Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year & A New ROMANCING THE SOUL Book Trailer!

To all my subscribers and readers, I'd like to wish every one of you the happiest new year! Although it's not officially 2007 for another hour, let's take the time to reflect on what we have accomplished in the past year. Did we meet our goals? Did we try to be the best we can be?

I hope every one of you found your dreams; and if not, let's work even harder at finding what we are looking for and becoming who we want to be in the upcoming year. But, no matter what kind of resolutions you have lined up, the main key is to be happy.

With that in mind, I wish you a Happy New Year and may all your dreams and writing aspirations come true!

Also, I'd like to show you a new video I made for a book that is very dear to me called ROMANCING THE SOUL. You can see the trailer at

Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion Workshop - Coming in March!

Create Your Own

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dan Poynter - How To Write Your First Non-Fiction Book

Marketing guru and self-promoter Dan Poynter gives us the lowdown on self-publishing. Watch!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hook Us With Your First Page # 4

Hook Us With Your First Page is back!

This first page comes from Rachel Newstead, and is the first page of her WIP titled "Orphan Toons: Relics of Animation's Forgotten Past Non-Fiction."

So, what do you think?

Does she hook YOU with her first page?

Please leave comments in the comment box below.


I'm a member of a lost generation.

"Tweeners", I guess you could call us. Not quite baby boomer, not quite Xer, a curious mix of wonder and cynicism. Too young to remember Howdy Doody, but too old to truly appreciate the gripping plotline of a "Scooby-Doo" episode (which, all too often, was the same plotline).
More media-savvy than our parents had been, but not wired to the world like the generations that followed us.

We were, I suppose one could say, the most blessed--and cursed--generation ever born. We came into the world just in time to catch a glimpse of what our parents once loved, only to gaze in horror as it slowly faded away.

For us, "classic animation" did not begin with "The Smurfs" and end with "Beavis and Butt-head." We didn't know the word "anime"--Japanese animation to us meant Speed Racer. Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Bullwinkle and Underdog were our best friends. We'd laugh our heads off at Yogi Bear on weekday afternoons, then scratch our heads on Saturday morning as we watched some emasculated Yogi impersonator battling villians like Mr. Smog.

We were the first kids to be subjected to the stringent decrees of folks whose self-appointed mission was to drain every bit of violence (and therefore fun) out of every cartoon we saw. Yet we were the last to see the classic cartoons of the '30s, '40s and '50s in all their noisy, anarchistic, uncensored glory. They were faded, they had a reddish tinge (done, I later learned, in the fifties to make them more visible on black and white TV sets) and often had the opening titles cruelly amputated, but God, were they wonderful!

And if we caught them at the right time on the right station, we might see things that today would send more sensitive souls running for the smelling salts--slow-talking black characters with huge lips and goggle eyes, bucktoothed Orientals, even Daffy Duck whacking a cartoon
Hitler's head like a gong. The seedier and more low-wattage the station, the more likely these animated oddities would appear--in broad daylight, right past the ubquitous eyes of the moral watchdogs. Strangely enough, the earth didn't stop rotating and civilization didn't crumble. We saw those old images for what they were, products of a different time, and a special few of us--including me, in case you were wondering--found something worth watching in even the most blatantly insulting of them. However, that fleeting supernova of animated programing,, in which one could see animation's real past, with no apologies or disclaimers, quickly collapsed into a black hole filled by "Galaxy Goof-Ups." An ever-broadening list of cartoons now deemed "unacceptable" faced certain anihlation by those who would re-write our history. In an era in which "film preservation" is the catchphrase of the moment, cartoons like COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS, GOLDILOCKS AND THE JIVIN' BEARS, and BUGS BUNNY NIPS THE NIPS are still awaiting rediscovery and restoration. And they shouldn't be.

Why, you might ask, would I want to rescue such questionable artifacts of film history from oblivion? Interesting story, that. One that involves a couple of landmark books on animation, a blind toon geek, and most importantly, a skinny crippled kid with delusions of being a
cartoonist. But more on that later.

Back in the seventies, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (in rhinestone studded white disco pants, no less) there were something called "independent TV stations" which produced something even more remarkable called "local programming." This local programming, aired mostly in the afternoons and geared mainly toward kids, would often be hosted by some
adult in a silly outfit, sitting in the middle of an even sillier studio set. He'd do some mildly funny skit or other, then on would come a Bugs Bunny cartoon. (Or Felix the Cat, Heckle and Jeckle or whatever else they could dig out of the vault). I saw more than my share of such curiosities, for two reasons--first, I led the nomadic life of an Army brat (who could recite the call letters of TV stations in two dozen different cities) and was one of that rare few who got the first look
at something called "cable TV."

Sierra Vista, Arizona in 1973 didn't have much to brag about, being a little desert town whose only reason for existence was the nearby Fort Huachuca army post, which had been there since the days of Wyatt Earp. A routine shopping trip often required a drive to Tucson, seventy miles north. Isolated and surrounded by mountains, TV reception in that tiny community of 10,000 was next to impossible.. The mountains blocked any signal, so those who opted out of the local cable service had two choices--a gargantuan antenna the size of the Eiffel Tower, or snow.
Fortunately, when fate and the US Army dropped me and my family in Sierra Vista that year, my parents decided on cable. They didn't know it, but that one decision saved my childhood and sealed my future.

Having come from three years in Germany, where we had no TV--in English, anyway--I stared in pop-eyed amazement at stations in Phoenix, Tucson, and even Los Angeles. On all twelve channels on the dial, yet. From nothing, I found myself glutted by cartoons of all kinds, at
practically any hour--I felt at times like a bullimic in a donut shop. If I missed Bugs in Phoenix, I could catch him in L.A. an hour or so later--or vice versa. Before long, I had seen the same cartoons so many times I could identify when a cartoon was made--and by whom--just by listening to it. I began to scan the credits and even the copyright dates for scraps of data I might have missed. My education as a toon historian had begun.

Copyright 2006 Rachel Newstead

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Top Ten Things to Think About Before You Go With Print on Demand

Top Ten Things to Think About Before you Go With Print on Demand

by Judy Cullins

Is Print on Demand all you think it is?

You, like many other authors who don't want to go the long hard road with traditional publishing, and who like the low cost and seemingly easiest and best way to publish a book, Print on Demand Publishing looks good. They print one book at a time when it's ordered. But, think again.

After many years of authors coming to me saying they did not make money going with a POD, and my research noticing the poor payoffs from Print on Demand, as an author's advocate, I say, think again.

Top Ten Things to Think About Before you Go With Print on Demand

1. Notice how many other authors and books are listed on the POD web site.

Like a brick and mortar bookstore, your audience won't go to the Print on Demand site looking for your specific book. In fact, the people who go are other authors like you. They don't want to buy your book, they visit because they think this is a simple way to be on a web site where one can sell books. So who will buy?

2. Notice that when you do get listed you get only a few hundred words to describe reasons people should buy your book.

That's not enough to compel your visitor to buy your book. Without a doubt, the authors that make real money are the ones who put up an book web site. Talk about simple. You can create a three-page book sales letter site that when marketed, will bring only the prime prospects to it. The ones who are already your targeted market. These kind of sites cost less than $550. That's a low investment for a big pay off.

3. Print on Demand Publishing Means Printing

These companies aren't really publishers just because they take your book and create digital copies for you. They are printers.

If they are printers, then they are really charging too much. And, they have control of your book and can charge you 40-50% commission before you get copies of you book. If you go Print on Demand, it's much better to go with a POD printer such as where you maintain full control of the book. You or your fulfillment person takes delivery of the books and distributes as you need. Your coach advises to print only the number you can sell in three to four months. Now, you have more cash flow to spend on promotion, publicity, and marketing.

4. Research the POD company well.

Has it been in business for years and has a solid track record?
If they go out of business, your book goes out too. The list of Print on Demand sins is long. An example: One popular POD company may be cheap, but you cannot talk to a real person for customer service. Automatic or email service is no service. Recently, one really fine author researched 10 of them and was totally confused. I asked him what were the prices and service promised? Over $3000 for some. He wasn't sure what he got for that. Many companies charge little to publish, but require extra money for editing, proofs, art work, and marketing kits.
These marketing kits will not payoff for the author.

Beware of what you spend because like other publishers, POD people will not market your book well enough for you to make big money.. I advised this quality author to create a small web site or add a sales letter to his branding web site. Then, check out the internet and use free article writing and submitting to high-traffic web sites (advanced article marketing) to bring people to his web site.

5. Check the quality offered by the POD company.

If your cover is amateur, your book won't sell. Be sure to have a cover designer help you. If you didn't get feedback on all the parts that go into a quality book, don't expect the POD company to fix it. Be sure you include an order page, a testimonial page, a copywrite page. Get help from a book designer for this. Although it seems like a lot of steps, when you choose a pro to assist along the way, you will save thousands of dollars in mistakes as well as a lot of wasted time.

6. Open yourself up to learning more about internet marketing.

Did you know not everyone out there will want to distribute or sell your book? Bookstores don't like POD books because they are higher priced than traditionally published, mass-produced books and if they don't sell, can't be returned.

