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Posts Tagged ‘author interview’

There’s a first for everything and a couple of weeks ago was my first time. I’ve got to say, it was a very pleasant experience. I highly recommend it. That’s right, it was my first time and I’m sharing it with you guys! You’re welcome.

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Today I have a special treat for you. I have prepared an interview with NY Times Bestselling author, Brenda Novak.

Brenda headshotEvery year in May, Brenda hosts a month-long on-line auction to raise money for research to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. The auction has many, many wonderful items up for grabs but is particularly of interest to writers and readers. Many editors, agents and renowned authors offer critiques and other services to help further the career of a fledgling author like myself, or well-established authors who need a boost in their careers. Lots of autographed copies of books from popular romance writers are available as well as a plethora of arts, crafts and goodie baskets filled with delightful treats.

I hope you will all take a moment to check out Brenda’s on-line auction and browse through the fabulous array of items up for bid. Even if you have no intention of bidding on anything, Brenda would appreciate it if you would take a couple of minutes to sign up (register) on the site. Brenda assures me that by simply signing up, you are doing a small part to further research in this medical field. I am also told that there may be prizes available to persons who simply sign up for the auction. I’ll have links at the end of this post.

Brenda and sonHere’s how my interview with Brenda went:

Me: Your son, Thad, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at a very young age. What were some of his symptoms that made you realize that something was very wrong?

Brenda: He was constantly thirsty—couldn’t get from the school to home (a five-minute drive) without pleading with me to stop and get him a drink. He was also urinating excessively, and it wasn’t as if he had the urge to go but couldn’t. He was going and going and going. I remember him getting up in the night, thinking he was at the toilet and peeing on my bedroom floor. He’d never been a bed-wetter or done anything like that before. I knew something had to be wrong. Then, when we went target shooting, the only drink we had was Kool-Aid (somehow we forgot the water). He was so thirsty that he kept asking for more Kool-Aid. I was really watching how much he was getting because I don’t normally let my kids have very much when it comes to sugary drinks. The more I gave him, the thirstier he became. And then I knew!

Me: How did that diagnosis change your life and the life of your family?

Brenda: A diabetes diagnosis changes one’s whole life. I had such a fear of needles going into this. I remember nearly passing out when a nurse handed me my first needle and told me to inject my son. He was only five and sitting in a hospital bed. I’ve since overcome that, of course. But other things have not changed. Thad must test his blood 5-6 times/day (more if he feels high or low) and wear an insulin pump in his hip (the injection needle is pretty daunting so I’m very grateful he handles it so well), which he must change every three days. Diabetes affects every organ in the body. It impacts a child’s ability to learn, to play sports, to sleep without fear. I check him every night in the middle of the night, just to be sure he’s in a safe zone, and can’t wait until I won’t have to deal with that constant worry any longer. Also, whenever it’s time for the family to travel, making sure we have a whole suitcase full of diabetes supplies is critical. If something is forgotten, we can find ourselves in dire straits.

Ben is only two years old but started showing symptoms of Type 1

Ben is only two years old but started showing symptoms of Type 1

Me:  What lead to the idea of your fund-raising on-line auction?

Brenda:  When Thad was diagnosed, I knew I wanted to do something to fight back. I just didn’t know what. I was a young mother with five kids and a new writing career. I didn’t have a lot of resources. I kept stewing about it, looking for just the right opportunity—and then, one day, I was at a silent auction for his school, and it occurred to me that there had to be an easier way to raise money than to try and get a large group of people to come out all at the same time (and to feed them!). That’s when I realized that I could utilize the traffic I’d already established at my website to do something online. This auction will be our ninth, and it has grown larger each year. In 2013, we’re hoping to surpass the $2 million mark!

Me:  Who were some of the first people to jump on board and support your auction efforts?

Brenda:  Beth DeGuzman, Editor-in-Chief at Grand Central/Hachette, was one of the first, and she’s been with me every year. I’ll never forget how warmly she replied when I sent out that request. I was so nervous to bother editors and agents—but was so driven to find help for my son and others like him that I forced myself to overcome my hesitation. Arthur Levine, the American Editor of the Harry Potter books, was another wonderful person who jumped on the bandwagon. Then there were great shoppers, like Jo Robertson, who bid generously and helped make that first year a success.

Me:  Besides those initial supporters, are there any other significant people who helped make your auction the success it is today?

Brenda:   Wow—too many to list, but I’ll try! Each year, Zac Petit, at Writer’s Digest plays a big role. Not only does he donate fabulous items, he makes sure the mag gives the auction a push. Publisher’s Weekly and RT Book Review Magazine are kind enough to donate ad space. Fabulous category captains like Dianne Despain, Anna DeStefano, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, Mary Buckham, Ogla Grun, Kristen Nelson Literary Agency, Grandma Lou (Louise Pledge), Beth Cornelison, Darynda Jones, Virna DePaul, Lauren Hawkeye/Jameson (whose young son was just diagnosed), Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hope Ramsay, Kellie Finley, Nancy Naigle and various RWA chapters, small presses and blogs go out and get at least ten items we can put up for bid. Without this small army, I don’t know how we’d be able to offer so many wonderful items. Then there’s Anna Stewart, my trusty assistant, who is so reliable and conscientious. And Pierce Mattie from Pierce Mattie PR in NYC, who does the promotion for the auction pro bono. The big name authors who lend their names to my efforts and the editors/agents who donate their time just for the sake making the world a better place are integral. The people who register and bid are every bit as important. As you can tell, this is far from a one-man show. Everyone plays a role and the auction would not be successful without them.

Me:  What are some of the most popular auction items?

Brenda:  It’s interesting. Some years, certain types of items are more popular than others. One year, it will be the amazing trips & stays. Another, it’ll be the author critiques. Another, it’ll be the opportunities with agents and editors. Gift cards to major chains (bookstores or restaurants) are always a big hit. So are themed gift baskets and the meet & greet opportunities we offer with big name authors (this year we even have Lee Child offering a lunch in NYC!). There’s something for everyone—something from all price ranges. So this is the perfect place to stock up on birthday and Christmas presents. Advanced Reading Copies of books are usually well-received, too.

stacks of cashMe:  How much money has your auction raised to date for juvenile diabetes research?

Brenda:   We have a cumulative total of $1.6 million. We’re hoping to break the $2 million mark this year.

Me:  Where do you see this number being in the next five years?

Brenda: I dream big—so I’m hoping for $5 million.

Me:  What would you like to tell people who are themselves, or have family members suffering from this terrible disease?

Brenda: I would like to tell them that we are much stronger if we join together. If everyone does just a little, and we work in unison, we can beat this disease and our loved ones can live a normal life. The DRI, the research facility that gets the money, will be starting human trials with their new Biohub before the end of the year, which is VERY exciting. From what I’ve seen and heard, this is the closest we’ve ever come to a cure.

Brenda and I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to sign up for the auction. Here is the direct link to register  http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/ and do your part in helping to find a cure. Here is where you can find information about Brenda’s cause: http://www.brendanovak.com/for-the-cure-2/

Brenda loves to connect with her fans and would love connecting with you. http://www.brendanovak.com

If you have a question for Brenda or about juvenile diabetes, pose it in a comment below and either Brenda or I will do our best to respond.

Word of the Day: Whang

Fun fact about me:  My family used to have an Irish Setter named Barney.

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