Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Fugitive Grandma is finally published

In 2005, at the age of 34, I decided to start my first novel. I wrote short stories and made films during my teenage years. Then, during college at San Francisco State, I wrote a screenplay which was produced as a feature film called The Lost Cause, which made it as far as a minor Bay Area film festival. The experience writing The Lost Cause left me disappointed, discouraged and a little bored with the creative process... and for the next dozen years I focused my energies in other pursuits: working as a journalism, learning foreign languages, traveling the world, jumping into the Internet entrepreneurial boom. Most importantly, I met and fell in love with my wife. Sharing a life with her has been the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.

The Fugitive Grandma started as an hobby... something to do in airport lobbies during business travel for my day job. The book took about 3 years to complete. Then another year was spent sending out query letters to agents and publishers. I never did find anyone who was willing to go further than the query letter and actually take a look at the manuscript.

In the meantime, with the e-book boom of the past couple years, I've published two more novels. But friends and family have never stopped urging me to get The Fugitive Grandma into print. So here it is.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

3rd rejection slip

Collected 3 rejection notices for the manuscript so far. All very gracious, "Sorry it's not suitable for us but thanks for trying, best of luck etc." I've sent 11 query letters to agents... the other 8 haven't responded.

A friend and brilliant writer, Dan Moran, once told me you can't say you've really tried unless you sent out a hundred queries. You can check out more info about Dan and his Continuing Time science fiction novels over at his site.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Coming Out of Retirement


Mary Appleby, 76 years old, lost her job in January as a cashier at a
courthouse cafeteria here. She is now looking for minimum-wage work.
Bennett, 80, began filling out applications for fast-food restaurants and
convenience stores after she was laid off last March as a machinist. Fred Dase,
81, a bartender until last summer, also needs another job.

past recessions, older workers simply would have retired rather than searching
want ads and applying for jobs. But these days, with outstanding mortgages, bank
loans and high medical bills, many of them can't afford to be out of
With jobs so scarce, people in their seventh and eighth decades are up
against those half their age in a desperate scramble for work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Orszag's blog at the CBO


NY Times article on Health Care in Obama Recovery Package

Great piece in the NY Times magazine earlier this month talking about the Stimulus package and the big strategic centerpieces that Obama has talked about: energy, education and obviously health care.


Peter Orszag, one of Obama's economic gurus, argues health care reform is the only way the government ever convinces the world it can afford its debt and avoid higher interest rates that will depress economic growth.

"Orszag would begin his talks by explaining that the problem is not one of
demographics but one of medicine. “It’s not primarily that we’re going to have
more 85-year-olds,” he said during a September speech in California. “It’s primarily that each
85-year-old in the future will cost us a lot more than they cost us today.” The
medical system will keep coming up with expensive new treatments, and Medicare
will keep reimbursing them, even if they bring little benefit."

Where's the story?

It's been suggested by a few friends who are published authors that I hold back on posting the actual manuscript on this blog. I have sent queries out to agents and the conventional route -- via agents, publishers, etc -- it's still the recommended way to go. In the meantime, if you are interested in a copy of the story, let me know and I can send it. I am also happy to get feedback.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

“The Fugitive Grandma” is a story I’ve worked on for the past 3 ½ years. Stella Valentine is a retiree who loses her pension, her home and the ability to afford the medicine that keeps her alive. Johnny is her young grandson, a lonely boy who dreams of being a hero. Together they become fugitives, stealing cash and prescription drugs, eluding capture by police, gangsters and operatives of a Draconian, mega-retail company.

The story explores a few subjects that I find fascinating:

1) Is access to life saving medicine a human right? Is it a privilege? Is it subject to the same constraints as other commercial products and services? In the US, this debate is going on constantly. The debate will only increase in volume and vehemence as the Baby Boomer demographic enters their 60s, 70s and beyond.
2) When is a crime justified? We see throughout history examples where the laws and conventional wisdom of the day were simply wrong or horribly unjust. Through the lens of the present we see the actions of “lawbreakers”, whether it’s Galileo or the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad, as acts of heroism. What crimes in modern day America might be seen through the lens of the future as acts of heroism? What might future generations look back on as the great injustices? And how will health care and medicine factor into this?
3) The struggle in health care to reconcile advance medical technology, cost and the profit motive will only intensify. Medicine is both a service for the public good and one of the most profitable businesses in the world. How will we as a society reconcile the inherent conflicts around this?

Most importantly, the story is a tribute and remembrance to my own Grandma Emma Villanova Ragano, who died in 1991. Of course her own life and actions were nothing like the hero of my story, but she lived her life with spunk and a sense of adventure that the story tries to capture.

I’ll be posting the manuscript here and use this as a forum as the story develops.