It's natural to fear something you don't know much about. Yet, the only way to take a so so success to outstanding is to market your book on the web. It's a learn by doing thing. You can take a teleclass, get a mentor, hire a coach, or just copycat other pros who are doing well.

After the traditional route not working, and the POD route with too little payoff, like me, you can find a new path that will work for your quality book.

Your coach was a newbie six years ago, and kicking and screaming, she bumbled her way to learn how to put up a quality web site that sells books. Mentored by pros and her computer/technical assistant, she learned a natural, organic way to market books. Writing and submitting articles. This article marketing has paid off, and today she still maintains thousands of daily visitors and book sales to match.

7. Think about problems that will come up with this technology.

Complaints from others reign huge. Problems with submitting your document--your system and the POD system aren't compatible. Problems with the rights of the book. Remember, this book will be with thousands of others listed on the site. That's not good odds yours will sell well there. Email service will make you tear your hair out sometimes. Get advice before you go this route from a reliable source before you jump.

8. Study the contract. Make sure you retain the rights. Check the length of the contract. Make sure you can get out of it if you need to. Many authors simply give up after a year from frustration, and let their book die.

9. Think about editing, proofing and what you will get for your money. Most POD companies do not edit. They merely print your book as is. These flaws when printed point to you as an amateur. If you do pay $100 or so to get 25 corrections, remember, you will probably pay a lot more after that because more corrections are needed. It's best to use a professional editor and even a book designer ahead so your book showcases its quality. You'll save money in the long run and raise your confidence you are on the right path.

10. Be sure you can sell this book before you spend time and money with Print on Demand.

Hind site is expensive. Most authors charge into the Light Brigade writing a book they want to write. Too bad, because they needed to make sure a ready audience needed and wanted the book first. When an author writes a book for a preferred audience, the book will be well organized, engage its readers each paragraph of each chapter, and will be well recommended by their 24/7 sales team--the ones who finish the book and love it.

Avoid disappointment and heartache of low book sales. Most authors want someone else to promote the book. They don't know which way to turn to get reliable but reasonable services and books to help them on their journey.

Before you leap, ask yourself,"What will I really do to market this book?" If you won't do anything, then keep your book as an eBook that doesn't cost to share.

Now that you know what to check before you choose Print on Demand, you'll be better armed to make the right choices.

Judy Cullins c.2007

===Web Bio/Signature File

Book and Internet Marketing Coach, Judy Cullins, can help you build credibility and clients, sell a lot of books, and make maximum profits. Author of 13 books including Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast and The Fast and Cheap Way to Explode Targeted Web Traffic Get her free eBook "20 High Octane Book Writing and Marketing Tips" and two free monthly ezines at

Judy Cullins, 20-year Book and Internet Marketing Coach works with small businesses who want to make a difference in people's lives, build their credibility and clients, and make a consistent life-long income. Judy is author of 11 eBooks including Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast, Ten Non-Techie Ways to Market Your Book Online, The Fast and Cheap Way to Explode Your Targeted Web Traffic, and Advanced Article Marketing - Nine Mistakes and How to Solve Them. She offers free help through her 2 monthly ezines, "The BookCoach Says...," "Business Tip of the Month," at and over 226 free articles.
Email her at or
Phone: 619/466-0622 -- Info & Orders: 866/200-9743

Monday, December 04, 2006

Authors Chat Lounge 2 Tonight! - Correction # 2

Okay. I give up. The right url is:

Jeez Louise Sam.

They don't call me an over the hill boomer chick for nothing.

Authors Chat Lounge 2 Tonight! - Correction

Sorry, gang, had the url wrong. If you'd like to come to the chat tonight where I'll be discussing ways to make money online by publishing your own eBooks, click here. So sorry!

Authors Chat Lounge 2 Tonight!

Hi guys, just want to let you know that I'll be a guest at Lea Schizas' online conference chat room at the Authors Chat Lounge 2 tonight at 7 p.m. eastern time. Come on out and find out all about my new eBook, "A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook," and how you, too, can write, publish and promote your own eBook. To get into the chatroom, click here and sign in!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Hi everyone,

On behalf of my writing group and myself, I am pleased to announce the release of our holiday ebook, "Season's Greetings from The Writersville Gang"! This 70-page downloadable ebook is absolutely free with no strings attached. This is our way of showing gratitude to the writing community. To get your free e-copy, visit

Happy holidays to all of you!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Zumaya Romance Imprint & Poll!

Hi readers,

I've just been passed the news that Zumaya Publications is planning to open a romance imprint, but they have so many wonderful names to choose from, they can't decide which one to pick!

That's where you come in!

Here are the details:

This past July Zumaya Publications moved business operations from its long-time home in British Columbia to the warmer climes of Austin, Texas. In the coming year, we plan to implement a number of exciting changes, and we want to invite booklovers to join us and qualify for prizes in three special contests.

In January 2007, Zumaya will establish a new romance imprint. Our authors have come up with ten excellent ideas for a name for the imprint, and we're interested in finding out which of them appeals the most to readers. So, we've set up a poll on Yahoogroups at Name That Imprint. To vote for your favorites (yes, you can vote for more than one) just send an email to name_that_imprint- subscribe@ yahoogroups. com.

If you're already registered with Yahoo Groups, you can just ask to add the group to your roster. Or go to http://groups. group/name_ that_imprint/ and sign up directly.

When the poll ends on 15 December, we will enter the email addresses of the voters into a contest. Three will win a gift card worth $100, $50 or $25 provided by Zumaya authors, as well as some special personal gifts the authors are lining up as we speak; a complete list will be provided in a week or so. Not only that, we're offering five holiday-themed ebooks—three for adults and two for kids—free for the duration of the poll.

So, even if you don't read romance, come to Name That Imprint and let us know which of the names tickles your fancy.


So, help us out, won't you? Lots of prized (MONEY!) and if you click on the files there, you'll have access on two freebie Christmas books! Thanks muchly!

Dorothy Thompson
Editor, The Writer's Life

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hook Us With Your First Page # 3

And it's another installment of HOOK US WITH YOUR FIRST PAGE!

This first page comes from Heidi W. Durrow, and is the first page of her WIP titled "Light-skinned-ed-Girl" (literary fiction).

So, what do you think? Does she hook YOU with her first page?

Please leave comments in the comment box.

Chapter One

“You my lucky piece,” Grandma says when the bus drives up just as we reach the stop.
Grandma has walked me the half block from the hospital lobby to the bus stop quickly. Her hand is wrapped around mine like a leash.

It is winter in Portland and it is raining. Puddle water has splashed up on my new shoes. My girl-in-a-new dress feeling has faded. My new-girl feeling has disappeared.

My hand is in hers until she reaches into a black patent-leather clutch for change.

“Well, aren’t those the prettiest blue eyes on the prettiest little girl,” the bus driver says as we climb aboard. The new-girl feeling comes back and I smile.

“This my grand-baby. Come to live with me.” Grandma can’t lose Texas .

Her body is a bullet. She is thick and short. Her waist is the same go-around number as her chest. She has Grandma boobies; smother-you-into her kind of boobies that make her soft and squishy. Her dark hair is pulled back and is covered by a plastic bonnet. She puts the change in for my fare. “Here you go, ma’am.” The bus driver hands her a transfer slip for each of us.

“Thank you ma’am,” I say. I mind my manners around strangers. Grandma is still a stranger to me.

I know only a few things about Grandma. She’s a gardener; she has soft hands; and she smells like lavender.

For Christmas, Grandma sends Robbie and me a card with a new $10 bill wrapped in aluminum foil. On the back of the envelope where she presses extra hard there’s a small smudge. The card smells like the lavender lotion she uses to keep her hands soft.

I hold her hand again and think of cotton, not knowing what that means, and pillows and clouds. She doesn’t have a single wrinkle on her anywhere. She has dark eggplant brown skin as smooth as a plate all because of the lotion she sends for special from the South. “They got better roots down there—better dirt for making a root strong.”

“Well, aren’t you lucky to have a special Grandma,” the bus driver says. “Pretty and lucky.”
This is the picture I want to remember: Grandma looks something like pride. Like a whistle about to blow.

She wipes the rain off my face. “We almost home.”

When we find our seats, she says something more, but I cannot hear it. She is leaning across me like a seat belt and speaks into my bad ear—it is the only lasting injury I have from the accident. Her hands are on me the whole ride, across my shoulder, on my hand, stroking my hair to smooth it flat again. I am the new girl, partly the new girl but a little off –balance. Grandma seems to be holding me down, as if I might fly away or fall.

The bus ride is seven stops and three lights. Then we are home. Grandma’s home, the new girl’s home in a new dress.

Copyright 2005 Heidi W. Durrow

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hook Us With Your First Page # 2

Here we go with First Page Entry #2!

This first page comes from urban fantasy writer, Jen Nipps, and comes from her WIP titled "Shadows of Stonehenge."

So, what do you think? Does it hook YOU? Let Jen know by commenting in the comment box below.

Chapter One

Shrouded in mystery and mysticism, there is yet another side to the mythical Stonehenge. A shadow side. A side most people know is there but refuse to acknowledge.

