Archive for September, 2011

Check out coverage in the Sunday Boston Globe, Word on the Street column, for GIRL HELD IN HOME– as well as an early REVIEW

GIRL HELD IN HOME & ‘Reality Fiction’ by Elizabeth Searle

And the ‘winner’ of DISGRACED CELEBRITY OF SUMMER 2011 is… our first ever Group win, THE KARDASHIANS!  For better or worse, we live in the Reality TV nation but even by Reality TV standards, the Kardashians hit new lows this summer.  Blog fave Caitlin put their name into play, citing:

The over-the-top press coverage of Kim Kardashian’s tacky wedding, held this summer during the worst economic period since the Great Depression

  ‘Congrat’s to Kim, whatshisname the groom and Co. (photo: The HollywoodGossip.com)

Like it or not, we live in times where ‘reality’ rules.  Nonfiction books lead in sales and fiction based on ‘real events’ draws coverage.  This fall, I jump into what I call the ‘REALITY FICTION’ pool with a new novel based on a real-life crime in my neighborhood.

GIRL HELD IN HOME is out in October from New Rivers Press.  It was inspired by an incident that was a real-life ‘disgrace’ and is all too common in America today.  In our own neighborhood in Arlington.MA, in 2001, a woman was ‘held’ as an unpaid servant’ in the home of a family that controlled her visa.

In my imagined version of her story, a teenage boy discovers her situation and falls in love with the ‘GIRL HELD IN HOME’.  Thanks to NEW RIVERS PRESS, my terrific publisher, and thanks to Cholla Productions and my talented brother Bill Searle and to rocker Dann Spohn and DustJacket for this Book trailer:

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Check out a first review of GIRL HELD IN HOME(described by reviewer Josie E. Davis as “a thrilling reflection of post-9/11 suburban America”)

Caitlin McCarthy is an award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has a screenplay project in development:   RESISTANCE with  Populus Pictures and Si Wall (SPEED DATE; THE DINNER PARTY).  In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school.

THE WAY is the way to go! By Caitlin McCarthy

This week, I was one of the lucky winners on Facebook who scored a VIP ticket to the Boston advance screening of Emilio Estevez’s new film THE WAY, starring his father Martin Sheen. (“Like” THE WAY on Facebook if you want to hear breaking news about their screenings, meet-and-greets, activities, etc.) THE WAY is about an American father who travels to France to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling “El camino de Santiago” from France to Santiago de Compostela. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, THE WAY is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world. It was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.

Before I continue, I have a confession to make: As a screenwriter, it’s very hard for me to suspend disbelief during a film. I find myself noting the inciting incident, plot points, objective correlative – you name it. But that didn’t happen during THE WAY. Much to my surprise, I found myself crying within the first 15 minutes of the film. Martin’s performance was *that* moving, and Emilio’s script was *that* tight. Now I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want to see a film that makes me cry?  Is this some kind of religious film? I’m not into that.  (more…)

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Diana Bianchini founded Di Moda Public Relations in 2002. Di Moda is renowned for spearheading innovative, sustainable, community oriented campaigns that leave an indelible global impact. In addition to Di Moda representing Project Angel Food for the past five years, Diana also serves on the Advisory Board for The Good News Foundation, has been an event chair twice for the Los Angeles chapter of the March of Dimes and gives of her time to many other national and local charities. Diana was born in Marin, California and raised in the Bay Area. She currently makes Los Angeles her home.


Earlier this year, I blogged on The Huffington Post about DES (diethylstilbestrol), the toxic, carcinogenic synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of pregnant women for decades: from 1938 until 1971 in the United States, and until the mid-1980s in parts of Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Third World .

The DES cancer link was first established in Boston 40 years ago at Massachusetts General Hospital .

Once again, Boston is at the epicenter of DES history. This week, the first part of the historic DES breast cancer cases will be wrapping up in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. The result of this trial will determine if the first ever series of DES breast cancer lawsuits in the US can survive Daubert scrutiny on causality and be allowed to go forward.

Aaron M. Levine and Julie Oliver-Zhang from Aaron M. Levine & Associates are representing the 53 DES Daughters involved in these breast cancer cases . It’s just two lawyers for the plaintiffs and about 20 lawyers representing the drug companies in the court room. According to some attendees, the drug company lawyers are sporting uniform black suits a la Agent Smith in “The Matrix”.

The outcome of these joint DES breast cancer cases will not only affect American DES Daughters, but DES victims around the world who are waging their own legal battles because of the devastating effects of DES exposure. The currently proven effects of DES exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES Daughters; greater risk for breast cancer in DES Mothers; possible risk for testicular cancer in DES Sons; abnormal reproductive organs; infertility; high-risk pregnancies; and an increased risk for breast cancer in DES Daughters after age 40. There are a number of other suspected effects, including auto-immune disorders, but many of these effects are still awaiting further research.

