October 28, 2010

Red Yeast Rice: Another Dangerous Supplement

The public continues to buy the argument that "natural" products are safer and healthier than pharmaceuticals, despite ample proof that this is not true.

The main reason why is this: in the 1990s wealthy large companies paid for expensive PR campaigns that appealed to the public's paranoia, convincing many that the government was trying to take away their wonderful supplements. At the same time, the industry paid large amounts into the campaign coffers of "anti-regulation" senators and in return they got the law they wanted that prohibits the government from regulating supplements. (Details about how the industry destroyed the FDA's ability to regulate supplements can be found in this Harvard Law School publication HERE.)

As things stand now, manufacturers can sell pretty much anything they want to as long as they don't make health claims on the label and as long as their supplements don't cause enough death or disability to trigger an investigation.

What this means for you the consumer is this: supplement manufacturers can promote their wares as medicines as heavily as they want to, as long as they do not put the claim on the actual bottle they sell. They can put it on a web site. They can pay a PR person to plant articles in health magazines, and they can send brochures to self-appointed alternative medicine "practitioners." And, believe me, they do.

Supplement manufacturers often sell their extremely expensive products with the argument that the natural supplement is a better choice than a pharmaceutical drug. For example, they may tell you that soy isoflavones are better than pharmaceutical estrogen at menopause. Or that you can control your blood pressure by taking magnesium rather than blood pressure medication. As long as they don't put this false claim on the label, the FDA cannot step in. It's worthy of note that if a health claim is supported, it CAN be put on the label. But if that is the case the FDA would then be able to treat the supplement as a drug and test it to see if the bottle contains what it says it does.

In most cases, it doesn't. Which is why you will never see any health claim on supplement labels.

Every time anyone takes bottles of supplements to the lab they find that these bottles do NOT contain what they say they do. They may not contain any of the expensive herb or chemical you are paying for or they may contain an amount of that substance that is quite different from what they list on the label.

Sometimes the bottle you just paid $23.95 for contains little beyond some calcium carbonate pills. But though you are frequently not getting what you paid for, at other times the pills you buy may contain too much. And since some supplements are toxic in large doses this is a concern. Even within a single bottle, given the lax manufacturing practices in this unregulated industry, pill to pill the ingredients may vary.

And the problems with what's in that bottle go beyond fluctuating doses. The pills you buy may also contain poisons. These may occur in the form of heavy metals, industrial contaminants (solvents etc.), and the naturally occurring toxins that come from fungal or bacterial contamination.

A recent lab analysis of what was in the bottles of 12 brands of Red Yeast Rice, a supplement marketed for controlling cholesterol, makes it crystal clear why if you do find yourself needing medicinal treatment, you should avoid the use of unregulated supplements.

The study can be found here: Marked Variability of Monacolin Levels in Commercial Red Yeast Rice Products Ram Y. Gordon et al. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170 (19): 1722 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.382

You can read a more detailed report about this study's findings here: Science Daily: Active ingredient levels vary among red yeast rice supplements.


People take Red Yeast Rice to lower cholesterol instead of statins, rightly fearing the problems that statins can cause. What the supplement industry does not make clear is that the reason Red Yeast Rice may lower cholesterol is that it contains a chemical, monacolin K, which is chemically identical to the chemical marketed as the pharmaceutical drug lovastatin.


The main difference between statin in the red yeast rice pill you buy and pharmaceutical lovastatin is that the amount of lovastatin you get in the "natural" supplement is completely unknown. In the study cited above, researchers found that the concentration of lovastatin in the 12 different branded bottles varied from 0.10 to 10.09 mg per capsule. That's a significant range!

Since the size of the dose of statin you take has a lot to do with both its effectiveness and with whether it will cause the severe side effects that statins cause (including brain damage leading to mild, irreversible dementia and muscle wasting) it is extremely unwise to take your statin in a form where you have no idea how much you are getting. This study clearly shows that when you buy your statin as a "natural supplement" you may be getting almost none, some, or too much. Why play Russian Roulette with your meds?


But that's not the only problem with Red Yeast Rice. The other problem is that because it is an unregulated "natural" product which is created by growing funguses on rice, it often contains other funguses--some of which produce poisons.

In the case of Red Yeast Rice the fungus-produced toxin that produced by the funguses that grow alongside of those that produce the statin is called citrinin. It is a toxin known to destroy the kidneys in animals.

