virtual author event/book giveaway, may 20, 7 p.m.

southborough libraryMy book event with the Southborough Library — which was canceled due to the pandemic closures — has been rescheduled and reborn as a virtual book event.

A bonus? It’ll also include a book giveaway.

The Southborough (Mass.) Library, in partnership with the Southborough Recreation Department, will be hosting my book talk on Wednesday, May 20 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

To register for the free event, contact the Southborough Recreation department here.

The folks at the library will draw a name from those who register and the lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Uncomfortably Numb.

 

talking ‘uncomfortably numb’ at the les bleus lit salon & with podcaster zibby owens

Image-1Two seriously enthusiastic shout-outs to Paige McGreevy and Zibby Owens for affording me  opportunities to chat with them about my memoir Uncomfortably Numb.

These two women have been incredibly generous in helping writers, whose work is being published during a pandemic, connect with book lovers.

McGreevy, who started the New York City-based Les Bleus Literary Salon, has been hosting writers via Zoom as they read from the new books for an audience of literary enthusiasts. (Several of my fellow authors from Lockdown Literature, pictured on the right, have read from their books in recent weeks, so I was in illustrious company.)Screenshot 2020-05-04 13.34.30

Meanwhile, Owens, a well-respected book podcaster who created Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, recently spoke with me for her Instagram Live author interview series.

You can watch the interview as it happened below. (Luckily, Tedy, my hyper-yappy dog, did NOT burst through my office door — which never quite clicks closed — and start barking. PLUS my three, college-aged kids — who are all finishing up their spring semesters virtually — did not slow down the internet enough to boot me offline.)

Here’s the link to the video.

View this post on Instagram

@meredithobrien – author of "Uncomfortably Numb"

A post shared by Zibby Owens (@zibbyowens) on

Thank you Paige and Zibby! You are truly doing public service, at least to writers and readers!

book review & lockdown lit

MS Treatment Options & Strategies - MultipleSclerosis.netUncomfortably Numb received praise from a MultipleSclerosis.net reviewer as “a worthwhile MS memoir.”

Gary Chester — whose wife Cathy Chester, an MS advocate & writer, blurbed my memoir — said the book is not just recommended for MS patients, but also for those who love them:

As a caregiver, I appreciated O’Brien’s role as a tour guide through the labyrinth of a seemingly healthy individual experiencing early symptoms of MS to the ultimate diagnosis and its consequences. The journey is not one of clinical observations that many MS patients and loved ones can check-off as they proceed through the book. It is a personal diary of the frustration, doubts, worries, and grievances of almost any MS patient.

Chester added, “She transports us through the dread in a manner that is thoroughly readable and relatable.”

Read the full review here.

Now, about Lockdown Literature… I’ve joined a group of 80+ authors — convened by author Mary South — whose books have been released in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help one another out and help our books find readers, the group now has an Instagram page, Lockdown_literature. I’ve also put together an evolving list of group members’ Twitter handles and we also have a Twitter handle.

In the coming weeks, the group will be doing 10-book giveaways of our work, which ranges from memoirs and other nonfiction, to novels and poetry collections. Stay tuned!

Image credits: MultipleSclerosis.net and Lockdown Literature. 

 

memoir makes entropy’s ‘quarantine reading’ list

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As one of many authors whose latest book was released during a pandemic, I’ve got to say, I’ve been blown away by the ways in which the literary community has rallied to support writers who’ve been affected by the coronavirus closures.

Case-in-point: The literary magazine Entropy‘s Michael J. Seidlinger put together a quarantine reading list of “Books You Shouldn’t Forget to Buy” and was gracious enough to place Uncomfortably Numb on the list.

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Thanks to both Michael and Entropy for their good will and generous literary spirits!

Image credits: Entropy magazine.

blogger gives kudos to ‘uncomfortably numb’

Screenshot 2020-04-06 16.37.35The Sparkly Life blogger Alyssa Kolsky Hertzig named Uncomfortably Numb one of her top reads for the month of March.

Putting it in her “Liked A Lot” category, Kolsky Hertzig wrote of the memoir:

“It tells the story of the author’s life being rocked when she is diagnosed with a chronic disease (after being told by doctors that it was anxiety/all in her head). I thought it was really interesting to learn about how her illness has affected every aspect of her life, and I also thought it was a good commentary on how women’s concerns still often aren’t taken seriously by the medical community. It’s a quick read and a I love a good memoir.”

Image credit: The Sparkly Life.

tuesday, april 7: #bookpartychat author panel on femininity

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Come on over to Twitter on Tuesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. Boston time and join a panel of authors discussing “Perceptions of Femininity.”

Six authors — including yours truly — will be discussing femininity, sexuality and power. Participants include: Christina Chiu, Rachel McLean, Christina Russo, Emma Miles and Rachel Churcher. The moderator is Mai Taylor.

My contribution to the talk? How women’s medical complaints are handled and received by some physicians.

Follow @BookPartyChat and the hashtag #BookPartyChat.

stat column asks: should you tell your employer you have ms?

Screenshot 2020-03-28 15.13.08While I was gearing up to promote my memoir —Uncomfortably Numb, about the life-altering impact of my multiple sclerosis diagnosis — I realized I should probably tell my employer about both the memoir and the chronic illness.

