Friday, May 31, 2013

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is a long post.

I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It primarily affects the spine, and causes pain and decreased mobility.

I’ve had AS since 1993. My pain and stiffness increased over the years from a mild annoyance to a disturbing level of daily pain. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my ribs frozen into place, leaving me barely able to breathe. I could not do even one sit-up because my back would not flex. Simply rolling over in bed was an exhausting ordeal. Visiting a dentist, it would take at least five minutes for my spine to relax enough so my head would hit the back of the chair. But worst of all, pain occupied my mind almost constantly.

My doctor who diagnosed me clearly looked upset as she informed me there was no cure and handed me a prescription for mega-doses of ibuprofen.

Eventually I was on pain suppressants round-the-clock. By 2001 there was a growing list of things I could not or simply did not want to do. I looked gaunt and sickly.

! Let us all now praise the internets!

While reaching something else, a Doctor Ebringer in London discovered that if his AS patients stopped eating starch, their pain and stiffness diminished. (I’ll save you from the explanation why...)

A few of the people who found relief this way publicized it on the web.

So in October 2001 I started a no starch diet. I was able to stop taking all pain killers by March of 2002. By 2006 I had gained back all my spinal mobility and to this day experience no pain at all unless I eat a basket of fries or some of that really fabulous double chocolate cake.

But wait.

Most sufferers of Ankylosing Spondylitis are not experiencing this relief because their doctors will not suggest the diet. If asked, doctors will inform you there has been no research to prove the diet’s effectiveness.

Yes, there has been no research done on this cure for AS symptoms. Drug companies fund research. I have been off drugs for my AS these last 11 years. 

Ooops! What’s wrong with that scenario?

I have informed doctors and rheumatologists that I am on a diet which has eliminated my pain and stiffness and have received patronizing nods but no questions. A patient’s real experience is clearly not as valid as a drug company’s brochure.

So that is why I am writing this very long and boring post. In the hopes that a fellow AS sufferer will find it and begin their life again, as I did. Or perhaps someone reading this knows a friend or family member who has the disease and will email a link.

Because you will not hear about it from your doctor. They will hand you prescriptions for mega-doses of drugs, and sadly tell you that is all you can do.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

another Oliver review

From Publishers Weekly:

"Oliver, first seen cradling a toy alligator and staring at an uneaten breakfast, dreads the first day of school. He “felt his brave wasn’t nearly as big as he needed it to be,” so he invites an alligator to join him. When a “lady who wasn’t his mom” greets him and asks his name, he musters only two words: “Munch, munch!” Each time Oliver feels anxious, this response makes his alligator swallow the perceived threat. Soon his friendly fellow students and some intimidating educational materials are inside the ballooning reptile. Schmid (Perfectly Percy) sketches Oliver in a few angular dashes of pastel pencil. The soft, crayony lines belie Oliver’s anxiety, and his alligator, for all its alleged ferocity, never shows any teeth (and lacks even a visible mouth). Readers are left to imagine the offstage “munch, munch” and later learn—as Oliver questions his limiting desire for solitude—that the students are having fun inside the beast, while Oliver (temporarily) stays outside. Schmid focuses on how a child uses imagination to devour, and finally to conquer, a fear of socializing."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

long live Fauxtionary!

Inner Preditor: That colossal ass residing in your brain who waits to ambush your next idea.

Critique Poup: What your manuscript looks like the day after those so helpful bi-weekly get togethers.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

new book news

I am delighted to announce that I will be illustrating a new book for editor Janine O'Malley at Farrar, Strous and Giroux. The author of this wonderful story (which I fell in love with before I had even read more than 3 or 4 lines into it,) is the great Laurie Thompson. The illustration above is just a very early preliminary sketch, it should be interesting to see how it looks six or eight months from now!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oliver review

The School Library Journal has nice things to say about my next book, Oliver and His Alligator. Here are some highlights:

As the first day of school approaches, Oliver, a timid boy dressed in an oversize woolly sweater, isn’t feeling very brave. He takes an alligator to school with him “in case things get rough.”  ... The gentle pastel illustrations are infused with appealing school-related details and add humor to the story. ... Young readers who are about to begin school will identify with the hero of this quirky story.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

more fake words

Bitterary Agent: Your literary agent who does not phone you frequently to gush about your genius.

Rehersal of Fortune: Secretly writing your Caldecott acceptance speech. Boy Scouts say to be prepared.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Top Ten for Oliver

My next book to be released, Oliver and His Alligator, which comes out next month, has started to garner some accolades. The American Booksellers Association has placed Oliver among their top ten Summer 2013 Next List, coming in at #7. Here is their review:

Oliver and His Alligator, by Paul Schmid
“Oliver is a little insecure about his first day of school, so he brings an alligator for reinforcement. While the alligator takes care of one scary thing after another, Oliver starts to realize school might not be so bad — but he has to decide quickly before everything is devoured!  Readers will identify with Oliver’s fears and eat up Schmid’s adorable pastel illustrations.” —Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The next big thing: A global blog tour

Ben Clanton, in addition to being the nicest guy, also has a talent to envy. Ben was kind enough to tag me for a game of blog “it” for authors and illustrators with new books coming out. Here are the questions and my answers.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Oliver and his alligator.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
My own first day in kindergarten. The teacher was sweet, but I didn’t know why the other kids had to be there.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Picture book. 

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
How I wish Fred Gwynne were still around to play the alligator!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
On his first day of school, an anxious boy decides it would be prudent to bring an alligator along, just in case things at school get rough.

6) Who is publishing your book?
Disney-Hyperion on June 25th.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s not the first draft you have to worry about, it’s the next two or three dozen versions of it. I re-wrote the first sentence over 40 times!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None can compare.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Maurice Sendak spoke often about children needing to explore their own fear. To protect them from this urge is merely self-indulgent on the part of adults. This quote from Maurice is especially relevant to what I wanted to address: “Children are tough, though we tend to think of them as fragile. They have to be tough. Childhood is not easy. We sentimentalize children, but they know what’s real and what’s not. They understand metaphor and symbol. If children are different from us, they are more spontaneous.”

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
My daughter has told me kids like any book where things get eaten. Just about everything gets eaten in this book.

Next up is the delightful and delightfully talented Jaime Temairik. You’re it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ever more Fauxtionary

Immaterial Hurl: Your reaction to a review which failed to divine any meaning in your book whatsoever.

Substance Abuse: A review trying to hammer too much meaning into your book.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

a couple more from the fauxtionary

Bangover: Headache honorably earned after banging out an entire chapter/outline/story/dummy in one sitting.

Johnny Faulkner: The beverage you turn to so you can clear your head after a writing binge.