The study cited above found "elevated levels" of citrinin in four out of twelve brands of Red Yeast Rice products it evaluated. (The phrasing suggests the researchers also may have found lower levels in other bottles.) Sadly, the researchers did not reveal to the public which brands contained this toxin. My guess is that they did this out of a fear of lawsuits brought by the companies who earn billions each year from selling you this toxic crap.

I would have to say that one of the most common questions I get in my email from readers of this blog and the Blood Sugar 101 web site is "What supplements do you recommend I take." Many of my correspondents will accompany this question with a long list of supplements they are already taking.
Sadly, many of them are taking red yeast rice in the erroneous belief that it is safer and healthier than the statins that doctors push on people with diabetes.

Since so many people with diabetes already have early kidney damage at the time they receive their diabetes diagnosis, this is disturbing news. The last thing a person with diabetes needs is to be taking a supplement that contains a chemical known to poison the kidneys.


As things stand now, the FDA can act against a supplement only after doctors report damage to patients that is linked to their taking a specific supplement. But because doctors expect people with diabetes to develop kidney failure and may not even know their patients are taking these alternative medicine forms of statins, it is very unlikely that the damage that kidney-toxic red yeast rice may be wreaking will ever be noticed.

There are real problems with statins, but at least when you take a statin you bought at the pharmacy you can be sure that the capsule contains the dose you were told it did and that it is not contaminated with poisons.

The same is true of every other supplement you may buy. And given the amounts of money that corporations who profit from selling you dangerous crap are paying into the campaigns of candidates howling for more "deregulation" you can be sure it isn't going to change any time soon.

If you really want to protect your health, avoid all supplements. You have no way of knowing what is in any of them. Some companies claim that their supplements have been tested for purity. However, when I investigated these claims in the past, I learned that all this means is that one batch was taken to the lab, once. There is no assurance that what you buy will match the lab assay provided (and the small print that accompanies these claims of lab-proven purity is full of legal weasel-wording.)

Other potentially damaging supplements include kelp, all of which is contaminated with arsenic. When I contacted supplement companies about this I was told that finding arsenic in natural kelp it was "normal." None denied the claim that their products contained arsenic. Arsenic exposure has been implicated as a cause of diabetes. (Details HERE).

Fish oil may contain mercury. Vitamin D capsules appear to contain amounts of Vitamin D that do not correspond to the label Details HERE.

The supplement industry always responds to these kinds of reports by appealing to anti-government paranoia. "This is a plot by the FDA to take away your freedom" is the usual response.

Personally I would like to take away the freedom of a cynical multi-billion dollar industry to sell you whatever it feels like putting in a pill, slapping a label on the bottle that lies about its contents, and to ignore the fact it is charging you a fortune for toxins that can shorten your life and make what is left of it miserable.


October 25, 2010

Understanding Doctor Fails

Picture this: Your computer won't turn on, so you take it to the repair shop. The guy there tells you it's going to cost $60 for him to take a look at it. You leave the computer with him for two days. You pick it up, pay your $60, but when you plug it in at home you find it still doesn't work. The problem, it turns out, is that the repair shop you took it to was a car repair shop, not a computer repair shop.

This is a silly story, of course, because no one takes their computer to a garage to get it fixed. But sadly, something very similar exactly what happens to many of us when we take our malfunctioning diabetic bodies in to family doctors for repair. We assume they are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of blood sugar related medical problems when in fact, this is not true. Many doctors have been taught very little about how to diagnose diabetes and even less about how to keep it from ravaging the body.

To understand why, you have to understand how doctors are trained. In medical school they learn anatomy. They dissect bodies and learn the location, names, and perhaps the function of hundreds of organs and tissues. As far as diabetes goes, they learn the location of the pancreas and its anatomy, and may be shown the damage done to tissues by diabetes, though they will not be told that it is the high blood sugars people with diabetes live with that cause the damage, not some underlying disease.

After mastering anatomy, doctors are taught to recognize the symptoms of hundreds of common medical conditions, among which is Type 2 Diabetes. This is where they learn "diagnosis."


Doctors are taught that Type 2 Diabetes is a condition diagnosed by a fasting blood sugar test over 125 mg/dl. Unfortunately, many people, including most women, develop dangerously high post-meal blood sugars years before their fasting blood sugar is high enough to provide a diagnosis.

