Thursday, September 29, 2005

Arizona School Risks Student's Life

Sheesh, do we live in the Dark Ages or what? This stuff happens more than most of us realize. I'm glad he's taking legal action, though.

This is Alex Lagman. He is 17 years old and has Type 1 Diabetes. When at school, Alex IS NOT PERMITTED TO CARRY THE EQUIPMENT THAT KEEPS HIM ALIVE.

From The Arizona Republic:
Diabetic sues school district
Student not allowed to carry testing gear

Geri Koeppel
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 29, 2005 12:00 AM

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of a diabetic student at Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee Foothills who was told he could not carry his glucose testing equipment on campus.

Alex Lagman, 17, of Chandler, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on his 12th birthday and has been self-monitoring his blood sugar using small lancets to prick his finger four to 10 times a day. The Arizona Center for Disability Law filed the suit against Tempe Union High School District in federal court on his behalf.

The school wants Alex to visit the nurse's office for testing, said his father, Bruce Lagman. But that's not practical, he said, because if his son's blood sugar is very low he might not make it across campus without passing out. Also, he said, the nurse is not always available, and the trips would cause his son to miss class.... {{MORE}}
Read the whole story (and prepare to get royally pissed off). It's blatant discrimination and is an OUTRAGE.

Of course, this very same thing happened to us when we were looking for summer camps. Not one would allow our son to carry his testing equipment with him. Long story short, we didn't do any camps. But still, schools receive federal money and therefore CANNOT DISCRIMINATE LIKE THIS.

Alex said it all:
"I don't think I should get in trouble for trying to live healthier."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Aren't You Famous?

SO many quotables appeared in my email box yesterday. And I'm just rushing out to do my WRITING THANG, but I had to pass along a link to this amazing transcript from which most of the quotables came. All first-time authors should definitely give this a read!

The Amazing Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network, Book Publicist Extraordinaire Lauren Cerand and Marketing Guru MJ Rose, have posted a live interview with first-time authors about book publicity. Authors are: Dallas Hudgens, Sheila Curran, Dean Bakopoulos, Lisa Selin Davis and Kevin Smokler.

Illuminating? Yes. Funny? Oh, you bet. Depressing? Well, not with the good dose of humor... let's just call it a run-in with reality. Thanks, Dan, Lauren, and MJ!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tactical Tuesday~The Suckage Factor

Well, I can't believe Tuesday has come around again so quickly!

I got SO MANY great suggestions for the Tactical Tuesday rodent's name.

CONGRATULATIONS to Harlow Blue (who obviously paid VERY GOOD attention to last week's discussion on character names) for christening him:

Fluster McKnucklesby.

Today Fluster is going to expound upon:

The Suckage Factor

The book I'm working on now sucks. Like a Hoover. Why does it suck? Because it's supposed to. Because it's THE FIRST DRAFT.

In her classic book Bird by Bird (an excerpt appears here), Anne Lamott says:

"Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts."

Now that ought to be a huge relief to those of you struggling through the first draft. It's easy to think your first draft should be polished like a glass tabletop. Not so. My first drafts are scratched, coffee-cup-ringed tabletops covered with melted crayon, bread crumbs, and an unknown sticky substance. (Well, YOU have a dirty mind, DON'T you?)

For example, I don't correct spelling with first drafts. I don't even go back and fix character names. I have a character whose name has changed five times so far in the novel. I figure I'll eventually sort it out. Grammar? Hahahahaha....

The writer's biggest enemy in writing the first draft is the Internal Editor. You know, that bespectacled, red pencil-brandishing lady in the long black dress, with the gray hair pulled into a tight bun? (Well, that's what MY Internal Editor looks like. Yours may look completely different.) Anyway, Bespectacled Lady DOES have a purpose. She's very, VERY good at spotting errors, repetitions, clunky dialogue, logical inconsistencies, and I will eventually need her help.

Just not now.

Every day when I'm writing my first draft, I need to tie Bespectacled Lady to a chair and slap some duct tape on her mouth. She's quite ornery... sometimes I need to stop and retye and tape her several times during a writing session. But I have no choice. If I listen to her, I won't write a word. How could I? Bespectacled Lady demands perfection, and it just doesn't happen in Draft One. Nor should it.

Jodi Picoult says: "You can always edit a bad page…you can’t edit a blank page."

Very true. In your NEXT draft, you'll untie Bespectacled Lady (or Frumpy Man, or Satanic Frog, or whoever). Pull off the duct tape. And that's when you sit and listen, because that's when things get fun. I far prefer the second draft (and third, and fourth, and fifth). To me, that's the best part of writing.

But for now... just make bad pages that you'll eventualy fix and work through like chunks of clay. That's what First Draft Land is all about.

In closing, some words from Anne: "The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later."

So go play, children!

Monday, September 26, 2005

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's~

It's Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit time again, and today's novel features a heroine we're all sure to envy! Meet mild-mannered store clerk Birdie Lee, otherwise known as: SUPER MOM!


"Like its title character, this debut novel has a secret's unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer... at the heart of this story is a narrative about a lonely, wronged woman who just wants to do right by her children and stand up to an uncontrollable world. Hauser slips in soliloquies on motherhood and womanhood that, though brief, are moving, showing us Birdie Lee's heart and in that, the wishes and dreams of super moms everywhere. "
- Publishers Weekly

"This silly but fun twist on the superhero tale comes packaged with a socially responsible message about consumerism, but it doesn't get in the way of the high jinks."

"Looking for something TOTALLY different than all the rest of the books on the shelves? This is the perfect escape using romance, laugh out loud moments, and super powers that every woman would secretly admit to wanting!"
- Madison McGraw,

"Who needs the speeding bullets, locomotives, and tall buildings - with wit, humor and some sage motherly advice, Melanie Lynne Hauser finally gives readers a true hero for our time - Super Mom."
-Jennifer O'Connell, author of DRESS REHEARSAL and BACHELORETTE #1

"Confessions of Super Mom is a delightful read. Smart, zany, and touching, it is the perfect remedy for overwhelmed mothers everywhere."
-Karen Quinn, Author of The Ivy Chronicles

"Forget the laundry, forget the dishes. Escape into the world of Super Mom for a few'll be glad you did. Melanie Lynne Hauser's quirky characters sparkle brightly as a newly Swiffered floor, and her writing shines like freshly polished glass."
-Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Every Boy's Got One

"Never has there been a more appealingly down-to-earth heroine or a superhero with more enviable powers. Moms everywhere will wish they could be like the Super Mom of Melanie Lynne Hauser's charming, funny, and heartfelt novel. . . .and will ultimately realize they already are."
-Pamela Redmond Satran, author of Babes in Captivity


For every harried mother who dreams of cleaning with the power of 10,000 Swiffers, putting her children into Super Time Outs with just a flick of her Merciless Gaze, and employing a little Super Eavesdropping when the occasion warrants, CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is a must-read. Filled with romance, intrigue, humor and a colorful cast of characters, this delightful new novel introduces a superhero for the Swiffer generation.

