Friday, August 14, 2015

Among the Shadows Giveaway!

AMONG THE SHADOWS releases in a month and we're having a giveaway for 5 paperback copies (plus signed swag!) and 5 digital copies. The swag bundle includes signed bookmarks by Beth Revis, Joelle Charbonneau, Kelly Fiore, Mindy McGinnis, Lydia Kang, Kate Karyus Quinn, Gretchen McNeil, and Demitria Lunetta! There are also some extra goodies like postcards, bookplates, stickers, and more! 

Among the Shadows is now available for pre-order on Kindle...AND we're also running a Goodreads giveaway through mid-October! 





 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Catalyst Giveaway!

Hey! I'm running a five-book giveaway on Goodreads. If you haven't had a chance to read Catalyst, then click the links!



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Catalyst by Lydia Kang

Catalyst

by Lydia Kang

Giveaway ends August 17, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, July 13, 2015

Medical Mondays: Dealing with a Fictional Amputation

Hello friends! I received this question recently, and it brings up a lot of the fictional issues that can come with a surgical procedure. The question comes from Deb Salisbury, a blogging friend and an expert in historical fashions.


My thirteen year old MC injured his foot, contracted gangrene, and had his foot amputated at the ankle.

Would he be up and wandering around town on crutches after ten days? Or twenty?

After six months of good healing, how much trouble would he have walking in a wool-stuffed boot if he lost his crutch? Would blisters or sores form if he wasn't used to it? At the very least, he's emotionally dependent on his crutch, in my story. Would he still be physically dependent on it?


FYI: The story is fantasy in nature, and there are magical elements in the world, which will be helpful for staving off infections. I would also assume that surgery wasn't terribly sophisticated, as we are dealing with pre-modern techniques and instruments in this world. 

There are also a few more assumptions. First, that the character at baseline is healthy (this matters for wound healing and general strength). Second, that there were no complications to surgery (I know--this is a BIG assumption. Historically, amputees often died soon after surgery from massive hemorrhage or infection. But for this story, we need our character alive and only with an amputation. So. Let's assume the surgeon/medical person could somehow tie off or cauterize blood vessels, creative a nice flesh flap to cover the wound, and sew it all up nicely). In this idealized case, the superficial aspect of the wound ought to heal within two to three weeks. 

However, the deeper parts of the leg tissue from the amputation itself takes a longer time to heal, up to eight weeks, and even then it's a continuum of healing. So I was glad to hear that he wasn't faced with using a prosthesis soon after surgery, which might not be realistic in this world. 

He probably could use crutches within a few days after the surgery, and using a prosthesis at the six month mark would likely be okay. It would be tough on him, though, because I'm assuming without modern prosthetics, the boot won't fit great, the wool would be rough and he hadn't yet "hardened" his stump to this kind of pressure and stress yet. There would be issues with blisters and stress on the skin. His muscles in that leg would also be weak from disuse (no tried and true physical and occupational therapists in this fantasy), so he'd have to deal with that too. At the beginning of using the prosthetic boot, my guess is he'd be dependent on the crutch, but not after he got used to it and built up his stamina. 

For more information, here's a great overview by Johns Hopkins on dealing with an amputation before, during, and after the surgical period. 
Here's the National Amputation Foundation website with FAQs for new amputees. 
This is a great essay on the history of amputation, by Meghan Wooster. 
And also for history's sake, this is a great Pinterest board with photos of historical prosthetics. 

Thanks Deb for a great question!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bonus CATALYST Scene!

Hey guys! I posed this bonus scene from Vera's POV in Catalyst for the YA Scavenger Hunt a few months ago. Here it is, and I hope you enjoy it!

To read a bonus scene from Control from Cy's POV, click here. :)




