Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Deal News: QUACKERY!

So this happened:


Okay, I had to get that over with. It's been almost three years since my last book deal, so yeah. Lots of celebrating!

But also, I guess this needs a little explaining? After all, I've published two YA science fiction novels, and whoa, here I am delving into the world of adult nonfiction.

Well, lately I've been thinking of my writing career with a different, larger perspective. I've published poetry, medical essays, research papers, and YA fiction. I've blogged about the writing process and with Medical Mondays, helping other writers with their medical accuracy. I'm still practicing medicine and trying to remember to buy that gallon of milk because we've been out of it for, oh, two days at the house.

Basically, lots of juggling. But what's been happening in the last few years, literary-wise, is that I've been finding myself drawn to certain projects because of the sheer fun of it. CONTROL and CATALYST are science fiction, but I don't see myself as only a science fiction writer. In fact, before those two books, I'd written a YA historical, and urban fantasy. I've wanted to write adult fiction, but the idea never came so I didn't pursue it before (I have recently, it's a recently completed WIP). Two years ago, I wrote a dragon fantasy set in Asia; before that, a MG magical fantasy; I've also written a contemporary/magical realism/paranormal book last year. Then there was the horror short story in AMONG THE SHADOWS.  I'm all over the place, because I'm passionate about a lot of story concepts. Some of these projects are actively looking for homes; others are quietly sitting on the back burner for another chance in the future.

But if there is one thing I'm consistent about, it's my love of science, medicine, and the human condition. They are the three threads, twisted together, that have taken me on a huge journey in the last several decades.

So I want to introduce you to QUACKERY. I'll be writing it along with Nate Pederson, a gifted journalist, librarian, and friend (he's the spouse of April Tucholke—she's responsible for bringing these two geeky heads together).

I'm SO excited. You have no idea what sorts of gross, fascinating, bizarre things I'm digging up for this book! 

*cackles impishly*

Also--please follow Nate on Twitter. He's new to Twitter, and I'm sure he'd welcome a hello from the writing community!

Monday, October 26, 2015

NaNoWriMo, CATALYST ARC giveaway, and Grosheries

National Novel Writing Month. It's that particular November rite of writerly passage in which people feverishly commit to writing 50,000 words in a single month.

click here for site! I'm logged in there as LydiaKang :)
I know, I know. Naysayers often quote the usual things, something involving "art" and "time" and "amateur" and "literary terror" in the mix. Agents worry about the deluge of barely revised novel submission in December and January. Writers try to remember the several novels published that started as a NaNo baby (was it one, or two? Actually, it's a huge list.)

Well, I've never been able to NaNo because I've always been involved in heavy revisions during the month. But this year, the timing is right. And by that I mean:

1. I have an idea (it's called "Stitched" and I can't tell you what it's about, I'm superstitious)
2. I have time in October to outline the idea
3. There is a giddy happiness regarding said idea
4. Unlike other novels I've written, the research is minimal. I'm super comfortable with this world.
5. I have friends who plan on plying me with a lot of advice, sympathy, virtual donuts, and occasional group screams of frustration.
6. I'm planning on providing my picky, inner editor a subscription to Netflix and a 200 gallon drum of caramel and cheddar popcorn. Nothing's going to slow me down.

Add me as a buddy on the website, if you're participating!

In case you missed it, I have several ARCs of CATALYST still in hand, and am giving them away on Instagram.

And on a last note, I did this fun, random Twitter linguistics experiment after hearing my three children (two of which were born in NYC) pronounce the word "groceries" like this: GROSHERIES.

I was shocked. I pronounce it GROSSERIES. No H! H's don't need to be there!

So here's the results of my Twitter experiment.

How do you pronounce it? Are you doing NaNo this year? And finally (if you're not on IG) leave a comment if you'd like to request an ARC of CATALYST to review and I'll enter you into the draw. :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Events Updates: Omaha and Chicago!

Hey everyone! If you're in Omaha, I'll be at the Omaha Lit Fest this Saturday, October 17, along with friend and colleague Dr. Bud Shaw to discuss how our practice of medicine and surgery affected our writing.

If you're in town, I'd love to see you. This is my first time at the Omaha Lit Fest and I'm excited to see what it's all about!

On Sunday, October 18th at 2 PM, I'll be in the Chicago area for the Among the Shadows book signing and Halloween party! It will be at Anderson's Bookshop in LaGrange, Illinois and attended by Mindy McGinnis, Demitria Lunetta, Kate Karyus Quinn, Kelly Fiore, and Lenore Appelhans.