Birdie Lee is an average hard-working single mother of two teenagers, PTA lackey, and mild-mannered grocery clerk at the local Marvel Fine Foods and Beverages. One morning, while getting ready for work, Birdie is sidetracked by a stubborn Stain of Unusual Origin on her bathroom floor. Unable to let the stain get the best of her, she tries to annihilate it with every household product she can find -to no avail. Angry, hot, light-headed (and forgetting to turn on the exhaust fan), she makes one final desperate attempt to eradicate this vile, dastardly stain: she loads her Swiffer Wet Jet with every household cleanser she owns, aims, and fires..

And passes out, overcome by the fumes. After regaining consciousness (and reminding herself to scrub the bottom of the toilet since from her perspective - flat on her back - it was looking a little dingy), Birdie realizes something's amiss. Her ears begin to buzz and her senses are aquiver. Eventually, aided by Martin, her geeky thirteen-year-old son and trusty sidekick, Birdie understands that she now possesses extraordinary powers - superpowers, to be exact. Birdie soon learns, however, that, to quote Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility and she finds herself struggling to balance a new onslaught of challenges, both at home and in her community. While trying to keep her distant 15-year-old daughter's heart from being broken (something not even a superhero can do), and dealing with her smug ex-husband and his over-achieving new wife, she must manage her job, PTA responsibilities and a budding romance- all the while trying to rescue her beloved town of Astro Park from an evil force that threatens its children.

So forget those chores- pick up CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM and relish in a much-deserved escape. This charming novel will keep readers glued to the page as they cheer for Super Mom to root out injustice and surrender herself to love. Readers everywhere will find themselves in its pages and rejoice in finding a book that celebrates their overlooked everyday acts of heroism.


Former member of the PTA, Melanie Lynne Hauser is a prototypical Super Mom. CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is her first novel, and she is a contributor, along with Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jennifer Lauck and Marion Winik, to the forthcoming anthology It's a Boy (November 2005, Seal Press). She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two teenage sons.


MO'C: Melanie, will you share a little of the backstory behind the novel... how did it come to be?
MLH: Like many books, it was born of frustration. Frustration at having two previously agented, submitted novels not I decided to just go all out, do something big, different, really whacky, because I was tired of hearing my books labeled "quiet." (As if that's a bad thing. Which I guess it is sometimes, in publishing.) So I thought - why not a novel about a superhero? I would still write about the issues that were important to me as a woman, a mother - I'd just write about them from a superhero's perspective. Which changed to - I'd write about them from a woman-who-was-just-discovering-she's-a-superhero's perspective, which was more interesting.

MO'C: How much of Birdie is Melanie?
MLH: Well, she's a superhero. And I'm not. (Or so I tell people....)

Seriously, she's less like me than any other protagonist I've written. That's what has tickled me so much about this book, because I really gave myself permission to dream big, make EVERYTHING up. There really is no character in that book who is based on someone I know in real life. However, I do think that Birdie and I share a certain contentment in raising our children, being domestic, making things run smoothly at home. And like her, I, too, had a point in my life when I could see my children were growing up and that there would be a time when they weren't in the house, and I wondered, "Well, what happens to me, then? Who am I if I'm not The Mom?" That was a catalyst for me in deciding to pursue a writing career; it's the catalyst for Birdie in embracing her superpowers, even if she received them by accident.

MO'C: Birdie has an intriguing name. Can you comment on the issue of naming characters in fiction? What's your suggestion for a name for the Tactical Tuesday mouse?
MLH: Well, I'm a huge believer in the subconscious. I honestly did not choose the name "Birdie" for any reason other than I thought it would be a funny anecdote - her mother, unlike every other young woman in the early 1960's, thought Jackie Kennedy was too snobby and liked Lady Bird Johnson instead. So that's Birdie's name - Lady Bird Lee, shortened to Birdie.

But as I wrote the book, and I decided not to give her the power of flight, even though it's the one power she really desires, I realized how HUGELY symbolic that name was. At first she's a caged bird - caged by her ex-husband's view of her, her children's demands. Then she's free, ready to fly - but she can't, not literally. Although metaphorically, yes, she does. So maybe my subconscious was telling me what to do from the beginning; I honestly did not give the name that much thought. I really don't do that as a rule. I just sit and think about what the character looks like until a name pops into my head and I use it. It's generally based on a physical idea of the character. I don't try to be too symbolic about stuff like that; I really don't think it's that important. Although obviously my subconscious was working overtime with Birdie's name!

I did, though, deliberately pay homage to comic books and superheroes with some of the names in this book. It's kind of an "in" joke.

And for your mouse, for some reason "Mousifer" comes to mind because he looks a little devilish!

MO'C: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing a new writer? How would you advise that writers address that challenge?
MLH: I don't know what the biggest challenge is. I think it's different for every writer, and it might be different in every genre. I think a new author's expectations can be very unrealistic, from the very beginning. Nobody understands how hard it is to get an agent. Then once you have an agent, nobody understands that that doesn't guarantee a sale. Then once you get a sale...well, there's the reality of what advances are, or how much publicity you might be expected to get (or do yourself), or how involved you might expect to be in the whole process...and then, too, not every book is going to be a bestseller. So understanding the realities of publishing is probably the biggest challenge. As to how to address that - well, just research the process as much as you can, be professional, and understand that every book, every author, is different. Listen to those willing to help and who have the experience to back it up - but in the end, make decisions that are right for you.

MO'C: What was the most difficult moment in the construction of the book and how did you work through it?
MLH: Strengthening the evil villain subplot. See, I was really doing something I hadn't read before - writing women's fiction with this comic book/superhero element. So I didn't know how far to go in either direction. It was tough to find the right balance. When I talked to my editor for the first time that was the main thing she wanted me to do, to work in the evil villain subplot more throughout the book, starting it earlier, right from the beginning. It wasn't hard to do once we'd brainstormed, and once I had the greenlight that it was OK to go further in this direction. But I really did need her insight for that, because I didn't know how over-the-top I could go with it. Since I hadn't read anything like it before.

MO'C: What's your super power?
MLH: I have an uncanny ability to pick the most expensive item in a store without even looking at the price tag. Super Shopping Sense, I guess!

MO'C: Did you have a particular message you wanted to convey with this book?
MLH: That raising your children, tending the home fires, is something to be proud of. That it's a source of amazing strength that can propel you into the future, leaping tall buildings in a single bound - as long as you don't look back and try to cling to the memories. You have to keep looking forward, because you never know what's going to happen next. Who knows what superpowers you might develop!

MO'C: What's next on the agenda for Melanie Lynne Hauser?
MLH: The sequel, which will be out next year. I'm really excited about it; characters we thought we knew in the first book, well, maybe we'll find out we didn't really know them that well, after all. We'll learn more about Birdie's first marriage. Her teenagers will continue to terrify and delight her (usually both in the same heartbeat). And of course, there will be an evil villain. Or two. Maybe three!

