Sunday, May 29, 2011

You’re Gonna’ Love This! Sound Familiar?

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

Ah, the joys of the medical community.  You know?  When I was little we had one doctor in our small town.  He reminded me of a teddy bear.  The guy was absolutely huge but constantly spoke about eating healthy.  You know the old adage?  Do as I say, not as I do.  However, this man knew everything.  He apparently went to medical school before it became all about botox and nose jobs.  When you were ill the man could cure you in one visit with treatments that cost no more that $15.00 for the penicillin that kills all.

Another set of doctors that stand out in memory?  Those amazing men (cute, too.) who were my baby doctors.  They not only liked the baby, they liked the mom, and they did everything within their power to make sure that your pregnancy and labor was absolutely perfect or, as perfect as labor can be when trying to eject an elephant out of something the size of a Dixie cup.  (Isn’t it a wonder that they always ‘coo’ over how cute and LITTLE the baby is?)

Mine didn’t want to come out.  In fact, she took one look at the room and went right back in - more than a few times.  They told me that her foot was stuck on my rib.  Ah, my daughter, an acrobat even then.  Talented to the extreme.  I’ve always been waiting for her to move to Vegas and join Circus, Circus.  Of course, I was stuck with a different doctor that day and for ten hours he spoke to me in some foreign language and told me I was over-exaggerating the pain.  (Lucky for him I was in pain or he wouldn’t have gotten out of that room with a face).  THEN late in the afternoon, my real Prince Charming came back in, took one look at me, rolled me down to the brightly-lit room and, BOOM - my beloved child was here, and the Demerol was flowing.  I will always hold them in the highest esteem for that child…not to mention that Demerol

As you know, this Yankee moved from the East to the South and things…changed.  I have recently been up against a slew of doctor’s that were, what you would call…challenged.  I have no idea where they went to medical school, but I’m assuming they had to learn the language of goat-herders in order to receive their diplomas. 

Don’t believe me?  The first, said that I had an anxiety disorder from my job ($1,000).  Then, weeks later, he said my brain wasn’t firing as well on the left as it was on the right ($500).  Of course it wasn’t firing right, the left side was still in shock from the amount of money I had to pay for this high-tech advice.  The third visit he said, “Well…there are just some things that can’t be explained.”  I could’ve gotten that advice from a Reverend at no cost.

On to my mother.  The doctor first said that she had osteoporosis but no arthritis, thankfully, and all she needed was a referral to a bone doctor.  ($200).  Next visit, she said that, “Of course there was arthritis in Mom’s hip!  I mean, WHY ELSE would she be having such a hard time!”  And, I have to refer you to that bone specialist we talked about ($150).  Have we received the referral?  Nope.  We did, however, receive a plastic box and a card that explained how to screen for ‘fecal occult blood.’  What a name, right?  I was wondering if this meant that if you “laid waste” in the plastic container and it tested positive, you were Satan’s follower - hence the occult term.  By the way, does this have anything to do with arthritis or bones?  Nope.  Just a precaution.  For what…I have no idea. ($100) 

The directions?  Yes, I have to share.  “Apply samples from bowel movements collected over three different days BUT if blood is visible don’t do it.”  Well…first; if blood is visible - too late, you’ve already done it.  Second; if blood is visible than why need the test?  Just get your butt to an emergency room!  ($60)

Now, the child.  Sore throat.  Totally normal.  But when you have a child that should’ve been a soap opera queen - or in line to be the next martyr - it is automatically ‘mono.’  Of course, she had no signs of mono but, I digress.  As a loving parent I did not want her to worry, so when she saw a spot of bacteria in her throat I took her to the educated doctor. ($103 - because she fit us in).  Doctor tests for strep.  Yep.  Right on.  That’s it.  Picked up the good old penicillin ($15, STILL).  Three days later, bacteria is worse.  In fact, her throat looks like what Mount Everest must look like after the climb (not to mention you would definitely have fecal occult blood after that hike).  Go back to doctor ($65).  Test for strep - now negative.  However, says doctor, “your daughter seems to have a really “Smart” strain of bacteria.”  (No joke!)  “Here is a stronger dose of penicillin with a name that is longer than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  Perhaps Mary Poppins makes this medicine.  Go to pharmacy - 20 pills is $151.00.  Apparently, this is made with gold.

