Changing my daughter’s ADHD medicine due to insurance

Last June, my daughter began taking a generic version of Focalin to help her focus in school after she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By July, we had increased the strength. We thought her behavior was much improved. Even the doctor noticed a difference at a follow-up appointment. We decided to wait for school to start to see if it was the correct dosage to help her with her classroom learning.

When we met with Lexie’s teacher for a parent-teacher conference in November, we learned that she was doing great in school and that even her reading scores had risen from last year. Her teacher said her dosage was perfect.

That was all well and fine until we received a letter that the Lexie’s medical insurance plan was being discontinued, and we would need to select a new one. When we looked at the plans out there, we were left with two choices – either select an insurance that had her pediatrician on the plan and NOT her specialists (ophthalmologist and allergist) or pick one that had the specialists but would cause us to lose the doctor she has had since birth.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that Lexie has had a variety of medical issues (situs inverses, eczema, allergies, polysplenia). Things have been going well, and I was eager to keep the pediatricians we knew and who knew her.

capsuleBefore choosing our new health insurance, I made sure Lexie’s meds were on their approved list. She takes two antihistamines as well as the ADHD medication. I checked, and they were on the list. Yeah!

January hit and when I went to fill Lexie’s ADHD medication, the pharmacy said that the insurance wouldn’t cover that drug. They wanted her switched to Adderall.

It seems I had missed something very important when looking up coverage of her drug. Her medication had an “ER” at the end of it. That is for Extended Release.

Her new insurance would cover the generic Focalin but not the Extended Release version. They requested we switch her to Adderall Extended Release. Her pediatrician petitioned them to allow her to stay on the Focalin, but the insurance denied the request. While waiting for the decision, we had no choice but to put her on Adderall.

I warned her teacher about the change, so she could watch for any side effects and to let us know if the medicine wasn’t working as well as the previous one. Her awesome teacher sent me an email every day for the first couple of days. She noticed no side effects, and it seemed to be working fine.

That is good news and bad news. Good that she is responding to the new medicine but bad that we will no longer go back to the medication her doctor prefers. I guess all that really matters is that the medicine is working, and Lexie is able to focus during school.


Today’s Featured Author – Julia Fellner

Please welcome to my blog author Julia Fellner. Her book, To Be a Hero, was released last October.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, my name is Julia Fellner. I wrote my first novel, Revealed, when I was sixteen. It was published two years later by Rogue Phoenix Press. For my second novel, To be a Hero, I decided to self-publish. This has also led to me blogging about publishing and what I call authorpreneurship. Authorpreneurship means as an author you have to be an entrepreneur as well because even if you don’t self-publish, marketing is mostly the author’s responsibility.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Rather than being a full-time writer, I consider myself a full-time storyteller. I also work as a brand and digital marketing consultant. Tasks like telling an organizational brand story or producing an advertisement video all require a heavy amount of storytelling.

Admittedly, time to write fiction rather than texts for social media or another form of copywriting can be tough. Therefore, fiction writing time is my reward for ticking off the other tasks on my to do list. However, what has also worked for me is that during school time I would get up an hour early to get some writing done because afterwards I would be too tired.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Like, I think, many people I first started referring to myself as a writer in front of other people when I got the publishing deal for my debut novel. However looking back, being a writer is something I identified with for the longest time before that, ever since I started taking writing seriously and doing it regularly.

Now I consider myself more of a storyteller as I’m branching out into producing and brand marketing. These may sound like completely different professions but storytelling is still essential to them.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Writing may be hard work but for me the writing itself is the reward. Of course some days when I don’t feel motivated to work I have to force myself to do it. But once I get into the flow of writing I’m always happy I sat down to write.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always write a vague outline of a story, before I start writing the first scene. The outline doesn’t need to be fully filled in because I look at my outline as a suggestion rather than a fixed plan.

While outlining my story beforehand does help me revise the plot and avoid potential plot holes from the start, I think you also need to be prepared to give your story the option of developing in a different direction than you originally planned. It’s a natural progression of writing that the book always changes as you work on it. You might have set out to write one book and end up writing one, which is completely different, albeit with similar characters and themes.

What inspired you to write To be a Hero?

