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Minting Miracles

MissCinderella bemoans the cost of a good cough syrup these days.

It only takes a village to raise a child. To raise the capital needed to pay off a modern American hospital bill it takes a mint. If you lack insurance, it takes a miracle.

Romance writer Trish Jensen needs that miracle. In mid-September, she found herself spending several scary days in the intensive coronary care unit of her local hospital sans health insurance. Jensen's medical bills could top $100,000.

Bills like that could cause any number of heart attacks, not to mention relapses. So three of Jensen's friends -- Sharyn Cerniglia, Karen Fox and Teresa Hill -- decided to create a miracle. They established the Trish Jensen Medical Fund to raise the funds necessary to pay Jensen's bills.

The fund plays to the strengths of the romance community -- a sense of sisterhood and a commitment to use their gifts to make a positive difference in the world. The fund's creators assume that everyone concerned about Jensen's plight either reads romance or wants to write one -- or both. Therefore, they asked published romance writers to donate books and critiques to help the cause.

The response to date goes beyond tremendous.

The list of autographed books reads like a who's who of romance luminaries from Jo Beverly to Jennifer Crusie to Julia Quinn to Rebecca York. Fox will auction these items on eBay. Links will be provided on her site as soon as the eBay auctions go live.

The list of celebrity critiquers shines just as brightly. Hill, who manages the fund's critique component, reports that so far she's signed up Beverley, Crusie, SandraHill, Cathy Maxwell, Maggie Shayne, Anne Stuart, Suzanne Forster, Christine Feehan, Christie Ridgway, Deb Stover, Judith Arnold, Barbara Samuel, Debra Dixon, Susan Kearney, Lynn Kerstan, Heather MacAllister, April Kihlstrom, Eve Gaddy, Eliza Shallcross and many more. And the offers to critique continue to pour in.

Current plans call for each published volunteer to critique a synopsis and first chapter (35 pages maximum) of an unpublished work in return for a donation of $40 or more to the Trish Jensen Medical fund. If Hill receives more than one request for an author's services, the critique will be auctioned on eBay.

Details on how to buy a critique will be posted on Hill's web site as soon as they become available. Click on "Help Us Help Trish." Hill hopes the details on how to purchase a critique will be posted by the time you read this. But volunteers keep knocking on her electronic door. So if you don't find the instructions today, keep checking every day until you do. Who knows, one of these critiques could mean the difference between publication -- or a winning Golden Heart entry -- and another polite rejection slip.

But if you can't wait to do your good deed for the month, you can email Cerniglia right now at sharyn.cerniglia@verizon.net. Cerniglia, the treasurer of the Valley Forge Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America -- Jensen's local chapter -- can accept donations on Jensen's behalf.

Ladies, I salute you all, and send the very best wishes of all the Crescent Blues staff for a successful fund drive and a very speedy and complete recovery.

Jean Marie Ward

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