Thanks for visiting the blog, Melanie! And don't forget to visit Melanie's site, and to order her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or to pick it up at your local independent bookseller (always the best move). Melanie's own local indy is offering signed copies, so send them a note to find out how to order.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Amazing Mr. Stem Cell!

There'll be a Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit post tomorrow, but to keep you amused till then, enjoy the antics of Mr. Stem Cell.

Seriously, this is an EXCELLENT tool to learn a little more about the different types of stem cells. I only did one "Phone Booth Differentiation," but I think there are five or six you can watch.

And a big shout out to Catherine, who sent this my way!

Oh, and to learn more about stem cell research, visit!

Friday, September 23, 2005

And We Didn't Even Need to Hire a Naked Parachutist

Well, check this out!

From Reuters, via ABC News:
Sep 23, 2005 — NEW YORK (Reuters) - Writers can rejoice — Oprah has returned to picking living authors for her book club.

Credited by U.S. publishers with being one of the biggest sales drivers in the business, Oprah Winfrey's book club began as a segment on her television talk show in 1996 and she initially picked new novels.

But she suspended the club in April 2002, before relaunching in June 2003 with classics such as John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."

Earlier this year, a group of novelists wrote Winfrey a letter (although the letter was *not* delivered by naked parachutists, as I suggested that the author group do) begging her to resume picking living authors, and finally she has relented.

Her latest pick announced on Thursday on her Web site was "A Million Little Pieces," a memoir by James Frey about the author's time at a rehabilitation center for alcohol and drug addiction, published by Random House imprint Anchor Books.... {{{more}}}
And here's the New York Times article on the subject (subscription free but required):
Oprah Winfrey said yesterday that she was expanding her highly influential television book club to include the works of contemporary authors, reversing a policy of choosing only classic novels and once again offering authors and their publishers the hope of huge sales resulting from her picks.

"I wanted to open the door and broaden the field," Ms. Winfrey said in an interview. "That allows me the opportunity to do what I like to do most, which is sit and talk to authors about their work. It's kind of hard to do that when they're dead."...Ms. Winfrey said she was aware of the [author]petition and was moved by it. {{{more}}}
Here's James:

He'll make a better interview than a dead guy. But that photo needs cropping, I think...

I haven't read Frey's book but had been intending to. I guess now I'll have to. Not like he needs the extra press or anything... *SIGH*... ah well. However, I think this is really good news for authors.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Having observed my lack of blogginess lately, I have decided to introduce a new feature called Tactical Tuesday! I got this term from one of the moms at our kids' school. There used to be an activity there called "Tactile Tuesdays," where the kids would play with gack, or use sand tables, or do something using their sense of touch. And this one mom would always call it "Tactical Tuesday."

Here in Martha-Land, Tactical Tuesday will be a once-weekly feature where I give you a writing tip, exercise, or in-the-trenches bit of advice on selling and marketing your work. I even found a little graphic for Tactical Tuesday (since I like rodents now and I like graphics because it makes me feel like it's all official and everything).

Doesn't he look totally jazzed on caffeine or speed or cocaine or something? I think he's only supposed to go on white web pages. Ah well. I like him this way. So when you see him scribbling away ~ you'll know it's time for TACTICAL TUESDAY.

Before I forget, here's a funny reference to The Bitch Posse I saw the other day at Blogg'd. Very sweet guy actually.

Oh, and Sunday night's Bay Area Word of Mouth gathering of women writers of the Bay Area was wonderful! The lovely Rosemary Graham opened up her home to us, and there was much lovely conversation. I got to talk to many of my FAVORITE local writers (favorite in oh so many ways)! Plussers, I got me a BOOK that I can't wait to sink my teeth into ~ Dream of the Blue Room by Michelle Richmond. She and I swapped!

Also, I got to meet the inimitable Ayelet Waldman in person! (I've only emailed with her before; she and her husband, Michael Chabon, were very supportive of the recent JDRF Auction I helped Brenda Novak solicit items for. &*%$ dangling preposition! And I call myself a writer. POUT.)

Best of all, I learned how to pronounce Ayelet's name! In my head I've been calling her AY-ull-et. Nope, wrongers! Actually it's very easy ~ just say "I YELL it." Just like that. Ayelet is hilarious. She had us in stitches the whole time!

All right, on to Tactical Tuesday (sheesh, I have trouble getting to a point. Just imagine what my first drafts look like!)~

Here's my topic today:
Selecting Character Names

Some of the most memorable characters in fiction have VERY memorable names. Think Scout Finch. Holden Caulfield. Phineas Fogg. Easy Rawlings. Jack Reacher. Colonel Aureliano Buendia. Cruella de Vil.

Character naming does, and should, take authors a good deal of time. Names are powerful; choose them carefully! A great first step is to buy yourself one of the many baby name books available today. In addition to giving you ideas about various unusual names, some of which you may have never heard before, you get MEANINGS for the names. So you can do some very subtle symbolism with your name choices and when you win the National Book Award... you can thank me.

Heres a baby name site I found, just browsing. (Although I notice they don't have "Ayelet" there!) You can look up either by NAME or by MEANING. Me, I'm trying to find a name for a character in my newest book. In the book, she has to be very strong. So I looked up "strong" and came up with dozens of names!

For last names? I often use the phone book. If the character is of a specific ethnic background ~ say, Italian ~ I will do a Google search for "Italian Surnames" and usually can find a HUGE array from which to choose.

Beware of OVERDOING it, though. Too many cutesey names and you're going to sound like a dork. So if you have a Bambi in your book don't also include a Tater, a Snap-Snap, a Bam-Bam and a Binx. (Unless they're all animals, or you're trying to make some kind of POINT with these names ~ as with all rules, they can be broken, but break them consciously, and with caution.)

And a word of warning, don't name two characters in your novel names that sound too similar. If you've got a woman named Brenda and a woman named Barbara, that will most likely be a problem for you (unless you're doing some funky thing with identical twins... even then I'd be cautious.) Even if you've got a guy named Scott and a guy named Steve, people are probably going to get just a TAD confused. And even a TAD is too much.

Hell, I even had someone complain that my three characters' names all ENDED in a "Y" sound (Amy, Rennie, and Cherry) and that THEY thought I was a dork. Now I don't happen to agree that that was a problem ~ I mean, I think a HUGE variety of women's names just HAPPEN TO END in a "Y" sound ~ but still... point remains, ya gotta be careful.

Some people advise against using names that end in "s." When you're using the possessive, it can get awkward. Of course, that would mean changing Tess of the d'Urbervilles' name to... "Betsy Smith"? Again, break rules wisely, and knowing what challenges you may face as the result of a name choice.

Names signify a historical period. You won't find many Stephanies back in the 1800s. Do your homework.

Another warning I've seen is not to choose a name whose pronunciation is unclear. (I guess that means I can't name my main character Ayelet... hee, hee) Your reader will be scratching his or her head every time the character's name appears!

