The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

A kidnap-and-ransom thriller – with diabetes!

Lucas Davenport, Mitch Rapp, and Jack Reacher are a few book characters I enjoy sharing time with. I recently added Thea Paris to that list.

She is one of 25 elite response consultants who travel undercover to the deadliest situations in the world to recover hostages by any means necessary. And diabetes doesn’t slow her down.

Howe’s book is a thriller that kept me up all night. I finished it in a single sitting and enjoyed every moment. I can’t wait for the next installment.

After reading The Freedom Broker, I had an opportunity to ask K.J. a few questions:

Scott – My blog is about living with diabetes and therefore draws readers touched by diabetes. We’re all too familiar with characters with diabetes portrayed in mainstream media inaccurately, but I was pleased to find this wasn’t the case with Thea. Where does your familiarity with diabetes come from (dare I assume you have a personal connection)?

K.J. – I’m very pleased to hear that you felt Thea’s diabetes was accurately portrayed. My grandfather had diabetes, and I can remember as a child him explaining why he was giving himself needles, and he showed us how he learned to inject himself using an orange. The experience made an indelible impression on me, and I yearned to write about it. I’m also a former medical writer, and I created many articles about diabetes for patient education newsletters, booklets, calendars, etc.

For me, it’s critical to get it right. Research is a real passion. I also had the incredible help of two amazing ladies: Bethanne Strasser, a mother and long distance runner with type 1 who is also an author (, and Laura Rogers, a brilliant woman with type 1 who spent a year traveling the world (, shipping medicine and supplies to herself along the way. These two spectacular ladies were beyond helpful with insights into what Thea’s life would be like.

Scott – I was also pleased to find just the right amount of diabetes peppered throughout the book. It felt like an interesting touch to an already interesting character, but not so much that it might be a turn-off. Was that balance difficult to find? How did you decide how much to include or leave out?

K.J. – Great question. I definitely edited the diabetes information, tried to weave it in with a light touch. When I originally wrote the story, I included details where they fit organically, then I came back to it later, tried to ask myself what was needed and what might be extraneous. My editor was also quite helpful with feedback on that front, coming at it from a fresh perspective. Diabetes is a huge part of Thea’s life, and she takes it very seriously, but she’s also a healthy, fit woman in her 30s who doesn’t want to let anything hold her back from her calling, which is helping hostages across the globe return home.

I have the deepest respect for how people with diabetes balance their medical condition with their hopes, dreams, and fitness/career goals, and I wanted to demonstrate that while managing her diabetes is always in the forefront of Thea’s mind, she doesn’t let it interfere with her demanding and active lifestyle. I think the key message is that people are more than their illness, and with the right commitment and drive, spectacular things are not just possible, but probable.

Scott – There were some nice seeds for the future planted, such as Rif’s discovery in Nikos’ safe and the team at Quantum pulling together at the end to openly support Thea’s diabetes. What can you tell us about Thea’s next adventure?

K.J. – Thanks for asking about those seeds, as I’m working on the final chapters of book two in the Thea Paris series, which is called SKYJACK, and it will be released in February 2018. Thea is shepherding two young African orphans to their new home in London when the plane they are on is hijacked and the action kicks off from there. The story includes secret stay-behind armies from WWII, the CIA, the Vatican…and I can promise you’ll learn a great deal about plane travel. And from a character point-of-view, Thea is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in THE FREEDOM BROKER, coming to terms with her family issues.

K.J. also adds, “Anyone interested in reading the first chapter of THE FREEDOM BROKER can visit I’ll be sending out newsletter updates, and people are most welcome to sign up via my website as well. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. Really appreciate your insightful questions.”

Thank you, K.J.!

I really enjoyed reading this book, and the next one sounds great, too. I’m already looking forward to it! If you might enjoy it, you can grab a copy from a bunch of different places:


The Diabetes UnConference – February 2017

See you in Vegas, baby!