Dr. Hans-Olov Adami, former Chair of the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and a world-renowned physician and epidemiologist, testified during the trial that women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol (DES) are at substantially increased risk for breast cancer. Dr. Adami cited to Dr. Julie Palmer’s 2006 NCI study, “Prenatal Diethylstilbestrol Exposure and the Risk of Breast Cancer,” which showed a 2.05 – 3.85 relative risk for DES daughters over the age of 40. Dr. Adami “found it overwhelmingly likely based on this methodology that DES causes breast cancer, [and] increases substantially the risk of breast cancer in women starting about the age of 40.”

In confirming the Palmer study in court as a valid and important reopening of the never-ending DES tragedy, Dr. Adami stated: “so the bottom line of this is it provides strong evidence that DES exposure increases the risk, and that the risk increase starts sometime around age 40 and then grows as women get older.”

Dr. Adami stressed that there are two practical implications in the Palmer study: “one is that it reinforces the importance of women who have been exposed to participate in mammography screening programs in order to allow early detection of breast cancer if they develop it; and secondly, because women who have been on hormone replacement therapies are already at an increased risk, the indications should be very restrictive to add another major risk factor if they have also been exposed to DES in the uterus.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently declared “DES Awareness Week” this July commemorating the experience of DES Daughters and warning of breast cancer risks.

On February 22, 2011, US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) received a 3-page response from the FDA , per their joint letter about a DES apology. The FDA’s letter did not contain an official apology from the federal government for the DES drug disaster. However, it acknowledged the devastating health consequences of DES, explained FDA initiatives to prevent future drug disasters, and talked about DES as a “tragedy” .

The trial in Boston will continue until Friday, September 23, as the 53 DES Daughters involved put on further biology, toxicology, oncology, and obstetrics and gynecology experts to support Dr. Adami’s opinion of this substantial DES breast cancer risk in the daughters. The trial is open to the public.

(author photo courtesy of author)

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Voting continues for Disgraced Celebrity of Summer 2011; cast your vote in any COMMENT.  And check out Elizabeth Searle’s upcoming novel GIRL HELD IN HOME.

JOSE ANTONIO RIVERA is a 3-time world champion boxer and an actor in the award-winning film THE FIGHTER starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.  As a pro boxer, Jose won among other prizes the IBO Welterweight World Championship, WBA Welterweight World Championship and in 2006 the WBA Junior Middleweight World Championship in his hometown of Worcester, MA. Jose also works on the speaking circuit in the New England area.  He is composing an autobiography about overcoming huge obstacles and winning his championships.  His next fight is at the Mohegan Sun Casino in CT on Nov. 5th.

A BOXER’S SECRET by Jose Antonia Rivera

Mark Wahlberg, Jose and Jose's son AJ Rivera

I have fond memories of soap operas. “General Hospital” was my program of choice because it started right when I got home from school.  My aunt and female cousins always watched the show with me.  I had moved in with them after my mother passed away when I was ten.  Soap operas were one of the things that served as a common bond.

Whenever I stayed home sick from school, my aunt stayed home, too, and watched the soaps with us.  I say “us” because when my cousin Angie stayed home sick, I suddenly didn’t feel well, either.  My ploy was obvious and too funny, but I refused to let Angie watch the earlier soaps without me and then brag about what I had missed.  On those “sick” days, we would lie on the sofa while my aunt ironed her wardrobe, watching TV the entire time.   (more…)

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Voting begins; Summer officially ends Sept. 23rd.  So Cast your vote in COMMENTS for DISGRACED CELEBRITY OF SUMMER 2011…And in other political news:


Obama faced down Congress last week and is taking the fight to ‘every corner’ of our country.  Our blog’s resident Wise Man Ol’ Bill had this to say about Obama’s big make-or-break Jobs Speech:

“It was a great speech by a great president. He is winning the propaganda battle, and bad as the polls are right now, none of his supposed opponents are doing better including the whole damn disgraceful Congress and opinionated media.”

Litotes, the blog’s resident cynic, gave this assessment:

“He gave the second-best speech possible.  The first-best would’ve been
“Hey Republicans, f*** you and the horses you rode in on!”

Penny2 builds a bridge in her remarks:

“He has walked through fire and emerged a better president for THIS center-right country.  When Obama entered the polarized world of this decade’s Washington, he had two choices:  alienate the left of this country or alienate the center.  He chose to alienate the left.  The speech he gave Wednesday continues the promise he made right from the beginning to build bridges between the parties.  And most of those bridges leave both sides holding their noses.  (Being a bit left myself, I teared up when he said “We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom where we offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. We should be in a race to the top, and I think that is a race we can win.”)  John Boehner really could not bring himself to clap for Abraham Lincoln building the transcontinental railroad and the GI Bill!  I was amused that everyone was wearing pastel 1986-color ties:  Biden in lavender, Boehner in raspberry and Obama in cornflower blue.  Like a garden of peaceful agreement. “

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