Thursday, September 28, 2006

Applause for the Bottom Dollar Girls

Are you a big fan of Mark Childress, Fannie Flagg or Margaret Mitchell? Does Southern fiction make you want to curl up with some grits, hominy, and mint juleps? Then check out the work of Karin Gillespie, author of the Southern series about a group of friends called THE BOTTOM DOLLAR GIRLS. Karin is the founder of the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit and an all-around great gal. She has joined us for an interview today. Welcome, Karin!


My name is Karin (not "Karen") Gillespie and it's pronounced CAR-IN as in, "Is that your CAR-IN the street with its bumper about to fall off?" My mother, who gave me this troublesome moniker, pronounces it CAR-REAN in a lovely lilting Australian accent. My Southern friends sometimes call me "Corn" (as in "children of the"). My last name is pronounced the same as Dizzy's (no relation).


Karin Gillespie’s Bottom Dollar Girls are back with a sugar-spun vengeance in Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love . Broaching the age-old question – Is it ever too late to find one’s heart’s desire? – the feisty ladies of Cayboo Creek are suddenly blindsided by schoolgirl flights of fancy when unexpected romance enters their lives.

Mavis Loomis, Birdie Purdy, and Gracie Tobias, widows in their mid-sixties are certain their dating days are over until they observe their friend eighty-something Attalee Gaines in tempestuous relationship with Dooley Prichard, a trifocal-wearing charmer. If it’s not too late for Attalee, how can it be too late for them?

Unfortunately the eligible men in Cayboo Creek are as picked over as a garage sale at noontime. Things look discouraging until an old high school heartthrob comes to town and Birdie and Mavis compete for his attentions. In the meantime socialite Gracie Tobias finds unlikely love in the arms of a rugged duct doctor. Can she overlook the vast differences in their backgrounds?

"Karin Gillespie has created characters in the "Steel Magnolias" mode. These are warm, wonderful women who love men, love life and definitely love each other. Their stories are universal in nature but told with a southern flavor. If you have never entered the world of Cayboo Creek, pick up DOLLAR DAZE and go there for a visit. You are bound to have a reading experience that will have you laughing, crying and having a high old time."~Jackie Cooper, Author of HALFWAY HOME

“Each character is lovingly crafted in Gillespie's hilarious, heartwarming, and often irreverent look at senior living in small-town America.”— Starred Review Booklist

“A sweet and amusing tale of romance and lust for the older crowd”—Kirkus

“Gillespie writes with such conviction that readers are thrust right into Cayboo Creek and the lives of the Bottom Dollar Girls….charismatic and replete with poignancy, a story to pass on.”---Romantic Times, four and a half stars

“Laugh-out--loud”—Atlanta Magazine Critic’s Pick


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.

I was in what I call “the hospice” stage of being single. I was in my mid-40s and after years of being divorced I honestly never thought I’d ever get married again.

There was this fellow named David I’d run into now and again but he could never remember my name and seemed utterly indifferent toward me.

Then I checked out this fabulous book from the library called The Crimson Petal and the White . I devoured the 800-word novel post haste and when I got to the end, I discovered a receipt with the name of the last person who checked it out. It was Mr. Indifference himself!

I ran into him again and mentioned that we’d checked out the same book. For the first time, ever, he finally took notice of me. We chatted enthusiastically, started dating, and yes, dear reader, I married him.

While our courtship was going on I was writing Dollar Daze: Bottom Dollar Girls in Love. My personal life kept bleeding into the manuscript. Everyone in the book was falling in love. It was like Cupid spiked the water of Cayboo Creek S.C. the setting for Dollar Daze. One of my characters, a proper Southern widow named Gracie Tobias, hooks up with the love-of-her-life via a library book.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Learn about the business. Read Publisher’s Weekly and Publisher’s Marketplace. Join list serves and forums with other writers. Go to conferences and chat up authors, agents and editors.

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

I journal in a notebook first thing in the morning. It’s like a warm up for the real writing , and I get out all of the kvetching and set my goals for the day. Then I run because physical activity helps me work out any thorny plot issues I might be having.

