September 10th, 2009

Chelsea Cain is too cool

Chelsea, who is a local girl, used to write sweet books, like Confessions of a Teen Sleuth: A Parody [Think Nancy Drew grown up} and Dharma Girl: A Road Trip Across the American Generations about growing up as the child of hippie parents. And she had an Oregonian column that was sweet and understatedly funny.

Then she wrote Heartsick, which wasn’t understated at all. In fact, some people find her books too violent. But not everyone, not by a long shot. Can you say three-book, seven-figure book deal? And then recently another one just like the first?

But to make her life even more cool, now she has another local girl poised on the edge of a breakout, Storm Large (of Storm Large and the Balls), involved in her success. Storm has is hugely popular in Portland, and just ended run of a play based on her life that everyone said was fantastic (I looked at tickets several times, but they were $$$.)

The promo campaign for Chelsea's latest which involved sending mobile phones with text messages from Gretchen Lowell, the female serial killer who stars in the books. They used a photo of Storm for Gretchen in the wanted poster that came with the cell phone.

Jealous? Me? Of course not. Read more about the books and Storm’s involvement here.

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Why we need health care reform

I know more about this topic than a lot of people, including those who show up at town hall meetings with no goal but to shout nonsense about socialism.

I worked for Kaiser Permanente for 18 years. It provides insurance and health care, so the incentives are more aligned. There is no incentive to under or over treat, since doctors are on salary. It might not have been perfect, but I miss it so much.

Here are some examples of why we need health care reform:
- My friend Bridget, an active young vegan who has "health insurance," but then once she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer was told that her plan didn't cover $1300 a piece nausea patches or $400 a piece pain killers. I'm sorry, but health care should not be paid for by fundraising dinners and silent auctions.

- My brother. His company went bankrupt. He was told he, his wife, and one of his two kids were uninsurable because of prior medical conditions. None of those conditions are life-threatening, or even all that serious. I think he was eventually able to find some kind of policy with a $7500 deductible. In other words, all the health care is paid for by you unless you get really, really sick.

- My own family. We have a health plan through my husband's job where a colonoscopy costs about $550 out of pocket. How many people would choose to put food on the table for a month rather than have a colonoscopy? Yet a colonoscopy is lot cheaper than treating Stage IV colon cancer.

- Many people who private pay for their own insurance pay more than the cost of their mortgage. I know we would if we were paying out of pocket.

I do believe you have to require that people have at least minimal health insurance. Otherwise, the costs won't be spread over the young and healthy, because they would be the least likely to buy in. Washington State used to have (I don't think they do any more) a "must issue" plan, where no one could be denied, no matter how sick they were, but insurance companies could charge what it cost them to provide care. The only people who opted for that plan were the ones who knew their costs would be even more than the premiums. The next year, the plan would cost even more, and a dwindling number of people was willing to pay that amount. It was basically a death spiral.

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Hank Phillipi Ryan writes what she knows

About the book
In Air Time, Star reporter Charlotte (Charlie) McNally enters the glamorous and high-stakes world of high fashion . . . and soon discovers when the purses are fake, the danger is real. 
To break her latest big-money blockbuster, Charlotte must go undercover—but what if the bad guys recognize her? Carrying a hidden camera and dressing to deceive, Charlie finds she's not the only one disguising her identity. Nothing—and no one—is what they seem. And that means nothing—and no one—can be trusted. In her high-risk job and in her suddenly steamy love life, how can she tell the real thing?
Charlie is forced to make some life-changing—and life and death—decisions. With only a split-second to act and with her own life in the balance, Charlie knows if she chooses wrong it will be the last decision she ever makes.  

About the author
Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is currently on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate, where she's broken big stories for the past 22 years.  Her stories have resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for consumers.
Along with her 26 Emmys, Hank’s also won dozens of other journalism honors, including 10 Edward R. Murrow Awards, and highest honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and The National Association of Science Writers. Hank’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate, and in a two-year stint in Rolling Stone Magazine's Washington Bureau, worked on the political column "Capitol Chatter" and organized presidential campaign coverage for Hunter S. Thompson. She began her TV career in 1975, anchoring and reporting the news for TV stations in Indianapolis and then Atlanta.

Hank and her husband, a nationally renowned criminal defense and civil rights attorney, live just outside Boston.

Q & A with Hank
Q. Charlotte (Charlie) McNally is an investigative TV reporter, and so are you! What qualities do you share with Charlie, and how are you different?

A. When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her “you.” As in—when “you” are held at gunpoint, when you track down the bad guys, when you solve the mystery . . . and I have to remind him, “Sweetheart, it’s fiction. It didn’t really happen.”

But a couple of things: I’ve been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. (Yes, really.) And so it would be silly, in writing a mystery about TV, not to use my own experiences. Think about it—as a TV reporter, you can never be wrong! Never be one minute late. Never choose the wrong word or miscalculate. You can never have a bad hair day, because it’ll be seen by millions of people! It’s high-stakes and high-stress—literally, people’s lives at stake—and I really wanted to convey that in the books.

And everything that TV people do and say in the books is authentic and genuine. (Of course, Charlie can say things I can’t say, and reveal things I can’t reveal.) We’re both devoted journalists, and over-focused on our jobs.

But Charlotte McNally is different, too. She’s single—I’m happily married. She’s ten years younger than I am, and so is facing different choices and dilemmas. She’s braver than I am, certainly. Funnier. And a much better driver.

Q. Charlie has some exciting adventures in your mystery series—going undercover, confronting some really bad guys. Tell us about some of your adventures as an investigative reporter.

There’s a huge been-there-done-that element to the books—I’ve wired myself with hidden cameras, confronted corrupt politicians, chased down criminals . . . been in disguise, been stalked, and threatened and had many a door slammed in my face. I’ve had people confess to murder, and others, from prison, insist they were innocent. So when that happens to Charlie, it’s fair to imagine me. Although the plots are completely from my imagination, those are real-life experiences.

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