Monday, December 8, 2008


Here I am at my sponsor, BORDERS BOOKS, in time for Christmas, with Professor Richard Hughes with whom I once traveled throughout the Soviet Union. With thousands of The Altar Boys sold and it being named a Finalist in the USA Book News Best Books of 2008, this has been a very satisfying year. Thanks to all of you for reading and recommending the novel and writing those great 5-star reviews of both of my novels on

And for those afraid to ask: Yes, my leukemia treatment has been a complete success and I am alive and well. In fact, I have recently retained the services of a young, muscular, black personal trainer with dreadlocks. I have always aspired to be buff, fast and black. By the Spring, I expect to return to running 5K races and challenge at least myself.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nevada tour...

Carson City - We visited both cities in Nevada.

Silver Legacy... worst craps table in Nevada

Don't even ask. Rob was cheated out of his come-out number, so we picked up and left.

H-e-e-e-s-s Back!!

In Reno and on the best seller table!

He's back with the best bookstore personnel in the book world - Borders Books.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Suing God!


Monday, April 28, 2008



When we last visited John, he was shooting up someone else's blood. But after five days, John--charts in hand--convinced his doctor that he needed to go home but only with an agreement that he wouldn't play in the dirt. With that, we jumped into our rental, and drove home from La Jolla to Lincoln, Cal.

So ends the "I'm not dead, yet" book tour and medical blog. For the next couple on months, John will be doing weekly blood tests just to monitor his return to normal, leukemia free, bone marrow. He will be avoiding people while his white blood count is low. But, probably with mask, he will be greeting the hordes that are expected to descend on Springhill Gardens here at our home for the National Garden Conservancy open garden tour of private gardens in America, scheduled for May 10th. (And yes you probably will be able to buy a copy of his novels including the latest, "The Altar Boys," with part of the proceeds going to the Conservancy.)

And you know damn well, even in a mask, he will be traveling to more BORDERS STORES starting in Reno and Carson City within weeks of the garden tour...and is already scheduled to address college faculty, service and book email him if you have a group that would like to hear him talk about "Altar Boys."

Oh, one more thing. John and his son Rob, the film maker, have combined to write, produce, direct and film a short for U-tube, related to the issues raised in John's latest novel. It will be out soon, and linked to this site. It is entitled: "Jesus get's sued...and it's not his fault." Keep having fun!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The white guy. That's me. Hooked up to an infusion pump for about 4 hours. Turns out that my hemoglobin had dropped further to 7.6 and I needed two bags of blood.

On Monday, Peg and I dropped in, with car fully packed, to tell doc we we leaving treatment a day early. He advised I might make it to LA before passing out or spiking a fever. He made us unpack. And then the blood. This morning, I have to admit, I don't feel light-headed and can be identified in photos of me in the sheets.

Peg is still on quota for handing out postcards of my latest novel, "The Altar Boys" with her new stitching friends and my office is attempting to keep up with bookstore demand. 

Thursday, we will try again with Dr. Saven, wearing my new tee shirt just received from Nancy Sheehan: "I love the smell of Chemo in the morning."  

Sunday, April 20, 2008


     I KNOW! Many of you  have asked if I would lose my hair. NO.Rather, I have been so damn mad at the Clintons, my hair grew. 

     Well, here is the medicine. After seven days of chemo, everything--as expected--dropped. My hemoglobin went to 8.5; platelets to 33,000 and white blood cells to .5. But...three days later, the hemoglobin dropped further to 8.2 and the white blood to .4. So, not wanting to alarm you, I decided to post only this picture.

     However, upon re-reading an early article from the British medical journal, Lancet, I recall these bounces are not unusual. Blood does not always respond in a straight line. (Did you get that "elitist" comment about Lancet?)

     So, Peg and I have decided to pack today, Sunday, and give Dr. Saven just Monday morning to approve my leaving. I will slip in early, order myself a blood test, check it out...and hopefully tell him we need to leave now as we have a lot of people counting on us to be back home. We plan on driving, to avoid sick people on airplanes. If all goes well, I should be riding my tractor Tuesday morning even though I might need help getting up in the seat and I will continue to avoid people for a few weeks.

     NOW, the big news: Let's hear it for our own Vickie Lorini, voted BORDERS' DMM (District Marketing Manager) of the Year at the National meeting of BORDERS BOOKS in Ann Arbor, Michigan!! Congratulations, Vickie. SHOP BORDERS!