And to make it worse, since the diagnostic cutoff was arbitrarily set to 140 mg/dl until just thirteen years ago, many doctors practicing now who were trained before 1997 still secretly think diabetes isn't serious until fasting blood sugar reaches at least 140 mg/dl and because of this, won't treat diabetes aggressively for years after a patient is initially diagnosed until the fasting blood has deteriorated to where they consider it really diabetic. While they are waiting, high blood sugars are ravaging your organs.

A few doctors are taught to diagnose diabetes with a 2 hour oral glucose tolerance test and consider a 2 hour reading over 200 mg/dl proof of diabetes, but these same doctors often ignore 2-hour glucose tolerance test results when the one hour reading is over 200 mg/dl even though the official diagnostic criteria that define Type 2 Diabetes also state clearly that a person should be diagnosed as diabetic if they experience two or more random blood glucose readings over 200 mg/dl no matter when or how they were obtained.

On top of this, the growing reliance of family doctors on the A1c test they can do in thier office is causing even more doctors to fail to diagnose diabetes, as I discussed HERE.

All this explains why so many doctors fail to diagnose diabetes in a timely fashion and why so many people are walking around with diabetic blood sugars for years before they are finally diagnosed.


In medical school, doctors memorize the standard treatment recommendations for hundreds of different conditions. But since diabetes is just one of these many hundreds of conditions whose treatment they must memorize to pass their medical boards, they can give it perhaps a day of study, or perhaps only a few hours.

What they are taught is that people can avoid diabetes by eating "right" but doctors do not take courses in nutrition in medical school so they rarely know anything about how different foods affect the body or what diets actually lower blood sugar.

After doctors receive their degrees, they go through one year hospital internships followed by multi-year residencies, also usually in hospitals, where they work with more experienced doctors and treat the medical crises that bring people to hospitals.

During these years they will treat many people with Type 2 Diabetes--but only after decades of poor blood sugar management have caused these people to experience medical crises like heart attacks, amputations, kidney failure, or diabetic blindness that bring them to the ER.

Nowhere in his training with your doctor encounter healthy people with Type 2 Diabetes whose health is normal because they control their blood sugar and keep it at normal levels. He will not be taught that it is possible for people with Type 2 Diabetes to keep blood sugars normal and live normally healthy lives.

With this kind of training behind him, when your doctor sees a person with Type 2 who is not suffering from a major complication, he thinks they are doing very well no matter how bad their blood sugar might be. In fact, your blood sugar will have to be very bad indeed before your doctor takes any steps to improve it.

Most doctors do not prescribe any drugs to patients with Type 2 Diabetes until they have had an A1c over 8% for at least a year. This corresponds to an average blood sugar of 183 mg/dl, which is one high enough to wreak significant damage on organs. (Details about what sciences has learned about what blood sugar levels produce complications can be found HERE.)

After a patient has spent enough years with high blood sugars that they do start looking like they are headed for a severe medical crisis, doctors prescribe oral drugs--usually whatever the drug reps are pushing the hardest, even though there is a lot of evidence that prescribing insulin very soon after diagnosis--before damage has set in--results in far better outcomes years after diagnosis, even when patients only take insulin for a short while. (Details HERE.)


Once a doctor completes his residency and goes into private practice, 99% of his "education" about Type 2 Diabetes comes from people in the pay of drug companies--salespeople and other doctors who are taking huge "consulting fees" from a drug company to "educate" other doctors about how superior that company's drugs are supposed to be.

As a result,doctors are not informed about the serious side effects of these newer drugs until they have harmed so many people the FDA steps in. Even then, drug company flacks will provide a steady stream of reassurance about a dangerous drug until it is removed from the market (which usually takes 5-12 years after it starts injuring people.)

Doctors also learn little or nothing about non-drug treatments except for those that have been branded and are earning someone a lot of money. This is why when you learn about any diet from a doctor it usually has some other doctor's name (and financial empire) associated with it.

The rest of your doctor's medical knowledge comes from newsletters, heavily sponsored by drug companies. These distill a few gems of diabetes research into a headline and a one paragraph summary. These summaries cannot not explore the details of the research that can contradict the statement made in the headline that accompanies it. And when a highly promoted study funded by a drug company is debunked by academic researchers their studies often do not make it into the newsletters.

Since your doctor does not have the time to keep up with the thousands of studies concerning the hundreds of conditions he must come up with, he has no choice but to rely on these newsletters. Unfortunately, after reviewing them for almost a decade I have come to believe that 90% of what they tell doctors about appropriate treatment for their patients with diabetes is out and out false.