Hope you see you there!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Medical Mondays: I Am Titanium

(That's one of my favorite songs, by the way.)

Today, we've got a question from a friend and author, Elle Cosimano. She's the author of the YA thrillers Nearly Gone, the sequel Nearly Found, and the upcoming Holding Smoke.

Coming May 3, 2016 from Hyperion
Elle asked: Do hospitals still use metal plates for reconstructive surgery, or do they use some other type of material? Assuming his skull was damaged [during an assault], is it reasonable to mention that he had metal plates in his head?

The short answer? Yes.

Here's the longer answer. In a situation where someone had enough trauma to the skull to warrant surgery, it's possible that they would need titanium implants during the surgery. In one scenario, only titanium screws and thin, narrow plates would be used to put broken pieces of skull together. In a situation where the skull injury is too large to be covered by native skull pieces, a larger piece of plating or mesh might be used.

Photo Credit
I sort of have a fondness for titanium, so here are some more thoughts.

Why is titanium used in medical implants? Titanium is an inert metal that is biocompatible with the human body, so rejection isn't an issue. It's also able to osseointegrate, meaning that bone can grow right up to that metal, without having scar tissue in between.

Do they have to stay there forever? For the above scenario, yes. For things like artificial joints, those tend to have a more limited life span of 15-20 years (or more) due to the wear and tear of the components of the actual socket. Other life span factors include the health of the patient, bone health, and activity levels.

Will the patient stick to an MRI machine, or a giant junk yard magnet?
No. Titanium is non-ferromagnetic, so MRIs are safe (however, if it's near the area being examined, the implant can cause blurring or streaks, called "artifact," of the images.)

How about metal detectors? Depending on the detector or screening tool at the airport/school/building, titanium implants could set off an alarm.

Other bodily uses? Titanium dioxide, which is the most common form of titanium found naturally, is also the white stuff used in physical sunblocks. Lots of body piercing jewelry is also made with implant grade titanium.

I need to impress my friends. Really? Well okay, if you insist. Melting titanium will explode on contact with water. Also, in titanium polluted soil, Scotch Bonnet mushrooms will bio-decontaminate the soil. There you go.

On that note, here's a link to David Guetta and Sia's song, Titanium. Because it was in your head anyway, right? ;)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Giveaway! Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon's Odyssey, by Dr. Bud Shaw

Plume Books/Penguin Random House/2015
Many of you know I've lived in Omaha for almost a decade now, after being a home-grown East Coast girl. I also did my twenty-four years of schooling and training in the East too. (I had to add that up recently when a middle schooler asked me how many years of work it took to be a doctor. I think I scared him out of a future in medicine! Oops.)

What many don't know about Omaha is this: it is not, in fact, littered with cow pastures.
And also this: it possesses a prolific, supportive, and thoughtful contingent of artists.

Bud Shaw is one of them, and it's been wonderful working with him on the literature side of things these last several years.

Dr. Shaw is a writer, poet, and retired transplant surgeon who developed the liver transplant program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He's written over 300 journal articles, 50 book chapters, and was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in 2013 for his essay, My Night With Ellen Hutchinson. He also became a friend during the time that I joined a workshop called the Seven Doctor's Project back in 2009.

Yesterday, I attended his book reading and signing at The Bookworm Omaha for his debut book, a memoir about his career in surgery and the very human journey he experienced. Here he is, kindly crouching down for the photo because he's so damn tall. (Everyone in Nebraska seems so damn tall to me, at least.)

He recently wrote this wonderful article in the New York Times about a singular experience of watching two of his identities collide, being a physician and parent.

A few words about the book:

“This is just about the best book about surgery and a surgeon I have ever read—by surgeon or civilian alike. It is warm, honest, straightforward, sad, amusing and compelling from beginning to end.” —Lee Gutkind

"Shaw's lean prose offers insights into medical professionals' private perspectives as well as a sobering sense of human fragility and the scientific strides taken to counter it. A bracing, unusual personal narrative that should appeal to aspiring physicians as well as to those considering the "big questions" around high-risk surgery." —Kirkus

“Dr. Shaw's memoir is a uniquely human journey of a man who performed superhuman feats.  His written candor made me (a surgeon as well) cry, laugh, recoil, cheer, and ponder life's true meaning.  I could not put this book down.”—Paul A. Ruggieri, M.D., author of Confessions of a Surgeon

You can find Dr Shaw's book at our local indie bookstore, The Bookworm, and also at Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Amazon

And I'm giving away a signed copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you get a chance to read it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Medical Mondays: Fluoride Toxicity and Saying No To That 100th Cup of Tea

I've been wanting to do a #MedMondays on this one for a while.