Finally, go with your gut. Is your character just BEGGING to be named Snake-Eyes O'Sullivan? OK, name him Snake-Eyes O'Sullivan... but you probably DON'T want to make him a 19th century Italian priest. (If he is... THERE'S YOUR NOVEL, RIGHT THERE!)

And now your first assignment... how about a name for our revved-up mouse? Put your idea in the comments section and I'll choose my favorite!

Tactical Tuesday will return next week... now back to your regularly scheduled blogging!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Where Have I Been???

I have been WRITING! Isn't that absolutely, fucking CRAZY??? Boy howdy but I am thrilled to be back in the saddle again. Truth be told, I am capable of creating any number of distractions before I take to that... WRITING THING.

Baseboards need cleaning? Here comes my toothbrush!

Oh, the rat crapped all over the Barbie DreamHouse TM??? I'm THERE, boy HOWDY!

I can find any number of ways to avoid writing THAT YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE.

So, I SABOTAGED MYSELF. Sabotaged my own ability to fuck up my writing life. (YAY ME!) I took a computer that WILL NOT, CANNOT, AND DOES NOT go on the Internet, and I take it daily to the LIBRARY. Where they don't bug you, fuck with you, or ask you to answer the phone.


Anyway, I know I have neglected this blog for the last little bit. I am sorry.

But, I DO HAVE A DISCUSSION QUESTION FOR YOU~ which has created a HUGE amount of discussion on my diabetes email loop!

PRESUMING that your child, boy or girl, has diabetes (as I know many of my readers do). And presuming your lil punkin (as mine does) has a 3-6% chance of passing her/his diabtetes on to her/his progeny ~ (chances go up with a boy for some unknown reason)~

a) would you recommend to your child that he/she have children....or adopt?

b) KNOWING that s/he, PARTICULARLY if s/he married someone who also has T1D, has a whopping 30% (1 in 3!!!!) chance of giving birth to a child with T1D... knowing what you know now, all the tests, all the worry, all the a1cs and all the blood sugar tests all those horrible moments at the opthalmologist's WAITING to hear what they said... all those QUESTIONS for the nephrologist, all those fears.... would you let all go quietly, with your child, and grandchild? Or would you put up some great big fight?!

Would you recommend adoption to your child?

Would you want your grandchild to go through the 3,650 needlepokes every year? The insulin shots, the a1c? Most pointedly... the complications??

Whoa! This question created about 60+ replies on my email list, just in one day. Some said, God gives you what you can handle and we can handle D as can our child. Some said, please let's do all we can to stamp out D, let's not encourage our kids to reproduce. And some said, let's never limit our kids, in ANYTHING, damned the consequences.

What do YOU think? Even if your life is unaffected by D, I would love to hear what you think???

Friday, September 16, 2005

Trapped by the Mormons-Life Behind the Zion Curtain

Author Natalie R. Collins' blog has such a great title, I had to steal it for this post today! It's my pleasure to welcome her to the blog as my Girlfriends Cyber Circuit guest. Natalie is a wonderful person, a very generous soul, and a terrific writer! Thanks for visiting today, Natalie!

Before we get started... here's a bit about Natalie and her newest book:

Wives and Sisters

By Natalie R. Collins


"It's a white-knuckles ride all the way. Expert depiction of a young woman's struggle with the oppressive "family values" of one kind of fundamentalism. Newcomer Collins is a talent to watch."--Kirkus Reviews

"Startling and compelling--I could not stop turning the pages. Natalie Collins weaves an absolutely riveting tale."-- Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Sinner

"A dark, powerful debut novel. Natalie Collins pulls no emotional punches crafting this searing tale of one woman's search for justice." ---Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of The Killing Hour

"Natalie Collins' Wives and Sisters is a journey through heartbreak, tragedy, and self-discovery with a courageous woman who dares to think for herself in a dogmatic society. This is a story for anyone who has ever questioned what they've been taught all their life; anyone who has ever doubted their self-worth, and everyone who loves to cheer on the underdog and watch them triumph in the end. You'll be glad you took this journey with her."---Tina Wainscott, bestselling author of I'll Be Watching You

"Please warn your readers, this is not a book that can be put down. It's so compelling, so dramatic, with strong suspense and mystery elements, that I had to find out what would happen."—Perri O'Shaughnessy, New York Times bestselling author of Unlucky in Law

"Wives and Sisters is indeed a suspense novel. It is not a condemnation of a faith, but rather those who follow blindly. It makes the reader think. Can you have faith without deceit? Can religion have too many rules? Read the novel for yourself. Make up your own mind."—The Clarion-Ledger

"…the author brings authentic color and gripping detail to her book, which underscores the very real mentality of protecting the Church at all costs, thus allowing offenders to abuse their victims over and over again without consequence."—The Tucson Citizen

"Well-written, fast-paced, Natalie Collins' is suspense filled satisfaction with a bone chilling, thought provoking similarity to recent events."—

"Wives and Sisters is a gripping tale oozing with skillful feminist commentary about the patriarchal nature of Mormonism, which may earn Collins disparagement in her home state. A spirited decision for a newcomer, and it earns her the status of a voice to watch."—Riverwalk Journal

"…fans will be stunned by this tense thriller that condemns extremist religious and social moral behavior at the cost of any segment of society."—Harriet Klausner

"Don't be surprised if you devour this book in one reading. Natalie Collins has captured the essence of a page turner by giving us a three dimensional characters, plenty of action and a healthy dose of controversy."—Midwest Book Review

"Author Collins excels in developing Allison, an extremely complex character. She is, at once, filled with rage, yet still compassionate and loving - rebellious, but loyal and ready to lend a hand when needed, even to her father, stepmother and family who have so wronged her."—Mostly

"Wives and Sisters is a raw, emotional story that never gives into sentimentality. It puts a plain, unvarnished face on the secret workings of the human soul and the price of blind faith."—The Celebrity Café.com

"This is a book written with skill and passion and I suspect it will resonate with women who have never set foot inside a Mormon church. These problems are too widespread to pin down to one place, one time or one institution."—The Washington Times

"WIVES AND SISTERS is clearly one of this year's best books; riveting, painful at times, realistic always, and completely unforgettable. It not only makes you cry, it makes you think, which is my personal hallmark of an excellent read. Natalie R Collins has emerged as one of the finest new authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Brava, Ms Collins! Brava!"—Rendezvous Review Magazine "Rosebud of the Month" winner


Set in the closed world of the Mormon Church, a world scrutinized because of the Elizabeth Smart case and covered in nonfiction bestsellers like Secret Ceremonies and Under the Banner of Heaven, WIVES AND SISTERS is the gripping story of a young woman on the run from evil, powerful men. When Lori Hacking disappeared last July, the nationwide spotlight turned to Salt Lake City once again, just as it had with the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart. But tragically, Lori did not come home alive. Lori's husband, Mark Hacking, pled guilty to the crime. Although written well before the Hacking case became know, Collins's WIVES AND SISTERS portrays a world eerily similar to that of Mark Hacking. The parallels between the deception Mark Hacking built around his education and the lies perpetrated by the character Mark in WIVES AND SISTERS are uncanny, right down to the same first name.