With this in mind, you can see why you so often come back from a visit to the doctor without anything more than a prescription for another expensive, side-effect laden oral drug. Your doctor does not have the time to learn all the ins and outs of diabetes. He does not have the time or interest required to read and analyze research or to hunt for better treatments for his patients. He does not begin to understand what is really raising your blood sugar or why you have so much trouble losing weight.

Until you have a medical crisis--a heart attack, amputation, or diagnosis of end stage renal disease--you doctor does not consider your case to be important, and in any event he believes that the drugs he can prescribe will only delay your ultimate and very unpleasant fate. So the faster you are out of his office so he can treat someone else whose condition is not their fault and who he might be able to help, the happier he will be.


In fact, it is possible for people with diabetes to achieve normal blood sugars, maintain them for years, and avoid developing new complications or seeing existing ones get worse. Details HERE. A very small sample of the success stories people send me can be read HERE.

Once you understand what is at stake and what you can do to improve matters, your doctor can even become an ally in your search for health--as long as you understand his limitations and do not expect him to do the hard work involved in teaching you what you need to know to regain your health.

With all this in mind, I'd like to offer you these tips:


1. Don't expect your doctor to know very much about diabetes. Educate yourself by reading books. You can find a selection of useful diabetes books listed HERE. You can also learn a lot by interacting with others online with Diabetes who will share what they've learned with you. You can find some support groups listed HERE. Keep in mind that each of us is different and what works for one person may not work for another, but feel free to try out different approaches people who are in excellent control themselves suggest until you find the one that works for you. Just be sure when you take advice that the person giving it knows what good control means. You can learn what blood sugar levels are associated with complications HERE.

2. Get your doctor to prescribe a blood sugar meter and testing strips. Armed with this powerful tool, you can easily determine which foods are safe to eat and which foods raise your blood sugar to damaging levels after you eat them. The meter will give you a much better idea of what it is safe for you to eat than any doctor will. Only by testing the food you eat can you find out which foods allow you to keep your blood sugar from rising into the danger zone.

3. Do not take any drug your doctor prescribes without researching it. Doctors are woefully ignorant about side effects and may brush off reports of side effects that are signs of very dangerous conditions.

Because drug companies have shown themselves perfectly willing to lie about their drugs' real side effects and to mislead doctors about their effectiveness, you cannot trust that your doctor is aware of the real dangers of prescription drugs.

I have been keeping up with news about the commonly prescribed diabetes drugs for almost a decade and you can learn what research has found about all of them by following the links you'll find HERE. You can also search this blog using the Google search at the right, to find posts about various drugs. Updates to the main Blood Sugar 101 site are tracked on a separate blog HERE.

When prescribed a drug for some other symptom or a diabetic complication, the best way protect yourself against the dangers of drugs is to learn how to read the official, FDA required Prescribing Information published for each drug.

You can find these online. They often include terminology unfamiliar to non-medical people. Usually you can use Google to find a medical dictionary that will translate these terms. If you need help, stop by one of the many online diabetes discussion forums where you will be able to find people who can help you interpret what you read.

The prescribing information will tell you how effective the drug really is and what factors might make a specific drug dangerous--for example pre-existing conditions or interactions with other drugs you might also be taking. It will also warn of the side effects associated with the drug, though sadly it will not tell you which are temporary and go away when you stop the drug and which are permanent.

Drug companies mix trivial side effects with the ones that ruin lives and give no hint to doctors which are which. Doctors are so used to people reporting the trivial side effects that they often ignore the serious ones. If you suffer a known side effect from a drug--for example sinus headache from Januvia, or muscle aches from a statin drug--do not assume it is trivial. These kinds of side effects may often indicate a more severe problem that left untended can harm you. (Immune system problems with Januvia and muscle wasting from statins.)

4. If your family doctor can't help you with a serious problem insist on seeing a specialist. Specialists get more in-depth training with a narrower subset of conditions.

But that said, don't assume that a specialist is competent just because they claim to be. Sadly, many of us have learned that the world is full of incompetent specialists, including endocrinologists. Doctors often refer you to specialists with whom they network--usually doctors that practice out of the same hospital, and may be ignorant about which doctors in your region are really the most competent.

As a rule, specialists practicing at prestigious regional medical centers are more likely to be competent than those practicing out of small community hospitals that only handle routine cases.