VERA


I am green.
Hear me roar.
Well, I’m greenish.
This is what I say to myself in the mirror in the morning. I’ve dragged myself from Hex’s four, deliciously heavy arms, out of the common room where we’ve all taken to sleeping at night. We’re all too chicken to sleep alone these days, though no one will admit it.
Back in my room, I push aside the softened, dying vines that used to creep from floor to ceiling. It used to look like a jungle in here; now it’s as if winter has permanently taken root. We have to conserve energy now, and I’m only allowed enough power to fuel the clamshell tanning bed where I get my daily dose of UV.
I study my reflection with a critical eye. My face is greener than the rest of my body, which is turning that un-tasty shade of pond scum and fall leaves. No matter that my curves are perfectly intact. Hex says my body is a figure-eight racetrack and I heartily agree, particularly when I’m kicking his ass in Kendo. I love how that pisses him off.
 But I mourn the absence of sunlight in my life. The chloroplasts in my skin ache for photons, for drenching solar radiation. There is no other way to explain the way I feel, locked away from the sky because we can’t risk showing our faces outside of our home, Carus. We can’t go up to the agriplane anymore.
Dammit. I’m hungry as hell.
After a breakfast of soil brownies, I go straight to Marka’s room. She’s like our den mother, and ever since the Senator’s assassination, she’s been locking herself up and watching the news incessantly. Carus isn’t safe anymore. Worry is shrinking her already thin frame. She might disappear in a stiff breeze, and it terrifies me. But terror is a good friend. It makes me mad, and anger is how I fuel myself with the energy to fight. Fight who? We’ll find out soon.
I sit on the bed and Marka barely notices.
“Did you eat breakfast?” I ask.
She barely shakes her head. Her eyes are glued to the screen before her. Nervousness gnaws at me, and I start chewing my fingernails, which still taste of nitrogen and phosphorus from breakfast.
Soon, Hex and Zelia show up. Hex puts two hands on my shoulders, and they’re steady, but I can still feel the apprehension in his fingertips. Zelia sports dark circles under her eyes, and her hair is violently frizzy. She probably lost another night of sleep, and it’s no wonder. We all miss Cy, but she loved him most, and carries his loss like an infection that sickens her. She won’t talk to me. She won’t talk to her sister, Dyl, about it, either. I’ve never been good at warm and fuzzy. I hover near her at bedtime, at meals, hoping that just being around is enough. When I hold her with a glance that says Are you okay? I miss him too, she always looks away.
There’s only one cure for her despair. Cy.
I look away from Zelia, only to find Marka watching me with her concerned doe eyes. Even now, I remember that look. Memories flood me, of lying in a cold, stinking gutter, crying as warm hands leave me behind. After being discovered and deposited in a dark, locked room at the local orphanage, those big eyes of Marka found me. She swaddled me with an extra blanket and picked me up.
“Aren’t you the most beautiful thing that ever sprouted on this earth?” she cooed.
Hex says it’s not possible to have memories from when I was a baby. Maybe I’m making half this up. Maybe I’m just recalling what Marka told me as a child. But I swear, I remember her eyes. They understood the love I’d wanted from my parents, and hurt I received in return. They spoke of more love and pain to come, whether I liked it or not.
The news conference begins, and Marka’s eyes snap to the screen.
My skin goes icy, because somehow I know. This conference will bring no good news.
Today is the beginning of the end, and we all know it deep in our bones.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Medical Mondays: Water, The Poison We All Drink

Ever consider water as a means of sickening your characters in a novel? Yes? Well then, this post is for you. :)


Have you ever heard someone say, "Oxygen is poisonous. After all, 100% of humans who breathe it will eventually die."

Well, the same could be said about water. Except water can kill a heckuva a lot faster if the situation is just right (or wrong, rather). We're talking about water intoxication.

That's correct. Water can intoxicate you, and I do mean in a toxic way. It's also known as water poisoning, or the medical term, dilutional hyponatremia ("low salt in the blood").

There are several situations in which one can become seriously sick or even die from water intoxication.

  • Endurance athletes: Think of marathoners who collapse at the end of a race and need hospitalization. When you're sweating a lot of salt water, your body *thinks* it needs to retain fluid because you're sweating and exercising, AND you're drinking large quantities of pure water, it's a perfect set up for this condition. 
  • Heat Stress: It's a hot day. You're sweating buckets and drinking huge amounts of water to compensate, and then you get a headache...and confused...and pass out. Yep. 
  • MDMA use: Also known as "ecstasy", this street drug not only causes body temperatures to rise (hyperthermia), but users drink a lot of water because of it. On top of it, MDMA can cause the body to secrete a hormone called ADH (antidiuretic hormone) which slows down the ability to urinate out the excess fluid. 
  • Really Stupid Challenges and Games: I'm a huge non-fan of all those internet challenges and games. Like the Cinnamon Challenge, or the choking-somebody-until-you-pass-out challenge. Well, there's also a water drinking challenge, and guess what? People die. This unfortunate woman died after a radio contest was held to see if people could drink large amounts of water and not pee. This 12 year-old died playing water poker where she had to drink a glass of water if she lost a hand. 
  • Psychiatric Illness: All doctors learned about this in medical school. It's called psychogenic polydipsia, in which a sufferer feels compelled to drink water constantly. 
  • Accidental/Unintentional: Babies can become water intoxicated because it takes relatively little water compared to their body size to make them ill. Adults can drink too much water for the wrong reasons (for example, they get nervous before a medical test, or are trying to dilute their urine before a drug test, or are trying to suppress their appetite and drink too much water too quickly). 
  • Torture: Enough said. 
So what is the mechanism of water intoxication? Basically, a healthy pair of kidneys can clear about a liter of water per hour. If you overdue this and drink too much and too fast and retain more water than your body needs and can get rid of, your blood sodium will start to become dilute. 

