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First, an update about what’s new in my world of writing.

All three of my Erica Rosen MD Trilogy titles are now available on Audible. I think those of you who enjoy audiobooks will find the narrator, Onyx Volcan, to be quite entertaining. Each book is between nine and ten hours.

Another short story of mine, Secrets, is serialized on Kindle Vella. Kindle Vella stories can be read directly on the Amazon site. One chapter will be released each Monday until all twelve chapters are published. The first three chapters are free. After that, there is a nominal charge. Most of the proceeds will go to provide Jeff Bezos with more funding for his outer space ventures or perhaps another yacht.

Links to short stories and novels are on my website, under “short stories” and “novels”, respectively.

Now for a little follow-up on He Jiankui. You may not know who he (or should I write “He”) is. It’s confusing as He’s last name is spelled the same as the pronoun “he.” I surely do know who he is, and I recently learned that He’s back in the public eye.

As many of you know, the first novel in my Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, Unnatural, was about children who were genetically engineered in a secret Chinese government program. Note that this is a novel, i.e. fiction. When I wrote it, I thought that while possible, no one had dared to do such a thing— perform human embryonic stem cell genetic engineering— but it would make a good story. Certainly no one would actually do such a thing for years to come because of the risks involved as well as the world-wide moratorium on such a practice.

Boy, was I wrong. As I was editing the completed first draft of the book, the news of He Jiankui’s announcement spread quickly. A Chinese scientist, he proudly claimed to have performed human genetic engineering on three embryos, implanted all of them in women, and the resulting infants were about to be born. Needless to say, this changed the nature of my book’s plot from something original, that had never been done, to something that had already been performed. I swore a lot, thinking this made my story less compelling. A few days later, I had a change of attitude. My story was still interesting, but I would need to insert something about He's work. I did that, and in the end didn’t feel like his work detracted from my novel. It only reinforced the reason I picked China to be the site of the first embryonic stem cell gene editing—a country with an authoritarian government, but with advanced scientific capabilities.

While He didn’t edit the same genes targeted in my novel, there were some similarities between what he did and what happened in Unnatural. The gene He targeted was not life-saving. He claimed he wanted to make the children resistant to HIV, but the real reason was probably different—mutations in the gene he altered are thought by some to improve intelligence and/or memory (in rats it has been shown to improve cognition and memory after strokes and traumatic brain injury). A mutation of this gene occurs naturally in some people of European descent, and when they have two copies of this gene, they are resistant to many (but not all) viruses that cause HIV. On the other hand, they appear to be more susceptible to death from West Nile Virus, and, possibly, influenza.

He received world-wide condemnation. While the health and well-being of the children is kept secret, scientists analyzing the data supplied have concluded that mistakes were made. The changes in the targeted gene do not result in the same change found naturally in Europeans, and it is unknown what effect this “new” protein will have. In addition, there is great concern that off-target changes were made in the DNA of the embryos.

Very recently, He Jiankui has reappeared in the news. He supposedly served a three-year sentence in China, with some sort of confinement. I’m not sure if this is true, or just a public relations ploy carried out by the Chinese government. While at first, those in charge professed outrage and promised severe punishment, possibly a death penalty, the sentence was much less severe. It later came out that there is evidence the Chinese government funded He’s experiments. Perhaps, due to the world-wide reaction, He became the scapegoat.

He now admits that mistakes were made—he performed the procedure without considering the downside. His lack of caution may have been due to the fact that he is not a physician. Like the children in my novel, the victims of his gene editing scheme will need to be monitored for life, as they are at risk for unintended consequences. For all we know, they may already be showing signs of something that went awry, possibly suffering from the consequences of He’s recklessness. Only time will tell if the world will ever learn the truth about the condition of these three children. One thing is for sure—we haven’t heard the last of efforts to edit human embryos.

As 2022 draws to a close, I thought I’d update you about what I’ve been doing in the world of writing.

Unnatural, the first book of the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, is now available on audio through Audible. I’ve enjoyed hearing my characters come to life through the voice (or should I say voices?) of the talented narrator, Onyx Volcan. If you are curious, you can hear a short clip of the book for free on the Amazon site. Onyx is almost finished narrating the second book of the trilogy, Unwitting. I’m hoping it will be available by the end of this year. Narration of Unforeseen, the final book of the trilogy, will begin in early January 2023.

Most of you probably haven’t heard of Kindle Vella. I recently familiarized myself with this platform for publishing short stories and novellas electronically. Authors can post serialized works on the site, and readers can access episodes on the web at or by using the Kindle app. For each story, the first three episodes are free. Subsequent episodes can be unlocked by redeeming tokens which are purchased at various prices, depending on the quantity. Longer episodes require more tokens to unlock. I have a number of short stories saved that I was planning to publish as a collection. Not knowing when I would get around to that, I decided to try Vella. Five episodes of my six-episode story, Pennies from Heaven, are available now. The sixth episode will be published this Friday (remember, Vella allows you to read the first three episodes of each story for free).

Lastly, I want to mention that I’m working on my next book, a stand-alone suspense novel. The first (and second) drafts are done, but I still have more work to do. I hope to publish it in 2023.

Happy Holidays!

Hope to catch you again next year.

Fall is upon us, and I hope you are all happy and healthy. We seem to be getting a bit of a reprieve from the CORONA virus, but I’ll remain watchful for a surge in cases as winter approaches.

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay area, especially the East Bay, please consider attending one of my upcoming events.

Friday, October 28th, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. I will be doing a bookstore event with two other authors at Reasonable Books in Lafayette. The store is located at 3645 Mt. Diablo Blvd Suite C, Lafayette, and is very close to Trader Joe’s. The other authors in the event are Brian Lewis (retired journalist and author of Bloody Paws, Bloody Pages, and the soon-to be-released Bloody Feathers), and Todd Bequette (attorney and author of Good Lookin’ and Blood Perfect).

The subject will be: From Work to Fiction, an attorney, a journalist, and a physician describe how their work experience informs their crime fiction writing.

We will have our books available for purchase and signing. All three of us would love to meet you!

Sunday, November 6, at 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. I will be at the Walnut Creek Barnes and Noble where I will be signing my books. All three parts of my trilogy will be available for purchase.

The store recently opened and looks beautiful. It is located at Plaza Escuela, 1192 Locust Street, Walnut Creek (below Ruth's Chris).

I look forward to seeing familiar faces, and meeting new readers.

Lastly, the audiobook for the first book of the trilogy, Unnatural, should be available on Amazon through Audible in the very near future. The gifted narrator, Onyx Vulcan, has completed her narration and uploaded all of the files, which are now awaiting processing. I’m not sure what “processing” entails, but it should be on the Amazon site in less than two weeks. Work on narration of the second book, Unwitting, will begin in early November (with the same narrator, so characters will sound the same).

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