In the United States, pretty much everyone is familiar with fluoride. The element fluorine is the lightest halogen and exists as a highly toxic, yellow gas at room temperature. But we know it better in its anionic form, fluoride.

It's in our drinking water and toothpaste, and helps to prevent tooth decay and keep our teeth strong. (But did you know that several countries have chosen to no longer fluoridate their water? The CDC says it's one of the top ten greatest public health achievements. Others have argued that it's a compulsory, mass medication in our drinking water. Thoughts?)

A little too much fluoride in your drinking water (or swallowing too much toothpaste) can cause dental fluorosis, which is harmless but causes cosmetic changes to the enamel in the form of stained and pitted teeth.

What about more severe toxicity? Well, it turns out that not only your teeth are affected by fluoride, but your bones. In some areas of the world, particularly where the fluoride levels in the water are high due to contaminated water supplies or geological sources, fluorosis can occur.

Chronic fluorosis, which is from consuming too much fluoride over time, can result in denser but brittle bones, calcified ligaments, stiffness and joint pain.
The arrows are pointing to excessive calcium deposits on the forearms and spine. Source: NEJM
Acute fluoride toxicity can occur in areas after industrial explosions or accidents (like from a hydrofluoric acid spill), or more commonly by ingestion of too way much fluoride-containing dental products. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (the trifecta of GI distress! In doctor's notes, we write that as N/V/D, in case you were wondering), kidney damage, heart damage, and possibly even death.

And guess what? You can get it from tea, too. Tea plants tend to accumulate fluoride from the soil. See those x-rays up there? They were from a woman who drank >100 tea bags worth of tea every day for 17 years (read here for the New England Journal of Medicine article.)

People who drink a lot of brick tea are at risk, too. What is brick tea? I actually snapped this photo at one of my favorite tea shops, thinking it looked just like an ink stone for Asian calligraphy.

Apparently, this type of tea can be made from older tea plants, and so they accumulate more fluoride than your usual cup of tea.

For more information, check out the CDC page on dental fluorosis and the WHO page on fluorosis due to drinking water. For parents, here's the info page on dental fluorosis by

Have fun brushing your teeth and overthinking the entire process! :D


It's here! So excited to be part of this dark YA anthology with some of my favorite authors!

About the book:

You’ve been there.

It’s dark and you’re comfortable. You’re just about to fall asleep when you can’t help but wonder if maybe tonight the thing you’ve always been sure exists will finally find you.

The best short stories stick with you, and the stories in this book especially, are meant to cast long shadows. The authors who contributed to this anthology are not only familiar with what lurks among the shadows, we choose to spend time there. Our monsters all live in different places—under beds, beside peaceful streams, inside ourselves, down mine shafts, in the sky. The darkness you’ll find in these pages knows no boundaries, so it’s only fitting that these stories cover many genres.

Reality can be just as terrifying as anything our imaginations conjure, which is why the darkness in these pages isn’t relegated just to flights of fancy or the paranormal. In choosing such a wide range of stories, our hope is that everyone will find something to make them clutch their bedcovers a little closer.

In realistic contemporary stories from Joelle Charbonneau and Kelly Fiore, depression, addiction, obsession, and isolation are all the stuff of nightmares. Other stories by Justina Ireland, Phoebe North, and Geoffrey Girard straddle the line, making us question what is real and what is false. Mindy McGinnis explores the question of not knowing yourself, while Kate Karyus Quinn speculates on the effect of learning that every terrible thing that’s ever happened to you has been manufactured for the entertainment of others.

Demitria Lunetta and Gretchen McNeil each take a closer, horrific look at human nature. Lenore Applehans delves into a post-apocalyptic future, while R.C. Lewis discovers the darkness that lurks on another planet in her science fiction narrative. Then of course there are the paranormal stories from Beth Revis and Lydia Kang, each digging into the many types of monsters that might wait for us in the dark.
Overall, you’ll find a wide range of horrors represented, including demons, aliens, and one of the most frightening creatures ever—human beings.

So set aside an hour or two, switch on some lights and come join us… among the shadows.