When this happens, your body cells (which contain a healthy, well-regulated amount of sodium) start to take in water to try to even out the sodium concentration discrepancy between what's inside the cell, and what's outside. So cells start to swell. Like your brain cells. Which is really, really bad. 

Symptoms include headache, confusion, irritability, muscle cramping and twitching. When it's worse, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, brain damage, and death. 

How much can kill you? Drinking 3-4 liters of water too quickly could make you hyponatremic. The lady in the water drinking contest drank about six liters of water in a three hour period before she died (that's just over one and a half gallons of water). 

For all of you out there who are now pushing away that glass of water in abject fear and horror, don't! Remember--drink to satisfy your thirst, use common sense to stay hydrated, stay cool, don't do stupid internet challenges, and you won't end up on one of my Medical Mondays posts. :) 

Also, don't use Ecstasy. Bye now!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Medical Mondays: Hello Mummy! (Corpse Decomposition, Part 2)

Hellooooo!

Boy, it's been a while since I did a Medical Mondays. A few days ago, I received a question on Facebook that prompted me to revive the blog, Frankenstein-like, with a zap of inspiration.

For those of you who are new to my blog or Medical Mondays, here's the short of it. I'm a doctor of Internal Medicine with a background in biology and neuroendocrine research. When I started writing fiction back in 2009, I started blogging but didn't know what to blog about. After all, everyone had a writing journey story to tell. What did I have to add to the mix?

Well, it turned out that I was doing a too-good job of keeping my medical career and my creative side completely separate. I realized, hey, I have a way to give back to the writing community.

I can do medical consults. For free. 

So I told my writer friends I'd help answer their fictional medical questions to help them make their stories more accurate, or at least find the right diagnosis or situation to fit their plot needs. But sometimes, I'd just blog about interesting science or biological randomness just to spur imaginations. (in fact, it was one of my own posts that gave me the idea for the main character in CONTROL.) And voila, Medical Mondays was born.

Since then, I've been happy to help out lots of authors, some of whom were my blogging buddies way back when, like Theresa Milstein, Angela Felstead (this is her question!), Stina Lindenblatt.

I've also consulted with newer friends, including Elle Cosimano (Nearly Gone), C.J. Flood (Infinite Sky), Mindy McGinnis (A Madness So Discreet), Megan Miranda, Tara Sullivan (The Bitter Side of Sweet), Emma Pass, Sarah Fine, Justina Ireland, and more but I'm forgetting the whole list!

So what questions did I get? Take a glance at the tab up yonder and see what I've blogged about before. :)



So here's today's question: Are there body parts that would keep for centuries and not rot? 

*cracks knuckles*

*hopes that readers have a strong stomach*

So a few years ago I blogged about corpse decomposition and what happens under relatively normal circumstances, including which body parts decompose the fastest and slowest. Sometimes, under ridiculously good conditions, it can decay super fast (if you have a strong stomach, check out this video of a pig decomposing underwater. Yep, they videotaped the whole thing and it's so utterly gross and I couldn't look away while gagging quietly).

Today, we'll talk about why things might slow down and be preserved for longer than expected. Consider this part deux.

So. Why would a human body NOT decompose? 

1. Lack of moisture. Like in the poor pig demonstration above, moisture is decomposition's friend. It allows a good environment for bacteria to go to work dissolving a corpse. Without it, the body turns into (forgive me) a sort of human jerky. Bacteria have a lot of trouble breaking down desiccated flesh (which is why jerky is so good for camping, since it won't rot easily. I am sorry jerky lovers, but you are eating mummified food. Yep.)

The Egyptians used to augment the dryness of the environment when creating mummies by using natron--a drying salt found locally that was stuffed into and packed around corpses to dry them out.

Other famous mummies include the Saltmen, who accidentally died in salt mines in Iran and were found 2200 years later, complete with intact pork tapeworm infections.

2. Temperature. Most of us are lucky to have the brilliant technology of the refrigerator and freezer at our beck and call. Not only do they keep food fresh longer, they are also fantastic for mummification. (Lydia is not a serial killer. Please repeat this. The only thing I mummify in my fridge is long-forgotten Laughing Cow cheese.)

There are a lot of mummies found due to their being pretty much flash-frozen and sort of freeze-dried upon death. These include the famous mummies of the Inca and the 500 year old Greenland Qilakitsoz mummies.

3. Acidity. In the fight against decomposition, a low pH is good. We all know that acid is great at preserving. Hello pickles.

The Bog men are famous for their startingly well-preserved bodies. Tollund Man is one of the most famous. In the peat bog, the lack of oxygen, cold temperatures, and high acidity (despite the moist environment) could even preserve facial expressions.

