooner.

I also teach a marketing/PR class. It's one on one, six weeks every other month. (The next one
starts in September.) The class empowers authors to come up with ideas they can implement themselves to promote their books. Creative, out of the box ideas. One of my students got her publisher to increase her print run by 300% based on her idea. Another student created a pr event that attracted so much press she got a movie deal.

MO'C: Thanks again all the great information, MJ! I'm sure my readers learned a lot.

MJR: You're welcome.

You can buy MJ's book at online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, at your local indie bookseller, or wherever books are sold.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

One Year Ago This Morning~Our Diagnosis Story

One year ago this morning, bleary eyed in the ER, scared to death we'd lose our son for good, we heard the words "Your son has diabetes."

To mark this anniversary, I'd planned to write something really special for the blog. Something well-thought out and crafted, acknowledging what had happened, educating people, BLAH. Something worthy of the enormous changes that diabetes has brought into our lives.


I couldn't do it. I haven't really wanted to look at this anniversary. But, we do plan to acknowledge it as a family. Tomorrow we're all going to an amusement park. Seems kinda sick to outsiders to "celebrate" a diabetes diagnosis, but what we're marking is the tough year we've all gotten through, and how brave and strong we've ALL had to be.

Anyway, I wrote this as an email to a friend awhile back, explaining what had happened to us. I promised my fellow D-bloggers a diagnosis story, and this is as close as Im gonna get this year. Sorry it's so poorly written. Xx M

During the summer of 2004 and in the months just before, our son had been drinking a lot of liquids, but we brushed it aside because the weather had been hot and he's very active. It was more an annoyance than anything else. Then he began to lose energy, grow tired and listless, and lose weight. He lost 10% of his body weight in two weeks. We went to the pediatrician numerous times but were turned away with "he's under stress from school" "he's under stress from summer camp" etc. Once we were even told to look for intestinal parasites, get stool samples and send them to analysis, etc. Meanwhile, he continued to lose weight. He didn't want to do ANYTHING. No bike rides, no park visits. He just lay on the sofa. And he was ravenously hungry... and still lost weight.

My husband said to me under his breath, two days before the ER visit, "I think he's dying..." And I was furious with him for saying such a thing. But know what? It breaks my heart now to type this... but he was right... in the old days, before insulin, kids used to die of type 1 diabetes, and this was just how it happened...

The day before diagnosis my husband took him to the pediatrician. Again we were told "the child is under stress, and he has strep throat. Take these antibiotics and he'll be fine in 24 hours." At this point the child smelled llke a stick of Juicy Fruit gum and was in severe diabetic ketoacidosis. (Not that WE knew what that meant, but the pediatrician should have!) We were sent home.

12 hours later he awoke vomiting and hyperventilating. He could no longer stand up, and could not speak. He could only blink for yes or no. Although he did not fall into a coma, he was drifting at the edge of consciousness as we took him to the ER. Within 10 minutes we had a diagnosis and to tell you the truth, by that time it was a relief. Because I thought it was leukemia. I really was afraid we were going to lose him.

He was so dehydrated they had to bring in a neonatologist to get an IV in his skinny little veins and get him hydrated. They couldn't start the insulin until he was hydrated. And they had to move very slowly with the insulin because he was quite acidic at that point and if you adjust the ph too quickly you can cause a hemorrhage to the brain. They had to rush him to UCSF Medical Center so the specialists could treat him. He was there for 4 days.

Most of the time he had three IVs: saline, insulin, and potassium. The potassium one was in the original IV they started in the ER to hydrate him (their first priority), and when it started to get old, the potassium burned as it entered his veins and he screamed in pain for most of the night until they decided to start yet another IV and remove that one. I slept in the room the whole time--I refused to leave--and my husband stayed with our daughter and shuttled her back and forth.

I didn't know till later how close it really was. He was only hours away from coma. We are very, very lucky. Also, I'm glad we live near San Francisco. We would have been in a helicopter instead of an ambulance if we had been somewhere like Auburn or Ukiah. I'm just glad we live in 2005 and not 1905. Because of insulin, we have our child with us today.

