Author Spotlight no.25 – Ann Pietrangelo

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the twenty-fifth, is of author Ann Pietrangelo.

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis. Making peace with multiple sclerosis, surviving triple-negative breast cancer, and continuing to pursue a career as a freelance writer … well, let’s just say she’s fairly stubborn and doesn’t lack a sense of humor.

A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, her writing covers a wide range of topics, including multiple sclerosis patient information, her Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer series, general health news, copywriting, and articles for sites all around the web.

Ann and her husband, Jim, are partners in WebCamp One LLC, a full-service website development company. They share their quiet Virginia home with their cat, Smokey, who does her best to keep things lively. On any given day you’ll find Jim in the home office while Ann camps out with her laptop in front of the sunny bay window. Not every couple can manage to work together, but these two seem to thrive on it.

No More Secs! Is a poignant and often humorous memoir chronicling their experiences with midlife, marriage, and multiple sclerosis. Ann is currently working on a novel.

And now from the author herself…

As a young girl, I always begged to use my sister’s portable Brother typewriter, even though I didn’t know how to type. I loved the clanking of the keys and fantasized about sitting in a smoke-filled room, a pencil behind my ear, piles of crumpled paper all around, pounding away at my latest novel. I was a weird kid.

Decades later when I finally sat down to write a book, there was no smoke-filled room, no pencil, no piles of crumpled paper, and typewriters were but a fond memory. But I wrote away on a laptop in my home office, at the kitchen table, and on the living room sofa. I wrote away for a year and a half. The result wasn’t a novel, but a memoir – a look inside the thought process of a person with multiple sclerosis. But it’s not all about MS, because life isn’t all about MS. Time keeps moving and, ready or not, MS or not, we must move along with it. At its heart, this is a love story. Romantic love. Love of family. Love of life. The following is an excerpt:

“Your test results are all normal. At this point I would consider the three treatment options we spoke of. There is no hurry in making this decision, but would like to hear back from you in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions or concerns please call me. Thanks.”

When I was a kid, doctor shows were all the rage on television. I’d seen the pronouncement of diagnosis hundreds of times. The kindly old doctor touches the patient’s hand and looks into his eyes as he breaks the news. He might put an arm around the patient’s shoulder, or comfort the worried spouse. The camera would then zoom in on the patient’s face so we can see the emotional impact up close and personal.

But it seems we’re not going to get our Marcus Welby moment … or anything that even vaguely resembles one.

The email that changes everything lands in my inbox on January 28, 2004, at 2:19 p.m. Just another email mixed with a batch of well-worn jokes and plenty of spam.

That’s how No More Secs! begins and, yes, you read that right. I received my diagnosis of MS via email.

Like relapsing / remitting MS itself, the book alternates between the serious and the silly, as Jim and I find our way in our (then) new relationship, our new careers, and our new reality. Trust me, it’s no tale of woe and, if I did a good job, you’ll come away with a positive feeling.

Given the lovely emails I’ve received from you, Ann, I’m sure we would. 🙂 Thank you. You can find more about Ann and her work via… AnnPietrangelo.comNoMoreSecs.comFacebook/NoMoreSecs

You can buy the eBook from or Barnes & Noble (also available on –

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with supernatural thriller author and editor Jeanne Bannon – the one hundred and sixty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.6

** Please note that I no longer run red pen episodes but do offer critique (first 1,000 words free) via** 

This week’s podcast was released today, Monday 24th October, the sixth of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors’ writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this. Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope that I’m firm but fair. I also type the critique as I’m reading the story for the first time so by listening to the episode you will have had the advantage of hearing the story in full before hearing my feedback.

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way your stories are constructed and that you have enjoyed hearing another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them.

Today’s story was a novel extract emailed to me by Kathryn Wild, a teacher who has spent the last three years in Thailand and Switzerland, working in their education systems, after four years in England. She is currently in the process of relocating again, most likely to Spain, having left the English Education system to allow herself time to travel and more importantly to write. In the space of the last two years, she has written two young adult novels (book one is almost ready to go out, book two needs editing but it is sitting in the ‘bottom draw’ so, she says, she can see it fresh when she come back to it). She is currently 20,000 words into the first draft of book three

I read the story, critiqued it and concluded with: “Kathryn has achieved what should be done in a novel’s first chapter; she’s introduced us to our protagonist, given a little description of her so we can form a picture, mentioned a small number of other characters, and given us their conflicts or dilemmas without giving too much away. It’s always very tempting to give as much information about the characters and setting at the beginning – known as an ‘info dump’ but we don’t have that here, and it makes us want to read on. Also as a non-reader of fantasy I don’t feel overwhelmed by the information we’ve been given. It’s a very relatable story and I suspect from Kathryn’s clear writing style it’ll continue like that.”

Kathryn’s website is and you can follow her on Twitter (where there’s currently a photograph of Kathryn and a beautiful tiger).

If you have any feedback on today’s episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my website or blog, I’m always delighted to hear from you – my email address is

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a (ideally normally) 1,000-word short story or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) for these red pen sessions then feel free. I suggest you listen to at least one of the red pen episodes to get an idea of what happens.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe). Episodes include hints & tips (currently episode no.41) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information.