Group photo - The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

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Don’t miss it – register now – the deadline is January 24th!

From the official website:

What is it?

At The Diabetes UnConference, every participant is an expert. All attendees can ask and answer questions and learn from their peers in a safe setting where there is no judgment or wrong answer. Topics may include: diabetes burnout, depression, sex, discrimination, financial issues, getting inspired to exercise, family, or even what the best treatment for hypoglycemia is for each person.

Who’s it for?

This conference welcomes all adults with diabetes. The Diabetes UnConference is the only multi-day conference that welcomes all male and female adults with diabetes to share their thoughts and feelings. (and PLUs – more info…)

What to expect?

As the agenda is created by the attendees leading up to the conference, so expect the unexpected! That being said, expect that you’ll be surrounded by those who understand how you feel about living with diabetes (or a loved one with diabetes). Expect to feel safe and not judged for expressing your feelings and thoughts. Expect to meet people who will become confidants and friends. Expect to not feel alone. Expect to leave with new knowledge and ideas for living a healthy life with diabetes. And of course, expect to have fun.

The Diabetes UnConference

As you can see, it’s not your typical conference.

Why is it important?

I believe that your story matters. You bring an important perspective and experience to life with diabetes. Your voice may be exactly what someone needs to hear. Likewise, exposing yourself to the voices and stories of others with diabetes might trigger something big for you.

The Diabetes UnConference is a powerful place for such things. I participated for the first time in 2015 and can’t stop thinking about the quick bonds that were made, the safe environment to share (or just listen), and the walls of diabetes isolation crumbling apart around us.

You could talk about your fears, your joys, shed your tears, or burst out laughing …

Men being men

The men’s discussion group from the first Diabetes UnConference is one of my most treasured memories. We had a very real and safe (what happens there stays there) bunch of discussions with other guys living with diabetes. I didn’t know what to expect… there was a big chance that there’d be too much bravado in the room for meaningful conversation. All it takes is one guy puffing his chest to make the rest unwilling to open up.

But what happened was very special. One by one, guys started talking about stuff they needed to share and asking questions they needed to ask. Not one bit of snark or sarcasm or even looking at each other funny. Just a protective circle of understanding and open ears.

Make this your year

If you’ve attended in the past, thank you. You’ve improved my life and helped me see diabetes with more perspective than before. If you’ve not yet attended, maybe this is the one you decide to join? Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet you. Register now (deadline is January 24th)

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Here are a few posts from others who’ve attended in the past:

Diabetes UnConference Hits the Atlantic City Boardwalk
The Diabetes UnConference: The power of peer support
My Take On The Diabetes UnConference
Joe from Germany Comest to the Diabetes UnConference
My UnConference Experience
And more…

Disclosure: I am not compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. for my time or energy working The Diabetes UnConference events, nor do I earn anything for registrations. My travel, lodging, and some meals are paid for, but I am not otherwise compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. I enjoy these events and it’s an honor to represent myself, Scott’s Diabetes, and mySugr to serve and help The Diabetes Collective, Inc. when requested.

Identifying barriers to transition of care

Changing from pediatric to adult care

I had a great pediatric diabetes care team and stayed with them as long as possible. I was in my mid-twenties still sitting in the waiting room with the little guys and gals. We passed the time by checking out Highlights Magazines and sliding shapes along metal rods.

Pediatric waiting room toyThen an insurance issue forced me out the door and I had to find an adult care team. The change was traumatic. It took about a decade for me to find another team I felt comfortable with, and my diabetes management surely suffered because of it.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But I bet it’s more common than we think, so I’m thrilled to see more research being done.

Please spare a few minutes of your time (less than 10) to help with a survey called “Identifying barriers to transition of care in young adults with type 1 diabetes” being done by Dr. Krishna at The Penn State College of Medicine & Hershey Medical Center (must be under 32 years old to participate).

Thank you!