Friday, April 11, 2008

SCRIPPS: World-famous oncologist buys "Altar Boys" novel

World-famous oncologist Dr. Alan Saven, M.D. Head, Division of Hematology/Oncology at Scrippts Clinic and Director, Green Cancer Center, buys a copy of John's latest novel, "The Altar Boys" and extracts a promise, that if cured, John will never sue again.

SCRIPPS: Checking chemo pump; nurse "margarita" unavailable so drank without her

                  Where is my Margarita!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

SCRIPPS: Let the medicine begin!

Tues. April 8th.
With the BORDERS California "Altar Boys" Book Tour completed, I started medical treatment today here in La Jolla at Scripps Clinic, the only hospital I know that valets your car. For all of you who have asked, or wonder, here is the short version, in three acts, of my medical treatment:

DIAGNOSIS: Hairy Cell Leukemia, relapse, after a hiatus of 17 years from my previous treatment here at Scripps. This is where the current, successful, treatment for HCL was developed and I had the good fortune to find this program 17 years ago when it was then an experimental drug. HCL is a disease of blood production in the bone marrow. All constituents of blood: hemoglobin that carries oxygen; platelets that makes blood coagulate and stop bleeding; and, white blood cells that fight infection, are adversely effected.

For example, my hemoglobin is 8.9 when normal is a range of 13.2 - 17.1 so I can't walk up stairs or lift anything without being out of breath and stopping. My platelet count is 41,000 instead of a norm between 140,000 - 400,000 which means I bleed if cut (and possibly bruise easy or commence spontaneous bleeding if it goes too much lower). My white blood count is 1.4 instead of 3.8 - 10.8 and the neutrophils are at 400 instead of 1500 to 1700 which means I am at high risk for infection--and I risked a book tour for BORDERS? Absolutely. Five great days with my son, Rob!

TREATMENT: Chemotherapy. Sounds so scary but this treatment does not result in hair loss and all the terrible things you associate with that word. Instead, a line is put in my arm and a drug infused continuously over a 7 day period though a machine the size of a walkman on a strap around my waist. This should kill the HCL (and probably a bunch of good cells, too) and allow for regeneration of new, clean blood cells from my bone marrow. After the 7 days, we will watch for at least a week to make sure there are no side-effects and to see if the new cells grow and result in increases of all of the numbers above at least to a point that it appears the drug worked. Then, we can go home. I will still avoid people for a while until my white blood count no longer puts me at such risk for infection.

FUTURE: The last time I did this treatment it resulted in 17 years of remission of the leukemia. We are hoping for a similar result this time. And...I have to have the Gardens of Springhill at my estate ready by May 10 for the National Garden Conservancy Tour and be ready to resume my book tour by May 15 when I address the library associates and retired faculty at California State University! So, thank you for your interest. I hope this answers your questions all in one place. And...BUY MY NEW NOVEL "THE ALTAR BOYS," TELL YOUR FRIENDS, AND POST GREAT REVIEWS ON AMAZON!

Monday, April 7, 2008



                                                     Getting ready. Waxing my board.
                                                      Hanging nine in cold water                                           

LA JOLLA: Looking for beach-front property

Getting ready to test the surf!! 

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day 5: San Diego, finally! End of the Tour.

We made it to the San Diego--Carmel Mountain BORDERS just in time to catch the after-church crowd. Had another great day and decided to end the tour with our banner (which Rob earlier had hung outside between two shopping carts.) here being shown held by Jeff and Pam of BORDERS.

So ends the tour. Each store, we found had its own personality but what was consistent was the warmth of BORDERS and its very special employees. In no other organization could we have put together our rag-tag-last-minute "I'm not dead, yet" tour and be so welcomed. I want to thank so many people--all of the DMMs along our route, the GMs, and the staff. But most of all I want to acknowledge Vickie Lorini, DMM, whose area includes Sacramento from which we launched the tour, without whom none of this would have been possible.

The single most important person, however, was my son Rob Poswall, who ran the entire tour like a film production: driving the tour bus, loading and unloading equipment, keeping me fed with healthy food and hydrated, filming for and entering this blog and being great company on our "road trip." As Charlie Chan use to say in those old movies: "Number One Son."

Tomorrow, it's beach time, here in La Jolla, and Tuesday I try to sell books to the medical staff of Scrippts Clinic as I undergo my treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia. Of course, I will be sending them to BORDERS BOOKS.

Selling my friend's books!

Diana Kennedy's "The Art of Mexican Cooking"
and Lescroart's "Betrayal."