Well, that's all I can manage for a diagnosis story. Maybe someday I'll pretty it up, but for now, well, this is it. We've learned a lot this year, some of it regarding how to manage this disease (8-10 blood sugar tests every day; 4-5 insulin shots per day); some of it regarding potential complications, which we'll do everything to avoid (renal failure, blindness, stroke, amputations, heart disease); some of it regarding the rights our son has regarding accommodations at school; some regarding advocacy, research, and outreach (The JDRF and Join Lee Now). I learned the truth about some of my friendships (some friends really stepped up to the plate, learning everything they could about diabetes; a few weren't so supportive and claimed that by advocating for our child at school and getting involved in the JDRF, we were making "too big a deal" of the disease--fortunately these folks were the CLEAR minority, and aren't part of our lives anymore). And perhaps most importantly, we ALL learned a lot regarding our own inner strength and cohesiveness as a fmily.

One thing I'll say, I don't know how I would have managed without the Children With Diabetes online community and parents mailing list. These wonderful people have been my touchstones this whole year. In CWD I found my refuge.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why Powell's City of Books Rocks My World

Powell's City of Books is a kickass independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon that has been around for nearly 35 years. They are wall-to-wall books and boast a friendly, knowledgable staff and a real commitment to literature. But if that's not enough, this week there are two more reasons why Powell's ROCKS MY WORLD.

#1 Powell's has an essay of mine up on their website. Right now it's right up front at their homepage,but it's permanently archived here as well.

#2 In conjunction with this essay, Powell's is offering 30% off The Bitch Posse. That's like getting 117 and 1/3 pages of it for free!

Yay Powell's! While you're there, check out all their other awesome author essays. And buy some more books~support independent bookselling!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Terry Tells All

As a lot of people are aware, bestselling author Terry McMillan's marriage with Jonathan Plummer is breaking up. This is the man she wrote How Stella Got Her Groove Back about. Remember the one where she goes to Jamaica, meets a 25-year-old man, falls in love and, well, gets her groove back? Well, it's all over because her man is... gay. At first I really felt for Terry McMillan. I mean that's gotta kill your ego, right?

But then I read that Plummer's court filing claims: (via the San Francisco Chronicle)
In a Jan. 14 letter written by McMillan and filed with the court, the author told Plummer, "The reason you're going to make a great fag is that most of you guys are just like dogs anyway. ... You do whatever with whomever pleases you and don't seem to care about the consequences."

Plummer also says McMillan came into the dog-grooming shop and left him a bottle of Jamaican hot pepper sauce on which she wrote, "Fag Juice Burn Baby Burn,'' and that she also scrawled "Jonathan's Fag boyfriend Fag'' on a photo of a friend.

"She is an extremely angry woman who is homophobic and is lashing out at me because I have learned I am gay."
Wow. If any of that is true, I'm stunned and although Terry must be upset, these statements are over the top.

We may get some answers tonight. PBS is airing an interview with Terry, her first-ever interview since these revelations were brought to light. You can read excerpts here, including:

“I resent that he did all of this to basically eclipse the publication of my book so people would think that it’s a publicity stunt. I don’t need him for publicity. All this is basically because he wants my money. He’s not getting it. He has risked my life by having sex with men for years. He has become a U.S. citizen because of his relationship with me. He’s trying to get sympathy for himself and he’s a habitual liar and he’s a sociopath. Now, I will prove it. He has gotten on my last nerve.”
What do you think? Is it a stunt? Read the comments at that website (currently there are 74!) to catch a glimpse of how this story is playing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

'Twas Worth the Wait...

My long-awaited interview with horror author extraordinaire, Deborah LeBlanc, finally arrives! I've never gotten to interview a horror author before, so I got to ask some questions that have truly been buzzing in my head.

MO'C: What is it like being a female horror writer in a genre traditionally dominated by men? Do you think women are breaking into this genre more and more (ie, Anne Rice, Elizabeth Kostova)?

DLEB: It's a struggle being a woman in any male dominated arena! I've fought that battle in the business world for years and now find myself doing the same in publishing. The strange thing is I never started out to be a horror writer. All I wanted to do was write an interesting, provocative story that people would enjoy reading. The publishing industry, as well as reviewers, have labeled me with every genre title except romance and western! When asked what genre I write, my usual comment is psychological thriller or supernatural suspense. For some reason, those genre titles create the mental image in a reader's mind that I originally intended. When readers hear 'horror', the image that comes most readily to mind is one of blood, guts, and gore, and my stories don't follow that vein.

MO'C: I've heard that in horror, it's not so much the bloody descriptions but that feeling of dreadful suspense that creates the true "horror" of any novel. What do you think are some of the best techniques writers can use to create suspense in fiction?