Thus far, I haven’t had to ask for any accommodations, although I do have a handicapped parking pass to use on campus when I need it. But I thought it would be best if I told the administrator who runs my department in person. (This was well before the coronavirus caused nationwide school shut-downs.)

It prompted me to write an essay which was published by STAT News. The piece starts this way:

As I prepared to tell my employer that I have relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, I worried about what to expect.

Maybe I’d get a shocked look from the administrator who oversees the department where I teach part-time. Or maybe I’d be quietly phased out, informed that future teaching opportunities have dried up.

This “big reveal” would be, according to multiple sclerosis advocates, a risky move.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Image credit: STAT News.

READ: ‘uncomfortably numb’ excerpt at healthcentral

Screenshot 2020-03-28 15.01.36In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, the HealthCentral website has published an edited excerpt of Uncomfortably Numb.

Here are the first few lines:

There’s something weird going on with my leg.

I’m interviewing a middle school band director for a book I’m working on, but something doesn’t feel right on my leg and I can’t stop thinking about it. I brush my left calf across my right shin to compare the sensations. The right leg is positively brimming with feeling by comparison.

Yeah, that’s not right. 

After the interview is over, I walk to my car. Now that I’m alone, I can fully focus on how odd the skin on my left shin feels — how the hem of my linen capri pants feels, as though it’s rubbing evenly across my right shin and calf, but not so with my left. I close my eyes and focus on my legs.

Does it feel different on my left? Does it really? Is this just something strange that will go away?

Read the full excerpt here.

Image credit: HealthCentral.

virtual book tour for ‘uncomfortably numb’ continues: book giveaways & an instagram takeover

Screenshot 2020-03-28 13.11.01As I’ve seen events to promote my medical memoir Uncomfortably Numb canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been so grateful for the work of many people who are stepping in to fill the void.

Several woman have been extremely generous in helping me spread the word about my medical memoir through their online book groups.

Ashley Spivey’s book club: Instagram takeover

Self-proclaimed book nerd Ashley Spivey allowed me to take over her book club’s Instagram account this past week to promote Uncomfortably Numb.

Screenshot 2020-03-28 14.31.23I’m new to the world of Instagram stories, so it took me a little bit of time to figure out how to layer words atop the images and then throw music into the mix, like combining UB40’s “Red Red Wine” with a snapshot of my mother (whose death is featured in the memoir) sucking down a glass of red wine.

I had to create visual ways of conveying the experience of writing and researching my memoir, including shooting quasi-awkward videos of myself explaining my process. In addition to a photo of my mom –who was given the nickname The Wine Mother by a local radio DJ, I posted a pic of the bathroom where my biggest MS attack took place, a photo of my family on vacation in Los Angeles just before two MS attacks, and an illustration that I first saw on actress & MS patient Selma Blair’s Instagram account (created by artist Erica Root) depicting MS symptoms.   

You can see highlights from my Uncomfortably Numb Instagram takeover here.

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Readers Coffeehouse Facebook book group: Book giveaway

Prolific author Kimberly Belle — one of the founders of the Facebook book group Readers Coffeehouse — has been instrumental in the “authors helping authors” movement, assisting those whose book events were canceled in the wake of the coronavirus spread.

After she shared my book with her club members, I engaged in lively online discussion with them before giving away two signed copies.

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Annie Horsky McDonnell, of The Write Review: Gives kudos to the memoir

After our recent flash-interview on The Write Review, Horsky McDonnell wrote a short review of Uncomfortably Numb.

“Wow! This book should be read by anyone with Multiple Sclerosis, or other autoimmune disease,” Horsky McDonnell wrote. “… It is a book that is going to help so many people needing a voice to hear when they get their diagnosis with MS, or even a loved one does. It will certainly bring comfort to know they are not alone! After my interview with her, I trust she will be a huge voice for Multiple Sclerosis. I cannot get her out of my head, and I’m sharing her book with my doctors!!”

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Yellow Brick Reads Facebook group: Book giveaway

Led by Jady Bernier Babin, members of the Yellow Brick Reads Facebook group vied for a chance to win signed copies of Uncomfortably Numb by sharing ways (other than reading, which, of course, we all adore) they are coping with being asked to shelter-in-place so as not to spread Covid-19.

I was honored to virtually converse with Yellow Brick Reads folks, as well as with the members of Readers Coffeehouse, The Write Review and Spivey’s book club.

Thank you Jady, Kimberly, Annie and Ashley for your support!

 

‘i couldn’t read it fast enough’ — reviewer says of ‘uncomfortably numb’

author-photo-madeline-dyer-300x300-1U.K. author, book reviewer and creator of the Twitter-based #BookPartyChat, Madeline Dyer wrote a lovely review of my medical memoir Uncomfortably Numb.

As Dyer — author of several novels including the Untamed series — is working on her own memoir about her chronic illness, her words meant a great deal to me.

While saying she “couldn’t read it fast enough,” Dyer called Uncomfortably Numb “harrowing in places,” adding that it had “so many relatable moments.”

“The writing craft itself in this book is really good too,” Dyer continued. “Stylistically, Meredith’s writing flows and just demands to be read. I’ve read quite a few medical memoirs, but I have to say, I think this is one of the best, and I’ll be recommending it for years to come.”

You wouldn’t know, just by reading this post, but I’m blushing. Thank you Madeline!

You can read her full review here.

Image credit: Madeline Dyer.