Child fine, mother doing well, I, however, am sitting in my bedroom with two thoughts:

1)   I may have to go down the road and sit in front of WalMart and beg for change; and,

2)   The first time I finally find something “smart” down here…and it’s bacteria!

Happy Memorial Day, readers!  Eat well, drink well, relax, and DON’T get sick! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Moonglass When Anna was little, she and her mother used to search for sea glass, but since they looked at night, they called it moonglass. Now, ten years after her mother's mysterious death, her father is working as head lifeguard on the same beach where her mother grew up and her parents first met and fell in love. Reluctant to get close to anyone (including her father) and not pleased about having to start at a new school, Anna begins to spend more time alone, running the length of the beach and wondering about who her mother really was. After meeting a lifeguard named Tyler, she slowly lets her guard down and together they start exploring the abandoned houses that dot the beach. But when learning more about her mother's past leads to a painful discovery, Anna must reconcile her desire for solitude with ultimately accepting the love of her family and friends.

American Heiress Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

Destined to Live Despite Me In the United States it is estimated that 91 people will commit suicide this very day. This is equivalent to one successful suicide every 16 minutes. Maybe there is someone you know who has contemplated suicide and you would like to help? Perhaps it is you that struggles with depression or the nagging thoughts to end it all? If so, please know that you are not alone. With warmth and wisdom, attempted suicide survivor and Bible study teacher Yolanda Shanks offers practical solutions and scriptural truths for the many painful questions suicide survivors face: Why me? Does God still love me? Will this pain last forever? How can I shake the embarrassment, guilt, and shame from my past? Whats needed to rebuild my life from here? Destined to Live, Despite Me is a powerful resource for those determined to live and find lasting joy, peace, hope, and freedom through meaningful, and deliberate living in Christ Jesus. Escape the shadows from your past and begin to build a new life according to Gods design today. Destined to Live, Despite Me is available now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview with author Robert Orfali

Today we're talking with Robert Orfali , author of Death With Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia

FQ: As you mention in your new book Death with Dignity, we live in a “death-denying culture” where people don’t want to even think about dealing with death, let alone advocate for legislation. What would you like to tell people who want to put this topic off until “later”?

We’ve made a Faustian bargain with modern medicine. It allows us to live to longer, but the price we pay is prolonged dying often with suffering akin to “torture.” The sad truth is that 80% of us will not leave life the way we would have liked to: “at home and without needless suffering.” Closing our eyes and letting the system follow its course could easily lands us intubated in an ICU at the end of our lives. To protect ourselves and our loved ones, we need to understand our choices. And, we need to think about them while we still can. It could make the difference between having a relatively “good death” and a very “bad death.” It’s the difference between dying in the ICU versus dying under the care of hospice. Yes, denial can have some serious ramifications. I tell my friends to spend a few hours informing themselves about death and dying. For example, reading my book may help you or someone you care about navigate this very strange landscape we call “end of life.” You’ll be able to better understand your choices. With the e-book available for only $0.99—which is as close to free as Amazon would allow it—there’s no excuse for not reading it. Note: Reading about death won’t kill you.

FQ: You briefly talk about “living wills.” Your statistics show that less than half of this country’s population have living wills and I suspect many don’t even know what they are. Again, what would you say to people about not putting this off?

Don’t put it off. Remember the family tug-of-war over poor Terri Schiavo. You can easily protect yourself from these types of situations by providing an advance directive consisting of two documents: 1) a living will that specifies the type of life-support care you would want in various situations, and 2) a durable power of attorney that lets you appoint your health-care proxy—the person who will make health-care decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. Be sure to pick a proxy you can trust to navigate the health-care system on your behalf.

