The Gene Guillotine: An Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Memoir   Buy Book   

CNN’s “Filling The Blank” airing on February 19th

(Feb. 25, 2011) Newest update- CNN’s documentary is available on Internet! See full update here.


(Feb. 3, 2011) CNN’s Untold Stories will air “Filling The Blank” again on February 19, 2011. Here is the link to the trailer. This information is from their web page that also has new content, extra footage and articles about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My aunt, Julie Noonan Lawson and I were quoted in Alzheimer Cluster Sparks Dream of Cure by Felipe Barral. A friend here in the United States was able to watch “Filling The Blank” this past weekend through CNN’s International online streaming.

My manuscript, The Gene Guillotine, has received great feedback from reviewers. This week, I have been navigating technical issues. These technical issues feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. Now, I’m waiting for my editors to review additional formatting edits before it will go back to the book designer for round two of the book formatting.

I underestimated what is involved in self-publishing, I thought the book would be done by now. It’s a full time job. I keep moving forward, unaware of where the end actually lies. Is the light I see the end of the tunnel, or another oasis?

Update on CNN’s “Filling The Blank”

(Feb. 25, 2011) Newest update- CNN’s documentary is available on Internet! See full update here.


Jan. 27, 2011

I have just learned that CNN domestic will NOT air “Filling The Blank” at this time.

I am frustrated and disappointed. However, I have been assured it will still be shown on CNN International and CNN Espanol on January 29, 2011. My Aunt Julie Noonan Lawson reminds me “that our message will still be delivered and after viewing the trailer, it looks like it will be a powerful piece. That is the ultimate goal.” We want to raise awareness about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

I hope CNN domestic will eventually air this documentary so my friends, backers and supporters here in the United States will also be able to see “Filling The Blank.”

The link to the trailer is:

Airing times:

CNN International:
Sat 1/29 and 2/12: 8am ET, 4pm ET
Sun 1/30 and 2/13: 7am ET, 9pm ET

CNN en Espanol:
Sat 1/29: 2pm ET, 8pm ET
Sun 1/30: 3am ET, 1pm ET, 7pm ET
Wed 2/2: 7am ET, 1pm ET

Preview for “Filling The Blank” a CNN Documentary

The trailer to the documentary was released ( It is beautiful, moving, and sad. I am honored to be one person among hundreds involved in this documentary.
I’ve been crying all day. It’s weird to see my teary face on TV, hear the pain in my relatives voices, listen to doctors, and watch other families equally desperate. We are all hoping, praying, exposing ourselves for one thing: A CURE!

Who’s who?
I’m the runner in the beginning, then at 2:37 and 3:22.
My aunt Julie is at 0:15 with my aunt Fran. Fran appears around 90 years old, she was only in her mid-fifties at the time. Julie is also at 3:12.
My uncle Eryc is at 0:26 with my uncle Butch. Like Fran, Butch appears to be in his 90’s, he was 58.
Butch 0.35, 0.49, 3.10
Fran 0.15, 0.20
Family 0.27, 2.45, 3.10, 3.17
Photo of Grandma and Grandpa 3:18
Photo of Mom and Dad 3:20

The Gene Guillotine Update:
Between the tissues, I am working with Terri, a graphic designer, for my publishing company logo; setting up business accounts for my publishing company; deciding on book categories; calculating book price based on wholesale price, discounts, costs, and miscellaneous fees; and purchasing ISBN numbers.
A couple hours ago, I received the first book proof in a digital file. I will look it over, ask for a few alterations, and then have three copies printed and bound like a real book! One for me, one for Amberly, my current editor, and one for Jerry, a new editor I hired today. After their feedback, there will probably be a few more changes. Followed by the first print run.
My tentative hope is to send books to Kickstater backers in the next two weeks. Then release the book to the public in three weeks. However, nothing seems to be as easy, smooth, or fast as my totally inexperienced publishing mind anticipates. I’m like a kid on December 1st asking how long until Christmas. If I ask ten times a day, will it arrive sooner?

R. Sargent Shriver died today, 1-18-2011

The New York Times has a beautiful tribute to Mr. Shriver.

I love the final quote of the article where Mr. Shriver tells his Yale students, “… look less at yourself and more at each other …”

I hate that we as a nation have lost another person to Alzheimer’s disease, but feel grateful Maria Shriver, Sargent Shriver’s daughter, is an advocate for defeating and teaching about Alzheimer’s. Here is a link from the HBO series, “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?”

Maria, you and your father are admired and respected. I am sorry for your loss, that of your family, and the loss it represents to everyone who has lost or is losing someone to Alzheimer’s disease. Less than 24 hours remaining, 95 backers, 120% funded!

I never imagined I would be content with 24 hours to go on kickstarter. I thought I would be begging, pleading, crying, praying. Calmly, I watch the hours disappear, my heart full of gratitude. Thank you all for believing in me and the The Gene Guillotine. The project will end tonight, Tuesday at 11:11pm PST(2:11am early Wednesday EST). If you want the special rewards offered on kickstarter, this is your last chance. Preorder a book and have it shipped to you one week before it is released to the public or dine at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, I will be your primary waitress and personally give you a copy of the book.

I’m still frantic in the publishing process, setting up a company, picking a publishing name, proofing the cover design, and figuring out the printer. This morning at 8:00 exactly, after only 3 hours of sleep, I emailed numerous documents to Amberly Finarelli, my editor, to be sure they were book-ready: the text for the back cover, the bio, the page on gene etiquette, and the introduction.