This night, a night with no moon, a figure approached the great monolith at the head of the circle of stones. It seemed to walk through the stone but did not emerge on the other side.

"I need to see Trevor,” a voice rasped, seeming to come from under the stone.

A window panel slid open, revealing modern electric lights before being blocked by the person on the other side. “Password?”

The figure swore. “No time! I need to see Trevor.”

The visage on the other side of the panel never wavered.

“Fine. Gaisgeach,” he spat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Virtual Book Tour

Good morning everyone!

Your blogmeister here would like to let you know that I will be touring blogs this month in my first ever virtual book tour for my eBook "A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook."

I will be stopping off at blogs all over the country and talking about promoting your own eBooks (really it's not as hard as you think) in case you wanted to generate some Christmas spending money, or just in case you might want to do this yourself in the near future.

If you would like to follow along with me, you can visit my promoting eBooks blog at eBook Promotion for Self-Published Authors to find out where I'll be going next. My first stop is today at Kathy Holmes' blog, "Women's Fiction With Attitude"! So, follow that link, and if you have any questions about self-publishing or promoting eBooks, or promoting in general, leave a comment in her blog and I'll answer it there for you.

Happy promoting to you and see you there!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hook Us With Your First Page # 1

Are we ready to have some fun now?

It's the first installment of HOOK US WITH YOUR FIRST PAGE!

Our first entry is from Paul R. Miller who writes fantasy and fiction.

Now, it's your turn to let Paul know where he stands with this. Is it gripping? Does it hook you?

Help Paul out by commenting in the comment box.

Chapter One


It was the pizza that did him in.

Oh, he knew that the accident report – because there would be one, God knew why, it was so stupid, but there it was – would probably list “cell phone usage”as a contributing factor, and the cops were sure to give him a lecture about distracted driving on top of whatever tickets they were sure to issue, but Jason knew it wasn’t the phone. The only thing distracting about his driving had been his incredible craving for a pizza. Not just any old pie, either. No, it was to be a bacon cheddar cheeseburger pizza. Lightly browned, hand-tossed crust, big chunks of beef mixed in with bits of bacon and sprinkled with cheddar cheese. The stuff dreams were made of.

Jason didn’t think he was one of those people everyone hated, one of those idiots who just couldn’t seem to grasp the simple concept of multi-tasking. He had never understood what was so difficult about talking on the cell while driving, what made people forget about everything else and veer into other people’s lanes or sit for two minutes at a green light.

And it wasn’t just driving that seemed to screw those people up. No, the phone seemed to complicate even the simplest of activities. He could be sitting in a coffee shop, quietly reading a book, when some moron’s phone would ring. Jason could never figure out why people couldn’t make their phones silent while out in public. It also seemed to take most people three or four rings – disturbingly loud rings – before their stupid hands figured out how to answer the damn things.


Please leave Paul a comment or two to let him know whether he's hooked YOU with his first page!

If you would like to have your first page appear on our blog, click here to find out how!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Just in time for Halloween, The Writersville Gang, is pleased to announce the release of their second free eBook, HAUNTED HAPPENINGS!

If you would like a free copy, visit

Enjoy your free eBook, and please sign the guestbook to let us know what you think about the eBook, or just to say hello!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Interview with Karen Magill, Author of LET US PLAY

I have always lived in a fantasy world and sometimes I manage to put pieces of that world down on paper for others to read. My latest work is the self-published book ‘Let Us Play, A Rock ‘n Roll Love Story’ and it can be purchased at My first book, ‘The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story’, can also be found there. My website is and there is a link to my blog there where you find my unique views on the strange world of publishing and on life.


When did your passion for writing begin?

I come from a family of writers and creative people so I guess it is safe to safe that my passion for writing began at an early age. It was nurtured by the fact that I was a lonely child. I grew up in small towns and was not popular with the other children so my imagination was my escape and my best friend.

Can you tell us what your typical 'writing' day is like?

Typically I wake up in the later morning hours and check my email. I eat my cereal by the computer and take care of whatever business I have to. The day time is for doing errands and the business end. Evening, nighttime and late night is when I get creative. I tend to be undisciplined and some days I can write pages upon pages while others I won’t write at all. It is a bad habit, I know but I have never been able to focus properly.

Do you write full time?

Since I live on disability, I am able to write full time. Right now, I am promoting ‘Let Us Play’ but in a few weeks I hope to be writing a new novel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

In an uncertain time in the future, rock and roll music has been banned. Kaya More uses second sight to lead a group of rebels to bring it back. Their quest leads them from the streets of New York City to the peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the beaches of California. The pursuit heats up as combatants switch sides and the world joins forces as the rebels find adventure, music and love.

Who published your book and how has your experience with them been?

My book was published with Lulu Press Inc. This is the second book I have published with them and I am happy with them. The quality is good and the staff is professional and helpful. I find the prices to be reasonable. Being that Lulu is a POD publisher, I am responsible for everything but I was aware of that to begin with.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind your book?

Although ‘Let Us Play’ focuses on the loss of rock ‘n roll music, it is about losing the right to freedom of choice. Our society lately seems to be dictating the way we are all supposed to be thinking. I look at everyone and so many people seem to be copies of each other. I wonder where the individuality is going and I wonder if George Orwell’s 1984 was perhaps 100 years too soon? I think it is very possible for the powers to be to start taking things away from us. But then again, this is just a book.

Can you tell us ways you are promoting your book? Have they been successful?

I am just starting with promotion but right now. I have been requesting ebook reviews and looking for interviews. I am on myspace – - and I will be approaching everyone I know on there; I have notified everyone on my email list; I have a newsletter through my website where I also have the occasional draw; I intend on approaching Internet radio shows; I will be writing press releases which is my weakness; I have fridge magnets that I distribute and lots of other things. It is too early to know if anything is working, all I can do is hope.

Do you have a mentor?

I don’t really have a mentor but I do have heroes and I guess my biggest is Terry Fox. If you don’t know his story, at the age of 18 Terry got cancer of the bone and had to have his leg amputated. He decided to do something about this horrible disease so at 21 he started the Marathon of Hope. In 1980, he dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland, Canada and started to run back to British Columbia. His goal? He was going to run across Canada and collect a dollar from every Canadian for people with cancer. He was picky too. He would mark where he stopped every night and that’s where he would start the next day. He made it to Thunder Bay, Ontario when the cancer returned. This time it had spread to his lungs. He flew back to British Columbia for treatment but later died. Terry ran 3,339 miles and managed to raise a dollar for every Canadian. To this day people still run in his name and raise money for people dealing with cancer: he inspired a nation. In 2005, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint created a loonie (a dollar coin) with an engraving of Terry running.

What future projects do you have in the works?

I was going to change genres and have been trying to write a thriller but I don’t think I am ready for that. So I am little lost right now and am going to be trying to get my mind around another paranormal romance.

Can you give aspiring authors words of advice towards getting published?

There are so many to be published now. A former NY executive did tell me recently that any form of self-publishing is vanity publishing BUT that isn’t bad because if you can make it sell that you can get the big boys interested. So for aspiring authors, decide how much work you want to put into your project because if you go the self-publishing route, none of the traditional methods of sale are likely to be open to you. So you are going to have to use your imagination and you will have to deal with those who don’t know what they are talking about telling you that you have ruined your career. Because you can always keep waiting for that big contract. Decide what you what you want to do and how you want to do it.

What’s one thing about your life that you think is important, but nobody asks?

What have I learned about life that I figure is really important but no one asks? That being a drama queen is a waste of time and energy. It is much more fun to be eccentric and wild.

Thank you for the interview, Karen, and many sales to you!


If you are an author and would like to be interviewed, click here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hook Us With Your First Page

I've come up with a wild idea for The Writer's Life Blog. As you know, we host book excerpts and interviews for those authors who are published, but what about those writers who would just like a little exposure and/or feedback on works that just haven't found that publisher/agent yet?

Well, now you've got it.

If you would like feedback on a manuscript you are working on, send me the first manuscript page and the following information:

Tentative Title of Manuscript
Your Name
Your Email Address

First Page of Your Manuscript

Send this information in the body of an email (all attachments will be deleted) to thewriterslife(at) and please put "Post My First Page on Your Blog."

When your first page has been posted, it will be seen by almost 500 (and growing)of my subscribers, not to mention those that find the blog through search engines and other kind souls who have linked to us. My subscribers and the general public will be encouraged to give positive feedback on your work so that you can tell if this manuscript is going in the right direction.

Although you would think the first page isn't enough to get the real feel of your story, you'd be surprised at what it can do. It sets the hook. If you don't hook us within the first few paragraphs, why should we read more?

No names, email addresses or any other personal information except for the tentative title and genre of your book will be posted (unless you specify otherwise).

To all those that give feedback, tell us if this piece hooks you by commenting in the comment box. If you see typos, mention it. If the story doesn't pull you in by reading this first page, tell it like it is. Please, only constructive critisism, but be honest. These writers need to know how the general reading public feels about your work.

So, send me your first UNPUBLISHED manuscript page, and let the world judge YOUR next bestselling novel!