When I first had the idea for To be a Hero, super hero films just started going into fashion. My friends and I talked a lot about them, so I started wondering about how a nerdy girl would react if a self-proclaimed hero showed up in her town. Can there be heroes in real life?

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didnt expect?

The story didn’t turn out like I expected at all. I set out to defy Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and the typical hero’s journey. However what I ended up doing was replicating it. Between the first and second draft I also cut 35 000 words and rewrote them. Sometimes if the way the plot develops doesn’t work, you have to simply go back to page one, find out where it went wrong and start anew from there. It’s a difficult decision to just cut so much of your work but sometimes it’s necessary.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? 

The worst writing advice, which I see being given by many people, is “Write what you know”. For some people this piece of advice might work. However, often I think people see it as limiting. If you want to write about dragons or fairies or write crime, don’t rely on getting to know a dragon, so you can write about them. Don’t limit your imagination like that.

The best writing advice I believe is “Keep writing”. It sounds simple but seriously keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Writing can be though and it can take time until you start seeing progress. But I promise you the more you write and the more you make it a habit, the easier it will come to you.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

For me personally, the best part about being a writer is the actual writing. While the writing process might be really frustrating at times, it is also the most creative part.

The worst part would probably have to be the editing. In my case it is the stage when all the insecurities creep in because you have to be very critical of your own writing to make it the best it can be.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Since my newest book, the Marketing Handbook for writers, which you can download for free, is out now, I’m focusing on fiction again. I’m currently putting together a small short story collection called Lesbian Adventures through Time. These stories all have strong queer women as protagonists, while also having very action-centered plots since these are stories my friends and I are struggling to find on a mainstream book market.

Book Blurb

To be a HeroValerie has loved stories about heroes ever since she was a child. Now it’s her chance to become one herself.

When a masked, self-proclaimed hero called Shadow appears in her hometown, she decides to team up with him and become a hero herself. Valerie is an unlikely adventurer. She can’t run fast and she is a little insecure. But she is passionate about turning her life into an interesting story.

However, soon she has to learn that living a story is not as easy as she had thought. In a small town with no big adventures, the person underneath Shadow’s mask is the only mystery worth exploring. When Shadow’s secrets pile up, she has to learn to face problems without her mask.

In a world that believes it no longer needs heroes, can Valerie and Shadow prove it wrong?

About the Author 

I wrote my debut novel, Revealed, at the age of sixteen. After this first experience with the publishing industry I wanted to become more entrepreneurial than just writing.

Therefore, I self-published my second novel, To be a Hero and a short story collection, Adventure Stories of Pirates, Robots and Coconuts, also very much enjoying the management side of the process. Based on my experiences as an authorpreneur, I have also released two free eBooks, the Self-Publishing Handbook and the Writers’ Handbook to Marketing.

I graduated from Vienna University with a Bachelor in English linguistics, literature and cultural studies and completed a Master degree in Management in the Creative Economy at Kingston University London. Currently, I live in Austria, where I am working on exciting new projects.

You can find out more about Julia on her website. Or you can follow Julia on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy To Be a Hero on Amazon.

You can download her Self-publishing Handbook for free from Smashwords.


Setting up your International Amazon Author profiles

If you have published a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, you probably went ahead and selected the option to sell it in other countries. With just a click of a button you can sell your e-book on 12 different Amazon international sites (most often at the 70% royalty option except for Japan, Brazil, Mexico and India where you have to be part of KDP Select to get the higher royalty.)

Selecting the Worldwide rights option allows customers from around the world to purchase your title on, (United Kingdom), (Germany/Switzerland), (France/Belgium and Monaco), (Spain), (Italy), (Japan), (Brazil), (Mexico), (Australia), (Canada), (Netherlands), and (India).

Now once you have set your book up to sell on Amazon, you should go over to Amazon Central and set up and Author Page. This will allow readers to see your photo, biography, all your books and links to your blog, Facebook and Twitter. But updating your U.S. Amazon Author page will only have this information showing up in the United States and the UK.

In order to create author profiles for a few of the other Amazon websites, you will need to set up Amazon Author Central profiles on those respective sites. Right now, you can only do this on the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan sites. India brings up your US Author picture but will not allow you to input an author bio or any blog or website links. (My book trailer also did appear on the India site.)