Then I get burn incense, chant and perform a top-secret writing ritual that I simply cannot disclose ( hint: It involves diet coke, whiskey and peanut M&Ms.)

All right. I’m lying. I procrastinate by reading other writers’ blogs and then I face the laptop. Every time I manage to eek out a page I get to check my email. After thoroughly perusing all the ads for Ciali in my inbox, I go back to writing. I’m constantly doing a word count check because as soon as I hit 1,000 I’m done for the day. This is usually happens between three and five p.m., hopefully in time to watch for happy hour.

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

Getting fan mail is really exciting. Also once James Woods, the actor, called me at home expressing interest in my first novel. That was damned exciting! (He ended up optioning it.) The most frustrating thing is waiting. Waiting to get published, waiting for checks, waiting for the Pulitzer. (Maybe that will be a looong wait!)

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
I co-wrote a novel with Jill Conner Browne (aka the Sweet Potato Queen) called The Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big-Ass Novel: Stuff We Didn’t Actually Do But Could Have and May Yet which will come out in January 2007. Then I have another novel that will be out in 2007 called Earthly Pleasures about a greeter in Heaven who crosses the dimension to be with her lover on Earth. I also have a short story in This Is Chick Lit.

I’m not sure if I’ll write another Bottom Dollar Girl book yet. That question can only be answered by the publishing gods.

Thank you so much, Karin! Karin's book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your best bet, Booksense.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Super Kids, Super Friends, Super Mom-Stepping Up and Stepping Out

There are a couple of things I'd like to discuss today. First of all, thanks so much to all who gave comments, both online and privately, about the job sitch (should I, or shouldn't I?). For now, I have put off a decision. I know it is a big step to take, particularly being so new to recovery, as some have mentioned. Still, the money is tempting. We'll see.

I am going to blog more extensively later about this, but as most of you know, my young son (age 9) has had Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes for the last two years. These two years have seen him endure over 7,000 blood sugar tests, thousands of insulin shots, and hundreds of insulin pump infusion site changes. And in the future he faces devastating complications, such as blindness, limb amputations, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and others.

Last year we walked as The O'Connor Lions to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's search for the cure. We raised over $5,000 and I was really happy and grateful to everyone who was able to donate. Much love.

We're walking again this year and I WILL link up today (each page includes a personal story, and you can donate via ANY of the links below).

Donate to my son's walk
Donate to my daughter's walk
Donate to my husband's walk

Donate to my walk

But I'll wait till later in the week to post the "official" walk notice.

Thing is, I wanted to discuss something that my diabetes support group has been discussing. That is to discuss in a non-whining manner the people who do donate, the people who don't, and why.

We're fortunate in that most, if not all, of our family members understand how vital this issue is to us. Last year we got many donations and I hope to meet or exceed our goal this year. One thing I tend to get now that this is our second year of walking for the cure is "why are you doing this all over again?"

Because there is not a cure yet. My son's life is still in danger. That's why.

We've just started our fundraising and I'm hopeful we'll have a big response, even though it seems a bit slow to get started. However, many people's family and friends just don't seem to get it. They ignore emails or hem and haw about donating. And don't get me wrong, these people aren't strapped. These people COULD donate if they chose to. They just don't. Rather than whingeing and complaining about it, we are all trying to figure out why. Maybe they need to be approached differently. What do you think? Comments are MOST welcome.
Here are a few examples. One man's own brother (who is working a well paying job, takes his family on expensive vacations, etc.) told him he simply "wouldn't be able to support" the team this year, even with a small donation, because he is busy the day of the walk helping someone move. (???) Another woman's brother said he refused to donate because her daughter (with diabetes) wrote the walk letter and did not personalize each and every letter (out of hundreds, I'll bet). His response? "I'll donate when you see fit to send me a personal letter." (!!!!)
And of course, there are the people who just ignore you, don't answer the emails, or whatever. It's their prerogative not to donate, sure. They can spend their money on a pair of Jimmy Choos, or a week's worth of Starbucks, or a new hardcover, or whatever. Free country, right? We parents are NOT resentful, just confused. It just makes us all... wonder. Why stand by at such a crucial time? There is some disconnect here. And we have to figure out a way to get around it, because everyone's donations will suffer. And as a result, all our kids will suffer. What can we do to reach these people?