Again, the address to send your first page with all the mandatory information mentioned above is thewriterslife(at) First pages will be posted as they come in. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Book Excerpt: FLY ME TO THE MOON by Alyson Noel

Author: Alyson Noel
Author's Website:
Title of Book: FLY ME TO THE MOON
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


A novel by
Alyson Noël

Prepare for Ditching-when an airplane makes an unscheduled landing into the ocean, it is important to don a life vest.

Chapter One

So there I was, awkwardly reaching for the USA Today left outside my hotel room, determined to ignore the fact that my black, opaque, control-top pantyhose were seriously impairing my ability to breath, when I heard the muffled sound of the phone ringing from the other side of the door.

Now, on any other day, I would just grab the newspaper and make a mad dash for the elevator, since a ringing phone at three fifty five AM can only mean one thing: that some overbearing, micro managing, type A, Flight Attendant in Charge is trying to track me even though I still have 32 perfectly good seconds before I actually have to be in the hotel lobby.

But today was different. Not only was I a full five minutes ahead of schedule, not only was it my twenty-eighth birthday, but I also knew that by the end of the day I would be engaged to Michael, my boyfriend-slash-roommate of the last four years.

It all started the day before I left on this trip. I was cleaning the bedroom and singing along to the latest U2 CD, and just as Bono and I shouted Uno, Dos, Tres . . . Catorce! my right hip slammed into Michael’s flight bag, sending it soaring off the dresser and crashing to the ground.

Now I admit, up until that very moment his bag never held much interest. I’d always thought of it as like a briefcase, or a man purse- something completely benign but totally off limits. But as I stared at the wreckage spilled all around me, I instinctively dropped to my knees and examined each artifact as though it were the gateway to a secret world I never knew existed.

Oh sure, there were all the predictable items like well used navigational maps, half eaten protein bars, his company photo I.D., and a big yellow flash light to be used in case of emergency. But there were also a few surprises, like the brand new tube of Rogaine that landed next to the half empty bottle of Levitra that was covering the red plastic card from a video store that obviously didn’t cater to families.

And just as I lifted his bulky, FAA mandated, flight manual I discovered a small, Robin’s egg blue box with a crisp white ribbon tied snugly around it.

My breath grew shallow, my heart beat faster, and my hands were actually trembling as I lifted that tiny box to my ear, shaking it ever so slightly, as I imagined Michael kneeling before me, eyes misty with emotion, asking me to be his wife . . .

And I was almost positive I would say ‘yes.’

So, anticipating an early morning birthday greeting from my almost fiancé, I frantically slid the key card back into the lock, hurtled over the mound of soggy, white towels I’d left piled on the bathroom floor, grabbed the receiver conveniently located next to the toilet, and before I could even get to hello, a disembodied, southern accented, male voice said, “Hailey Lane? This is Bob in scheduling.” And the fourteen words that followed were the one’s that flight attendant’s around the globe live to hear: “The rest of your trip has been canceled. You are scheduled to deadhead home.”


But even though I was expecting something great doesn’t mean I wasn’t skeptical. “Come on Clay, quit fucking around. I’m on my way down,” I said, peering in the mirror and smoothing my out of control auburn curls while checking my teeth for lipstick tracks.

“Ms. Lane, let me remind you that all scheduling calls are recorded,” said the unamused voice on the other end.

“This isn’t Clay?” I whispered, my breath caught in my throat.

“You are scheduled to deadhead on flight 001, nonstop from San Diego to Newark,” he continued, in a crisp, no nonsense tone. “You will arrive at fifteen hundred.”

“Are you serious? You mean I don’t have to fly to Salt Lake, Atlanta, and Cincinnati before I get there?” I asked, still not totally convinced I wasn’t dreaming.

“I still need to contact the rest of your crew,” he said, beginning to sound annoyed.

“Okay, Okay. Just one more question, can I deviate?” I asked, fingers frantically reaching for my flight schedule book, trying to spin this into an even better deal for me. “Lets see, there’s a non stop landing in La Guardia an hour earlier, can you put me on that instead?”

“Your employment date?” he sighed.

“Three, twenty five, ninety-nine,” I told him, listening to the distant sound of his fingers tapping on the keyboard.


“Really? Oh my god, thanks Bob! I mean really, thanks. You have no idea how much this means to me! It’s my birthday you know, and, hello?” I said, staring at the receiver, listening to the steady hum of the dial tone.

Tucking the newspaper under my arm, I dragged my roll-a-board all the way down the hall to Clay’s room, where I knocked twice, paused, and then knocked twice more, which has been our secret code for the last six years, even though it’s kind of lame and all too easy to crack.

Clay and I met the very first day of flight attendant training and I give him full credit for getting me through it, because without him, I would have bolted two minutes into the creepy, overly peppy orientation. But every time I mentioned escape, he’d remind me of all the guaranteed fun and adventure that awaited us once we earned our wings: The long layovers, in chic, foreign cities; unlimited duty free shopping; and the hoards of handsome, successful, single men, all jockeying for a shot at the free, first class, standby travel enjoyed by airline employees and their significant others.

All we had to do in return, was get through six weeks of unmitigated, soul destroying, personality quashing hell that only someone who’s survived a brutal military boot camp can relate to.

The Flight Attendant training regime is something rarely discussed outside the industry. Too many soft-core stewardess movies have dwelled in the public’s consciousness for too long, making it impossible for us to get the respect we deserve. But truth be told, there is nothing sexy about a system of such carefully calculated, institutionalized paranoia, where forgetting to smile can result in an immediate charge of insubordination and a one-way ticket home.

Over a span of six long weeks, two trainer’s, eerily resembling Stepford Wives, taught us the art of surviving days adrift at sea with nothing more than a couple of flares, a bailing bucket, and a lone box of ancient, fruit flavored candy bearing a label never seen in stores. We learned how to deal with an in-flight death (never use the word “death”), how to handle an alleged in-flight sex act (offer a blanket, look the other way), how to secure an unruly, irate passenger to his seat using company logo, plastic ty-wraps, how to deal with head injuries, burns, profuse bleeding, childbirth, vomiting, urination, defecation, and how to clean it all up afterward by donning a one size fits most, plastic bio hazard suit and using club soda for stains, and coffee bags for foul odors.
We fought fires, crawled through dark, smoke filled cabins, and even evacuated a mock airplane by sliding down an authentic, double lane, inflatable slide, resulting in three pairs of torn pants, numerous rub burns, and one broken arm whose owner was simultaneously ‘dismissed’ for having weak bones.

They restyled our hair, re applied our makeup, vetoed our jewelry, fed us propaganda, and actively discouraged questions, jokes, comments, and any other signs of free thinking individuality.

And once our spirits were deemed suitably broken and our formerly vibrant selves sufficiently rehabbed into paranoid, automatons- they pushed us out into the world, onto an airplane, and reminded us to smile.

“Happy Birthday, doll (which came out duaawl in Clay’s lazy, southern accented impersonation of an old lady from Staten Island which isn’t very good, but always makes me laugh). You look great,” he said, opening the door and slipping into his navy blue blazer.

“Four AM and no under eye puffiness,” I said, pointing proudly at my face. “See, being a slam-clicker and not going out with you guys last night paid off.”

“Yeah, but you missed out.” He shook his perfectly tousled, blond highlighted head and closed the door behind him. “We met downstairs in the bar and when the check arrived the First Officer divided the number of chicken wings each of us ate and split the bill accordingly.”

“You’re making that up.” I walked alongside him and laughed.

“True story. He wears this calculator watch that does fractions. My share, including the glass of wine, was eight dollars and eighteen cents.”

“Did that include tip?”

“You think he tips?” Clay looked at me, one eyebrow raised. “I waited until he left, then I paid the tip. So, are we deviating?” he asked, following me into the elevator.

“I am,” I said, pushing the L button and watching the doors close.

“Good, because I told scheduling I was just gonna do whatever you do.”

“That sounds pretty codependent.” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“It’s way too early to make an important decision when I know you can do it for both of us. And, this way we can share a cab to the city.” He smiled.

“Fine, but no detours this time.” I gave him a stern look. Clay was well known for running all of his errands on the way from La Guardia airport to whichever apartment he was staying in that week. “No ATM’s, no Starbuck’s, no wine stores, no video rental drop offs, and no gay bars,” I said, dropping my key card at the front desk. “I have a big night ahead, and now that I’m gonna get home even earlier I want to take a bubble bath, and maybe even get a pedicure.”

“So, is tonight the night?” he asked, handing our bags to the van driver.

“Definitely,” I said, smiling brightly in spite of the nervous ping I just felt in my stomach.

“Are you gonna say yes?” he asked, eyeing me carefully.

“Probably,” I nodded, avoiding his eyes and biting down on my lower lip.

“Probably?” He raised his recently waxed brows at me.

“Well, yeah, I mean. It makes sense right?” I said, suddenly wondering which one of us I was trying to convince “I mean, we live together, he’s good to me, he’s normal. . .” I shrugged, unable to come up with more good reasons, though I was sure they existed- didn’t they?

“Perfect. So, what’s the problem?” he asked, peering at me closely.

“I guess . . . I don’t know. I guess I just thought it would be more exciting.” I shrugged.

“Hailey, he’s a pilot. How much excitement, do you think you’re gonna get?”