FQ: A large part of your argument for assisted dying is that you’ve seen first hand the comfort knowing how/when to die can provide the terminally ill. Do you think many in the end-of-life care area (hospice, etc.) ignore this?

I believe that assisted dying is just one more palliative option. Ninety percent of the patients who used that option in Oregon were also enrolled in hospice. For some, self-administering the pills is more comforting than terminal sedation. It gives them more control over the timing of their death. For others, the pills serve as a form of “good death insurance.” I believe that terminal patients must be allowed to decide what’s best for them: It’s “my life, my death, my choice.” I also want to point out that the current practice of terminal sedation is very capricious. The usage numbers in hospices across the U.S. vary between 1% and 52%. With such large variances, obtaining terminal sedation in a hospice becomes pure luck of the draw. Yes, we need all the insurance we can get.

FQ: You talk about the minuscule amounts that might be saved for Medicare by ending terminally ill patients’ lives early, thus arguing that the savings are too small to solve the health-care financial crisis. But do you think that some politician might twist those numbers and/or use them to scare an uninformed public into fearing death panels?

The facts speak for themselves, but as you point out politicians can twist anything. However, twisting in this case would be unfortunate because the system is already overly-complicated, and all this hysterical talk about “death panels” is not helping. As a society, we need to have a more rational conversation about death and dying. Death remains one of the last taboos of polite conversation and yet it affects us all.

FQ: Please tell our readers about FUD.

FUD is an acronym for “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.” The FUD is meant to frighten people; it works against the legalization of assisted dying. Here’s what happens. The opponents of assisted dying dream up some alleged societal concern, and then connect imaginary dots that begin with legalization. They imagine steep descents down slippery slopes that result in horrific outcomes. Once they establish the possibility of a negative consequence, the burden of proof (or disproof) falls upon the shoulders of the people who want to legalize assisted dying. In the book I try to debunk the FUD by using empirical data and solid research. I try to address every one of these slippery slopes by analyzing both the risks and the logic. I can tell you that none of the anticipated slippery slopes have occurred in either Oregon or the Netherlands. The same slippery slope arguments have frequently been made against the termination of life support (“allowing to die”). In the U.S., people have been allowed to die since the “Nancy Cruzan” Supreme Court decision in 1990. In the last 20 years, millions have died through the termination of life support; there were no slippery slopes.

FQ: In your book, you stress the importance of discussing all aspects of dying and euthanasia with your doctor. But as our country moves to more managed care and many poor people don't have a true relationship with their doctor, and are instead more of a number than a person, do you think discussing euthanasia and having a meaningful conversation(s) with a doctor might become unrealistic for some?

In Oregon assisted dying offers the best protection for minorities and the poor. Why? As soon as they ask for the Nembutal (the lethal barbiturate), they become protected VIPs. Doctors, palliative care specialists, and social workers will bend over backward to find available resources and provide end-of-life care. The Oregon safeguards are designed to protect the vulnerable. Instead of languishing in decrepit state-run nursing homes and hospitals, the poor and minorities may find themselves in the hospice system. This would give them access to the best palliative care available. Of course, the Nembutal is purely voluntary; there is never an obligation to take it. However, if all else fails, the Nembutal will provide a peaceful death, which is a lot more humane than the alternative. It’s win-win for the poor and minorities.

FQ: Finally, you’ve been on a real emotional journey for the past few years, indeed, since Jeri's illness was diagnosed. Add in the time and effort to publish two books about the ordeal, Grieving a Soulmate and Death with Dignity. Tell us, how are YOU doing today?