The consensus among us parents seems to be that many people just DO NOT GET IT. They don't get the seriousness of this disease. They don't realize that insulin is not a cure. They don't get that this is not just a Girl Scout cookie fundraiser, or a wrapping paper sale for school. THIS IS A MATTER OF OUR CHILDREN'S LIVES.

On average, our children's lives will be cut short by FIFTEEN YEARS because of this dreadful disease.
What could you do with fifteen years? How many books could you write? Sunsets could you see? How many symphonies could you hear, children could you push on a swing? How many saxophone solos could you play? With your fifteen years, would you take longer walks?

Fifteen years.

"I'll donate when you see fit to send me a personal letter."
Fifteen years.

"We already donated to your daughter's Girl Scout cookie sale."
Fifteen years.

"Didn't I give to this last year?"
Fifteen years.
What could you do with fifteen years?

Maybe that's the way you need to frame it to people. But I don't know. All our letters are pretty strong. I've read so many. They all break my heart. So where are we going wrong? Why aren't we getting through?
Some people in my support group are quite hurt by the reactions they've received. But how are you going to explain the importance of this issue to people? I think it's hard to know what it's like to live with this disease every day unless you really do it.
Even so, I'm shocked when people's own siblings will not donate, even if they can't build their own walk team. I'm always thrilled when I hear of people building teams of their own to support nieces, nephews, grandchildren, brothers, sisters... Last year my own sister did a Ride for the Cure. That really thrilled me and we were all quite moved.

Yesterday I received a personal letter from an author from one of the writer groups I approached for a donation. She wrote to tell me she couldn't donate... because she was sponsoring her husband's mega-bike ride for the cure. Her sister died at age 40 from complications of Type 1 Diabetes.

Reading her message, I began to cry. I wrote back and told her how grateful I was that she reached out to me. She truly understands the importance of a cure.

Her sister lost around 30 years of a wonderful life due to this dreadful disease. These days, the years of life our children lose are down to 15.

But that's still too many.
What would YOU do with fifteen years?

Then there are the people who really step up to the plate and surprise you. Someone on our list mentioned that her local realtor gave a huge check, even when her close friends didn't donate at all. Thank God for these people.

One such person in our lives has been thriller author Lee Child. Even though I have never met Lee in person, and he does not know our son, he came through with an extremely generous donation.

Why? I don't know because I am not him, but I think Lee understands that this is not just another cookie sale for an arts program, or lemonade stand for extra books for a school library. This is a matter of life and death. Perhaps Lee, as an author, is unusally empathetic and able to put himself in another person's shoes. I don't really know. I'm grateful, either way. MANY big thank yous to Lee and to the people like him in all our lives.
Anyway, I would love to hear from my readers in the comments section. How do you reach out to those who for whatever reason do not seem to be responding to your appeals for a cure?

And now, onto my Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry!
This entry is about a book that's newly in paperback. It's titled CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM and it's by my friend, author Melanie Lynne Hauser. What impresses me about Melanie is not just her generosity. (She has been a great supporter of our Walks and our son's situation in general. A true Super Mom!) But also, Melanie cares about getting her research right. When she decided to write about Type 2 Diabetes, she decided to contact me to find out what the differences are between Type 1 and Type 2. There are too many writers and reporters out there who just don't care to get the facts right. I really appreciated Melanie's efforts on that.


"Every superhero has an Origin. To tell the truth, it's a little embarrassing. I wasn't put into a rocket and sent to Earth by my parents just as my home planet exploded. I wasn't given a special ring by visiting aliens. I wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider. No, it wasn't anything nearly so glamorous; my beginnings are quite humble. I was merely the innocent victim of a Horrible Swiffer Accident."

