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Pink Eye on North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Sorry to take so long in updating this blog, but Internet access has been spotty at best. I’m sitting in an Internet café called Ugly Mugs in Avon, NC on Hatteras Island, and even here over the past half hour the connection has been intermittent.

So, here’s the lowdown:

The first stop on the trip from home (just outside of Boston, MA) was Rhode Island College where I was finishing a 5-day stint as a faculty member of the first annual A.S.T.A.L Writers Institute . It was the final day. Here’s a photo of the whole group in front of the van.

Then southward.

As I wrote in my last posting, DISASTER #1 occurred around New Haven: the antenna fell off the car. Yikes! Oh well, onward… 

After a quick visit with a friend in Philadelphia, it was down to National Public Radio’s headquarters in DC for a quick-and-dirty lesson in recording sound. They told me that the broadcast of my 2nd piece for NPR, where we’re packing for the trip, was delayed because apparently they want to hold off until they get the 3rd piece in hand. It’s even possible that they’ll start our trip without the packing piece – so it’d begin with whatever story I record next. (Boy, I sure hope I come up with something good!) Here I am with NPR announcer Robert Siegel, and also with “All Things Considered” Senior Producer Art Silverman.

Mark Peter Hughes and Robert Siegel of NPR

From there it was a loooong drive down to North Carolina. Rush hour traffic from hell in the Virginia Beach area. Arrived in Avon, NC around 9PM.

Here’s the thing about our Outer Banks visit. We built this into our route schedule as a nice, easy beginning for our trip — my family comes out here every year together with our Polish friends from Connecticut and Philadelphia. It’s always fun, because our friends are fun – and some of them have kids the same age as ours so everyone is happy. Sure, it’s hot outside — and I’m definitely not a beach person. Still, I think of this as my central-air-conditioning holiday. We do beach fires at night, or hang out in the hot tub. All good.

Mark Peter Hughes and Robert Siegel of NPR

Yesterday (Thursday) we visited the terrific Manteo Booksellers. Here I am with the store’s owner, Steve Brumfield.

It was also Lucy’s 8th birthday, which was all very nice…UNTIL…at the end of the day came DISASTER #2:

Lucy has developed ‘pink-eye’—conjunctivitis, which she caught from Natalia, one of our friend’s kids. Yikes! This has been a bit of a crisis because 1) it’s not comfortable for her, 2) it’s very contagious, and 3) we’ve been scrambling to find a doctor and get her a prescription for Erythromycin. Lucy should be using it every four hours, but so far we’ve been unable to make contact with any here in the middle of nowhere. We don’t know any local doctors, and today is Friday so we’re finding that many physician offices are closed today, and others will be heading out for the weekend shortly. Plus, we’ll be leaving on Sunday for Atlanta so we’re in a tizzy trying to figure this out today! Tension is high. Not sure what we’ll do, but like everything else, we’ll figure it out somehow…


On the brighter side: Looks like we have our antenna situation figured out. A special part needed to be ordered and it was kind of a biggish deal, but we’ve arranged to get the whole thing replaced at a Honda Dealer in College Station, TX on July 6. Until then, we’ll just have to hum a lot… 🙂

Sunday we’re off to Atlanta. Stay tuned!


P.S. Update 6/30 1:15pm:  We finally managed to get the eye goo for Lucy.  It required a little devilish cleverness (which I will not detail here for fear of a criminal investigation…just kidding) but now all is well.  Onward!  🙂

So, here’s the deal…

I’m a writer. I write novels for teens. Three months ago I quit my day job as a healthcare data cruncher to become a full-time writer, and now I’m doing my best to get the word out about my recent novel, LEMONADE MOUTH. And this is what my family and I came up with… 

LEMONADE MOUTH ACROSS AMERICA! is my family’s audacious attempt to make a writer’s dream come true with a road-trip adventure and a shoestring budget. It’s a summer-long, 26-city, 9,000 mile book tour across the USA and back–two adults, three small children and a pile of books all crammed into a minivan! For the story behind the story, click here. My website is

The Route: For a list of cities and dates, click here. If you’re nearby, come see us–we’d love to meet you!

National Public Radio: NPR recently ran a commentary about me, my books, and how I quit my job to write full time.  To hear it click here.



It all started as just a little idea…
After recently (March 30, 2007) quitting my day-job to become a full-time writer–a big financial risk that my wife and I decided to take (carpe diem!) – Karen and I talked about ways to make the most of our summer. It started as a just little idea: Let’s take the family on a fun road-trip in our rusty minivan and stop at some bookstores along the way…but it quickly grew into something much larger. Now it’s a summer-long, 26-city, 9,000 mile adventure across the USA and back!

Our friends think we’re crazy, but we’re doing it anyway. Thing is, we probably have only a narrow window of time in our lives when this is even possible: Karen’s starting back as a Spanish teacher in September, the kids are young (Evan 9, Lucy 8, and Zoe 5) and still want to be with us (that surely won’t last forever!), and I have a new YA novel out. So the timing seems perfect, right? Except…t we have no money, and our mechanic wonders whether our 1996 Honda Odyssey, which has close to 200,000 miles on it already, will make it–not to mention that this is the summer of the final Harry Potter, so Lemonade Mouth is going to have a tough time attracting any notice at all in Harry’s shadow.

But…we decided to do it anyway! (carpe diem again!)

Brace yourselves! We’re setting off on June 27!
We’ll be stopping in cities all over the country, dealing with heat, kid issues, and close quarters while doing our best to make a writer’s dream happen on a shoestring budget–all while discovering America! 

— Mark 

LEMONADE MOUTH (Delacorte Press, 2007)
I AM THE WALLPAPER (Delacorte Press, 2005)