Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

February 2011 Selection: Healer

This month we are meeting with Carol Cassella to discuss her latest novel, Healer.  Carol holds high status with the MMBC - she was our first author interview!  We had a wonderful time talking with her and I'm excited for her return visit.

The book was announced on the Manic Mommies website a few weeks ago, along with a book drawing (which is closed).  The book club is open to anyone who would like to participate. 

When: rescheduled to Mar 9th at 8PM EST
Call details: Dial: (724) 444-7444
                     Enter: 90383 # (Call ID)
                     Enter: 1 #

Synopsis: Claire is at the start of her medical career when she falls in love with Addison Boehning, a biochemist with blazing genius and big dreams. A complicated pregnancy deflects Claire’s professional path, and she is forced to drop out of her residency. Soon thereafter Addison invents a simple blood test for ovarian cancer, and his biotech start-up lands a fortune. Overnight the Boehnings are catapulted into a financial and social tier they had never anticipated or sought: they move into a gracious Seattle home and buy an old ranch in the high desert mountains of eastern Washington, and Claire drifts away from medicine to become a full-time wife and mother. Then Addison gambles everything on a cutting-edge cancer drug, and when the studies go awry, their comfortable life is swept away. Claire and her daughter, Jory, move to a dilapidated ranch house in rural Hallum, where Claire has to find a job until Addison can salvage his discredited lab. Her only offer for employment comes from a struggling public health clinic, but Claire gets more than a second chance at medicine when she meets Miguela, a bright Nicaraguan immigrant and orphan of the contra war who has come to the United States on a secret quest to find the family she has lost. As their friendship develops, a new mystery unfolds that threatens to destroy Claire’s family and forces her to question what it truly means to heal.

Healer exposes the vulnerabilities of the American family, provoking questions of choice versus fate, desire versus need, and the duplicitous power of money.

Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself: I am currently wearing lots of hats, so where do I start? I am first and foremost a mother. My husband and I have two sets of twins (I’ll go ahead and answer the question you’re asking—yes they are natural! Set two was quite the surprise!) That alone has made for an interesting life. I’m also a doctor. I started my medical career as an internist, but I wanted a bit more time at home with my family and changed specialties to become an anesthesiologist. I really do love my work, and I’ve never regretted making that change. Anesthesia is challenging, intense, creative, FUN (often) and still does give me lots of patient contact.

Then there is the writer. That was actually my mission in life from the time I was very young, but I kept getting involved in other things (medicine, babies) and never devoted the time and dedication that serious writing takes until I was in my forties. That’s not to say I wasn’t writing—I have drawers of partially finished manuscripts and I worked as a science writer for a few years. But it took a completely different level of commitment to finish a novel. It was much harder than I expected, but also much more rewarding. Other details? I grew up in Texas, lived in the Northeast for few years and then discovered the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Hard to think I’ll ever leave!

Do you write daily? I can’t write daily. Until my children are grown and I work less at the hospital , I’m afraid that will be impossible. But I highly advise all writers to try. Writing fiction, and probably non-fiction as well, is a bit like maintaining a dream while awake. Much as a dream can feel tangible and unforgettable right after you open your eyes, it’s often forgotten by the time you brush your teeth. I try to remember that whatever I would have written today will never make it onto the page unless I make time to put it there. What I write tomorrow may be just as good, but it won’t be the same.

What was it like getting your first novel published? Nothing short of awesome! I had no expectations of being published when I started Oxygen, though I certainly poured my soul into it. I think my path was easier than many new writers, and for that I am very grateful. I found a wonderful agent early in the game and they were able to sell my novel quickly. Still, there is as much work that lies on the other side of the ‘published’ wall as there is leading up to it. Promoting, marketing, learning a whole new industry, and still keeping your next book alive and growing. That has been a huge challenge for me.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? Although I would secretly love to own one, they scare me. I worry that the electronic model may drive our wonderful, critically important independent bookstores out of business, and they contribute so much to the variety and vitality of what is published and made available to the reading public. Regardless, electronic books are here to stay, so we need to hope that they will eventually open avenues for smaller presses and less commercial writers. But we really have to find a model that works economically. If digital publications drive publishers under, many brilliant voices will never make it into any kind of print. We need to pay for books if we want books to survive. I’m a huge fan of libraries, too, but I know so many starving writers who are not getting their second or third books published because their publisher lost money on their earlier work. Support the arts!

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Don’t give up!! Reading is easy and fun, so it is natural to fall prey to the myth that writing should always be easy and fun. That makes no more sense than believing a musician can make music without long hours of practice. Also, read carefully. When you discover a great book, take a paragraph or two and crawl inside it. Figure out what makes it work. Ask not only why the author put those particular words on the page, but why did he or she NOT choose other words, or a different point of view or a different voice. The beauty of writing is that there is always more to learn, always room to improve.

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