Posts Tagged ‘You’d Better Not Die Or I’ll Kill You’

My book is “eye candy!”

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


Chronicle Books, publisher of my caregiver survival guide, You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, just gave me the heads up that the book has been selected for their special, month-long “Eye Candy” ebook sale! What does that mean? Special savings, that’s what! For the entire month of February, caregivers and the people who care about them, will be able to go to any ebook retailer and purchase the ebook edition at a substantial savings. I’m talking about a book that’s been priced as high as $14.99 selling for $2.99 and less in February – no small deal, right?

I came up with the idea for You’d Better Not Die after spending 20 years as the caregiver to my husband Michael, who has Crohn’s disease and who sent us both on a journey that involved multiple hospitalizations and surgeries and home health nurses and many, many doctors. I wanted to write about my experience with a humorous spin – not as a Debbie Downer, in other words, but as someone who could stare the dark days in the face and still find silver linings in them. I also sought out caregivers with stories about caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, a husband with M.S., a daughter with anorexia, a son with autism and much more. And finally I went to the experts – lots of them: therapists (how do we cope when we’re so stressed we can’t see straight?), a dietician (what the heck do we eat that’s healthy when we’re stuck with hospital cafeterias?),  fitness coaches (how are we supposed to exercise when we’re sitting in a hospital room all day?), a bestselling cookbook author (who has time to cook a nutritious meal with flavor?), meditation teachers (how do we quiet the mind when it’s racing to check off all the items on our “To Do” list?), nurses (how should we deal with the cranky ones who won’t answer our questions?), and much more.

Since the book was published, my perspective as a caregiver has broadened. I did write about my mother’s increasing dementia in You’d Better Not Die, but I have a whole new appreciation for what caring for an elderly parent is all about. Mom recently turned 98 (her older sister just turned 100, so longevity runs on that side of the family) and while still very sharp at times, she’s more and more dependent on her full-time caregiver to fill in the blanks. She’s especially disoriented in the late afternoons and evenings when the infamous “sundowners” set in, and her confusion is a source of great frustration to her. Over the past few years I’ve been her long-distance caregiver since I’ve lived in California and she’s in New York, but I’m moving back east this spring and one of the main reasons is to be there for and with her in whatever ways she needs me – from interacting with her doctors to help with paying her bills to spending time with her and trying to brighten her days. She lives at home – at one point she wanted to move to an assisted living community and then changed her mind – and is isolated to a certain degree, and I hope my presence will mitigate that.

Meanwhile, I’m very heartened by the wonderful reader responses to You’d Better Not Die, along with the critics’ reviews. I write romantic comedies for the most part, so a caregiver book was new territory for me. But take a look at some of the words of praise on Goodreads. Wow.

“Our sweet daughter gave me this book for Christmas – and I took my time reading and thinking about every chapter. ‘A family caregiver is caring for somebody who has something that can’t be fixed-i.e., it doesn’t have a cure at this point in time. That requires a totally different medical approach.’ (page 284) This definition of a caregiver includes most of my family and friends…who don’t really see themselves as caregivers, but who, like me, struggle with all of the issues associated with this role as we care for a parent, spouse, child, or friend. This book is filled with simple, useful, needed advice based on the experiences of Jane, and her friends, family, and health care professionals that are helping her make sense of this complicated issue. Their insights and comments have helped me change how I see my own role as a caregiver and how I see and serve others filling this critical role.”

“I’ve been reading Jane Heller’s You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, and it’s exceptional. Two hours later (with lots of laughs and tears), I finished it from cover to cover. Honestly, after doing home health with a 87 year old , with her declining health and increasing dementia, I believe this book will be a godsend to so many. It’s unique in its scope – anecdotal, voices from a cadre of health care professionals as well as peeps like us, and very personal. I’ve experienced all of it – working nurses, asking questions, keeping records, doing follow-ups, arranging ambulances and rehab and homecare and wading through the Medicare stuff….and the author has put ALL OF IT down to help and to use….and ultimately, to speak of love and how it is tested….well, nicely done.”

“I cried at many points in this book because I recognized so much of my own experiences in the stories in this book. Lots of good advice, even though as a caregiver, you’re probably just too exhausted, frustrated, busy to take it. Excellent book that should offer solace to those of us who often feel alone in their challenges.”

I love hearing from readers and talking to other caregivers, so feel free to send me an email and let me know how you’re doing on your caregiving journey. If you haven’t read the book or you have a friend or family member for whom you’d like to buy it, February is the month. For the bookseller links to the Eye Candy Special Savings Promo, go to my home page on this site.

Take care!