Meet Birdie Lee, clerk at Marvel Fine Food and Beverages and an average, middle-aged single mother of two teenagers. Until one ordinary morning when, on the floor of her bathroom, Birdie discovers a Stain of Unknown Origin--a stain so intense that nothing can remove it. When all her attempts fail, Birdie does the unthinkable: She loads her Swiffer with every cleanser she owns, aims, and shoots. Suddenly, Birdie becomes endowed with extraordinary powers. Now Birdie must somehow balance it all--her smug ex and his overachieving new wife; two teenagers and a string of PTA meetings; her own budding romance; and her beloved town of Astro Park, whose very existence is threatened by a mysterious force sneaking its way into every household. A delightful, well-earned escape, Confessions of Super Mom is an amusing vindication of the overlooked everyday heroism that is a woman's life.


Hailing from the Hoosier state (where she grew up in the shadow of the Indianapolis 500 racetrack), Melanie Lynne Hauser is a late bloomer who is just now figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. Having tried her hand at telemarketing, candy striping for a nursing home (where it was suggested she not return, after she mistook the men's plastic urinals for water bottles and put ice in them) and acting under her maiden name, Melanie Miller (Most Academy Award-Worthy Performance: The title role, complete with bear costume, in the gut-wrenching exploration of good touch/bad touch entitled "What's the Matter, Little Bear?"), she put everything on hold in order to marry, have two children, and spend her time making sure they didn't stick their fingers in electrical sockets. (Both the husband, and the children.)

However, the children grew up. (Although occasionally she still has to make sure they don't stick their fingers in electrical sockets. They are, after all, boys.) After moving to the Chicago area, Melanie put in a brave couple of years with the PTA. She drove her sons to soccer practices, track meets, music lessons and orthodontist appointments. In short, she was in training to become Super Mom.

At an age when many women throw themselves back into their careers after raising their children, Melanie looked around and realized she never had one in the first place. After deciding she wasn't creative enough to start her own business (like all those women on Oprah), she turned to the one thing she did know: Books. A bookworm from the time she was able to form words, Melanie realized that what she really wanted to do was write books. So she wrote one. It stank. She buried it out in her backyard, next to the compost heap. She wrote another book. It didn't stink quite so much; in fact it got her not one, but two literary agents. Still, nobody wanted to publish it. She wrote another book. It stank the least of all, and led her to her current, wonderful literary agent, but still it went unpublished. Then she wrote CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM. So far, nobody has said that it stinks. In fact, so many people like it that the sequel, SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD will published by NAL in early 2007. And finally, at long last, Melanie has a career. (And old men in nursing homes everywhere breathe a huge sigh of relief.)

"Like its title character, this debut novel has a secret's unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer..."
-- Publishers Weekly
"…fun twist on the superhero tale comes packaged with a socially responsible message…" -- Booklist


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.
I'd written three previous novels; the first one stank, although since it was my first attempt, I cherish it for that. Then I wrote two other novels; they stank less (in fact, both got me literary representation and almost sold, making it to the marketing committee level at major publishers). That was a frustrating time, for sure; so close, yet so far. But I listened to what editors were saying; my books were too quiet, I needed to find that elusive "high concept" needed to break in. So I decided that if they wanted high concept, I'd give them high concept; I'd find a way to write about the issues that were still important to me as a woman and a mother, only I'd write about them somehow larger than life. That kind of thinking - "How far away from 'quiet' can I get?" led me to think about writing women's fiction from a superhero's perspective, and from there it was just one more step to creating Super Mom, giving my protagonist all the powers I really wish that I, as a not-so-super mom, had. Once I got the idea, the book was written fairly quickly; my agent read it, submitted it, and....more rejection. Three months' more, actually (not that I was keeping count!) until I had two offers in one week. Dutton bought the book, in a two-book deal; the sequel, SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD, will be out in March.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't spend too much time on one project; if you're not getting very far with one manuscript, put it away and move on to the next one. When I hear of authors spending years trying to get that first novel published, my heart just breaks; most published authors' "first novels" are anything but, and I don't think people want to hear about that, frankly. And too - if you want to have a career you have got to have more than one novel in you. So you have to learn when to let go of projects and move on to the next one.