DLEB: In my opinion, horror in any genre is created by putting a well fleshed out character (one the reader cares about) in a dangerous, time sensitive situation. Fear, from a psychological perspective, is created by many elements, the two most common being; fear of the unknown and loss of control with the things or people we do know. When a writer weaves those basic, human fears into his or her story line, that's what keeps me at the edge of my seat and turning pages.

MO'C: Horror fiction often has an allegory associated with it. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin, for instance, contains some very profound social statements about the late 60s, and the new roles of women and pregnancy. Is your horror allegorical at all,? Does it contain social commentary in any way and if so, how?

DLEB: My stories do contain social commentary. In Family Inheritance, I wanted more than anything to give vision to two issues; mental illness and the strength of family. Mental illness carries such a social stigma that few of us understand, or want to understand, the true horror experienced by those who suffer with the disease, or the torment and utter sense of hopelessness their family members must bear. I wanted to give these victims a voice. The other social statement, that of family, was written as a reminder that no matter how small or separated or dysfunctional ours may be, there's always hope.

MO'C: In a similar vein, I have seen some horror writers interviewed saying that this genre is the safest place to put social commentary nowadays, that no one is reading straight-out social satire. What's your opinion?

DLEB: Although the horror genre may be an easy venue in which to place a social commentary, there are others just as open. Take Tom Robbins' work for example. His Zen-punk type prose not only throws social issues right into a reader's face, he makes them hilarious and immensely thought provoking. Jodi Picoult is another author who takes social commentary to new heights.

MO'C: A lot of successful horror deals with religion in some way. Why do you feel this is so?

DLEB: I believe it's a simple matter of good versus evil. Religion may get thrown into the mix, but overall, we want the 'good' guy (be it God or the protagonist) to win over evil.

MO'C: It's been my observation that horror was out of vogue for about 20 years or so with the exception of Stephen King. Do you think horror's undergoing a revitalizing period now? Can you name some books that you think are breathing new life into the genre?

DLEB: Yes, I do think horror is undergoing a revitalization, and that opinion's based off the many new 'horror' authors popping up in the genre and the increased interest from Hollywood producers searching for new material.

MO'C: Can you please comment about the classic horror writer HP Lovecraft and how he may have influenced your work, or the genre as a whole?

DLEB: Lovecraft made a significant impact on the horror genre. So much so I believe his work literally created the base line from which many horror authors work. Nearly every horror author I've spoken to admits to being affected and influenced by his work. I'm not one of them, however, because I didn't start reading any of his work until a year ago.

MO'C: What's been the most rewarding thing about being published? The most frustrating?

DLEB: For me, the most rewarding thing about being published is hearing a reader say how much they enjoyed one of my books. The most frustrating is the publishing business itself. I don't believe there's a more antiquated, subjective business on the planet!

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

DLEB: The most valuable advice I ever received as a writer is the one I most often share--Read, read, read, write, write, write, and NEVER give up!

MO'C: What's next for Deborah LeBlanc?

DLEB: Another new suspense release in '06, and a mystery series that I hope will be launched in '07!

You may buy Deborah's most recent novel, Family Inheritance, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my personal favorite, Booksense. For more great information on the horror genre and Deborah's books, visit her website!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Touche, MG & MJ

"When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities."

- Matt Groening, From "Basic Sex Facts For Today's Youngfolk" In Life In Hell

While you wait with bated breath for the arrival of Deborah LeBlanc (see below), feed your hunger for horror with the Vidlit Promo for MJ Rose's erotic suspense novel, The Halo Effect. For every blog that links to this VidLit, MJ's team will donate $5 for Reading is Fundamental, the national reading charity!

MJ is also the proprietor of the awesome Buzz, Balls and Hype, linked on my Blogroll to the right. Go MJ!

"They'll See and They'll Know, Why, She Wouldn't Even Harm a Fly!"

~Norman Bates from Psycho

The anticipation is killing me, yes, KILLING ME! Any day now, horror writer Deborah LeBlanc from The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit will appear on this blog to drive us all mad with fright! In the meantime here is her death release, I mean her press release....)


In all their years at the funeral home, Janet and Michael Savoy had never seen anything like the viewing for nineteen-year-old Thalia Stevenson. That's because they had never witnessed a Gypsy funeral before, complete with rituals, incantations, and a very special gold coin placed beneath the dead girl's hands...

