Why Health Insurance Matters To Writers

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Politics | 0 comments

Medical Clipart

Have you ever got to your doctor’s office and asked how much something would cost?

If you never have, indulge me. Try it some time. The next time your doctor tells you that you’ll need a test or a referral to a specialist or even an MRI, ask her how much it will be.

She won’t be able to answer you, but the look of befuddlement on her face will be entertaining.

If you’d never seen that look of befuddlement, chances are you have employer-provided health insurance. You’re lucky. I sincerely hope you can go to your doctor when you choose and get the medical procedures you need without worrying about your bank account, your retirement, or your child’s college fund. Just please remember–it doesn’t happen for all of us.

Normally this blog is about books and children’s literature and the writing process. But I’m taking a break to write about health insurance since it’s in the news lately and because–perhaps this will come as a surprise–writers get sick now and then.

I’m a writer, full-time. This is rare. Most writers have day jobs or working spouses. One of the reasons they have these things is so that they can have health insurance. So they don’t get sick and die because they can’t afford to see a doctor. So they won’t be bankrupted if a healthy life is abruptly turned upside down and inside out by a terrifying diagnosis or a dreadful accident.

I don’t have a day job or a working spouse. I buy my insurance through the Affordable Care Act. I pay thousands of dollars a year in premiums, and on top of that I pay for all my family’s medical care out of pocket because my deductible is so high.

This is hard. I can do it, but it’s hard. Perhaps it’s about to get harder.

And it matters. If you like books, it matters. If you love to read to your child, it matters.

If we, as a society, want a creative work force, if we want people to write and illustrate books (and direct movies and compose music and perform dance and do all the other things we love about the arts), then we have to make it possible for those people to see a doctor. To get the tests the doctor recommends. To write and illustrate and live long and healthy lives.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem that much to ask.

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Chenery Book Festival

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Author Visits, Book: Dragon's Egg, Educators & Librarians, Events | 0 comments

Here I am with my fellow festival-era! Ammi-Jo Paquin, on left, specifically requested that we not mention how she is holding her book upside down and backwards....so I won't.

Here I am with my fellow festival-ites! Ammi-Joan Paquette, on left, specifically requested that we not mention how she is holding her book upside down and backwards….so I won’t.

Had a lovely time yesterday at the Chenery Book Festival in Belmont, MA, where the dogwoods are blooming. The only drawback was that so many kids and parents wanted to drop by to talk about books that I didn’t get enough of a chance to hobnob with my fellow authors!

This reader didn't want her face to show in the photo. But how cool is it to meet a reader whose shirt matches your book!

This reader didn’t want her face to show in the photo. But how cool to meet a reader whose shirt matches your book!

I did have some happy chat with poet Teresa Millstein (you know how some poets just look like they’re poets? She’s one of those) and novelist Tara Sullivan (I took home her remarkable and harrowing The Bitter Side of Sweet.) This fabulous festival held at Chenery Middle School and organized by super librarian Karen Duff (seriously, where’s her cape?) gets better every year!

Chenery Author Fest 2017 Banner

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What Reviewers Are Saying

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Reviews | 0 comments

Deadly Flowers

Deadly Flowers

…about Deadly Flowers:

“As [Kata] learns to rely on her new traveling companions and others who reach out to help them along the way, she begins to question some of her long held beliefs. Rather than trusting no one, she learns to decipher who is trustworthy, and instead of blind obedience to a master, she starts to wonder if freedom from any master is possible. This journey through feudal Japan and its hero folklore is reminiscent of some of Lloyd Alexander’s works. Ninja fans and others will fall in love with this daring, determined, and silent warrior.”
–Children’s Literature

“This is a great fantasy/historical/adventure mashup of a book. And I love that it is a female protagonist that has to think, act, and save the day. Seriously, this is one great adventure story. Just watch out for all those pesky (and sometimes evil) demons.”
Provo City Library, Provo, Utah

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The Eagle’s Quill Arrives!

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in American History, BOOK: The Eagle's Quill, Secrets of the Seven | 2 comments

The Eagle's Quill

Sam and his friends Martina and Theo must brave the wilderness of Glacier National Park to find Thomas Jefferson’s quill pen.

Just released: The Eagle’s Quill, second volume in The Secret of the Seven series. Get your American history with a side dish of breathless action and entertaining brain-teasers as three friends race against the bad guys to find the quill pen Thomas Jefferson used to write the Declaration of Independence.

“Another page-turner of a quest.”

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What I’ve Been Reading–1984

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in What I've Been Reading | 0 comments

teaserbox_27680941Call me a cliche, but I did what so many other people are doing these days–I read George Orwell’s 1984. Somehow, it was one of those classics I never managed to get to, despite an English major and a career in literature. (I never read The Illiad either. I admit it. I only recently got around to Middlemarch.)

So much was chilling, so much was eerily familiar. If you’ve read it, you don’t need me to go into it–the glorification of war, the vicious hates that transfer all critical thinking and all criticism away from the powers-that-be onto vague, nebulous, ever-changing others. And of course, the doublethink. Mexico will pay for the wall, but they won’t, but they will. War is peace. Obama bugged Trump Tower, but he didn’t, but he did. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

And yet…somewhere in there I found a sliver of hope. No, really.

Winston Smith is not a very heroic hero. He isn’t terribly brave. (Julia is much bolder). He’s not all that smart. (All his instincts about people are completely wrong.) He doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

All he has going for him is some basic humanity. A joy in rare physical comfort and glimpses of beauty–the smell of real coffee, the clouded loveliness of old glass. A sense of the past as something that actually existed. Brief love shared with a woman. These are small things.

But look at what the Thought Police and the Ministry of Love have to do to get him to surrender. Look at what he endures. It takes hours and days and actually years of brutal mental and physical torture before all that is good in Winston is ground down to nothing. He’s a simple man, an ordinary man, just one man–and it takes all their resources to undo him.

Humanity dies, but it doesn’t die easily.

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Fun and Games

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Educators & Librarians, Events | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 3.51.18 PMIt’s so much fun to imagine libraries all over the U.S. filled with eager girl ninjas figuring out rope puzzles, finding clues in the stacks, and eating Pocky! Download your copy of the ninja library game for Deadly Flowers!

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Books = Change = Hope

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Childhood, Children's Literature, Educators & Librarians, Race | 0 comments

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