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

I think that in the beginning it's important to keep to a set schedule; mine was from 12-3, every day. I never told myself how many words I had to write; that was too daunting. But I did tell myself I had to write SOMETHING every day. But then, at least for me, once you've been doing this for a while you find that you can jump right into the writing whenever, wherever, and the schedule isn't so regimented. But I think I only got to this point by training myself, in a way, by writing to that precise schedule, early on.

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

Oh, definitely - the first time I held a copy of my hardcover. That was magical, and I cried a little, and I remember my editor suggesting that I take that first copy and write in it how I felt when I saw it. (I wish I'd taken her advice! But alas, I didn't.) Frustrating? Well, I think the discovery that I didn't really get to make the decision as to how & when I moved on to the next project. I knew I'd have very little control over the decisions related to the books under contract; I didn't know that I wouldn't be able to submit new work when it suited ME; that there are a lot of other considerations to take into account, from now on.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
The sequel, called SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD, will be published by NAL/Penguin in March 2007. It pickes up about 4 months after the first book ends, and continues the story of Birdie, Carl, the kids - and of course a new menace to the children of Astro Park, this time in the form of organized sports, specifically - Little League Baseball.

And last week I just mailed my next manuscript to my agent; it's a wonderful, magical novel about miracles, Vaudeville and George Burns - with a comatose rock star thrown in for good measure - that I absolutely love! (Of course I love all my novels, but the one that I'm working on is always the one I love best.) And I have an idea for something else brewing in the back of my busy brain.
Congratulations on all the success, Melanie! Look for Melanie's book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indy, always the best choice.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Should I?

I've been approached with a really intriguing employment opportunity. I won't say it's an offer because nothing is official. It's not a ton of money, either (it'd be part time), but it's steady money and that's something that a writer rarely sees.

It's work I've done before and really loved.

It's work that is really draining. (People who know me know what type of work I'm discussing... :) ) Really really draining. And I tend to get emotionally wrapped up in this work.

It's work that, even done part-time, might cause me not to be able to do much writing. I would be dog tired at the end of the day, and any extra energy rightly would go to my family. Even part-time, I would get involved in the work dramatics. I know it.

And also, I'm not sure how the inevitable diabetes interruptions (calls for lows and highs) could work with this type of employment.

I'm tempted, though, because I would love to have an income. I've got other irons in the fire but this would be something that would come with a check each month. This is work I know how to do and that I'm good at. The location is very close--almost no commute at all.

I just don't know what to do. Fortunately, I don't have to decide right away.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

American Zombies Invade China

An acquaintance is working teaching English in China and has requested books for the English Language Library. What a great chance for us to filter through our bursting bookcases!

Her request specifically said no religious material. (Interesting in that she is working with a Christian group in China.) It also said to be aware that the students in China will get some of their ideas about America through these books, so select carefully.

I had kind of mixed emotions putting the box together for her. Annoyance prevailed, even though I do want to help her and help the Chinese students, etc. My book collection must be pretty dark, I guess, because I don't know how I can possibly give away ANY of my books now! The Chinese kids will assume that:

Americans are all serial killers

We're all a bunch of sexpots (well, aren't we?)

We're a bunch of child abusing Christian fundamentalists,

or else strung out transvestite child prostitutes (Or else we don't exist--JT LeRoy himself is a fiction, as most of you know and which Laura Albert has finally admitted--That's why I am purging my collection of "his" books)

This left about one book that was able to be donated:

But this also gave a bad impression of American life.... for bunnies.

I just gave up. The Chinese are getting them all. Even the ever-controversial:

HA! It's not America, it's Prince Edward Island! Gotcha...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Books and Gumballs, Dogs and CGMSes, All in a September's Work

Every parent of a child with diabetes knows when the D-year starts. That's September, when school begins. New teacher to train, new classmates to educate about diabetes. New teasing, new difficulties. Hopefully, more than a few triumphs. More than a little newfound independence.