When that coin is stolen, a horror is unleashed. If the Savoys don't find the coin and return it to Thalia's grave before the rising of the second sun, someone in their family--perhaps their little daughter--will die a merciless death. The ticking away of each hour brings the Savoy family closer to a gruesome, inescapable nightmare. Only one thing is certain--Gypsies always have their revenge . . . even the dead ones.

"A powerful, haunting tale." --Tim Lebbon, author of Desolation

"Grave Intent is a first-rate novel, filled with genuine dread. I defy you to put this down after the first two pages--it can't be done!" --Gary A. Braunbeck, author of In Silent Graves

"Iconic writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub who have sold millions penning psychological thrillers designed to scare the living daylights out of readers had better beware—they’ve all just met their match and her name is Deborah LeBlanc. An irresistible blend of horror, mystery and dark fantasy, Grave Intent is like a wild roller coaster ride through the seven levels of Hell that doesn’t stop until readers are all suitably slack jawed in shock and delirious with all-consuming fear. In a word: Awesome!"--Paul Goat Allen- Ransom Notes- B&N.Com

"Deborah LeBlanc’s new novel, Grave Intent, is a spine tingling trip of supernatural terror. LeBlanc grabs the reader on page one and never lets go right up through the startling conclusion….

"LeBlanc, author of Family Inheritance, rivets readers with this fast moving, nerve-shattering tale. The author has done her research and tells you all the things about the inner workings of funeral homes you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

"She creates strong, credible characters that the reader cannot help cheering for as the harrowing odds against them mount. Believable, too, is the plight of two very different mothers, both who are willing to sacrifice everything for their children.

"Grave Intent is one of the most terrifying and original novels I have read in a long time. This is a hauntingly bittersweet story that no fan of the macabre should miss. It gave me nightmares.

"Deborah LeBlanc is a fantastic new talent in the horror genre, and I look forward to her future work with great anticipation."~Shannon Riley, The Dark Krypt
And so do I... I know Deborah's visit will be worth the wait! Because as Jack Torrance said in The Shining...

"You've had your whole fucking life to think things over! What's a few more minutes gonna do for you now!?"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Was Here, But Now I'm Gone...AND A Post-Script

I left my name to carry on....

(I don't really have to finish writing out the poem, do I? We all remember that one from grade seven.)

Yes, sometimes technology is SO frustrating. I wrote a posting two days ago, but Blogger DEVOURED IT. Then someone emailed me to tell me how witty my posting was (SERIOUSLY... the one and only time someone emails to tell me that, the posting is DESTROYED) and that I shouldn't have taken it down! Damn Blogger.

Anyway, the posting mentioned that my husband had read this review of The Bitch Posse in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle. Now, I'm not reading reviews, but I'm making Husband do it! He said it was a good one.... WHEW! They're my local paper and it's nice they were kind. :o) Then we went out for diet root beer floats. Wait a minute, that was funny? NAHHHH. Perhaps my emailer was referring to this quiz:

Your Slanguage Profile

Prison Slang: 50%
Southern Slang: 50%
Canadian Slang: 25%
New England Slang: 25%
Victorian Slang: 25%
Aussie Slang: 0%
British Slang: 0%

(See, not NEARLY so witty the second time around! To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure it was so witty the first time either!)

Also, I've been named one of the first book recommendations on the site This is a great idea begun by Debra Hamel. The idea is that the first week of July, October, January, and April, you buy a friend a book for no reason at all.

The author who chose my novel, Damian McNicholl, also has a review and interview on his site today. Damian got me drunk on 12-year-old Irish whisky and I'm not responsible for anyone I may have offended on his site! (Actually, I notice that John Hlinko, the founder of, dropped by and commented... HE'S not pissed at me anyway... seemed rather pleased for the mention, in fact, and I'm glad to help his very worthy organization.)


Yesterday was another reminder of why stem cell research is so necessary. Just as we were stepping off for the 4th of July parade (a 3-mile walk with the swim team), we tested my son's blood sugars... 359. That's VERY HIGH. He'd JUST gone to the bathroom and the parade was literally just stepping off, so there was no way to test his urine for ketones, which can develop at numbers over 300. (Ketones are the poisonous by-product of the body being unable to use the excess glucose in the blood and having to burn its own fats and proteins for fuel. They are what sent him into Diabetic Ketoacidosis before his original diabetes diagnosis, and nearly a diabetic coma. So ketones SCARE me.)