4. Chemical Preservation. So this sort of includes the embalming practices of ancient Egypt and numerous other cultures, but it also includes the more modern methods of using preservatives like formaldehyde to embalm corpses. Sometimes brandy works great! (Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson). In other circumstances, people have asked to have their body parts preserved and mounted, doll-like and thoughtfully arranged, for visitors (Jeremy Benthem).

More recently, the plastination of bodies has made its rounds on display around the world and as a means of academic anatomical study. (I can't help but mention that there was a questioning of the ethical issues surrounding these display exhibitions: see this NPR article.)

So there you go. If you need body parts in your novel to last a LONG time, use some of these methods above to pickle, freeze, or dry out your corpse in question.

Fun times, people. Fun times. This is what you get for hanging out with writers.

And sorry to make your stomachs churn!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring YA Scavenger Hunt: GO TEAM BLUE!



Hi! I'm Lydia. Nice to meet you, if we haven't yet! I'm a doctor and YA author who wrote CONTROL and the sequel CATALYST, which just released from Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin!

About CONTROL:
When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren’t like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn't even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.

A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.



About CATALYST:

Zelia Benten has lost her father, the love of her life, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of illegal genetic outcasts they’ve come to call their family are forced to run when the safety of their foster home is compromised. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something impossible: Somehow Cy—the boy she loves, the boy who traded himself for his sister’s safety—is whispering insider her head. She has no idea what it means, but she veers off plan in order to search for him.

What she finds is not what she expected. They’ve been protecting themselves so long against the rest of the world, it’s never occurred to them that the real enemy could be much closer than they realize.

Catalyst is a thrilling ride through a dangerous future that will have you racing through the pages, falling in love, and questioning exactly what it means to be human.


***

SO! I'll be posting EXCLUSIVE CONTENT for CATALYST somewhere within the Blue Team Scavenger hunt, and giving away a big prize below. Yay! I hope you feel lucky, like my lucky number FOUR. Cross your fingers you'll win! 



***

Today I'm hosting the lovely Dorothy Dreyer!
Author of MY SISTER'S REAPER and MY TETHERED SOUL

Dorothy Dreyer has always believed in magic. Born in Angeles City, Philippines, to a Filipino mother and American Father, Dorothy grew up a military brat, living in Massachusetts, South Dakota, Guam, New Jersey, and New York. She now lives in Frankfurt, Germany, with her husband, two teens, and two Siberian huskies. Dorothy not only writes books with some element of magic in them, but has a fondness for reading those kinds of books as well. She also enjoys movies, chocolate, take-out, and spending time with family and friends. She’s known to make a pretty sweet cupcake when she has the time. She also tends to sing sometimes, so keep her away from your Karaoke bars. 


Connect with Dorothy here: Website / Twitter / FB Fanpage / Goodreads

MY SISTER'S REAPER - Reaper's Rite Book One

Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. To top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara's soul. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die … this time for good.


MY TETHERED SOUL - Reaper's Rite Book Two

It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.


*****

And now...for Dorothy's exclusive content!

This scene takes place right after Chase has checked in on Zadie in her room. She’s been wandering at night, and Gavin had to leave town for a couple of days. Chase popped in—through her bedroom window—claiming he thought he saw something suspicious in her room. After he’s decided all is clear and he’s made sure she’s taken her anti-sleepwalking potion, they talk for a bit, and then he leaves her so she can sleep. This bonus scene is told from Chase’s point of view.

Chase
I gave Zadie one more glance—the poetic way her rosewood hair fanned out over her pillow—before slipping out of sight and stealthily dropping from the portico roof outside her bedroom window. Daggers stabbed at my heart, as I left her.

I couldn’t stay, of course. Not that she had exactly kicked me out of her room, but she was right in saying I could keep an eye on her perfectly well from where my car was parked. Still, it would have been nice to stay. For her safety, of course, but also for selfish reasons of my own.

She was with Gavin; I understood that. And I would never violate the trust he put in me. A year ago, maybe, when I hadn’t known him so well. But now … dammit. When had I become such a good guy?

I stuffed my hands into my trench coat pockets and stared up at Zadie’s window from beside my car. No doubt she had fallen asleep by now. How I wished it was me she was dreaming about. I kicked the front tire of my car, mentally cursing my stupid heart.

*****

Besides winning the huge YASH Team Blue prize, you can also enter to win a paperback copy of CONTROL or hardcover of CATALYST, your choice, plus luxe swag pack including onyx necklace, mirror, bookmarks, buttons and stickers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now that you've read Dorothy's great scene, it's time to move onto the fab Colleen Houck's blog for the next step in the scavenger hunt! Go forth, read, and hunt away!
 
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