Parents of children with diabetes know what a new school year means. TIME FOR THE EXPLANATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS, REPAIR WORK AND DIFFICULTIES, TRIUMPHS AND HOPE.

Our D-year got off to a bit of a rocky start. Our longtime teacher's aide, who knows our son's diabetes like a nurse's assistant, had a baby and is taking some time off. There's a new school nurse, too. Previously, we had the best school nurse in the universe.

A lot of times, people who do not deal with this disease on a daily basis don't understand that the answer to the question "So, why aren't his blood sugar levels stable yet?" is "Because his pancreas still is broken and his islet cells have all been destroyed."

So far, I have gotten the sense from his teacher that she's not sure why the numbers are fluctuating so much. She is finally getting the idea that we are tweaking the best we can but we are still going to see the number here or there in the 200s, or in the 60s, or even in the 300s or the 50s. And that that doesn't mean we are completely screwing up his insulin dosing.

The 504 meeting went better than expected. (And I recommend that everyone who has a child with diabetes get a 504 plan set in place with school IMMEDIATELY. (Click the link for more info from the ADA.)

Because diabetes is a federally recognized disability, your child is entitled to accommodations for an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment--and if everything is spelled out, there's less chance of mistreating or not accommodating your child. E-me if you have questions about this, I'm glad to help.)

As it turns out, the new school nurse actually worked with me when I taught at the middle school. This was pre-diabetes of course, but she was at least a friendly face. The aide was one of our son's counselors at his run-around day camp. Since this is our 3rd year with a 504 plan, it was mainly just updating things, anyhow.

We read a storybook to the class about diabetes and answered some GREAT questions from the kids.

This usually offsets a lot of the teasing, pulling at the insulin pump, etc. But this week, a new kid to the school got angry when our son had to eat crackers at his desk before PE. When our son explained he had diabetes, the kid said "I don't give a shit" to him. That had to be straightened out but hopefully it was a learning experience for him.

There was a birthday party, too, that I found out at the last minute (AT THE DOOR OF THE PARTY) was a sleepover. Apparently the parents had let their son address the invitations, but had neglected to proofread what he wrote inside them. I wasn't the only surprised parent!

As all the other boys were jumping up and down saying that they are going to sleepover, I made the snap decision to rush home, type up a list of instructions (the mom has had our son over for playdates before and felt comfortable with the diabetes), pack up all kinds of backup supplies and hand him a cellphone for emergencies. I didn't want him to be left out.

It didn't really work out though. At dinner his number was 220. He bolused a correction and bolused for his dinner and cake, which he counted pretty accurately, I believe.

However, after this he was given very sugary gum and didn't give insulin for it, thinking gum has very little carbs.

True, if you're just having a gumball. But when you consume it by the pound, you had better bolus for it. By the time bedtime (10:00) rolled around he hadn't called since dinner, the kids were wrapped up in a movie, and I had to call him 3 times to get him to test for a bedtime number. Finally at 10:30 I got the number; it was 435. He washed his hands to make sure the high wasn't from sugar residue, tested again and hit 419. (Normal blood sugars are 80-120, his bedtime target is 125.)

He had to give a big dose of insulin. Under normal circumstances, I would test him to make sure he was coming down, then test him at 1:30 AM. I would make a decision on whether to test again at 4:30 AM based on that number.

I couldn't ask the mom to do that. And I wouldn't have slept all night for worrying. So I drove over in my pajama and brought him home. I cried the whole way over in the car. Why can't things just be normal for him? Then I thought, he's only 9. This is so much for him to handle. Of course, this made me cry even harder.

I cheered up in time to pick him up and put him to bed. In the morning we got to start our merry diabetes day all over again. It was hard, but I seemed to care about it more than he did.

I talked to my diabetes support group to get some perspective. It's just not the kind of thing "normal" parents can understand, even though all my friends are always so kind.