The good news is that most people with Type 2 Diabetes can do extremely well with a combination of self-education, meter-testing their diet, and the use of safe drugs like Metformin and insulin which have survived the test of time. The less you trust that your doctor is the expert, and the more you use your doctor as a resource to prescribe you the tools you have learned about that that can help you safely regain your health the better off you will be.


October 19, 2010

Database Reveals Drug Company Payments to Doctors

Vital information is revealed on this web site: Dollars for Docs. On it you will find a database that reveals the payments 7 large drug companies made to doctors in return for having those doctors pose as experts while promoting the company's drugs to other doctors. This promotion often involved reciting scripts provided by the company.

These payment revelations were forced out of the companies, after they lost lawsuits that proved these companies had broken the law with how they marketed their drugs.

Needless to say, when a company is reeling in billions of dollars from the sale of a drug this kind of penalty and a fine that isn't even the size of one year's profits from the drug constitute nothing more than a slap in the wrist written off as part of the cost of doing business.

I urge you to read the whole web site, including this important article:

Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials.

Then use the Search Box on the right of THIS PAGE to see if your doctors are being paid by Big Pharma to promote drugs to their peers.

Unfortunately, what this database does NOT do is reveal whether your doctor has been fed an expensive lunch by drug reps (a common technique to make them feel beholden), sent to resorts to receive "education" about an expensive new drug, or given the opportunity to participate in a "study" which involves signing up as many patients as possible to try the company's new drug in return for a hefty payment for each "study subject" recruited.

In case you wonder what kinds of misinformation drug companies pay doctors to tell their peers here are a few of the more common:

1. The makers of all new diabetes drugs invariably tell doctors that their drug will "rejuvenate beta cells."

This was the case with Avandia, Actos, Byetta, and Januvia. The claim was eventually disproven for Avandia and Actos, but not before these drugs had been on the market for ten year--ten years during which people paid obscenely high amounts for mediocre drugs with dangerous side effects that turn out to do nothing to restore beta cell function. Byetta has been on the market for about five years now and there is still no evidence that it rejuvenates beta cells in humans. Since it's effect on blood sugar wears off after a few years for most people, it's highly unlikely it has any such effect. The same is true of Januvia.

If beta cells are being "rejuvenated" you should see better blood sugar with each passing month that you take the drug.

2. The makers of new drugs pay doctors who pretend to be experts to "teach" family doctors that their brand new, untested drugs are better for patients than old, safe, tested drugs like metformin. As a result, many patients at diagnosis are put on dangerous new drugs that have little impact on their blood sugar but cost a fortune.

The inflated claims about the value of these new drugs make their drugs sound much more effective than they are and these "expert" doctors discourage family doctors from prescribing the insulin these patients really need.

No new oral drug on the market lowers insulin resistance or protects the heart the way that metformin does. No oral drug on the market lowers A1c more than 1% on average in populations whose average blood sugar is closer to 9% than 7%.

There's good evidence that newly diagnosed people with Type 2 diabetes do much better long term if put on insulin immediately after diagnosis. This can lower blood sugar dramatically and lower insulin resistance too. (Very high blood sugar worsens insulin resistance.)

3. Drug company shill doctors are given scripts which they use to convince other doctors that the side effects known to be associated with their drugs are not as serious as they sound, even when the side effect is death.

This isn't hearsay. Someone I know personally very well was working, running audiovisual equipment, at a convention, held inside a locked building guarded by armed guards, where a drug company whose drug had recently been found to kill significant numbers of people were educating their staff in the techniques and language to use to reassure doctors that the drug was still worth prescribing. One technique was to use euphemisms for words like "died" when describing studies.


October 18, 2010

Massive A1c Fail. It does not accurately diagnose diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association's Committee of [Misguided] Experts has recently recommended that the A1c test be used for screening patients to see if they have pre-diabetes and diabetes. They suggest defining an A1c of 6.0-6.4% as indicating "pre-diabetes" and one of greater than 6.5% as diagnosing "diabetes."

Like almost every suggestion these so-called experts have made since they started -meddling in diabetes diagnosis in 1978 this one will condemn millions of Americans to live with undiagnosed diabetes for years--years during which their daily exposure to damagingly high blood sugars will ensure they develop the diabetic complications--heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure that prove so profitable to drug companies.