Sugar Surfing comes to Minneapolis

A workshop with Dr. Stephen Ponder

Dr. Stephen Ponder is a pediatric endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator with Scott and White Healthcare in Temple, Tx. He’s lived with type 1 diabetes since March of 1966 and has been a pioneering force in diabetes telehealth and remote care for many years.

Dr. Stephen Ponder

One of his latest projects is Sugar Surfing, a modern approach to managing diabetes.

Sugar Surfing Book

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

The book was recently published and has been well received so far. Local PWD and social media superstar Allison Nimlos has worked with Dr. Ponder to bring his Sugar Surfing workshop to Minneapolis in September!

I just registered (cost is $10), and want to spread the word. I’d love to welcome Dr. Ponder to Minneapolis with a packed house. Can you come? It’s happening on September 24th, 2016, 12:30 pm (workshop runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, at Open Book.

If you’re nearby and interested, please register and share! Space is limited, so don’t delay!

Register Now!

The Faces of Diabetes

Breaking stereotypes with positive attitudes

The Faces of Diabetes Logo

I love “The Faces of Diabetes” and the great work they’re doing. If you’re not already familiar, The Faces of Diabetes is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way people see diabetes. Founded by Edward Fielder, the idea started from his senior thesis at Troy University where he mixed the heavy subject matter of diabetes and the humor often found in the situations we end up in. The website and associated social media channels feature user-submitted images along with short stories about their lives with diabetes.   (more…)

Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program

Putting Beneficiaries' Lives at Risk

A Medicare program designed to save money and make things easier for their beneficiaries with diabetes actually appears to have increased costs, increased hospitalizations, and even increased deaths.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims the program for diabetes testing supplies poses no health threat. However, a peer-reviewed journal article recently published in Diabetes Care (fee for full article access) shows otherwise (press release (3/2016)), (press release (12/2015, includes a free link to the white paper the published article is based on)).

Medicare CBP What


Powerful Perspectives on Diabetes Complications

from Dr. Jeremy Pettus & Dr. Steve Edelman

I was really moved by a recent newsletter from Dr. Steve Edelman & Dr. Jeremy Pettus about diabetes complications and asked for permission to share their thoughts with you.

We Are One Diabetes Logo

When Diabetes Gets Complicated

And what could be more complicated than complications? Yes, that’s right. It’s not a fun or funny topic.  In fact, it’s the opposite of those things, but it is something that we do need to talk about.  What we want to discuss is not how to prevent them, or the rates of complications, or other “medical” things, but rather the struggle we all face when confronting them.  Steve and I have different perspectives on this, so I thought it would be relevant to talk about this from our different viewpoints – myself having never really developed complications (knock on wood), and Steve having a few that he can talk about. This is really a result of when we were diagnosed and how much things have changed relatively quickly.  We hope that you will all find something you can relate to in our stories that represent the history of diabetes over the last several decades. (more…)

Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms

(and a game show!) with Kerri, Scott & Bennet

I like podcasts. I listen to them as often as I can and I feel blessed that there are so many great diabetes podcasts to choose from.

I actually have a diabetes podcast to thank for bringing a very important person into my life. George Simmons would not have found the diabetes online community when he did if it weren’t for Christel’s Diabetic Feed podcast. My world would be much different if G-Money hadn’t found that podcast.

Picture of Kerri, Christel, Scott, and George on Scott's bookshelf


Spare A Rose, Save A Child

Brad made a quick video with everything you need to know about Spare A Rose in less than one minute.

If you’re ready to jump right to it and donate, that’s great! Head to

Maybe money is tight right now? No worries, I understand. We understand. Spreading the word about this campaign is also very helpful, doesn’t cost a thing, and is very much appreciated.

If you really want to dig into the nitty-gritty details or do something extra great (like get your workplace involved), visit

Thank you!

Huge thanks to Brad Slaight (Meter Boy of Diabetes Hero Squad) for making this wonderful video!