After talking to other parents, most of them don't let their kids sleep over at all. They can invite other kids over but not the reverse. It's for the same reason which I encountered.

One mom tells her 14 year old that he may go to the party, but may only sleep over if he is willing to set his alarm, test himself, and show her on his meter the next day that he has done so. Otherwise he has to leave at bedtime.

So far, he hasn't taken her up on the offer, but I think this is a good plan. Also, it helps our kids build the independence they will need in the future. No, it doesn't seem fair and it's not. But as they say, it is what it is.


Our son learned how to put in his own infusion site without numbing cream, saving 30 minutes of time in a site change.

It's a big needle, so it's a pretty brave thing to do with no anesthetic. HUZZAH!

We have passed the initial application phase of getting a diabetes alert dog. These dogs can sense low blood sugars and alert their owners at any time of the day of night. I have even heard of a diabetes alert dog who called 911 for her owner! It just happened a few weeks ago. Now we have a lengthy application to fill out.

And the continuous blood glucose monitor is a reality (just not one we can afford right now, until insurance covers it as the standard of care--which I have confidence they will do).

Diabetes isn't all bad, I remind myself. I would never have met so many great people without this disease coming into my life. They truly are my friends for life.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Immortally Pimped

Hi all, I am honored to have been asked to be part of Anne Frasier's 100 Blog pimp-day! Anne has a new book out called PALE IMMORTAL, and it sounds fantastic!


Watch the music video, listen to the soundtrack and mp3s, read the
first two chapters, and learn more HERE.

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood. Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered. Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

anne's website

Friday, September 01, 2006

Desperate Housewives in Applewood!

All right, I'll confess that I secretly believe that the most "together" women on our local PTA are cocaine addicts. Otherwise, how else could they juggle all the balls they do?

MUSIC FOR TORCHING by AM Homes? (One of my faves of all time. That's the one with the crack-smoking suburban couple.) Well, I'm convinced I'm right. Someone else who's got the goods on the PTA is author Ellen Meister, author of the new and controversial novel, SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA.


When a Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, Long Island and announces that the local elementary school might make the perfect backdrop for an upcoming George Clooney movie, the PTA’s decorum crumbles like a cookie from last week's bake sale.

Enter Maddie, Ruth and Lisa, three women who become the glue that holds the project together...and wind up forming a bond of friendship stronger than anyone had imagined.

A good thing, too, because each of them is about to come apart. Maddie Schein, an ex-lawyer trying as hard to fit in as she is to save her marriage, gets knocked off balance by Jack Rose, an old college friend hell bent on seducing her. Ruth Moss—rich, sexy and outspoken—has more to give and less to enjoy than most people think. Indeed, since her husband's stroke left him embarrassingly uninhibited yet completely impotent, she's more of a caretaker than a wife. And modest Lisa Slotnick, a loving parent who wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery as she tends to her children, must deal with the humiliation of being thrust before the spotlight by her scandalous, alcoholic mother.

When these three get together, a powerful alliance is forged. But is it strong enough to overcome the obstacles to getting the movie made in their town? And will their friendship be enough to mend their hearts and homes? Join them as they reach for the stars...and try to pull off a Hollywood ending of their own.


Born in the Bronx, New York, to two devoted readers, Ellen Meister understood from an early age that the best way to get someone's undivided attention was to put words on paper.

And so, after growing up in suburban Long Island with her parents, older brother, and younger sister, she did what any dreamy, unrealistic, word-loving girl of her generation did: She went to college and majored in English.

Ellen graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Buffalo and set off to take the publishing world by storm. Not, however, as a writer. She got a job as a promotion assistant for a small medical publisher with a budget so tight they couldn't afford a trash can for her desk, let alone a living salary. So one year later she left for the glamorous side of publishing and went to work for a giant literary agency.

The job seemed like a dream come true for the 23-year-old Ellen, whose romanticized notion of writers still fueled her passions. But her tender young nature was so ill-suited to the maniacal atmosphere of the place that one co-worker remarked that she looked like Alice in Wonderland sitting at her desk.