WIVES AND SISTERS opens with a look back at the sudden disappearance of Allison Jensen's best friend, who was kidnapped while playing in the woods near home. One moment her friend was beside her; then she was gone. When no leads emerged, she was given up for dead. Now, years later, trying to fill in the gaps of a patchwork memory, Allison still gets no answers from the Mormon community in which she lives. She is stuck in a world where she does not fit with a father who tyrannizes and torments heras the self-appointed messenger of God. Why is she being fed half-truths? When a brutal attack makes her desperate to escape Mormon bonds, Allison finds herself on a collision course with community leaders as they cover up the steps of a sexual predator.

Like Mark Hacking, Collins' character Mark Peterson is trying to live a life of impeccable standards, dictated by Mormon tenets, and when he fails, the consequences are deadly, as he will do almost anything to protect his standing in the community of Saints. Allison is determined to bring Mark and those who didn't stop him to justice, before they stop her from piecing together the tragic past that has haunted her for so many years.


As a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lifelong resident of Utah, Natalie R. Collins brings authentic color and voice to Allison. In her extensive research of the history and teachings of Mormonism, she has discovered that it is a very large organization with a violent and colorful past. WIVES AND SISTERS is a story familiar to many young men and women raised inside the strictures of fundamental religions. Many times there is a "protect the Church at all costs" mentality among Church leaders, which leads to a sheltering system that enables offenders to abuse their victims over and over again without consequence. Heartbreaking and thrilling, WIVES AND SISTERS will keep readers firmly on the edge of their seat.

Natalie R. Collins is an author and journalist with over 20 years of writing experience. She was also an editor for the 2001 and 2002 Sundance Film Festivals. A lifelong resident of Utah, raised a member of the Mormon Church, Natalie lives there with her husband and two daughters. Wives and Sisters will be available in paperback in March of 2006 and her next book, Behind Closed Doors, will be out in hardback in 2006.


MO'C: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Natalie.
NC: It is my pleasure.

MO'C: Where did you get the idea for this novel?
NC: It’s loosely based on my own life, sprinkled with bits and pieces of other people’s stories I have heard over the years.

MO'C: Can you please talk a bit about your background with the Church of Latter-Day Saints and how it has affected your work?
NC: Well, it certainly colors my work in that Mormonism is what I know. I’ve had people say, “Well, why Mormons? Why don’t you write about Catholics, or Baptists? Why pick on the Mormons? First of all, I’m not picking on anyone. I don’t write about Catholics or Baptists, because I was not raised as one, and Mormonism and Utah is what I know. While I have written about other cultures and concepts, this particular one seems to be the one that rings the most true. Go figure.

MO'C: Why do you think certain religions or sects maintain so firmly that they are the only ones that are right? What consequences does this have for our society?
NC: Because undaunted belief leads to followers of a peculiar stripe. If you have something that MIGHT be true, but admit the neighbor also has some of the truth, what is to stop the followers from going to the neighbor’s house? Then believers are spread too far and wide, and you’ve already encouraged them to believe there might be something else out there that can contain some of the truth. If you can convince someone that you have the ONLY ONE TRUTH, you have something over them. They will always come to you first. How can you turn away from that ONE TRUE THING? It colors everything they do, even when they sin. I think most people are inherently looking for the ONE TRUE THING. I know that even after I left Mormonism I was still seeking it. I look at the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 as one of the most frightening examples of this belief in one true thing. They could not even allow themselves, for even one minute, to think that maybe all Americans weren’t bad, or wrong, or maybe Allah wouldn’t want them dead. If they had allowed that thought to enter in, they would never have committed the atrocities that followed. As long as people think they are the only ones headed for Heaven, we will continue to have horrific crimes against man.

MO'C: Brilliantly stated, Natalie. Now, please tell us about your first novel, SisterWife, and how it relates to your novel, Wives and Sisters.
NC: SisterWife is about polygamists in Central Utah. It’s loosely based on the many polygamist sects in and around Utah, and shortly after it came out, Elizabeth Smart was returned home, telling the world she had been kidnapped to be a polygamous bride, just like my heroine Kelsey Waite. I’d like to say I was psychic, or something, but the truth is, all of this stuff has been happening for years, and is just WAITING to happen. ES just happened to be very high profile. Every year hundreds of young girls are forced to marry older and just plain OLD men, and if they fight back or run away, they disappear. SisterWife introduces the world at large to a man who lives the lifestyle, and attempts to make the reader understand HIM, as well as his followers, and those who don’t believe. It’s different from Wives and Sisters (and no, I am not title challenged. My editor at St. Martin’s changed the title of my second book, which was Outer Darkness, to Wives and Sisters.) in that it deals with the fundamentalist Mormons, rather than the mainstream church, which has eschewed polygamy—for now. It is still taught as a tenet of the Celestial Kingdom (God’s highest kingdom, in Mormon belief) but it isn’t practiced in mainstream Mormonism.

MO'C: Do you think you will continue writing with the Mormon church as a backdrop?
NC: Well, for a bit at least. I am contracted to St. Martin’s to do that. But I have some other things written where Mormonism really IS nothing but a backdrop, just because the setting is Utah. I like those stories, too. One is a fun, cozy mystery about a dance teacher who is framed when one of her psycho dance moms turns up dead. Did I say fun and dead in the same sentence? I must be a writer. Don’t call the FBI, please.

MO'C:Please tell us about your hate mail... I read it from time to time on your blog. What's the craziest piece you ever received? Does any of it actually hurt your feelings, or have you grown a thick skin?
NC: I think the craziest piece (aside from a rambling, crazy email that made not one iota of sense, so I can’t interpret it) was from a writer who asked me if my parents knew what I was doing! It was a veiled threat to tell them, and I thought, “Good God, I’m 42-years-old, and you’re threatening to tell my PARENTS?” At first I was appalled, and then I just started laughing. It was so funny. Do former Mormons never get to grow up and move on? I guess not. I’ll admit at first some of the mail was hurtful to me. But after a while I grew thicker skin and began to be able to interpret the writer’s intent. For example, I could tell when someone was writing with the “shield-of-the priesthood-and-the-only-true-thing” on their chest. Those emails are all from men, they are derisive and talk down to you, and rarely do they use facts or any real “truth.” Rather, they scold and talk in circles until you give up and agree with them just to get them to STOP. I also learned to recognize the emails from good, caring Mormons who truly DO want you to have the blessings they feel they have. I consider that one of the best outcomes of writing this book. I have made Mormon friends I might never have otherwise.

MO'C: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to would-be writers?
NC: Learning to accept criticism in the vein in which it was intended.

MO'C: What advice do you have for new writers?
NC: Be persistent. Don’t give up. Don’t fall in love with your own writing, and realize you can always improve.

MO'C: What's next for Natalie Collins?
NC: I’ve just finished revisions on my second book for St. Martin’s and am awaiting word from my editor. Until then, I am working on Dancing off the Edge, my cozy mystery, and ruminating on a new idea set at Flaming Gorge Dam, a truly awesome and inspiring place. And thanks for the opportunity, Martha!