I gave him a unit of insulin (his correction factor is 0.5 unit for every 50 mg/dL > 125, but since we were going to be walking I wanted to be cautious) and the swim team organizer let him ride in the convertible along with the All Star 100M relay team (because if you exercise with ketones~and I wasn't sure whether he had them~the body interprets it as stress and makes even MORE ketones). I gave him a huge bottle of water to drink also, to help flush the glucose from his body.

Imagine me, raising my eyes to the sky and praying that the insulin will work and that he's not developing ketones. Me, running back and forth between where my daughter was marching and the convertible. Me, testing blood sugars (while jogging alongside a moving convertible) every 10 minutes. Me, chattering away at the mom of one of the twins' friends, who happens to be a doctor... not an endocrinologist, but she understands diabetes so I could bounce ideas off of her. Me, dialing home to Husband on the cellphone. Me, kicking myself as I figured out that the sugar alcohols in the diet pancake syrup had likely been the culprit. (He seems to be sensitive to sugar alcohols lately, which we didn't used to count.) Me, wondering if I was doing the right thing in not taking him home.... Color me upset...

THEN, after 30 minutes his blood sugars had only gone down to 345. Fuck.... After more chattering with my doctor friend, I decided I'd wait 15 minutes, test again, and give another 0.5 unit if his numbers hadn't come down.

10 minutes later, a little voice chirps next to me, "Mom, I feel better now."

What? We tested again and he was down to 240. WHEW! Now, in actuality, that's a pretty crappy number. That's double to triple his target blood sugar numbers, but out of the danger zone for ketone production at least. At 240, it's not dangerous to exercise. And by the end of the 3-mile walk, his numbers were back in range.

When I came home, I was exhausted, and not just because of the walk... I crashed and burned.

At any rate, I am everywhere but here today.

Friday, July 01, 2005

With All the Bells and Whistles

"I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

Yes, it was one of those days. NO, thank God, the house did not burn down. BUT, we had an emergency call to the fire department today. The 8-year-old girl got stuck in a baby swing at the park. Her leg began to swell up and she couldn't get out. Two other moms and myself tried to pull her out... no luck. I used my key to cut her pants apart to try to see if getting the fabric cut away from the swing made a difference... NOPESTER. Meanwhile, the leg began to swell up, and she began to panic. "MOM, MY LEG'S TURNING PURPLE... THEY'RE GOING TO CUT OFF MY LEG..."

What else was there to do but call the Fire Department? Actually all the moms at the park agreed. We had tried so hard to ease her out in any way possible and had no luck whatsoever. And, that is what The Fire Department are there for. To fight fires, get kittens out of trees, and get children out of baby swings.

So I called 911 on my cellphone and got put through to... THE HIGHWAY PATROL. And got put... ON HOLD. For five minutes. With a bawling child whose hair I was running my fingers through, trying to keep (her and me!) calm.

I wasn't waiting any longer. I called Information and got the local police Non-emergency number, and told them to transfer me to the Fire Deparment emergency number. They got there in under five minutes and the chief and two firefighters showed up along with a policeman in a patrol car. I was pretty sure they were going to have to use a saw to cut this swing off of her, BUT, because I had been able to chop the pants off her to her thigh, they got a container of soap (they keep these things in the firetruck, if you didn't know, for just this kind of emergency) and slicked up her leg and the baby swing and then I ran into the restroom to get water! (Then at that point I felt kinda dumb, like, shit, shouldn't I have figured out to do that... but then there's never any soap in those restrooms anyway and it wasn't like I was going to tell one of the other mmoms, whom I didn't know and with whom I only spoke because of the emergency, to drive to their homes to get soap IN CASE it might work... that'd be dumb, who knows where they lived and what if it hadn't worked and etc etc etc and plus I'm a bad crappy mother for not watching her well enough and plus plus plus, but then I can't tell you how many times I've been at the park and seen big kids playing on the baby swings and their moms sitting right there, so I didn't feel like such a dork or at least I convinced myself I wasn't!). Anyway, after the soap and water trick then two firefighters pulled her out of the swing and we were all OK, happy and a little embarrassed.

At home she wondered if she was going to get in trouble. I said, "no, you've been in enough trouble... as long as you learned something."

"I did."

"What did you learn?"

"Never to go to the park again because the park is cursed."

We had a little conversation after that and I think we're all on the same page. I'm just a TAD emotionally exhausted though. It's not every day the Fire Department rescues your child from a baby swing.