And no, this isn't my opinion. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers who looked at what would happen had a large pool of people being screened for diabetes been screened with the A1c test instead of the Glucose Tolerance test that revealed that many of them had diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The study is reported here:

Screening for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes With Proposed A1C-Based Diagnostic Criteria Darin E. Olsen et al. Diabetes Care October 2010 vol. 33 no. 10 2184-2189. doi: 10.2337/dc10-0433

This team examined the records of 4,706 Non-Hispanic white or black adults without known diabetes. These people were given both A1C tests and a 75-g Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) when they participated in either the prospective Screening for Impaired Glucose Tolerance study (n = 1,581), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III (n = 2014), or NHANES 2005–2006 (n = 1,111).

When the researchers compared diagnoses made using the oral glucose tolerance test with those made using the ADA's new A1c criteria they found:
The proposed criteria missed 70% of individuals with diabetes, 71–84% with dysglycemia, and 82–94% with pre-diabetes.
And if that isn't bad enough, they also found that
There were also racial differences, with false-positive results being more common in black subjects and false-negative results being more common in white subjects.
Applying the NHANES 2005–2006 data, the researchers estimated that,
... approximately 5.9 million non-Hispanic U.S. adults with unrecognized diabetes and 43–52 million with pre-diabetes would be missed by screening with A1C.
Unfortunately, such is the clout of the American Diabetes Association and its Experts, that huge numbers of doctors around the U.S. have already switched to screening patients using the A1c test. One huge factor driving this change is because doctors can earn extra money by administering A1c tests to patients in their office.

As documented earlier, these in-office tests are extremely unreliable. Details HERE.

But this latest study adds to our misery by making it clear that even accurate lab A1c tests miss most cases of diabetes diagnosed by the GTT.

So millions of people who ask their doctor if they might be developing diabetes will be given an in-office A1c test (billed by the doctor at five times its actual cost) and then be reassured by their family doctors that they are "fine" when, in fact, they are walking around with blood sugar levels high enough to damage their heart, their arteries, their nerves, their retinas, and their kidneys.

If you rely on an A1c to diagnose diabetes you can be certain that by the time that A1c has risen high enough to earn a diagnosis, you will have serious, even irreversible damage that could have been avoided had you only been given timely warning that your blood sugar level after meals is high enough to damage your organs.

To learn what blood sugar levels have been proven to cause organ damage visit this page HERE.

To learn how to test your blood sugar at home to find out if you are running blood sugars high enough to damage your organs visit this page HERE.

If you learn you are running higher than normal blood sugars you can lower them using this very simple technique described HERE.

If you are black, you may, conversely, be told that they have diabetes based on an A1c test when you don't. A growing body of evidence suggests that the A1c test is a poor guide to blood sugar control in black people, probably because of differences in the genes that govern their red blood cells.

A false positive diabetes diagnosis isn't as damaging to your body as a false negative, because if a false positive usually leads to you taking steps to lower your blood sugar. This helps everyone as there's evidence that even people whose blood sugar is completely normal according to the Glucose Tolerance Test have a significantly higher risk of heart attack if their blood sugar does not return to its fasting level by the end of the test. (You can read details of that study HERE.)

But a false positive may make it prohibitively expensive for someone misdiagnosed this way to buy affordable health insurance in the US and that, too, can be harmful.

October 5, 2010

OT: Spot Jenny's New Novel and Enter a Contest to Win a Free Copy of Blood Sugar 101

As those of you who are friends of this blog know, after many years of writing novels for fun, I sold a three book series of historical romances to Avon a little over a year ago. The first of those books, Lord Lightning, is now on bookstore shelves around the U.S.A..

The photo below shows me admiring the first copy of book I ever spotted in a store. It was the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Holyoke, MA. As you can imagine this was an exciting moment.

I'm really curious about where else Lord Lightning might be showing up, so I'm calling on all my web friends to help me out and let me know if Lord Lightning made it to the shelves in your town. To encourage you to participate I've created a contest and will be offering offering prizes to randomly selected people who report their book spottings.

UPDATE: The contest is now over so links to it have been removed. The winners were drawn on November 1, 2010 and notified by email. Congratulations to Birdy who won the copy of Blood Sugar 101.

I really appreciated the photos people sent in. Seeing my book displayed in so many different places around the US and Canada was a thrill. Seeing it on people's Kindles and Nooks was great too.

My editor tells me the book is selling well which is great news in today's difficult economic environment. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy. I hope you enjoyed reading it!

READ EXCERPTS: You can find an brief excerpt on Amazon HERE

There's a longer excerpt posted on HarperCollins' web site HERE Click on the orange "Read Now" button to view it.