“But he’s not like the others!” I insisted. “He lives in Manhattan, not some tax free zone in Florida! He doesn’t starch his jeans, doesn’t wear white tennis shoes with dress pants. And he’s taking me to Babbo tonight for my birthday, where I know he’ll leave a very generous tip, thank you very much.” I climbed into the van.

“Okay, so he’s a metrosexual pilot.” Clay shrugged. “But let me just say, you’d be a lot more sure of your answer if you’d just looked inside that Tiffany’s box.”

Monday, October 02, 2006

I have found the neatest place to not only place your articles, post your press releases, and make blog posts; but also is the home of Blog Your Novel Month (or BlogYoNoMo), for those who are interested in blogging their book in a month.

The website is owned by Dino Manrique, and he has done a terrific job of setting this up (his astounding website hits are proof!).

In doing research for my book "A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook," I was looking for ways to promote eBooks to add to my book, and what a gold mine I found in WriteLit. I was not only able to post an article, a press release AND blog about my book, but the information there is just downright wonderful.

They kicked off BlogYoNoMo yesterday, but if you'd like to get in on it, here are the rules:

1. The event will start on October 1, 12 AM(MN) US New York/Eastern time, that would be October 1, 12 PM(NN) in the Philippines, and will end on October 31, 12 AM(MN) US New York/Eastern, or October 31, 12 PM(NN) in the Philippines. (Check the World Time Server's time converter for your respective local times.)

2. You may blog your novel here at, or on your own blog, be it a free blog or a blog set up on a paid host. You may or may not enable posting of comments. It's all up to you depending on whether you feel comfortable others saying something about your work while you are writing it. For this purpose, I’m creating a new content type here at called blogyonomo-no-comment and blogyonomo-with-comment. You may also choose your default blog, of course, with its default “comments enabled” setting.

3. Before the start of the event, you will announce at the URL or web address of where you are going to blog your BlogYoNoMo novel, e.g. or, etc. If you are going to use the blogyonomo content types, just indicate your account page, e.g.

4. You may write in any language: English, Tagalog, Spanish, Tagalog, Arabic, Chinese, Cebuano, Bikol, etc.

5. At the end of the event, on October 31, you will post the URL or web address of your final blog entry at You have the option of not publishing the last chapter or final two chapters of your novel, so as not to spoil it for your readers when your great novel finally sees print, especially if you are employing a surprise ending.

6. You will display your work for at least a month. After that, you may or may not delete your "blogged novel."

I won't be participating as it's a busy month for me with the release of my promotion eBook, plus the release of my paranormal I co-authored titled "The Search for the Million Dollar Ghost" (hint...check out the ghostie website...if you dare), but it sure does sound like fun.

If you have any articles or press releases you'd like to send out, WriteLit is a really good place to do that. You can check them out at

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Interview with Ivan Mehosky, Author of THE STORY OF A SOLDIER

Ivan Mehosky was born in London, England in 1945; his mom was English, and his dad was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. Following high school, he graduated from Frederick College and married the former Charlotte Reid. He taught physical education and coached at the middle and high school level in Virginia. In 1971, he received his M. Ed in secondary education from the University of Virginia. During this time, his two children Michael and Karen were born. In 1974, he entered civil service with the Department of Army with tours in Germany and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He retired in 2006, having completed almost 32 years of service. He and his wife reside in North East, Maryland. His book can be purchased at


When did your passion for writing begin?

Between 1988-1990, the year we returned from Germany (working with the US Army) and following a solo trip to the D-Day invasion beaches of 1944 in Normandy, France. From that point on, after a 10 year of research and writing, my 1st book, The Story Of A Soldier, was published in 2000-2001.

Can you tell us what your typical writing day is like?

There is no typical day for me; everyday is different, and I go as long as I can until I get hungry.

Do you write full time?

No, but the rewrite of my new book, The Story Of A Soldier, took about one full year of writing and editing while I was working full time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

The Story Of A Soldier (BookSurge LLC, August 2006; is the story of the life and military career of Colonel (Ret.) Edward S. Mehosky, born and raised in Reading, PA, his combat experiences in WW II as paratrooper-officer with the 101st Airborne, later Korea and Vietnam, and the leadership he exhibited in training his men and leading them into combat. Edward Mehosky was tough mentally and physically, as he was innovative-a true leader of men, a man who knew how to train citizen soldiers for combat. His actions as a platoon leader, and then company commander in Normandy, Holland, Bastogne, at the epic Battle of the Bulge, is inspiring and the things that make heroes. He was one of the last officers to make the grade of full colonel in 1967 with only a high school education. He retired in 1971 ater 31 years of active duty in the US Army, Infantry.

Who published your book and how has your experience with them been?

My 1st book was published by Rutledge Books, Inc, in 2001. My second book, the new Story Of A Soldier, was published by BookSurge, LLC, in August 2006. Overall, it has been a good experience and a good teacher.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind your book?

Following a tour of the Normandy beaches of WW II and the area where the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne landed, I returned to the states with my family, and began, through contact with veterans of my dad's old unit, to embark on reserching and writing a unit history. But the more I talked to my dad, the more I learned about his experiences in WW II and beyond, the more I realized that here was the story of a soldier that just had to be written! The process, start to finish, including prostate cancer operation in 1996, chemo and radiation in 1999, took 10 years.

Can you tell us ways you are promoting your book? Have they been successful?

My new book will be promoted on,,,, available at various sites and bookstores, and through book signings. I hope these efforts will be successful. I never wrote thinking I would be a 'bestseller,' but to honor my father and tell his fascinating story. But I would like to see the book do pretty well, too.

Do you have a mentor?

Several I can think of: my wife, Charlotte; Hank DiCarlo, a member of my dad's WW II platoon; Emmet Rodifer, my closest friend; my editor, Sherrill Fink; my children, Michael and Karen, and, of course, my dad and mom.

What future projects do you have in the works?

I currently have a screenplay I wrote about Bastogne that I want to turn into a book. I would perhaps like to write about William the Conqueror, and also do some Christian writing.

Can you give aspiring authors words of advice towards getting published?

Stick to your dream and passion. Don't give up. Keep chipping away and search out the best way for you to publish your work that you want people to know about.

What’s one thing about your life that you think is important, but nobody asks?

How I got through it all with no writing background, and how my faith is such an integral part of the process.

Thank you for the interview, Ivan, and many sales to you!


If you are an author and would like to be interviewed, click here.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Author: Marilyn Celeste Morris
Title of Book: Diagnosis: Lupus: The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient
Publisher: Publish America



Entries from my journal detail my personal struggle for diagnosis and treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus) from the first symptoms in 1982, diagnosis in 1988, to my current, thank God, state of remission. Please note that I have changed the names of my doctors, hospitals, and other data to protect their identities. .

My purpose is to inform, in non-clinical language, newly-diagnosed, yet-to-be diagnosed patients and their families; give them courage to continue seeking a diagnosis in the face of frustration and feelings of despair; and offer hope, even when conditions seem hopeless.

By relating my innermost thoughts and feelings, I hope readers will come to realize they are not alone in their frustration, depression, job losses and subsequent loss of income, battles with an Alphabet Soup of public assistance services, Social Security Disability; food stamps and weight gain. Nobody wants the inevitable weight gain and subsequent loss of self-esteem that comes with the taking of steroids, but “you pays your money and you takes your choice.” Personally, I’d rather be 20 pounds over my ideal weight, walking around, than skinny in my coffin.

Questions such as “How did I get this disease? Will my children also get it? Why doesn’t my doctor tell me anything except “You’ve got lupus; take this medicine and come back in three months” will be addressed, along with many others.

Although many journal entries detail my struggles with clinical depression, job losses, loss of income and other dire consequences of this disease, my intent is not to linger there, but to press on toward remission, recovery and acceptance.

As many new members of our local Lupus Support Groups sign in relief upon finding us, “I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way,” so will readers discover they are truly not alone in their thinking and their feelings.

While I compiled these entries from the perspective of a “recovered” lupus patient, I am also aware that lupus may rear its ugly head at any moment, bringing me back to the rounds of physicians, medications, and even hospitalization. This is the life persons with chronic diseases must lead, and their choices are either to feel sorry for themselves and burrow into a sinkhole of despair, or live life as it comes, one day at a time, the best way possible.

I have known persons who have lost the battle and I certainly want to live a long and healthy life.

I also know that tomorrow, my life may be ended in a freak accident.

My choice is, “I’m not going to stop living just so I can live.”


May 2002

“Are you sure you have lupus?” My newest doctor asked as he entered the exam room, my lab tests from the week before in his hands.

“Yes. I was diagnosed in Oct. 1988,” I replied. “Why? What do the tests show?”

“Well, they show no sign of lupus. No ANA, sed rate is normal, no RA factor…”

“Great!” I burbled. “Suppose I’m in remission?”

“Or maybe you never really had lupus,” he shrugged.

For one crazy, hopeful moment, I actually thought: “Maybe he’s right. Maybe I didn’t really have lupus, after all.”

Then my thoughts flooded to the three years of constant joint pain, lab tests, five doctors telling me it was either “all in my head” or “Just rheumatoid arthritis” all the while being told not enough symptoms were showing in the blood work.