MO'C: Thank YOU, Natalie!

Please visit Natalie's site, her blog, and don't forget to buy her book either at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your best bet... your local indie bookseller!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Top Ten Reasons Gary Hall Jr. Belongs on CBS's Survivor

'Kay, it's light... it's dishy... it's just what I need today and this week in general! Besides, I promised y'all this a LONG TIME AGO, didn't I!

The new Survivor is premiering this week (Survivor: Guatemala), and that means I'll be glued to it, chardonnay in one hand and remote in the other. There's no one I'd rather see on a Celebrity Survivor than Olympian Gary Hall Jr. Do you know how many searches I get on this blog for "Gary Hall's penis?" More than I care to count! Erm, I'm RELATIVELY sure that said object could be found.... INSIDE OF GARY HALL'S SPEEDO.

Here are my top ten reasons he should go on the show:

10) We already know he looks FAB in a swimsuit~

9) And the camera loves him! (Barbasol commercial, anyone? The proceeds went to JDRF)

8) Water challenges are just a GIMME.

7) Doesn't take NO for an answer. After his diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes in 1999, Gary was told he'd never swim competitively again. In Sydney he won an individual gold in the 50 meter freestyle, sharing it with his teammate and training partner at Berkeley, Anthony Ervin. He also won gold and silver in the relays and the bronze medal in the 100 meter freestyle. And who else watched him take away the 50 m gold in Athens in 2004?

6) Wouldn't hesitate to give up some or all of his winnings to his favorite cause.

5) Hidden talent: Boxing.

4) Familiar with the Face-the-Elements thing: "[After diagnosis, and being told I'd never swim again] I packed up my insulin, my needles, my dog and girlfriend and headed south. I gathered as much information as I could before leaving. It was in Costa Rica that I did a lot of reading, and it was there that I began to have a better understanding of what diabetes was all about. I often times felt destructive. When these feelings came about I would calm myself by swimming in shark-infested waters, hoping for the worst. More than once the sharks would bump me from the break of a wave. Then I would return to my bungalow and learn more.” (From CNN-SI)

4) Already knows how to spearfish.

3) Plays guitar, surfs, rides a Harley, owns a purple VW microbus and has GREAT taste in music: “There is a song by 'The Clash' that states, ‘I’ve been beat up, I’ve been thrown out, but I’m not down’. And that’s me.” ~Gary Hall Jr.

2) A great role model for our kids (tests 10-12 times per day, 12-15 times on competition days; injects insulin 6-12 times per day to maintain super-tight control).

And the #1 reason Gary Hall Jr. would be great on Survivor:
Boys like him too.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Please Help~

Hello! This is big news for us, and I am very excited to announce it. This year, our family will be taking part in JDRF's Walk to Cure Diabetes, along with one-half million other walkers across the country, as we try to reach our goal of raising $86 million.

As you know, our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes on July 17, 2004, at the age of seven and a half. On July 16, after numerous misdiagnoses from the pediatrician, we received yet another: strep throat. We were sent home with antibiotics and were told to expect dramatic improvement within 24 hours.

The following morning our son awoke vomiting, hyperventilating, and unable to speak or stand. We rushed him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed and transferred via ambulance to UCSF Medical Center. We learned later he had been on the brink of a deadly diabetic coma.

Our son will be insulin dependent for life. Already he's endured over 3,650 fingerpricks and 1,825 insulin injections. People with Type 1 Diabetes face devastating complications, including blindness, kidney failure, stroke, amputations, and heart disease. Every organ is affected by this dreadful disease.

In addition to rigorous blood testing and insulin shots, we must measure everything he puts into his mouth and calculate the proper insulin dose. We need to prick his finger for blood tests often, even when he is sleeping or playing. Sometimes he is unable to play with his friends or participate in PE or his favorite sport, swimming, because his blood sugar is too high or too low. While insulin keeps our son alive, it is not a cure and doesn't prevent these daily nuisances or the frightening long-term complications.

In the face of all this, our son is a tough kid and rarely complains. He's full of jokes, giggles, and everything else you'd expect from a happy 8-year-old. He's done his own shots since two weeks after diagnosis! Truly, he is a source of inspiration.

His twin sister is brave as well. She knows that her risk for Type 1 Diabetes is now 10 times that of the rest of the population and she often worries whether she'll develop it, too. And, as you can imagine, it hasn't been easy watching her twin get all this extra attention.

In short, this disease has turned our lives upside down. The GOOD news is that science has made tremendous strides in a short amount of time and a cure truly is within reach. Donating to the JDRF is the very best way to make inroads into finding a cure. Nearly 90% of funds raised by the JDRF goes straight into research. It was recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the nation's top 10 most efficient charities and has been honored by SmartMoney for its efficiency.

Now, more than ever, you can make a crucial difference. Won't you please give to JDRF as generously as possible? Together, we can make the cure a reality!

My children and I are all walking for the cure. We are hoping to raise as much money as we can! And it's very easy to donate online.

You may donate in my name here.

In my son's name here

And in my daughter's name here.

If you do donate, please try to spread out the donations because each walker who raises more than $100 will receive a shirt and we would like everyone to get a shirt.

Thank you very much for your support! XOX

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sonoma County Literary Festival

This annual festival is taking place this coming weekend. I'll be there this Saturday at 4 pm on Jordan Rosenfeld's blog panel. Jordan interviewed me for KRCB's Word by Word, a syndicated show on the Rohnert Park NPR affiliate, some time ago, and invited me to be part of this festival. If you show up early you can see Dorothy Allison read at 3! And if you show up even earlier you can meet controversial (my favorite word) young adult author Chris Crutcher at 2.

The panel will take place at the Cultural Arts Council Gallery:
Located at 529 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa.

The full schedule is available here:

Monday, September 05, 2005

Insulin from Emergency Rooms

I wrote this for a writers' forum late this evening, but I would really like to hear from my fellow d-bloggers regarding what you think about this.

My diabetes email loop has been discussing and discussing that footage of that little girl at the Convention Center in serious Diabetic Ketoacidosis because in addition to not having eaten for 4 days (like all those there), she hadn't had her insulin in 4 days either. Someone gave her insulin and she seemed to stabilize, but for how long? I wonder about her. But not too often, because I don't want to follow my thoughts down that logical pathway, because DKA is not reversible once begun without hospitalization, insulin, saline and potassium IVs, and that wasn't happening for her in the immediate future.

My D list has been discussing this quite a bit as you might imagine (and if you know anyone who may have extra supplies I can tell you where to send them), and some on the list marveled that this girl's family would have left their home without insulin. Why did that happen? Don't most of us keep at least a couple of weeks' worth of supplies on hand?

Well, yes. But, many of the people from NOLA we saw on TV programs, live on the edge. They don't have health insurance. They get their insulin from emergency rooms. These are the folks who, even without a Katrina-scale crisis, end up on dialysis at 35.