I got an idea!

"Your so smart! I see nothing. I'll be inside selling!!" - Dad

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I have no idea what constitutes L.A. But the DMM (District Marketing Manager) of "Greater L.A." got us a couple of gigs (L.A. talk) in East L.A. which I think borders on Nevada.
But I take it all back, from last night, about Chino. What a great welcome by the GM Tye--we even had a flyer posted on the door. Of course, so did a parrot named Officer Bird. When a couple of elementary school teachers knocked over our display, we made them buy one of each of my books. (Photo: working thru lunch for BORDERS)

In Pico Rivera we achieved something that has never happened at any book signing of either book. ALL the purchasers were men. I can't explain it. I can say that selling a book critical of the Catholic Church in a community where virtually everyone entering the store is speaking Spanish is a challenge. But we prevailed...if only with the men.  Tomorrow, Sunday in San Diego. 

No more coffee...

Incognito in Chino

John's Chino "teachers"...

Jessie and Nancy

Pico Riveria - Sorta 1st buy.

1st and 2nd to buy books both named Alex! This is Alex number 2.

John gets the bird!

John goes "tongue to tongue" with Officer Bird, and his book "The Adventures of Officer Bird", authored by Michael Simonsen.

A fellow lawyer at Chino...

Darryl and his son Gregory

John visits Chino

John incarerated at Chino with Tyese (G.M.) and Hendra (Op. Manager).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Day 3: All Santa Barbara all day

We arose at 6am to get on the road and be at BORDERS in Santa Barbara by noon. We made it with minutes to spare. What a great store! We were afforded a propitious spot at the front of the store from which I leaned into the path of entering customers. (See photo, right.)

In every store, men come up and tell me they were altar boys. Santa Barbara was the first place a man admitted he was a choir boy. I didn't know where to go with that admission.

Speaking of admissions, animal advocates questioned how I could have attempted yesterday to sell a copy of Lescroart's Betrayal to a dog. I'm sorry; I thought he was a seeing-eye dog.

We were selling so well in Santa Barbara, we decided to stay instead of hitting the freeway in late afternoon traffic. Tonight, we are in Los Angeles at a group of movie artists' lofts. Tomorrow, we go to...well, I know I promised Hollywood, and many of you are waiting for a report on stars, but...Saturday we go to Chino (the BORDERS, not the prison) and, ok it is my first major tour, and their are dues to be paid in this book business: Pico Rivera. Goodnight.

Santa Barbara

Chris teaches detective fiction at UCSB.

Santa Barbara has been fun!

Ryan Thomas - GM at Santa Barbara.

First book at Santa Cruz!

Marilyn - Catholic school girl

Hurrrrry Rob, we got books to sell!

6am loading up for the new day... "ack."

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Last night, we sailed in from S.F. and celebrated daughter Rebel's birthday with a little cut glass dancer gift as a reminder of a "road trip" she and I once took to New York where she tried out (successfully) for the Alvin Allee American Dance Academy. But by morning, she was off representing multi-national corporations and dad and son were selling books once again in the San Ramon store that has been so great for my novel, "Altar Boys." There, we were greeted by a table covered with a beautiful red cloth set up and waiting for us.

But a surprise. This time, we also sold a number of "The Lawyers" as people reflect back in their own lives over the years.

After the lunch crowd, and a good couple hours of selling, we raced to Los Gatos (bypassing San Jose). What a wonderful find. Located in what looks like a historic building, the Borders has a mature and intelligent clientele. (And a great patio upon which Rob hung our "I'm not dead, yet" tour banner. See above, right.)

Marilyn Mintz, the creator of the Seeetheart Arts Doll, bought both of my novels. And Jana McBurney-Lin, the author of "My Half of the Sky," dropped by and we had a chance to talk about her terrific new novel. It is a remarkable story of a young women in China who attempts to uphold Chairman Mao's saying in her own life that "a women holds up half the sky." There were many other interesting people who bought "Altar Boys" but I think the best description I heard was the journalist who bought the book for her husband whom she called a "screaming Irish agnostic."

By Santa Cruz, we were exhausted. Fortunately, the store announced it was closing early. But not before we sold some books and added another "first purchaser" at each store to our Tour Blog: Marilyn, a good Catholic school girl.

Is there some symbolism in the fact that "Altar Boys" is touring California, and visiting many of its Mission cities, in the opposite direction as the Spanish Conquestadors with the Catholic religion they brought to this territory? (Goodnight.)