Never really had lupus? I wanted to shout: Then what was all the lung infection, the hair loss, the treatments with Cytoxan, Imuran, prednisone; the difficulty walking when vasculitis caused foot drop in both feet and I fell down a lot? Frustration mounted on frustration as the disease progressed.

Never really had lupus? Then what was with my red, swollen joints, causing one rheumatologist to rhapsodize, “What beautiful swollen knees!” When I couldn’t wear rings, watches or bracelets because of the intense pain and swelling? When even my collarbones hurt?

Never really had lupus? Then what was all the bouncing from job to job, being fired or quitting due to sheer physical exhaustion, or finding it impossible to concentrate on the task at hand?

Never really had lupus? Then why did I break out in a fiery rash after being in the sun? What was the point in hauling my body out of bed at 5:30 a.m., climbing painfully into a tub or hot water, eating breakfast so I could swallow my handful of meds (that didn’t seem to be doing much good) so I could get dressed and have my butt in a chair at my office-du-jour by 8:00 a.m.?

Never really had lupus? Then what was all the memory loss about? What words escaped me at just the right time to embarrass me so that I could only shrug and murmur, “lupus lapse” much as Richard Fish on Ally McBeal shrugged, “Bygones.”

Rather than lash out at this newest, most optimistic young doctor, I merely smiled and shrugged, “Yes, I really did have lupus.”

I wish I could tell you that my disease came on suddenly, that I went to the doctor, was diagnosed and treated immediately, and everybody lived happily ever after.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Nor does it happen with the majority of lupus patients; at least with those I’ve known. After three years full of pain, doubt, fear, and anger, and after changing doctors, both primary care physicians and rheumatologists, five times, I was at last diagnosed with SLE.

And my treatment took a very long time, and brought with it, not the expected relief of pain, doubt, fear and anger, but Four (Other) Horsemen of This Disease: Weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vasculitis. I must also add clinical depression, job loss, loss of income, foreclosure, lining up for food stamps, medicines and other Public Assistance services. I was truly humbled when I picked up my handicapped parking tag, food stamps and vouchers. I was infuriated by low-level clerks who used their positions of power to assert their superiority over me, verbally slapping my wrists, and at one point, one even shaking her finger at me, yet I had to submit in order to get whatever assistance they could offer.

I had a meltdown in my parish priest’s office, confessing that I needed financial help; I had a true gasping-for-air, snot-slinging hissy fit in the college library when I was told I might not be able to complete my schooling. And all this time, I tried to reassure my family and friends that I would not, could not, leave this crappy world via my own hand, even though I admitted, however, I would just like to lie down and die.

That’s what this disease did to me.

This is what this disease did for me.

I learned there is a God, and I’m not Him/Her.

I learned that God loves me as much as he loves you.

I learned I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be, and that’s okay.

I learned that this disease is not a punishment for “sins.”

I learned how to ask for help.

I learned how to be grateful for and accept that help.

I learned that things are merely objects, that money is simply a means to an end, and not the be-all and end-all of life.

I learned the difference between needs and wants.

I learned to surrender, to “Let go and let God.”
learned that expectations are only pre-meditated resentments.

I learned not to discount the message because of the messenger.

If all of the above sounds vaguely familiar to those of you who are members of a 12-Step Recovery group, you are correct. I make no secret of the fact that I am a grateful member of the Al-Anon Family Group, and lest anyone fear I am breaking my anonymity, my last name is not the same as my children’s or my ex-husband’s, since I wisely had my maiden name restored upon my divorce.

When I mention friends’ names, some are members of the fellowship, some are not. I have, however, changed the names of the doctors and institutions, simply because I believe it serves no purpose to impugn their reputations. I also know today that they did the best they could with the information available at the time. They’re not perfect, and they certainly aren’t gods.

When I write of my parents’ shortcomings, I am not “parent-bashing” or playing “Let’s blame Mom and Dad.” My parents weren’t perfect, any more than my doctors were perfect; they also did the best they could during my childhood and in trying to cope with their feelings about my illness.

I give thanks daily that I was already a member of the Al-Anon Family Group and the Episcopal Church before the onset of symptoms of SLE. While working with my sponsor, while studying to be a Stephen Minister, and while literally crying on my dear friends’ shoulders, I was sustained by their love and caring support. By holding me in their arms, keeping me in their prayers, and yes, by giving me swift kicks to the posterior, these people kept me alive. To this day, I don’t know how they managed to listen to my constant crying, complaints, and self-doubts, much less stand stoically as they heard me rage at God, myself and the entire universe for whatever was going wrong in my life.

Because of them, I am alive. Today.

And I know today that is all we have – This day. This moment.

I hope my experiences inform you, strengthen you, and give you hope.

First, Some Facts…

Some symptoms of lupus:

Do you have/ever had/been told you have:

Achy, painful and/or swollen joints for more than three months;

Fingers and/or toes becoming pale, numb or uncomfortable in the cold;

Sores in the mouth for more than two weeks;

Been told you have a low blood count, anemia, low white cell count or a low platelet count;

Ever had a prominent redness or color change in the shape of a butterfly across the bridge of your nose and cheeks;

An unexplained fever over 100 degrees for more than a few days;

A sensitivity to the sun where the skin breaks out after being in the sun (not a sunburn);

Had chest pain with breathing for more than a few days (pleurisy);

Been told you had protein in your urine;

Experienced persistent, extreme fatigue and weakness for days or weeks at a time even after 6-8 hours of restful nighttime sleep.

If you have 3 or more symptoms, you should see your doctor.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus is more common than Leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis and Multiple Sclerosis. And yet, the average person rarely knows about lupus and is generally misinformed, vaguely believing it to be “kind of like arthritis, isn’t it?” While my symptoms first presented themselves as “kind of like arthritis,” and I was thus diagnosed and treated for two years for RA, other symptoms soon presented themselves, until, after three emotionally charged and pain-filled years from the onset of symptoms, laboratory tests confirmed the presence of SLE, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

There are two distinct types of lupus. One is discoid lupus, where the skin shows large “splotches” or red rashes in clusters, mostly on the face, across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, creating a “wolf-like” mask. One can have discoid lupus and systemic lupus at the same time; generally, those who suffer with the discoid form of lupus do not develop the systemic form.

The second is systemic lupus; that is, it is throughout the body. It has been classified as “an autoimmune disease.”

Lupus has nothing to do with AIDS, I must point out. I like the ‘short’, understandable description of what lupus is: Think of the body as a fort, like in the Wild West Days. Every now and then, Indians would attack the fort, and the soldiers inside the fort (white blood cells) would repel the Indians (the infection). Then the fort (body) would settle down and go back to its usual routine, until the next Indian attack

Only with lupus, there are no Indians. The soldiers inside the fort are ever ready for an attack, but the Indians don’t arrive, so the soldiers (stressed) turn on each other, fighting among themselves, eventually destroying the fort itself: lungs, kidneys, central nervous system, etc.
As of this printing, there is no cure, but it is treatable.

Words to the Newly Diagnosed, Undiagnosed and Their Families….

Actually, one word. Hope. There is hope. Despite the pain, the despair, the uncertainty, and the fatigue – there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While listening to new members of our local lupus support group, I hear their fear.

“I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way.”

“Did your doctor tell you it was all in your head?”

“Did your doctor tell you it was ‘just’ rheumatoid arthritis?”

“My family does not understand what I’m going through. After all, I don’t look sick.”

“How can you work when you have lupus?”

“How can I get social security disability? They keep denying my claim.”

“My company fired me after I took disability. Is this legal?”

“How can I find work when I’m so sick?”

“How do you manage the pain?”

“What does cortisone do to your body?”

“Why isn’t the medication my doctor prescribed for me doing me any good? I still hurt.”

“Why doesn’t my doctor tell me more about lupus? All he said was, ‘You have lupus. Take this medicine and come back in three months.’”

“My doctor won’t talk to me when I call his office. His office staff tells me he’s busy, or he can’t talk to me, and they won’t answer my questions. What should I do?”

“How do I answer people’s questions when I tell them I have lupus?”

And, the topper: “People tell me ‘You don’t look sick. You look too healthy to be sick.’”

And their unspoken questions, as much as those uttered: Will I die from this? How long will I be sick? Will I get worse? What about kidney involvement? Seizures? Why did I get this disease? Will my children also get it?

Difficult questions, indeed.

I disagree with the perception that you must have not lived a good, clean life, or you wouldn’t have developed cancer, diabetes, --- or SLE. If anything, my life had been “squeaky-clean” up to age 20,when I married for the first time.

I do believe, however, with the perception that stress plays a major role in illness’ development, and, Lord knows, I had enough stress in my life.

And so does everyone

Stress, good or bad (marriage, children being born, promotions, are all stressors) has an effect on one’s mind and body. By the time I reached age 44, I had had several major stressors, and I reacted the way I always had – chin up, swallowed my hurt and anger, and got on with it.
Most of us Lupans have had a great deal of stress in our lives. We are, after all, over-achievers. We take on more than the ordinary person. We are perfectionists. We work too hard, don’t know how to play, and don’t rest when we should. And that’s before we get lupus. So it’s extremely difficult to “take it easy” when diagnosed with this disease.
So with my stress, I didn’t take the time to grieve over my divorces, to rage aloud at the injustices in my life.

