Monday, July 10, 2006

Dogs4Diabetics and Killer Highlights

I can't believe it, but the house is empty. We sent Thing Two off to diabetes camp yesterday, and Thing One went to Girl Scout camp today. Wow! I keep feeling like I should be somewhere... but I HAVE NOWHERE TO BE! I AM BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE! WHEEEEEE!


I read that the Dogs4Diabetics guy is going to be at diabetes camp with Armstrong, his famous diabetic alert dog. Do you know that dogs can be trained on diabetic alert? Here is a bit of Armstrong's amazing story (by my friend Zoe Francis).

"It was five years ago, when Ruefenacht was traveling in New York with a puppy in training, when he got the idea for Dogs for Diabetics. The typically calm puppy awoke Ruefenacht in the middle of the night with his relentless pawing and nudging.

"When a frustrated Ruefenacht finally got out of bed, he realized that his blood sugar was dangerously low. The puppy had alerted his handler to what could have been a deadly situation.

"What started as the seed of an idea expanded as Ruefenacht methodically studied what had caused the dog to pick up on the handler's low blood sugar. After years of research, Ruefenacht trained another dog — a yellow Labrador retriever named Armstrong — to be his medical alert dog.

"Dogs are trained to detect the ever-so-subtle scent of low blood sugar by sniffing sweat and breath samples taken from people experiencing low blood sugar. "

I want a diabetic alert dog, I do I do I do! The waiting list must be years long, though... but I am PASSIONATE about the idea.

And... SEGUE!

I had the opportunity to interview fellow author Kyra Davis recently. Kyra is the author of the brand new PASSION, BETRAYAL, AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS, a Sophie Katz mystery.

Kyra's another Bay Area chick! Here's a little about her:


Novelist Kyra Davis has spent her life in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, where she currently lives with her young son. Now a full-time single parent and writer, Davis previously divided her time between a career in the fashion industry and various artistic endeavors such as acting, singing and dancing.

Sophie Katz has just offered a man $12,000 for his services…is she desperate of just meshugeneh?

Considering the kind of disasters that usually befall the half-black, half Jewish mystery writer, probably both. Because the last time Sophie saw sexy P.I. Anatoly Darinsky, he practically danced a jig when she waved goodbye-a normal reaction for a man who’d nearly bought the farm due to her misguided attempts at vigilante justice. What are the chances he’d agree to take incriminating pictures of her sister’s philandering husband? Or that he’d let her tag along-you know…for research?

But when her brother-in-law turns up dead and her sister becomes the prime suspect Sophie’s priority is finding the real killer. With or without Anatoly’s help. Her brother-in-law’s secret life yields plenty of suspects, but the San Francisco police aren’t taking any of them seriously. So Sophie does what comes naturally to her: she stirs up trouble (to lure the killer out, of course).

But if her crazy plan works will everybody survive the outcome?

In the rollicking follow-up to Sex, Murder And A Double Latte, Sophie hones her irreverent humor and sleuthing skills to a sharp edge. Fans of Stephanie Plum or Kinsey Millhone will no doubt love Sophie and find her snappy comebacks and quirky cohorts as addictive as good coffee and a sexy dye job (okay, let’s stick with the caffeine).

…a high-octane hookup

--Cosmopolitan (Cosmo’s choice for July’s Red Hot Read)

For Me Magazine’s suggested read

Ebony Magazine’s June “noted book”

Davis's San Francisco-based saga will appeal not only to female readers but to any mystery fan who has an offbeat sense of humor. Davis effortlessly explores serious social issues -- racial discrimination, sexism, adultery, multiculturalism, etc. -- while keeping the mood light and laugh-out-loud funny. Additionally, the cornucopia of subtle symbolism throughout…is priceless. To borrow a line from the book: "Fabulous, absolutely fabulous!"

--Barnes & Noble Ransom Notes Reviews

Following hard on the red spike heels of 2005's Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, Davis's second whodunit delivers on the promise of the first...A cast of charming caricatures…round out a version of San Francisco in which racial politics are fun to play with and sex is steamier than frothed milk.

--Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

When I was three quarters of the way through the rough draft of Sex, Murder And A Double Latte it occurred to me that the book could be the beginning of a series. Since I had spent most of the first novel exploring Sophie’s relations with her crazy friends I figured that it would be fun to use the next book (Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights) to explore her relations with her even crazier family. Having her sister’s husband threaten divorce (and then wind up dead) seemed like a natural segue for a comical women’s murder mystery.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I’ve lost track of how many people have told me that they have a great idea for a book yet haven’t managed to even compose the first paragraph. Sometimes these people claim that they’re waiting until they have more time to dedicate to the writing process but that excuse doesn’t really hold up. If you’re unpublished you’re not under deadline and if you wrote one page a day you would have a 365 page manuscript by the end of the year. I think these would-be authors’ real problem is that they are afraid. They look at a blank computer screen and worry that whatever they could fill it up with would be subpar and thus they don’t write anything at all.

My suggestion to these people is to relax and just write something. Anything will do. If it’s crap so what? It’s a rough draft, it’s supposed to be crap. Just give yourself something to work with because a manuscript that needs to be edited or even rewritten is a lot less intimidating than the manuscript you're afraid to start.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

I have no tips for getting organized but if anyone would like to share theirs with me I’m all ears.

I am a single mom of an extremely active six year old boy who I homeschool so I write whenever I have a spare moment and those moments usually present themselves after my child goes to sleep (around 9-9:30ish). However my mother and/or stepbrother do try to help me out with babysitting periodically and I always take advantage of any child free time they can give me. Also if Animal Planet has a Planet’s Funniest Animal’s marathon I send up a quick prayer of thanks, plop my son in front of the TV and pull out my laptop.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

There have been so many exciting things about the publishing process. There was my first book deal, which was a pretty good one, the fabulous reviews in national and regional publications, seeing my book in one of the several languages it has been translated into and so on and so forth. Hell, I still get excited when I see my book on display in a bookstore! As for the most frustrating…for me it has been the fact that I’m so totally clueless about the business side of the publishing industry. As a general rule I like to feel like any decision I make in life is fully informed and not purely based on the recommendation of somebody else but when my agent, editor and/or publicist tells me that I should tour a certain city, package myself in a certain way or submit a proposal at a certain time I have to take it on faith that they’re right. I’m not entirely comfortable with taking things of faith.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

I’m working on the 3rd Sophie Book (Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate) now and it will be in stores in May 2007. In the interim another (non-Sophie) book titled So Much For My Happy Ending is being published in November of this year.

What do you think is the most common misconception people have concerning published authors?

There are a lot of people who assume that being reviewed in lots of glossy national magazines equates to an extremely large income. I actually had one friend tell me that now that I had been twice featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine it would just be a matter of time before I could put a down payment on a house in San Francisco’s prestigious Pacific Heights district. Cosmopolitan could feature my writing every month for a year and I still wouldn’t be able to afford a condo in Pacific Heights. I just feel fortunate that I’m able to make enough to pay the rent and buy groceries at Trader Joes. But that (as far as I’m concerned) is the definition of success anyway: being able to support myself doing something that I love. I’d rather be a happy writer and drive a 12-year-old Volvo than a miserable lawyer and drive a 1-year-old Porsche.

What do you want your readers to get from your writing?

Entertained. The Sophie books are a combination of comical woman’s fiction, suspenseful murder mystery and lightweight social commentary. I doubt that anyone is going to change their worldview after reading a book from that series. If that’s what a reader is looking for I suggest they pick up an Alice Walker or Amy Tan. But during those weeks or months when life just seems to be kicking their ass, when they feel like their world is coming apart at the seams and they are desperate for some kind of escape they can turn to Sophie and hopefully she’ll make them laugh. I think we could all use that kind of escape once in a while.

Are any of your characters based on you?

Everyone assumes that Sophie is me but that’s not true. Sophie is PART of me but so are her friends and all of her acquaintances. I’M the composite character, they’re the individuals. I often think about what my characters would think of this or that and there are times when I can actually hear them talking to me. I often think that being a professional novelist is kind of like being paid to cultivate mild schizophrenic tendencies.

Thanks for your words of wisdom, Kyra! You can buy Kyra's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the bestest choice, your local independent bookseller.