If you haven’t already done so, here is a list of the Amazon Author Central sites that you should set up with profiles.


UK –

Germany –

France –

Japan –


Screen shot of the Japan Amazon Author Central page

When you go to the German, France and Japan sites, you will probably either need to have your English version of Author Central open or use a translation page (Google has one, or they are easy to find by a quick Internet search.) I found it easier to have my U.S. page open and since the format is the same, it was easy to answer the questions and get my books and bio listed with very little use of a translator.

You will have to decide if you want to translate your bio into the language of that site or leave it in English. I have seen authors giving reasons for both scenarios. However, since my books are in English, and I am really only expecting those who speak English to buy them, I left my bio in English too.

You may be thinking why do I need to set up all these author profiles. People in these countries speak a different language. Does it matter if I have an author profile?

Yes, it matters. English is the most popular second language in the world. Even if English isn’t the primary language of some of these locations, many people still speak it, read it or are trying to learn it. And when these readers find one of your books, they will want to know more about you and what else you have written. Your author profile page is an excellent way to get readers interested in you as an author and to form a connection with your readers.



Recipe of the Month – Oreo Truffles

DSCN0497A friend of mine made these for our PTA Christmas brunch. They were so yummy that I made my own batch for my own family Christmas celebration.




1 package of regular Oreo (no Double Stuffed), divided

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

16 oz. vanilla candy melts


Take out 2 Oreos and reserve for topping. Take the remaining Oreos and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely crushed. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can place Oreos in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.)

Pour crushed Oreos into a mixing bowl along with cream cheese. Using the back of a spoon, stir mixture while pressing it along the bottom of the bowl until well combined and evenly moistened. Scoop mixture and form into 1 inch balls. Place balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place truffles in freezer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the 2 remaining cookies. Melt the candy melts as directed on package. Remove truffles from freezer and dip in melted chocolate. Return to baking sheet, immediately sprinkle with remaining Oreos then allow chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Yields: 36 Truffles

Love Oreos? Try Oreo pie.

Counting calories to lose weight – again

Woman holding her mouth uid 1461141Plenty of people make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. And many people will have failed to stick with their resolution a few short months or even weeks later. Losing weight can be hard. Heck, change of any kind can be hard.

I am not one who likes to make resolutions as I know how hard it is to stick to them, but I am determined to lose some weight.

As I look back at my former posts, I found this issue began three years ago when after the New Year, I posted that I would like to lose about 5 pounds. At the time, I wasn’t that concerned about the weight and dieting even though I had noticed a slow weight gain over the years. I just vowed to do better.

livestrongYep, it didn’t work because in September of that same year, I posted for the first time about counting calories. I had been to the doctor in July, and their scale showed me over 130 pounds. Now I didn’t just need to lose 5 pounds, I needed to lose 10! It was then that I knew if I didn’t do something, I would keep gaining weight. So I began counting calories with the help of the MyPlate app. (See the post for details on the app and counting calories.)

And with counting calories, I did lose weight. By the end of October of 2013, I posted that I lost 13 pounds in just 12 weeks! Yeah! And the good thing is that I really didn’t feel like I was dieting. It was all about making better choices and watching portion sizes.

That didn’t last long as the holidays hit. I ended up gaining 4 pounds over November and December. I again started counting calories to adjust my weight.

Fast forward to 2015. I knew this past Fall that I probably had been putting on some pounds when my jeans felt tighter. We had gone on a family cruise during the summer, and I ate whatever I wanted there. And before I knew it, there were lunches out with my hubby and family birthday celebrations, and then it was the holidays.

So when I stepped on the scale after Christmas, I found myself 13 pounds heavier than I wanted to be! (Make that 18 pounds if I went back to my original goal of 120 pounds from three years ago.) Yikes!

Needless to say I want to lose those pounds so I am back to counting calories. Now that I have done this before, I find it easier. I have hit my calorie mark every day within 100 calories. If anything I am more often under by a few calories rather than over. It is the times we eat out that really don’t help with counting calories.