I simmered. And my body, seeking an outlet for such stress build-up, rebelled. Like volcanoes, fires erupted in my joints, cartilage and ligaments. My emotional pain had been crying out for attention.

It was physical pain that got my attention.

What my personal journey through this darkness has taught me is this: The disease is worst at the beginning – before diagnosis and treatment.

As in my case, I was diagnosed in October, 1988 and hospitalized with a raging case of pleuritis in March 1989. This was preceded, of course, by at least three years of constant searching for a diagnosis, going from doctor to doctor, bouncing from job to job as my energy level waned and deteriorated, and dealing with an alphabet soup of medical institutions, insurance companies, mental health and rehabilitation facilities. And then, despite the aggressive treatment, my body succumbed at last

But back to the beginning statement…It’s worse in the beginning.

Once the lab tests come back with a positive for SLE, and treatment is begun, you can get better. I promise. You might also get worse before you get better. I promise that, too. But you will get to the point where the pain abates, anxiety lessens, mobility is restored and confidence in living a full life returns.

It will take time, medications, and dedication on your part to adhere to the treatment plan your physician has outlined for you, (keeping in mind “You must become your own best physician”) and determination to defeat the beast that has taken up residence in your body.
A support system is essential. Family, friends, church – learn to lean on them for a change. I know, I know, we have always been the ones to comfort, rather than be comforted. To give, rather than receive, care, compassion and chicken soup to those in need.

This is your turn.

Embarrassed? It’s nothing you did or didn’t do. You don’t blame your son’s Sunday school teacher for having cancer, do you? It happens. Through no fault of his/hers.

Still, I questioned: “Why me?” “Why now?”

Because, that’s why, my mother/myself said.

I did cry a lot when the lupus was at its worst. I wanted the pain to end; although I didn’t want to commit suicide, there were times when I sincerely wanted to just lie down and die.

While looking back on my journals for use in writing this book, I was struck by what seemed at first as an inordinate amount of “whining.” But, by golly, I needed to whine. Indeed, I not only “whined,” I complained. I ranted. Frustrated beyond belief, I lashed out at those around me.

And I railed against God Himself.

Yet somehow, I was sustained through this challenging time in my life. I attained an unexpected spiritual growth in the face of this adversity. Years ago, I would have gagged on the “goody two shoes” phrases, believing there was noting “spiritual” about having any illness. God was against me, if he existed at all, and certainly, I didn’t feel “noble” about suffering with this dammed disease.

I took heart from one of the many books I read where one of the chapters was titled, “Dying Is the Easy Part.” I knew it would be easier to die than to stand up and fight this disease. I’ve never been known to take the easy way out, however. So I allowed myself to cry.

My doctor said, “You’ve got a right to sing the. blues,” and sing them I did.

I had the determination to beat this disease, but I needed help – beyond that of modern medicine.

“Life is Difficult” M. Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled.

Nobody had ever told me that before. Any little annoyance, inconvenience, or major lifestyle change caused me to rebel. “It’s not fair. Life isn’t supposed to be like this. Bad things happen to other people, but not to me. I’ve been good.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote pretty much the same thing in his landmark book: When Bad Things Happen to Good People and the truth finally dawned on me: Life happens.

Laughter is essential. Norman Cousins, in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, tells how he rented a hotel room, a projector and old Marx Brothers movies, and laughed his way out of the pain. A good 30 minutes of laughter enabled him to sleep where he could not before.

I began keeping a journal. After all, I had whined to my family and friends enough. I needed to vent. I needed to feel sorry for myself even while I presented a brave front to the world. This journal led me to a special kind of healing. I began a spiritual and physical journey, realizing one cannot be undertaken without the other.

I would someday use these entries for my story about lupus, I thought. But when every other journal entry contained references to laments of financial worries, fear and insecurities. I wondered, “Who would want to wade through all these recitations of woe? Reading about chronic illness is not a favorite choice, anyway; if a person has lupus, isn’t it enough to just read the facts and go on?”

No, it isn’t, in my humble opinion. I could read all the statistics in the world and still not feel like anyone understands how I feel – what’s actually going on inside me, emotionally, as well as dry numbers on a sed rate scale. More than anything else, I believe, I wanted people to know that the pain I was experiencing encompassed more than every joint/connective tissue/vital organ of my body. That pain influenced every area of my life…physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I wanted people to know that I was, indeed, legitimately suffering from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, even though I “looked wonderful.”

Lupus patients truly don’t “look sick.” Unlike cancer, lupus does not leave its victims looking pale, gaunt, and emaciated. We appear in radiant good health, while lupus may be silently destroying our kidneys. We look – ahem – overfed, overweight – pumped up on steroids, our faces get rounder and rounder; our trunks also bloom while the limbs remain the same. An odd appearance, to say the least, and one that is not welcomed by its hosts, prompting remarks such as “How can you be so sick when you look so – uh – (Say it—dammit! fat!) healthy.”

We generally have no visible disabilities, either, like Parkinson’s patients. There are usually no tremors, no speech difficulties, and no problems with ambulating. Certain forms of lupus, of course, can lead to seizures, psychoses, and other neurological defects, but generally, we appear healthy.

Treatment for lupus is non-dramatic, as a cancer’s chemotherapy. Yes, we take pills. Lots of pills. Generally, we are not forced into being “hooked up to tubes” intravenously. But the meds also give us hair loss, violent rashes and scars on our fragile skin, and our eyes must be protected from the sunlight.

Many of us work, at least part-time, as our illness allows. Sometimes we go into remission, for days, weeks, months, years, and we rejoice in those times. But when lupus bites into us, wearing us down with fatigue, pain, arthritic-like hands, swollen knees, mal-functioning kidneys, and neurological misfires, we are truly, once again, very sick.

Even if we still look in the best of health.

Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield.


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Book Excerpt: RED STATE OF MIND by Nancy French

Name of Author: Nancy French
Publisher: Time Warner Books
Release Date: October 9, 2006

Red State of Mind

Chapter One

Once, in a fit of ambition, I teased my hair, put on blue satin and pink eye shadow, and entered the Catfish Queen beauty pageant- unaware that my lack of poise, fish knowledge, and cleavage would present serious obstacles in my quest for the coveted crown. Every third week in April, seventy thousand people converge on my hometown of Paris, Tennessee, for the World's Biggest Fish Fry. It was probably best I lost the contest, since the Catfish Queen had many responsibilities I couldn't have mastered- including serving fish in the Fish Tent (where five tons are consumed in one week) and maintaining perfect posture while perched atop a slow moving convertible during the climactic parade down Eastwood Street.

The biggest draw of the parade was the celebrity grand marshal, for example, Porter Wagoner or Patsy Cline's third-grade teacher. And schools were dismissed so we could walk up and down the road and shoot silly string at the floats. The Fish Fry Festival gave us a sense of being a part of something bigger than our typical small-town life, but when it was over, farmers went back to their tobacco, kids went back to school, and committees started work on next year's floats.

Yet even after the tourists left, you never felt lonely in Paris. Just a casual drive through the town was a community experience, requiring the following unspoken rules of etiquette not taught in driver's ed. Obviously, the cardinal rule was to wave at passing vehicles (not a formal Queen Elizabeth but just a relaxed steering wheel salute) whether or not you knew the other driver. Most of the time, you did.

Just as important was the rule for funeral processions. As in most places, police cars escorted a meandering line of cars to the cemetery after a funeral. In Paris, however, the driver of any car that came upon the procession pulled off the road, put on his hazard lights, and bowed his
head slightly as it passed. The ultimate measure of a life well lived was how many miles of traffic you could shut down on your way to the Pearly Gates.

Of course, if you passed a police officer hiding in a speed trap, you dutifully flashed your headlights on and off to alert oncoming traffic-the vehicular equivalent of the Golden Rule.

And lastly, a four-way stop in Tennessee was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate one's Christianity. The driver who arrived first at the intersection, though entitled by law to go first, often motioned "after you" to the other driver. This made fourway stops long, ambiguous pageants of humility and thankful waves (as opposed to the four-way collisions that any
such traffic configuration causes in New York).

In other words, people in Paris watched out for each other well before anyone articulated the notion of it taking a village. It was also before we knew airliners could be used as missiles and before anyone had heard of Columbine.

Perhaps in retrospect, it was a little odd that my junior high actually encouraged firearm use by replacing seventh grade science class with a mandatory hunter's safety course. I vividly remember our football coach standing in front of the class with an array of rifles and shotguns,
showing us how to take lethal shots from the deer stand and how to gut deer properly. We even had field trips to a shooting range where I earned the distinction of being the best marksman in my junior high school. Three skeet. No misses. And I'd never shot a gun before.

This was much more practical than dissecting a frog, since we students had arsenals in our homes that made Saddam look like a beatnik (and we could dissect frogs in our own backyards). It never dawned on me that I was a redneck. Even when my friends and I entertained ourselves by going cow tipping- which involves stealthily sneaking up on sleeping cows and slamming
into them until they tip over-I just figured we were participating in a classic American pastime. (Yes, cows sleep standing up and have a terrible sense of balance. Cow tipping is illegal since, sadly, some cows can't recover from the sudden shock.)