Thank you for asking. Helping Jeri fight her cancer for almost ten years was not an ordeal. We had each other and together we could do almost anything. Looking back, these were very sweet years. My ordeal started after Jeri’s death: the grief bursts I experienced were unbearable. I discovered that dealing with the grief in its totality was too overwhelming so I separated the bursts into manageable buckets. I then worked on techniques for eradicating the grief in each bucket. I describe all this in Grieving a Soulmate. It’s divide and conquer. My grief bursts are long gone, but I’m still healing. I miss Jeri’s physical presence, but the love relationship continues after death. It’s like having a long-distance love relationship. I talk to Jeri all the time. This continuing love bond is a very important part of my healing.

To learn more about Death With Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Ways to Market Your Self-Published Writing

Guest post by: Randall Davidson

In recent years, more and more writers have decided to self-publish their work, rather than deal with the time-consuming and uncertain process of getting it published by a mainstream publishing house. Self-publishing is a wonderful way to turn your manuscript into a professional product, but it will not bring you any recognition, income or impact unless you are willing to do the marketing necessary to get readers to buy you work. These 10 tips will help you get your writing in front of bookstore managers, newspaper writers and, most important, readers.
  1. Arrange a book signing. Call up a chain bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Borders, or a local independent store, to arrange a book signing. These stores love hosting promotional events and you might play up the local author angle in the publicity materials. Be sure to have enough books on hand to sell to interested parties.
  2. Arrange a "meet the author" event on a blog. Choose a blog with which you have an established relationship or a blog that is related to your book. You can submit biographical information, writing excerpts and purchasing information in static form or arrange to do a live chat on the site.
  3. Sell an ebook version. These versions typically go for half the cost of a bound book and are really inexpensive to put together. You can advertise and sell these books for free on a variety of platforms.
  4. Add a signature to your email that promotes your writing. In your personal emails, create a signature that promotes your book and its release date. You can also create business cards that include information about your latest published works.
  5. Use tools like BookBuzzr. This and other free online tools bill themselves as "anti-obscurity" tools for authors. These platforms can provide a way for people to preview your book and other features that can be used to promote your writing to potential readers.
  6. Submit your writing. Submit excerpts of your writing to literary journals, magazines and newspapers. Readers who are exposed to your work in this manner may be interested in discovering more of your work.
  7. Get your work reviewed. Submit your work to a newspaper (local or national), magazine or book review blog to have it reviewed. Try to create some buzz by having it reviewed on television or radio.
  8. Create a website. Make a site that revolves around your writing and use it to highlight projects that you publish. This is a great opportunity to provide readers with more information about yourself, excerpts of your work and information about where people can buy copies of work.
  9. Get interviewed. Contact television channels, bloggers, newspapers and radio stations to offer yourself for an interview about your book.
  10. Speak at events. Offer to speak at conferences, school functions or other events focused on writing or the theme you have developed for your writing project. Have books available for purchase at these events.
Randall Davidson is a co-founder of ProofreadingServices.Us, a high quality professional proofreading service based in San Francisco, California. Randall is committed to helping writers of all types achieve success and ensure that their work is accurate and clear. He does this through the articles he writes for popular websites and through the affordable business, academic and manuscript proofreading services that his company provides.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Oprah Effect: Closing the Book on Oprah’s Book Club

Report courtesy of The Nielsen Company

Oprah Winfrey, fairy godmother? For many in the publishing world, that’s not far off.  Oprah’s seal of approval, manifested in Oprah’s Book Club, translates to new editions, heightened attention and sales bumps (or jumps, as was sometimes the case).  Oprah’s Book Club—with picks ranging from older classics to lesser known works to Pulitzer Prize-winners—became a coveted and exclusive fraternity founded in 1996, with branded special editions selling more than 22 million copies in the past ten years.

As Oprah prepares to sign off from her daily talk show for good, The Nielsen Company takes a look at Oprah’s Book Club selections from the past ten years.

