Monday, April 21, 2014

Geek Musings and Nutschell Blog Visit!

Yes, that is "Geek Musings" and not "Greek Muses." My brain is all on geek trivia and how much I (gulp) don't know. You'll see why, below. :)

I had a few calm weeks, but crazy book-related stuff n' traveling is re-commencing!

If you're in Omaha, I'll be at Bennington Library on Tuesday evening at 7 PM for a book signing and talk!
This weekend, I'm going to C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo). This is my first comic-con of any kind, so I'm totally psyched! I'll be on two panels on Saturday:
  • In Defense of YA, with April Tucholke, E.C. Blake, Kendare Blake, Seth Fishman and Shannon Stoker, followed by a book sale and signing.
  • Geek Geek Revolution, with Patrick Rothfuss, Seth Fishman, John Scalzi, and Kevin Hearne. This is where we battle over geekish trivia and I get my butt kicked in public, proving that instead of watching Star Wars over and over again, I should have been watching reruns of Firefly  and Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead. Ha!
And also this week, Nutschell Windsor is having me over on her blog for an book review on Monday, interview on Wednesday, and book giveaway on Friday. I've known Nutschell since I started blogging way back, so it is such a treat to be featured on her blog. Please come and stop by! I writing? I'm trying to! I have edits due soon but I'm also trying to work on a new book that's a mix of contemporary and magical realism. So far, it's so fun! 

And finally, it's SPRING! We just did our Easter egg thing and I never get tired of watching the hunt! This magnolia is blooming in my front yard and I look forward to saying hello to these flowers every April. 

Have a great week, you guys! Are you enjoying spring? What are you writing this week?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blog Musings and Seward, NE signing

Hi guys! Well, I'm finding that I'm blogging rather sporadically (whoa, I'm having flashbacks of the movie Clueless and Cher's vocabulary lessons).

When I started blogging in 2010, I decided the best way to blog was regularly and often. I think I started blogging M, W, and F. I'd do Medical Mondays on Mondays, Sister of the Traveling Blog on Wednesdays, and random stuff on Fridays. But as my book release drew closer, I went to twice a week. And then after my book came out, I was so busy with deadlines and promo events, I ratcheted down to once a week.

I've been really stressed about blogging the last few months. Is blogging dead? Am I bringing anything worthy into the world when I blog? Is it taking away from my writing time? I'm also on Twitter, Facebook,Tumblr, Instagram, and occasionally blogging for the League of Extraordinary Writers. I'm as out there as possible without completely going nuts.

I love the community in blogging--you guys were my first cheerleaders when I first started writing. And I miss visiting with you guys. But I'm also finding that blogging is not a static entity. Like people and like life, it changes and morphs. Sometimes it winks out, and several good friends of mine stopped blogging a while ago. Sometimes it blossoms into multiple blogs, or changes tone altogether.

So in the end, I've just decided to stop thinking so hard about it. I'll blog when I feel like it, without any regrets. So yeah, I'll be around--but it's going to be random! 

So...if you're a blogger, do you blog to a set schedule? Or do you blog when you feel like it? 

**If you're in Nebraska, I'll be at a signing in Seward, NE at Chapters Books & Gifts tomorrow. If you're NOT going to the Spring Huskers game, please stop by to say hi! I'm signing with a few other indie authors including Carol Bicak, who is a journalist at the Omaha World Herald and wrote this wonderful picture book on Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's baby lions. My kids love that book!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Good Badlands Trip and more

Hi guys! My family and I went offline for a week while we drove to South Dakota and visited the Badlands, the Black Hills, and Mt. Rushmore. We stopped by Wall Drug and adopted this adorable Jackalope. 
We also ate a lot of food that wasn't exactly healthy (I'm talking to you, deep fried Hershey's bar) but was fun to consume. Exercise and clean eating has commenced since I returned!

Here are a few photos. They're off my Instagram account, so they show up very tiny and insignificant here, but come find me on Instagram and see them in their full glory. 

This is Badlands National Park. It was seriously gorgeous and unreal, like being on the moon on earth. And yes, the color was real, since we drove by in the late afternoon with all that goldy sun everywhere.

These are real, wild billy goats at the edge of a huge bluff in the Badlands. We actually saw them walk down a hill with an incline as steep as a backslash!

Here are some mule deer in the Black Hills. They were adorable. Fuzzier than white tailed deer, with long rabbit ears. 

This frightened me. As do any large, "whimsical" statues of supposedly cute things. Whimsy scares the bejeebers out of me. There were actually little prairie dogs here and we fed them peanuts. They made noises like bubbles popping. 

And here are the plains. The one thing I love about the midwest is the wealth of sky. I never get tired of that huge bowl of blue sky.

And here is Mt. Rushmore. This photo doesn't do it justice. The artist who created it was Gutzon Borglem. The whole process was pretty amazing. Did you know that he started carving Jefferson's face to the left of Washington, only to find the granite wasn't good quality? So he blasted it off. Talk about killing your darlings! And then when he started carving Jefferson's face to the right, he found a crack going through his nose. So he changed the angle of the face, set it four feet deeper into the stone so the crack went through his cheek instead of the more delicate nose. I mean, my goodness. 

I haven't been to many national parks, but now I'm psyched to go to more!

I hope you're all having a great week! Have you visited a National Park? Which one was your favorite? Where should my family go to next?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Medical Mondays: Surviving a Shot to the Head

Boy, it's been a while since I did a Medical Mondays. I've been continuing to get medical questions from writers, but finally have a chance to breathe and blog about one of them. 

Here's one from a blogging friend many of you know, the talented Jessica Bell! Jessica is author to several books, including Bitter like Orange Peel and String Bridge, as well as the Writing in a Nutshell series, and is an editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal. 