I am sad. That girl could have been our son. He was in serious DKA too, at diagnosis, due to the stupidity of the pediatricians we no longer use in our very privileged, affluent and mainly white community.

Had we been black and living in New Orleans pre-Katrina? Had we not had immediate access to our emergency room, had we not had alert doctors there (happy I'm sure to be working in affluent Marin County)?

I don't want to think about it.

I hope this situation makes our government and our citizens ask some hard questions.

The tragedy of these folks goes beyond Katrina and I hope this catastrophe brings poverty to the forefront in this country, but I am not optimistic given our current administration.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

GCC~I Sure Wish I Had HER Abilities!

As promised, here is the long-awaited Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview with Julie Kenner, author of CARPE DEMON: ADVENTURES OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM!

"This book, as crammed with events as any suburban mom's calendar, shows you what would happen if Buffy got married and kept her past a secret. It's a hoot."

-Charlaine Harris, USA Today bestselling author of DEAD TO THE WORLD

Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom is delighting readers this summer! A combination of mommy lit and fantasy, the book has been receiving praise since even before its release when Booksense honored it by selecting CARPE DEMON as one of its Top Ten Summer Paperback Picks for 2005. The book was also selected as a Target "Breakout Book" and has held the Number One slot on Barnes & Noble's SF/Fantasy trade overall bestseller list for six weeks (and counting!).

CARPE DEMON has also been optioned for film, and is currently in development at Warner Brothers, with 1492 Pictures (Chris Columbus, Harry Potter) producing.

Carpools. Crabgrass. Creatures from the depths of hell. Suburbia has its problems too...

Lots of women put their careers aside once the kids come along. Kate Connor, for instance, hasn't hunted a demon in ages...

That must be why she missed the one wandering through the pet food aisle of the San Diablo Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, he managed to catch her attention an hour later-when he crashed into the Connor house, intent on killing her.

Now Kate has to clean up the mess in her kitchen, dispose of a dead demon, and pull together a dinner party that will get her husband elected to County Attorney-all without arousing her family's suspicion. Worse yet, it seems the dead demon didn't come alone. He was accompanied by a High Demon named Goramesh who, for some unknown reason, intends to kill off the entire population of San Diablo.

It's time for Kate Connor to go back to work.

Review snippets/Praise:

"Advance praise compares Kate to a domesticized Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which seems accurate. Throw in a bit of Teri Hatcher from Desperate Housewives while dropping pop culture references. Whomever you picture as Kate, she's hilarious, and so is this book. Toss this one in your beach bag, and don't forget the sunscreen." - Kat Lively's Book Picks

"I loved CARPE DEMON! It was great fun; wonderfully clever... ninety-nine percent of the wives and moms in the country will identify with this heroine. I mean, like who hasn't had to battle demons between car-pools and play-dates?" -Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author of Falling Awake

"Smart, fast-paced, unique--a blend of sophistication and wit that has you laughing outloud!" -Christine Feehan, New York Times bestselling author of Oceans of Fire

"What would happen if Buffy the Vampire Slayer got married, moved to the suburbs and became a stay-at-home mom? She'd be a lot like Kate Connor, once a demon/vampire/zombie killer and now "a glorified chauffeur for drill-team practice and Gymboree play dates" in San Diablo, Calif., that's what. But in Kenner's sprightly, fast-paced ode to kick-ass housewives, Kate finds herself battling evil once again." -- Publishers Weekly

"Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom is a hilarious romp through the life of desperate, demon hunter housewife, Kate Connor. www.armchairinterviews recommends Julie Kenner's latest novel. You'll laugh out loud." -- Armchair Interviews

About Julie:

Julie Kenner's first book hit the stores in February of 2000, and she has since seen over 20 books hit the shelves. A USA Today and Waldenbooks bestselling author, Julie spent several years mainlining venti nonfat lattes in order to work fulltime as an attorney, write books, and be a mommy. In 2004 she finally wised up, decided that sleep was a good thing, and left the practice of law to write full time. She now lives and writes in Georgetown, Texas, with her husband, daughter and a variety of cats. She still doesn't sleep all that much, though. Julie is also the author of The Givenchy Code (, a chicklit thriller released earlier this summer. Read more about Julie at (and if you're interested in slaying a few demons of your own pop over to, Julie's guest-blogging site!)

And onto the interview!

MO'C: What an original concept for a novel! How did you think of it?
JK:Honestly, I just sort of stumbled across it while brainstorming. I was trying to come up with a romance series w/ mega-alpha males. At the same time, I had in my head the idea that I wanted to write mommy lit because, at the time, I was a relatively new mommy. Anyway, I had an idea about a team of hunters (guys) chase after demons, and in the course of that somehow my critique partner (Kathleen O'Reilly, also a GCC'er) and I twisted it around until suddenly I had a demon-hunting soccer mom. It was one of those, oh my, yes, moments. I wrote the first chapter that evening and, honestly, it didn't change all that much. Kate just sort of came to me!

MO'C: You recent novel, The Givenchy Code, made me laugh out loud when I read it. That surely has a story behind it as well...?
JK: You'd be amazed at how dull my "behind the story" stories are, LOL! For this one, I wanted to write a "scavenger hunt" book, where the heroine races from one clue to the next to the next. I originally wrote the proposal to fulfill my option contract for a romance novel. Before I did, though, I asked my editor if I could write it in 1st person, and she said sure. So I wrote a proposal, turned it in, and heard ... Nothing. I was sure she hated it. Turned out (yay!) that she loved it, and so did her editorial director, and they wanted to move me from the romance imprint to Downtown Press. So I revamped the proposal, changing the story so that the suspense component drives the arc of the story rather than the romance between Mel and Stryker (which ended up being a subplot instead of the main plot). I also changed up the backstory and created the computer game scenario that runs through the whole trilogy. It was interesting because although the changes were massive, at the same time the "voice" and the overarching story and the character of Mel never changed. That's one of the things that amazes me about writing sometimes -- how elastic the process can be.

MO'C: How have your experiences as a mom affected your fiction?
JK: Certainly it gives me insight into Kate, and I'm happy to have an outlet for my own mommy experiences! At the same time, writers are like actors. So a mom can "play" a single girl on the town, and a single girl can "play" a mom. Or a murderer. Or a dead girl. Or whatever. You draw on experiences twist them, and make them fit the characters and the plot. In that regard, being a mom has given me a whole new set of experiences to work with.