Top 10 Bestselling Oprah’s Book Club Books in the Past 10 Years (US)

January 2005       A New Earth by  Eckhart Tolle                                                - 3,370,000
September 2005  A Million Little Pieces by James Frey                                    - 2,695,500 
January 2006       Night by Elie Wiesel                                                                  - 2,021,000
March 2007           The Road by Cormac McCarthy                                             - 1,385,000
January 2001        We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates                  - 1,348,000
June 2003              East of Eden by John Steinbeck                                            - 1,314,000
November 2007    The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet                                    - 1,109,000
October 2007         Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcie Marquez - 817,000
March 2001            Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio                                        - 794,000
October 2008         The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski            - 770,000

While its undeniable that Oprah’s Book Club delivered mega-sales for its selections, it can be hard to track officially as all editions might have benefited (not just the Oprah edition), including used copies.  However, there are some titles that catapulted to bestseller lists following Oprah’s nod.  These include:

Oprah Pick #63 (September 17, 2009): Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Hachette)
While the trade paperback and hardcover editions sold just 47,500 units together, the Oprah trade paperback sold a whopping 405,000 units—an 853 percent increase. 

Units Sold
Oprah Trade Paperback edition
Trade Paperback edition
Hardcover edition

Oprah Pick #62 (September 18, 2008): The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Ecco)
According to, Oprah compares this book to classics by John Steinbeck and To Kill a Mockingbird's Harper Lee. Sales nearly tripled after being named to Oprah’s Book Club.

Oprah Trade Paperback edition
Hardcover edition

Oprah Pick #57 (May 28, 2007): The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Random House – Knopf/Vintage)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and named to Oprah’s Book Club in 2007, this title became a movie in 2009, so it’s no surprise that the book has sold more than 1.5 million copies in total.  However, P.O. (pre-Oprah), The Road sold just 156,000 units (178,000 copies of the hardcover edition to date); the Oprah trade paperback edition has sold a whopping 1.4 million units.

Oprah Trade Paperback edition
Hardcover edition

Oprah Pick #54 (September 22, 2005): Million Little Pieces by James Frey (Random House – Nan A. Talese/Anchor)
Perhaps the most famous and controversial of Oprah’s picks, Million Little Pieces was that autobiography that wasn’t.  Still, Oprah’s magic worked wonders.  The Oprah trade paperback edition of Million Little Pieces sold a stunning 2.7 million units, while the hardcover had sold 149,500.

Oprah Trade Paperback edition
Hardcover edition

Breakdown of Total Units Sold Since 2001

*All figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred.
Source: Nielsen BookScan
*Nielsen BookScan's US Consumer Market Panel currently covers approximately 75% of retail sales and continues to grow. BookScan does not track sales from Wal-Mart/Sam's Club.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

The Orchard Grace Lyndon is a rising ingenue in the world of perfumes and flavors; a stiletto-wearing, work-a-holic in Atlanta, she develops aromas and tastes to enthrall the senses. Dylan Jackson is a widowed single father whose heart and hands have been calloused in the fields of his North Georgia apple farm. When Grace happens to taste an apple picked from Dylan’s trees, it changes both their lives forever.
Determined to track down the apple’s origin, Grace sets off in the middle of the night where she finds not only a beautiful mountain orchard in the clouds, but the mysterious man who owns it. In Stepakoff’s heartbreaking eloquence, their sudden yet undeniable attraction is threatened—leaving readers with a momentous finale that proves Jeffrey Stepakoff is a master craftsman of the heart.

Remnant "When all that's left is broken, which piece do you pick up first?" So the question stands, and seeks fulfillment- a path reaching from the shores of a doomed paradise, through an illusory reality, and ending in a devastated future. Remnant, a collection of three novellas, is both the sum of these tales and the element that binds them together. Remnant was selected as a 'Finalist' in the Science Fiction Category of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin In the year 1933, Mr. William F. Dodd, a Professor from Chicago, along with his family (wife, daughter and son) were sent to Berlin by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to become the American Ambassador. Mr. Dodd was the first Ambassador to Germany from the US and settled in Berlin during the year that was to become a turning point in history.

The Lord's Prayer The Lord's Prayer pulses with new life through the exquisite illustrations of award-winning artist Richard Jesse Watson, and simple, yet insightful commentary by bestselling author Rick Warren.