The Women’s Eye Is Hosting an Event and You’re Invited!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014


I met Pam Burke years ago during my New York publishing days. She co-executive produced NBC’s “Tomorrow” show with Tom Snyder, and as a book publicist I’d pitch her my authors for the show. Later, after I left publishing and before I started writing my own books, she and I worked together on the short-lived “USA Today: The Television Show.” She’s always been a doer and a whip-smart one at that. Her latest media venture is The Women’s Eye, a multifaceted web enterprise that includes radio, feature stories, interviews and just about every sort of news-you-can-use for women.

Now TWE has decided to launch their first-ever “tel-event” or “webinar” (choose your favorite term) on May 29th at 10am PT and I’m their guest speaker.



I’ll be interviewed by TWE’s fabulous Stacey Gualandi….


She’ll ask me questions about caregiving and my survival guide, You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, and everyone who signs up for this FREE event will be able to ask me questions too. See their invitation page below and please register, share with others, spread the word. I’m really excited about this as soooo many people I know are dealing with a parent or grandparent, sibling, spouse or friend with an illness and they’re feeling overwhelmed. We’ll cover how to be the best patient advocate while still taking care of your own health and sanity. And, as I said, it’s FREE. Not a bad deal at all! Just go to the TWE page and follow the links to register. See you there.

 TWE TelEvent: LIVE Q&A With Jane Heller-Essential Tips for Caregivers

Yes, it’s our FIRST EVENT and we wanted to invite you…
Join us via the Web, your phone, or Skype
10 AM Pacific Time Thursday, May 29th
for a FREE, LIVE Interview and Q&A session with:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and long-time caregiver

How to Be the Best Caregiver and Still Take Care of You

TWE Radio host, Stacey Gualandi, will be interviewing Jane, the author of her Caregiver’s Survival Guide, You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, (what she says to her husband Michael before he goes into surgery). Then we’ll open it up for your questions.

Jane’s written 13 romantic comedies, so you know she’s got a great sense of humor, but she was also catapulted into the world of caregiving when she met and married her husband, who has had more than thirty surgeries for Crohn’s Disease.

In this webinar, Jane will share her tips about:
How to Be the Best Patient Advocate for Your Loved One
How to Keep Your Sanity
How to Maintain Your Health

See Jane’s terrific book trailer on this page along with all of the details for this event including:
How to join us by the Web, your phone, or Skype
How the teleconference works (it’s simple!)
How you can ask your questions ahead of time as well as during the event
How to register for the replay in case you can’t make the live event
If you want to Register Now, just click the button!
Click to Register
Warm regards,
Pam, Cheryl and The Women’s Eye Team
P.S. Please pass this on to others you think would like to attend.

The Blue Cross Conference Was Fun

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


On Wednesday, I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas – a first for me, even after 20 years of doing book tours. I’d been invited to speak about caregiving at this year’s Arkansas Blue Cross conference for Case Managers. The conference took place in Hot Springs, about an hour’s drive from Little Rock, and the organizers put on a terrific event – a day packed with informative and engaging speakers. My talk focused on the need for self-care among caregivers and I shared the many lessons I’d learned in the course of writing You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, copies of which were on hand for purchase during the break thanks to Gayle at the Barnes & Noble in Little Rock.

Gayle and me B&N Little Rock

So many in the audience stopped by the signing table to buy a book and to tell me about their own caregiving experiences. It was very moving to hear their stories. Lots of courageous people out there.

After the conference, Michael (he came with me to record my speech and serve as my cheerleader in case no one laughed at my jokes) and I drove back to Little Rock and had a fabulous dinner at a place called Brave New Restaurant.


It had been recommended by some at the conference but I’d also read about it on Trip Advisor and Yelp and it sounded like a winner. Overlooking the Arkansas River with a view of the city skyline that’s particularly attractive at night, Brave New Restaurant (yes, it’s really called that because the owner/chef’s last name is Brave) was spectacular. Everything we ordered – from the shrimp-and-avocado appetizer to my pan-seared tuna and Michael’s dry-rubbed sirloin – was delicious. I heartily recommend.

I would love to have stayed in Little Rock longer. The downtown area is humming with activity – lots of shops and restaurants and music venues. The Clinton Library was closed thanks to the government shutdown or we might have stayed to take a tour. But oh well. It was a quick turnaround to get back to California with fond memories of new places discovered and new friends made.