MO'C: Can you discuss this culture's obsession with heroes and good vs evil (I'm thinking The Incredibles, Superman, etc) ? How did this affect Carpe Demon?
JK: I don't think it's this culture, actually. I think every culture throughout history has a fascination with good and evil, light and dark, yin and yang. That's the very heart of religion, mythology, fables even. I also don't even know that we're really seeing a resurgence. Or if it's just better technology. I mean, certainly in the past we had Batman, the Green Hornet, Kung Fu, even The Incredible Hulk. Even if you look at just basic fiction you see that there's always going to be a protagonist and an antagonist, even if the antagonist is the protagonist himself in that he's fighting his nature. At the heart of it, one character probably represents good and one probably represents evil. Or some level thereof. Which is about as close to being analytical as I'll ever come, so kudos on the question! As for Carpe Demon specifically, um... Kate, good. Demons, bad :)

MO'C: Are the demons in your novel a metaphor for anything?
JK: Actually, you're the first person who's asked me that, I think. And the answer is yes and no. No, in that they really are demons from hell. Bad. Evil. Sulphur-smelling demons. And Kate has to fight them. Yes in that they are also a metaphor for all the "demons" that face moms on a daily basis. And the demons that stay at home moms have to fight are often more "hidden". It's amazing to me how many people think it's easy to stay at home with a kid. Like you're taking a daily vacation or something, LOL!

MO'C: How did your legal background affect your writing?
JK: A lot of ways, I'm sure. But the biggest is probably that I'm completely open to editing. I have never seen a manuscript (or legal brief) that can't be made tighter, more precise, more moving, more whatever. And authors sometimes forget that the whole point of having an editor is to be edited. So they freak when they get a redlined mss or a two (or more!) page revision letter. But that's a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to take the work up a level. Also deadlines. Courts are rather picky about hitting deadlines. And if you need an extension, you know to ask early.

MO'C: Name the top three "demons" existing in the world today that you would demolish if you had Kate's powers. (Note: This question was asked pre-Katrina and I'm sure Julie and all of us would all obliterate the aftereffects of that disaster if we could. Please help by donating to the Red Cross or another worthy aid organization.)
JK: Calories, insane gasoline prices, and the utter lack of decent television programming on at 2 in the morning. And annoying hold music, just to top off the list.

MO'C: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
JK: Read. Write. And then read and write some more.

MO'C: What's next for Julie Kenner?
JK:Next month is the release of FIRST LOVE, the fourth in THE BRIDESMAID CHRONICLES from Signet. And next year, I have THE MANOLO MATRIX in February, and CALIFORNIA DEMON: FURTHER ADVENTURES OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM in June!

Thank you so much for coming to the blog, Julie! Want to order the book? Try Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my personal recommendation, Booksense!

GCC later... one more Gulf update

Later today, I will post my ENORMOUSLY TARDY Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview with the amazing Julie Kenner. I have been very wrapped up in the hurricane issue, as many of you have, and I have been sadly neglectful of Julie. I hope she will forgive me. Julie, if you're reading this, it'll be up this afternoon!

A friend of mine reports via a Knoxville paramedic that of the approximately 90 patients he helped escort to a Knoxville hospital, about 13 (maybe more) were Type 1 Diabetics who'd had no insulin for days, in serious DKA. Please keep these very needy people in your thoughts and prayers.

IF YOU HAVE ANY SPARE SUPPLIES (no insulins) PLEASE donate them to dLife Relief, 101 Franklin Street, Westport, CT 06880. Also, don't be afraid to ask your local pharmacist if they can give dented or opened test strips, meters, etc. My local pharmacist gave $2000 worth of supplies that were gathering dust in a storeroom!

Here is an update via Nicole Johnson Baker and dLife~

Medicine, health supplies in dire need in Gulf
By Anita Manning, USA TODAY
Millions of dollars worth of medications and health supplies are heading toward Gulf residents affected by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed, but the last step — getting the drugs to the patients who need them — is proving to be the most difficult.

"The dire circumstances are that you've got people who have been without insulin or oral medications for four days now, and they're dying," said Nicole Johnson Baker, a former Miss America (1999), who has type 1 diabetes and has be come a spokeswoman for diabetes.

"We have dialysis patients that will be dying today, tomorrow, the next day."

Residents of the hurricane-ravaged states have diabetes rates higher than the national average of 6.3%. In Alabama and Mississippi, 8.9% of residents are diabetic, and 7.4% of those in Louisiana have the disease. Diabetes is marked by high blood sugar levels that can, if left untreated, lead to kidney failure, stroke and circulation problems that may result in amputation.

Baker was in Baton Rouge on Friday as part of a congressional delegation led by Rep. Curt Weldin (R-Pa.) that is working with governors, police and others to identify a staging area where medical supplies can be distributed.

Americans have been riveted to their televisions all week, witnessing incredible scenes of desperation, including images of people stranded on a rooftop with a sign asking for diabetes supplies, and a woman with diabetes collapsing in front of news cameras.

"This is all preventable," Baker said Friday, "if we can just get a location, which is our frustration today."

Pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit groups have donated money and medical supplies for diabetes and other diseases, and others are mobilizing to transport them. Eli Lilly and Co. contributed $1 million in cash to the American Red Cross and another $1 million worth of insulin through Heart to Heart and the Red Cross. Pfizer has donated human and veterinary medicines, $1 million for rebuilding hospitals and health centers and another $1 million to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way. And Novo Nordisk is donating $500,000 to the Red Cross, providing insulin products and disposable, prefilled insulin injection pens.

The CDC Foundation, an inde pendent non-profit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, received a $2 million grant from the Kaiser Permanente Foundation to support the public health response to the disaster. The foundation will begin distributing $50,000 to each of the affected states for immediate use this week- end, says spokeswoman Kate Rudden.

Tom Karlya., vice president of dLife., a weekly TV program devoted to diabetes which airs on CNBC, said his company, based in Westport, Conn., is collecting donated supplies and said Friday that 27 cases of diabetes meters, test strips and other diabetes needs have been given by "individuals, chil dren, even (diabetes) camps who called and said they weren't using them."

Karlya said the supplies will be delivered overnight at no cost by DHL, the express delivery company, to the Pennington Research Center, which is affiliated with Louisiana State University on Saturday, and the state pharmacy division has agreed to distribute the supplies.

American Diabetes Association spokeswoman Diane Tuncer says the agency has been told that there are ample diabetes supplies already in the area, but "the challenge in getting supplies to hard-hit areas is the security issue."

She says some of the drivers delivering supplies "have felt in danger.

"I talked to one of the hospitals yesterday and they're saying what they need are armed guards."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Another Way to Help

I just UPSed to the dLife hurricane relief efforts for tomorrow's delivery (Saturday arrival) a HUGE box of diabetes supplies. I went to my local Longs and asked the manager if they had anything extra at all, anything dented or opened they couldn't sell. They filled an entire grocery cart. Nearly $2000 worth of supplies. Mainly meters and strips. Mailboxes Etc mailed it all at cost. It would have cost $185 to mail and they mailed it for $130. They were glad to help out also. All these lifesaving supplies would have just been lying around the back of Longs until the end of the year when they would have discarded them.

If you haven't mailed your package yet, think about asking at your local pharmacy, if they are friendly and approachable. They were glad to help. I don't like to ask for things, but it was easy to do with the picture of that poor girl in ketoacidosis at the Convention Center in my brain. I only wish there was more I could do.

To donate supplies (no insulin please) to the efforts mail your package asap to dLife Relief, 101 Franklin Street, Westport, CT 06880.