Children of God: Storybook Bible Desmond Tutu retells more than fifty of his most beloved stories, artfully highlighting God's desire for all people to love one another and to find peace and forgiveness in their hearts. Many of the finest artists from around the world have been selected to illustrate the stories. In an attempt to create the first truly global Bible for children, the artists have been invited to portray the stories with the style and richness of their own culture. Their stunning color illustrations allow readers to experience the Bible stories as if they were there---with Adam and Eve in the garden, with Noah on the ark, with Abraham in the desert, and with Jesus on the mountaintop. Every story shows how God works through history and ends with a short prayer, which personalizes the message for each reader's own life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Author Interview with John Evans

Today we're talking with John Evans, author of Canaan's Land

FQ: Tell us about the significance of the title you chose for this book, Canaan’s Land?

Canaan was the promised land for the Israelites in the Bible, and Joshua's father sees West Texas as his "promised land" as well. Just as the Israelites faced hardships and difficulties in conquering Canaan, even so Joshua's family faces its share of trials.

While the book is not overtly religious, I did intend for it to echo certain spiritual themes and references. For example, "Hannah," Joshua's mom, takes her name from Samuel's patient mother in the Bible. Joshua was the leader of Israel into the promised land after Moses died, just as our protagonist is trying to help his family make its way to West Texas. "Truman," the daddy, is not religious at all. He sees himself as a "true man," though he depends too much on himself and is too headstrong for his own good sometimes.

So, while Canaan's Land deals primarily with such themes as love, survival, and forbearance, it does echo certain biblical themes in its title and characters.

FQ: Your book takes place in the late-1800s Old West. What drew you to this era and place?

In my younger days, I hiked the rugged mountains and draws of West Texas quite a bit and grew to love its rough beauty. The post-Civil War era was the perfect time for a survival story because Texas was in turmoil following years of conflict. Many families were just getting back on their feet; mothers and fathers had to figure out what to do just to survive. It was a time of hardship and struggle, and such times bring out both the best and worst in people.

FQ: What are you hoping that your readers, particularly young boys, take away from your book?

Well, first Canaan's Land is meant to entertain. I want my readers to enjoy the book as a good frontier novel and survival story. But I'd also like the boys to see that what makes us strong can also ruin us. In the story Papa shows great determination and courage, but his stubborn streak almost gets the family killed.

Life is filled with challenges, and a big part of maturity is facing those challenges in the right way. For example, Joshua endures a horrible loss in the story, but that loss makes him stronger as a person.

I'd also like my readers to understand that love motivates us to look past the weaknesses in people to see their good. Mama, Papa, and Joshua have their strengths and shortcomings, just like all of us, but together they make a strong family. Being a man means accepting the good and bad in life and learning the lessons from each.

FQ: To me, this book seems like a successful adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series except for the boys. Is this just a happy coincidence or did her work inspire you?

While I'm a great admirer of Wilder's work, I didn't particularly have the Little House books in mind as I wrote. I do think that there are common elements to frontier stories which inspire all of us. Making do with what you have, learning to depend on providence and each other, struggling to make a day-to-day existence . . . I think these are eternal themes that are common to many books for young people.

FQ: I found myself wanting to know what happens next in Joshua Lee’s life. Have you considered making Canaan’s Land a series?

Well, I have . . . and I might . . . but this first novel took so long to write that I'm a little afraid of the task! I do appreciate readers' encouragement, however.

FQ: What can readers look forward to next from you?

Most of my writing is nonfiction, and I have a homeschooling book that will be published as an eBook in a few weeks. The Home School Advantage: A Public Schoolteacher's Case for Homeschooling describes how I became a supporter of homeschooling after teaching in the public schools of Texas for 12 years. An earlier edition of the book has done well, so I'm releasing an updated edition with more research and interviews to support the points.

To learn more about Canaan's Land please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.