I have been doing this for almost 5 weeks, and I have lost 6 pounds so far. But looking back at my history, I know it isn’t the losing of the weight that is my problem. It is keeping it off.

So this time, I vow that once I meet my goal weight that I will continue to count calories for at least two weeks (I prefer a month) so that I can get a good idea how much I should be eating each day. Only time will tell if that works. I may just have to step on the scale more often so that I can make adjustments sooner rather than finding out I am much heavier than I want to be and starting all over each time with a bigger weight loss goal.


Today’s Featured Author – Karen Levy

Today, I welcome author Karen Levy to my blog. Her debut novel, My Father’s Garden, a memoir, was released in 2013.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an Israeli-American writer who loves a well-told story, whether it’s in print or on the screen. My first book, My Father’s Gardens, was published in 2013 and I have enjoyed sharing it in various venues ever since.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Jerusalem, Israel and after many years of traveling between my two countries (I am a dual-citizen), I realized that you can call more than one place home. Yet the more Americanized I become, the more comfortable I am in the United States.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved language and the almost magical power it has to transform and inspire. I didn’t know what I wanted to write until I needed to figure out who I was and where I belonged, and writing has always helped me find order in chaos. Writing about my two worlds did just that. I also know what it is like not to have the power of words since English is not my first language. So finding my voice was crucial for me.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

This first book, My Father’s Gardens, is a memoir, so everything I share in it is personal. I don’t know how to express myself in any way other than by being completely open and honest about my experiences. Audiences deserve, and hopefully appreciate authenticity. Of course this makes writing fiction a bit tricky, since I tend to bring myself into the picture more than I intended originally.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have started my next book and once again, it takes place on two shores, starting in the United States and traveling to the Middle-East. The protagonist finds herself wondering about her purpose in life now that her children are older and need her less and less. While in this dark mood she finds herself thinking about her past and about one particular friend she has not thought about since the uprising that tore them apart. The friend is Arab while the protagonist is Israeli. She will eventually discover that those closest to her have kept a secret for years, a discovery that will cause her to question who it is we can trust in a world full of betrayal.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I spend part of my time teaching English at Sacramento State University, trying to convince students that language is a powerful tool that can help them navigate the world. When I’m not grading student essays I read my favorite authors for inspiration and keep plugging away at my own manuscript. I should, but don’t have a schedule for my own writing. When I get an idea, I sit down and write.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is succeeding in taking those great ideas you think you have and effectively capturing them in words that impact readers. I love when someone has read my book and tells me that they could relate, or that it moved them. Of course, not everyone was pleased with what I shared. My own mother has not spoken to me since the memoir’s publication. The worst part about writing is self-doubt. Writing a full length novel is a daunting task and since I am so used to writing non-fiction, I question my decision to attempt fiction quite frequently.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

One of my favorite authors is Julia Alvarez, a Dominican-American writer whose lyrical language and story-telling abilities astound me. I wrote to her years ago, just to thank her for the incredible books she has created, and surprisingly, she wrote back. I would love to continue our “conversation” in person, so I could learn more about this art of writing. The other writer I enjoy is Ann Patchett. She also weaves intricate stories that feel so real. I would love to learn from her as well.

Book Blurb

Levy_Cover_Blurb_TopMy Father’s Gardens is the story of a young girl who comes of age in two languages, and on two shores, between warring parents and rules that change depending on the landscape and the proximity of her mother. Struggling to find her voice and her place in the world as a result of her frequent travels between her native Israel and the United States, she feels that she must choose a place to call home. As her scenery alternates between warm Mediterranean and snow capped mountains, loud-mouthed Israelis and polite Americans, so do her loyalties: Is she more Israeli or American? How will she know when she has arrived? And while she chooses she is slowly transplanting bits of her father’s gardens on foreign soil.

About the Author 

DSC00594Karen Levy is an Israeli-American writer whose memoir, My Father’s Gardens, candidly shares her search for belonging and her coming of age between the shores of two worlds. Her work appears in journals such as, Welter, So To Speak, The Blue Moon, The Meadow, Davis Life Magazine, Jet Setter Magazine, among others.  My Father’s Gardens was a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee.

You can follow Karen on Facebook or Twitter.

You can purchase My Father’s Gardens on Amazon.