Hanging With Two Hot Nonagenarians

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

My niece was married over the weekend at a grand wedding, and Michael and I flew to New York for the festivities. One of the pleasures of the occasion for me was spending time with my mother, who turned 96 in January, and with my Aunt Maxine, who’s 98. She and Mom had their share of estrangements over the years – sibling rivalry to the max – but now that they both have memory impairment they’ve forgotten that they were ever mad at each other. See that? Dementia does have its silver linings, as I write in You’d Better Not Die, and Mom and Maxine are the perfect example. They’re both still sharp – smart, articulate, intellectually curious. They look so youthful it’s almost scary. And they laugh easily and often, just the way they used to. What’s changed is that there’s no tension between them, no simmering animosity, only affection. It’s a beautiful thing. Nowadays, they get together often for lunch. They repeat the same stories and ask the same questions, and if you tell them something they won’t remember what you said. But I sure hope I’m doing half as well as they are if I make it to my 90s. I mean look at them. Seriously.


Speaking About Caregiving And More

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

First came You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health. Now comes its sequel….sort of. I’m not actually writing another book on the subject, but I’ve just partnered with the premier speakers bureau on healthcare to travel around the country and talk about caregiving.

Speakers on Healthcare has the absolute best roster of speakers – from celebrities like actress Meredith Baxter and broadcaster Anderson Cooper to health gurus like Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra to prestigious journalists like Jane Gross and Jane Brody. Now I’ve joined this stellar list with my own page on the SOH site. I’m really eager to get started and speak to groups everywhere and spread the word that caregiving, while demanding, also has its rewards – if we make sure to take care of ourselves.


Now Playing On My Kindle: “Me Before You”

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Usually, I wait until I finish a book before blogging about it, but I’m making an exception in the case of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. I’m about a third of the way into the novel, and I love the setup, the characters and the possibilities of how things will go.

I’ve been writing a lot about caregiving since You’d Better Not Die came out in November, so you’d think Moyes’ novel about a caregiver would have been on my Must Read List. Somehow, it slipped under my radar despite all the great reviews.

Like last year’s French film sensation “The Intouchables,” which I also loved, Me Before You features a quadriplegic millionaire and his unlikely helper. In this case, the helper is a twentysomething British woman who’s out of a job, lives with her family and has no idea what she wants out of life. She has no purpose other than to contribute to the household income. Her charge is a man who once lived life to the fullest – a success in business and in romance. An adrenaline junkie, he embraced adventure and risk. After his accident, he’s angry, bitter, wants to die. What’s a naive, inexperienced caregiver to do?

I’m about to find out.

It seems that caregiving is on a lot of creative minds these days, and I’m not surprised. It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been or isn’t being touched by the experience personally, so it’s only natural that the subject has made its way into the zeitgeist. The more we share those experiences, the better it’ll be for all of us.


Everyone’s Invited To The “Telesummit” Of The Year!

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Roberta Mittman is a wellness practitioner with a thriving practice on Park Avenue in Manhattan. She’s all about helping her clients live healthier, happier lives, but she also knows that not everyone can come to New York and meet with her face to face.

So…she created what she calls “Telesummits” for those who want to love their minds and bodies more (and who doesn’t). The latest one will run from April 8th-12th and it’s free! All you have to do is click this link, sign up and you’ll be able to hear the 30-minute interviews Roberta has conducted with over 15 experts in the wellness field (like me!) sharing advice about health, beauty and empowerment. (I’ll be talking about How to Take Care of You While Caring for a Loved One.) You’ll be able to receive special gifts and bonuses from each of the experts too (I’m offering some secret prizes, so go look!). Listen on a computer at home or at work or wherever you happen to be while the Telesummit is taking place or save the interviews in the archive and listen whenever it’s convenient. Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea and I’d think so even if I weren’t one of the experts Roberta interviewed, so I hope lots of readers will sign up.

Others that will be participating include:

  1. holistic nutrition expert Alexandra Jamieson
  2. anti-aging expert Alison Heath
  3. weight loss coach Andrea Albright
  4. “language architect” Hilary Rubin
  5. psychiatrist Dr. Hyla Cass
  6. cancer specialist Dr. Nalini Chilkov
  7. OB-GYN women’s health physician Dr. Anna Cabeca
  8. Sex-at-any-age expert Dr. Jennifer Landa
  9. Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin
  10. Herbal medicine expert Kami McBride

And here are some of the topics covered:

  • How to rediscover your IDENTITY, VALUE, AND CONFIDENCE while finding your mission in this life.
    How to navigate through THE AGING PROCESS with expert guidance and tips.
    How and why EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE could have been responsible for your pain all this time.
    How to ACCESS YOUR INNER PHYSICIAN intuitively and spiritually—something that can save your life.
    How to access the #1 STRATEGY to change your belief about WHAT’S REALLY POSSIBLE FOR YOU RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
    Knowing how to use local, must-try, NATURAL HERBAL MEDICINE for optimal health.
    The secret to why weight loss has been a challenge—FOOD INTOLERANCE.
    How to surrender the struggle and overwhelm with PROVEN STEPS TO FIND FLOW IN YOUR LIFE.
    How messages from the past can block abundance, prosperity, and MONEY.
    How to become a hot, SENSUALLY EMPOWERED woman now.
    What you can do naturally today to prevent any type of CANCER.
    What you can do when starting to EXERCISE! (Do this first if you want it to stick.)
    How to recognize and cope effectively with TRIGGERS FOR EMOTIONAL EATING.
    How to RELEASE WEIGHT: what’s been holding you back, and how you can overcome those barriers.
    Why you still feel FLAT and UNFULFILLED even when you reach your goals.
    How to handle the inevitable plateau—what you need to know to STAY ON TRACK.