Jessica asks:

"One of my characters shoots himself in the head to commit suicide. Is there anywhere he can point the gun and still survive? I also need him to be in a coma for 8 months, (I can make it less if need be). Is it possible he could wake up from that and still have full brain function?"

Great question, Jessica (but a sad one!) A person can definitely suffer from a GSW to the head and survive, but the odds are generally slim. The majority of GSW to the head result in death (90% or so). So for this scenario to work, there are a few details that would have to happen.

1. Brain structures to hit and miss. The less brain tissue the bullet encounters, the less damage. There is some duplication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, so ideally the bullet should not pass through both sides of the brain, only one side. Also, it would be important to miss certain structures, like the brainstem (responsible for your heart beating, breathing) and other central structures, like the basal ganglia and thalamus. The bullet should miss the ventricles, which are fluid-filled structures inside the brain. Damage to those might cause excessive fluid to build up in the brain. So, an ideal bullet trajectory in this scenario might be going from the left forehead through the top of the left skull, missing those important structures and "skimming" the top of only one hemisphere.

2. The bullet. It should be small caliber and have a low velocity. The more energy a bullet has, the more energy is imparted to the brain tissues as it passes through, causing more destruction. Smaller bullets and slower bullets cause less damage. So Jessica's character would need to be shot with a low caliber handgun as opposed to a high powered weapon. 

3. Complications. Since Jessica needs the patient to be in a coma for a long time, but have minimal long term damage to the brain, she may have to build in several complications to keep him sick in the neuro ICU.  Any GSW will cause brain swelling, so a coma makes sense for a while if there is a lot of swelling. Add in more problems, like a brain infection, or extra fluid building into the brain that needs a drain (ventricular drain, shunt, or temporary removal of a piece of skull), or a later brain bleed that needs an extra surgery to stop the bleeding. 

Below are several articles that highlight the issues that occur in head GWS, as well as info on those rare survivors. Sadly, this scenario was very much in the consciousness of Americans when Representative Gabrielle Giffords survived an assassination attempt. 

What does it take to survive a bullet to the brain? By LiveScience 
Surviving a gunshot wound to the head, by MedicineNet 
Q&A with a neurosurgeon on the status of Gabrielle Giffords 
Living Miracles: Survivors of Gunshots to the Head 

Thank you Jessica for a fascinating question. Good luck on your WIP (and good luck to your character!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Reporting Back!

So my trip to St. Louis was wonderful!

I got to meet Cole Gibsen, an old friend on QueryTracker, and Antony John, who shares the same publisher with me (Dial/Penguin.) He also has a delightful English accent!

I make weird faces when I'm talking.
And here is Sarah Bromley, who is also an old QT friend! Our QT names are Senshi (Cole), Magpie (Sarah) and MeddyK (me).
I also don't like to show my teeth when I smile. *shrugs*
Antony's books are the Elemental series, and Firebrand is his latest!

Cole's new book just came out! It's the third in her Katana series.

And Sarah's book, A Murder of Magpies, comes out in September with Month9Books. I saw the cover and it is fantastic! It was so cool to chat with Sarah and Cole, after being on QT for a few years!

On Friday, I did a few talks for the students at Hazelwood West High school for their Writer's Week and it went great. Even though speaking to this group was a little intimidating:

Yep, the Principal and Superintendent were in the front row!
I'm relieved it all went well. I only had one bad coughing fit on stage, gah!

I hope you all are doing well. Got any plans for this lovely spring weather we're having? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

St. Louis or Bust

Hi guys!

Well, that "walking-cold" turned into a "lying-facedown-cold" within a day of writing that last blog post. Man, it's not fun being hit sideways with a bad virus. Luckily, this helped make me feel a little better:

Really, I think seeing this image last night during the Oscars was the reason why I've turned the corner. Also, seeing Lupita Nyong'o winning Best Actress and hearing Cate Blanchett emphasize that movies with women protagonists were not "niche movies." YES.

Also, there was the butchering of Idina Menzel's name by John Travolta.

 Oy vey. I think he called her "Adele Dazeem?" Man. The dude needs to get some glasses, or the teleprompter person needs to be fired. Well, also, John needs to be fired. I mean, is it that hard to memorize a well known performer's name before you introduce her on live television? At the OSCARS? *shakes head*


So this Thursday, March 6th I'll be at the St. Charles Public Library (Kisker Road Branch) doing a book signing with Cole Gibsen and Antony John.

On Friday, March 7th I'll be at Hazelwood West Writers Week presenting to crowds of teens and teachers, maybe my biggest yet (200? 500? Yipes!)

Let's hope this cold is kicked to the curb for good before I go. If you're in St. Louis, please stop by! I'd love to see you!

Happy Monday everyone! Did you watch the Oscars? What was the most memorable part for you?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nyquil Booziness

So I'm sick. I have this nasty cold, laryngitis, cough, nose-faucet and it just sucks. You've heard of walking pneumonia, right? Well this is a walking cold. Not bad enough that I need to be in bed all day, but bad enough that I feel like my brain's been stuffed with cotton.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I'm trying to keep up with blogging (if trying means thinking about it every day, and not necessarily putting finger to keyboard.) But my schedule has been getting more crammed since my book came out and something's gotta give.

So I'll be trying to blog weekly (unless hit by a walking cold, in which case I'll blog on a random Friday. Hello!) I have a great Medical Mondays coming up soon, as well as updates on my future bookish travels.

But I just wanted to wave my tissue-laden hands and say "HI!" to all of you. I miss you guys. I know your lives are super busy so if you do stop by, thank you, thank you.

*Squishy germ-filled hugs from Lydia*

Also, one last word of advice--Nyquil makes you do bad things. Like eat BBQ chips in bed. Just a word of advice. Don't do anything on Nyquil except SLEEP. Ha.