A few months later she left for what she thought were earthier pastures, doing publicity and promotion for a trade association. From there she found her way to the marketing departments of various magazines, where she got to hone her copywriting skills. Eventually, Ellen opened her own boutique sales promotion agency.

Several years after marrying Mike, whom she describes as "the smartest, funniest guy on the planet and a hell of a Pictionary partner," Ellen gave birth to her first child and left the business world to be a full-time mother. By the time she finally found the gumption to sit down and write her first novel, she had three kids and was a card-carrying member of the PTA.

Ellen Meister lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband, two sons and one daughter. She writes, she swears, she sings, she dances—all from the front seat of her minivan. And while she wouldn't have it any other way, she still longs for attention.


"Meister's debut novel is heartbreakingly funny, her characters facing life's dramas and disappointments head on with wit and spunk." — Library Journal

"A funny and wonderfully irreverent look at the dark underbelly of suburbia." — Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief and Happiness Sold Separately

"It's every woman's fantasy to have a film-location crew select her hometown for the next movie starring a major cinematic sex symbol (in this case, George Clooney), and when Applewood, Long Island's elementary school, is deemed a possible site for Clooney's upcoming flick, the members of the upscale community's PTA go into hyperbolic overdrive to turn fantasy into reality. As members of the PR committee, it will fall to Maddie, Ruth, and Lisa to polish Applewood's somewhat spotty reputation when the producers come to town. Accomplishing such a massive public-relations coup would be difficult enough, but add Maddie's failing marriage, Ruth's clandestine affair (with the school superintendent, no less), and Lisa's alcoholic mother to the mix, and you have women facing challenges that make the typical Saturday morning PTA bake sale look like a piece of cake. With sexy characters, sharp dialogue, and snappy pacing, Meister's sassy, saucy debut novel could well turn into a movie of its own." — Booklist

"Women, hide this book from your husbands and resist the urge to read passages out loud. Ellen Meister knows our secrets, and she tells them in a smart, honest, and very funny voice." — Maryanne Stahl, author of Forgive the Moon and The Opposite Shore

"Three conflicted housewives in Applewood, Long Island, long for something more fulfilling than what their families and their membership in the local PTA offer.... helping each other realize their dreams. Comical yet poignant..."
Kirkus Reviews

"George Clooney should be proud." — New York Times best selling author, Mark Ebner

"The best time I've had in years. Ellen Meister's characters are so funny, smart, and real, I feel like I've made three new friends!" — Lisa Kudrow

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.

The inspiration came at a PTA meeting. It was the first meeting of the year and, as usual, I was feeling a little self-conscious around the other moms, who seemed so perfect to me. I found myself wishing they knew there was more to me than the smiling PTA face I was presenting. Then it occurred to me that everyone might be feeling something similar. And that's when I knew I had to write about these types of women, to explore their inner lives, and the layers of joy and heartache beneath the surface.

From there I set out to construct a plot around an event that could affect the community as a whole and the women as individuals. Eventually, I got the idea to bring a Hollywood movie studio to their town, and select their schoolyard as a possible location for the filming of a George Clooney movie.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read as much as you can. And remember that every book you read, whether it's something that makes your heart sing or not, has something to teach you. Keep your mind open--there are gifts everywhere.

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

Trust me, you don't want tips from me on getting organized! My writing day starts at 5 a.m. before the kids wake up. From there on in it's catch as catch can. I squeeze in an hour here or there whenever I can.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most
The most exciting thing has been simply walking into a bookstore and seeing my novel there. The most frustrating thing about publishing a book is all the waiting. It's a Herculean test of patience!

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

Right now I don't see writing a sequel to Applewood. I'm working on my second novel, THE SMART ONE. It's a story about three sisters who begin a journey of understanding certain truths about their relationship after discovering a dead body in an industrial drum. It will be released July 2007.

Thank you so much, Ellen! Pick up her novel at your localindy bookseller, or try Amazonor Barnes and Noble. Happy Labor Day, all! Don't get in too much trouble, and if you do, DON'T TELL ELLEN!