Sounds good, right? Click this link and sign up!


SAG Awards, Huff/Po, Ebooks & My Mother!

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I always look forward to the SAGs because they’re all about the actors without cluttering up the presentation with technical awards (not that the costume, wardrobe and sound people don’t deserve theirs; I’m just more interested in star gazing). But last night’s show was oddly flat. Even the intros featuring the “I’m an actor” vignettes weren’t all that charming or funny, and aside from Julianne Moore there really weren’t any actresses wearing unfortunate gowns. (The top of Moore’s gown was definitely a SAG winner, if you know what I mean.) “Argo” is suddenly piling up the awards and should make the Oscars even more competitive. Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway appear to be the only locks.

Switching gears, I had a post up on PBS’ Next Avenue site last week and Huff/Po50 picked it up over the weekend. It amplifies a chapter in You’d Better Not Die about caring for a loved one whose illness causes personality changes and what we, as caregivers, can do about it. I should mention that I’ve been posting a lot on Huff/Po and elsewhere, and all my posts, caregiver related and not, are up on my web site under “Other Writing.”

The big news in terms of my romantic comedies is that after successfully launching 11 of the novels as ebooks over the summer, we’ve decided to have a special “Winter Sale” starting February 1st. For a limited time only, we’re dropping the prices on all 11 from $4.99 to $2.99 to say thank you to those who’ve expressed interest in them. I’m excited to be able to share the novels with even more readers, so it’s a great time to jump in.

And finally, I haven’t posted here in a while because I had the pleasure of a two-week visit with my mother, who turned 96 on January 15th. She and Sandy, her caregiver, flew out to California from New York and we had a great time together, hanging out, re-connecting with family members and enjoying some wonderful dinners here in Santa Barbara. Very sad to see her go home but looking forward to her visit next year when she turns 97!


Being the Best of Something

Monday, December 17th, 2012


No, I’m not talking about winning an Oscar, although Hollywood’s awards season is here and I’m busily trying to see all the films that’ll be nominated as well as those that should be.

This is about me. I’ve never won an award or even been named the “best” at anything. (Well, let me amend that. I won the “best in tennis” award when I was in summer camp, along with a “most improved” in swimming.) But that changed today when I got an email telling me that one of my articles for Huffington Post/50 (the section for those of us in mid-life) was among their top 20 blog posts of 2012. Was I ever flattered!

So in honor of me, here are Huff/Po50‘s top 20 blog posts of the year. Check them all out, because they’re really good, but smile especially wide when you read mine.



Gushing Over Victor Garber

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

At our Cinema Society screening of “Argo” a while back, I couldn’t help but let out a little cheer when I saw the award-winning actor show up in the movie playing the good guy. I hadn’t realized that he was in it, and then there he was coming to the aid of the American hostages. Perfect casting, since Victor is one of the nicest men on the planet.

Having had two parents with Alzheimer’s disease, Victor was the primary caregiver for his mother when he was in L.A. shooting the TV show “Alias.” When I was putting together candidates to be interviewed for YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU, I had asked my friend, Laurie Burrows Grad, to make the connection with Victor, whom she knows from both their work with the Alzheimer’s Association. She emailed him about me and the book, and he didn’t hesitate to agree to participate.

As soon as the book was published, I sent him a copy so he could see how his contributions turned out and to thank him for taking time in his busy schedule to answer my questions.

Today, he wrote me a thank you note. How nice is that? This is a man who juggles movie and television projects with theater roles and nonprofit work and is beloved by everyone he meets – and he liked my book. With his permission, I’m sharing his words, which touched me a lot.

Jane, your book is so moving, funny, insightful, and helpful in so many ways.
I am honored to be a part of it . Thank you for including me, and thank you for writing it.
I know that care giving is an ongoing activity for all of us, sometimes in small ways,
and at other times, much more demanding. This book is a helpful reminder, and practical guide,
for all situations requiring our help. I know it will be deeply appreciated.
I hope your holiday season is peaceful, and filled with joy.
All the best,

I really, really appreciated his kindness.