Luckily I had plenty of opportunity to ask God to forgive me. In Paris, churches were packed on Sunday mornings, and smoky bars were packed on Saturday nights-sometimes by the same folk. On weekday mornings, the retired men sat for hours in local diners smoking Marlboros and analyzing Tennessee football. Younger men were judged by the size of their trucks and their
skill at fixing them. Women, on the other hand, were kept busy by hairdos that defied gravity and required architectural skills surpassing those of the builders of the Eiffel Tower-a sixty-foot replica of which was the pride of our county.

Even though it sat beside a dilapidated park near the soccer fields, I thought our little tower was beautiful. After all, my daddy had grown up in a two-room Appalachian house with seven brothers and sisters, brushed his teeth with a branch from a tree, and learned the alphabet in his twenties. So living in Paris felt like a truly cosmopolitan experience.

Then one day the phone rang.

I could tell from my dad's oh-so-casual tone that it was the recruiter for a small Christian college in Nashville. Again. My parents had saved all my life for me to go to this school, which had mandatory curfews and daily chapel, and they arranged for a recruiter to call me every twenty-seven minutes during my senior year in high school. With each phone call, my enthusiasm for the school waned a bit more. One day, instead of passively listening to their I'm-your-best-friend sales pitch, I decided to fight back. I made something up.

"Listen, I want to be a lawyer," I said. "And no decent law school has ever heard of your college."

The recruiter paused for dramatic effect. "My friend David just graduated from here last year and is in his first year at Harvard. Is that decent enough for you?"

Before I hung up the phone, I had agreed to talk to this David about his undergraduate experience at Lipscomb University, which terrified me since I had no real intention of going to law school, nor was I even sure how to spell Harvard. For a week, I read up on the place. And when the phone rang, I was armed with more trivia about the Ivy League than Ken Jennings
knowsabout Norwegian fjords.

"Hello, Nancy. This is David. You're interested in law school?"

When I heard his voice, I knew this conversation was going to change more than my choice of college. He was charming, he was funny, and his idea of a good date didn't involve a cow pasture and two bottles of Michelob. Suddenly, this small-town girl longed for some place else.

For three years, that disembodied voice on the telephone grew to symbolize that place. One day, walking down a sidewalk in Nashville, I met David face-to-face. He'd moved there after law school and was leaving a client's office when we were formally introduced. Six weeks later we were engaged. Three months later, we were living in Manhattan.

That definitely qualified as some place else, and I was in for the surprise of my life: evidently not all Americans enjoy Sunday lunch at MawMaw's. This book is the story of the exploration, frustration, and adaptation of a girl taken from Paris, Tennessee, and planted in the middle of the liberal Northeast. It's not an academic tome nor an exhaustive investigation into
the culture war. Instead, it is just one red American's story about what it's like to live in the blue states, when all she'd ever known was biscuits and church three times a week. Shockingly, I wasn't quite as sophisticated as I'd thought, even though I'd grown up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

So years later when I moved back to the South, did I happily readjust to the slower pace of life and the old-fashioned hospitality?

No. Suddenly, I was irritated at the Wal-Mart cashier talk- ing to a customer about her aunt's arthritis for twenty minutes before ringing me up. Not to mention the serious scarcity of good Vietnamese restaurants.

What had happened to me?

I'd developed a deep appreciation for and frustration with both areas, which was as awkward as being friends with a couple after a divorce. Especially since society constantly categorizes people into different camps (Bush or Kerry, Coke or Pepsi, Bo or Carrie), it's easy to forget both sides
have traits we can all enjoy-or at least quirks we can all ridicule. Consider this book a celebration of these cultural idiosyncrasies and enjoy the journey into the dysfunctional family known as America.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Book Excerpt: GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT by Cate Cavanagh

Name of Author: Cate Cavanagh
Name of Book: Gifts of the Spirit
Publisher's Website: Gifts Of The Spirit gleefully released (finally!) from my contract with PublishAmerica. To celebrate, I am now giving this book away free! Email me at

Chapter One

I have always said that I could do anything if life did not get in the way. Life. That can be a tough one. Such as being a young widow with a child and no income. That was me at age 32.

My five-year-old daughter and I came home one day and found her father, age 34, dead from a brain aneurysm. For seven years prior we had struggled in poverty as he had been debilitatingly ill and despite hopes and prayers that he would regain some ability to be gainfully employed, he died. The strange thing was he knew was dying and so did I. Our spirits knew his path was quickly coming to and end. That was a long time ago and in retrospect the important thing is that we knew but did not want to listen. No one had suspected an aneurysm. The ailments he suffered from were not terminal just debilitating. After all the rage and sorrow and rebuilding, my spiritual path has taught me that I am affected by the suffering paths of others around me and of those I love just as much as I am affected by my own path. In fact, how I respond to the actions and events of others is pivotal to my spiritual growth.

And it is not personal.

But what do you do with the rage that must engulf us from time to time when life throws some hard realities our way? Rage is destructive and has destroyed families, friendships and lives. Rage can also destroy us. While rage is destroying us we have no control over our circumstances or ourselves. Rage is also powerful from a spirit point of view. Just stop a moment and think of the intensity of rage. Your pulse races and heart races. Perhaps you head begins to pound and you begin to breathe heavily. Your body tenses and, if you have ever walked in on people in the middle of an argument or fight, haven't you noticed how the air just 'feels'?

Now think about when you meet someone new. Someone who makes you feel good when you think about him or her. You sigh more and breathe more deeply. You walk around daydreaming (even a little). You smile. All is well with the world. No one has ever said "You could cut the air with a knife" around someone like this. That is because caring is not harsh; it is soft.

The difference in energy generated is obvious. No good has ever come out of rage. When we cannot release our rage in a healthy manner, that is stress. Stress has been related to medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Rage can affect the metabolism causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels and digestive problems.

When people think of Buddhism, many think of it as a passive religion. You sit, eat nuts, walk the countryside and do not concern yourself with the troubles of the world. It seems like a blasé and easy way to go about one's life. But Buddhism is one of the hardest belief systems to follow because its goal is to master the self. To try to understand this, let us look at the challenges of Buddhism. Buddhism accepts four principles called the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS which state suffering simply is, suffering is the result of attachment to desires or wants or needs, suffering stops when our attachments to what we want stop and freedom from suffering can be found within the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is a list of traits that, if acquired, will alleviate our sorrow, pain and suffering. These traits are: Right View (or perspective), Right Thought (correcting what we perceive as true into truth), Right Speech (mindful talking or clear communication), Right Action (doing what is right and just when called upon), Right Livelihood (making a living that does not involve the suffering of people or animals or is dishonest), Right Effort (not hesitating to work as hard as you have to), Right Mindfulness (being aware of what really matters) and Right Contemplation (gratitude, joy, desire to do right rather than wrong).

Now, we all want to run out and work on these don't we? As you can see, these are not easy characteristics to acquire.

We do not, however, have to remove ourselves from the world in order to benefit from this blueprint. But, we would benefit from the self-discipline we can learn if we were to apply these principles to our everyday life. I think we would all be better people. After all, to be human is to evolve!

If you look at these traits you can see how they do not leave much room for rage. Since they require so much work, there would be no time for rage. Within the practice of these disciplines, we can learn to live better, wholesome and more compassionate lives.

Meditation to a Buddhist is to annihilate the self for it is this self that is the root of our anguish. Once this is accomplished we can then connect with the greater, uniting force of which we are a part and be filled, like a cup, with this force. This greater force nurtures and refreshes and keeps one mindful of the joy and freedom found in detachment. To meditate in this manner, at the very least, is a refreshing respite from daily woes, stress and yes, rage.

To Buddha, anger and rage make us everything an enemy could want: an enemy would want us to be ugly (have you ever really seen a raging person look attractive?), sleepless (I cannot sleep if I am angry), stupid (ever said a dumb thing in anger?) and ineffective (haven't you ever made a wrong decision just because you were angry?).

Mastering these precepts can help us focus as we explore the shifting in perception so essential to spiritual development. I have found obtaining different values is a key factor in obtaining or regaining our spirit power as is developing appreciation for the things we have and creating our own peace within ourselves. The discipline of Buddhism can be used in any other school of spirituality.

Integral to Buddhism is the observation of animals and nature as found in the literature and poems. So integral were these observations, schools of self-defense have been fashioned after the behaviors of animals in Asia as martial arts. It is interesting to note that Yoga utilizes exercises fashioned after the movements of animals as well.

As we explore other areas I consider mystical, we will see how important animals and nature are to earth based practitioners. But one thing is certain. Utilizing the working values Buddhism offers can enable us to, if nothing else regroup our thoughts, priorities and purposes when the need arises regardless or whether or not we practice any "craft".

Since we will be looking at various ways in which we can begin to THINK DIFFERENTLY and the rationale behind it, mental discipline such as that acquired in Buddhism is a powerful tool. I find the Buddhist outline of how to live one's life beautifully simple and logical.


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