I felt like I was in college, pulling an all-nighter, rushing to get the paper in before the deadline. We reviewed everything this afternoon and to my disbelief and relief, she liked the introduction. I was shocked. My previous introduction was tight, concise and after years of editing I knew it nearly word for word. However, the “laundry list” of what the book contained wasn’t an effective intro. I had to start over. My new introduction is— new, and being such it is hard to look at it with appreciation. I need a month for it to mature on the shelf to adequately decide for myself, a month that I do not have.

Amberly, suggested maybe I have the “writer’s fatigue.” Is this the phrase for the sensation of body exhaustion and mental burnout I’ve been feeling for a month?

The biggest change Amberly suggested is to rewrite the bio and the back cover in third person. I’ve been rebelling against this since I wrote my first bio 8 years ago. Everyone knows that most authors write that text, why should it be in third person? It’s a facade, and I prefer the personal touch.

Amberly reminded me it was ultimately my decision, but being my editor she has to alert me to the norms. She said if I left the bio in first person it would be like coming to a stoplight that has a purple light where the green light normally resides. Everyone especially avid readers are used to things being a certain way. Reading my bio in the first person wouldn’t necessarily be negative but it would give pause.

I will change it, mostly because I want my book to look as professional as possible and less like a cobbled together self-published scrapbook. I’ve spent too much time on it to buck the system in ways that hurt the portrayal of this book.

A glimmer of relief is in my soul, a sense that I will soon be done.

Happy New Year!

It’s announced! * Jan. 29th 2011 *
Save the date to watch CNN’s early-onset Alzheimer’s documentary “Filling The Blank.”

Click here (right side-“On the next episode” of World’s Untold Stories) to view a beautiful picture of Colombia, where many families are active participants in an early-onset Alzheimer’s research study and doctors are committed to finding treatment or a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. My extended family and I were interviewed as part of this documentary.

Additionally, there are only 11 days left to preorder The Gene Guillotine on kickstarter.

Despite being on family vacation, I have continued to prepare for the publication of this book . My family has continued to support my efforts and for that, I am grateful. Now, I leave the computer and join them for a bonfire.

I hope you have a safe and happy new year.

105% and First Publicity!

Yippee! Jeanne was the Kickstarter backer who put this project over 100% and 6 more people have backed since then. I think I am still in shock. It hasn’t really sunk in. Thank you everyone! You can support and preorder The Gene Guillotine at

I was buying groceries at Safeway when Andy checked his blackberry and said, “100%.”
I stopped swiping my credit card mid-swipe and said, “No way?!? Already?”
He showed me the page.
My eyes popped, “Really?”
“I told you people believe in this project.”

I promptly dialed my siblings to tell them the news. Then celebrated with two family members over a hot mug of Candy Cane tea and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Shelly Pike from North Country Public Radio posted a blog that mentions this book. Thank you Shelly! North Country Public Radio is located in Canton, New York where Shelly and I met at St. Lawrence University. This is the first publicity on my book!


The Gene Guillotine is 77% funded on Kickstarter, only 2 weeks into this project and 23 days to go!

This is totally amazing. Thank you everyone for backing me!


Late last night the front page of the New York Times featured an article titled “Early Tests for Alzheimer’s Pose Diagnosis Dilemma.” The title of the article now appears to be “Tests Detect Alzheimer’s Risks, but Should Patients Be Told?” The comment I submitted to NYT regarding that article is #45.

My goal is to connect with others who are impacted by Alzheimer’s or a genetic disease.

Excitement & Fear

All the excitement is true,
And I’m also fragile.
Hope is heavy and fear creeps up.
This fear-excitement edge.
What am I doing being so open? Even if this seems to be my mission in life,
I don’t have to choose it. I could do anything else.

I hibernate, a mini one… an ostrich’s head buried in the sand, while my body (my website and kickstarter) are prominent displays of my book. I have heard that excitement and fear have the same physical manifestations.

I hesitate to reveal this–I’m supposed to be professional now, showing only confidence and courage.
My crying eyes must be from my “excitement” right? Another tear, another excitement?

Will you feel when you read my book? It’s my story, loaded with my past and triggers instant tears in me, but will it matter to you? It”s the cost-benefit analysis that has no easy answers. Is this ‘stripping’ worth it?

Tenderly, I hold my heart and head, as I continue onward, taking the next most logical step.

I’m honored to have your support.

Want to do more? Here are ways you can support this book:
*Go to kickstarter and become a backer of my project.
*Sign-up for updates on my website.
*Forward this as an email to everyone in your address book.
*Add links on your facebook or twitter account to my website and my kickstarter webpage.
* Watch the CNN 2011 documentary on Alzheimer’s disease. (Date to be determined.)


Blast off! I hit the launch button today. My project is LIVE.

You can support and preorder The Gene Guillotine: An Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Memoir today or any day until 1/11/11 at 11:11pm. (Easy to remember.)

Visit this link and be the first to support my book!

I’m hoping to have my book published and ready to go before CNN airs their documentary on Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. CNN interviewed me as part of the documentary. (Can you believe it? CNN came to my home to interview me! I’m still shocked.)

Thank you for your amazing support and energy for this book.

Kickstarter accepted my project

Kickstarter accepted my project!!! I’m so excited.  The butterflies got bumped.  I’ve got elephants jumping in my solar plexus! Yahoo! I can’t believe it….no, I can believe it, but it’s another step, someone else believes in this project too… a total stranger!

Now, I have to finish the text and tier levels.  I’m hoping to have this project up tonight because it is November 23rd, the anniversary of my mom’s death.