Friday, December 24, 2010

A lot of B's for the rest of 2010

Hey all! It's holiday time, so I'm writing this quick post to say have a great holiday and...

Be safe!

Be merry!

And just be.

I wish you all a great holiday and apologize if I don't comment very much over the next week.

It's time to build some last, few memories for 2010.

How are you spending the last few moments of a year you'll never see again?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spackle the Loopy Holes

I mentioned recently that my 9 year-old is reading Harry Potter.

Kidlet: "If you can only see thestrals (skeletal-like winged horses, invisible to most people) if you've witnesssed the death of someone, then how come Harry can't see them his whole life if he saw his mom and dad killed when he was a little kid?

Mom: "Uhhhhhh." (Long pause). "Oh, he probably didn't remember. He was too young."

"Well, he saw Quirrell die in the Sorcerer's Stone, right?"

Mom: (whispers to self) "Dang, JK Rowling! Close yer loopholes!"

So anyway. This brings me back to plotting. I've got about a hundred holes in my plot. It's very much like a fine slice of Jarlsberg right now.

When you write, how to you make sure you've spackled your loopholes?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Medical Mondays: Psychedelic Synesthesia

Hey guys! Today's post is thanks to The Golden Eagle who had asked earlier if the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome was related to synesthesia.

Short answer, no.

Long answer? Hold on to your seats!

Synesthesia ("syn"=together; "esthesia"=sensation) occurs with the one sensory or mental experience triggers another mental or sensory experience. It happens involuntarily and is immediate. These things aren't purposefully imagined.

Examples: A person may
  • Think of the letter R and see the color green.
  • Think of the number 10 and sense a personality
  • See a certain object and hear a sound in response
  • Think of the days of the week and see it in 3-D
So here's my confession. That last example? It's mine. All my life, I have experienced the days of week as this 3-D elliptical band. Even if I think of today (Sunday, as I write this) I feel as if I'm in that loop and seeing M-F from right to left, curving out in front of me.

I do the same thing with the calendar months. December and January are in the back of the loop. The spring and fall months are very shortened and compressed compared to summer and winter months.

Apparently, about 1 in 23 people have some type of naturally occurring synesthesia.

Synesthesia can also happen after a stroke, during a temporal lobe seizure, or using psychedelic drugs.

Synthesesia in art and literature include:
  • Kandinsky (he was a true "synthesete")
  • Georgia O'Keefe, who occasionally used synthesthia as a subject of her paintings, though not a synthesete herself.
  • Nabokov's The Gift
  • Julia Glass's The Whole World Over
Have you heard of Daniel Tammet? He is an autistic savant who can see numbers as a physical shape and texture with color, up to 10,000. His story is amazing, to say the least. 

So...I don't know who'll fess up, (and of course, no pressure) but some of the people who comment on this post will have some sort of synesthesia too.


Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice (see sidebar disclaimer).

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer.
Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Advice for Bloggers

Recently I got into a conversation with some folks starting up their blogs.

They mentioned this post by Rachelle Gardner and I was fascinated to read about what agents like or don't like when they read blogs, as well as what writers do and don't like in agent/writer blogs.

So I'm curious. What advice would you have for a new blogger? Do you have a blogging pet peeve?

I'll start with mine.

I know everyone worries about SPAM, but it makes my life much easier when there's no word verification thing that pops up after I write a comment. I'd save a lot of minutes if they were gone, which mean I could visit more blogs (or get more sleep, both good things!)

As it is, I don't have it on my blog, and I get maybe one or two spam comments per blog post. I can deal with that.

Well? Blogging pet peeves and/or advice for new bloggers?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's your Patronus?

A good friend of mine (and fellow Harry Potter fanatic) asked me the other day, "What shape would your Patronus Charm be?"

(For those of you who haven't read HP, the Patronus Charm is a magic spell that conjures up a protective image of an animal that wards off happiness-sucking creatures called Dementors. I suppose in real life, Dementors manifest as the IRS, people who steal your parking space, and jeans that magically shrank a whole size since last week, but I digress...)

At first I thought, paramecium. It's cool, it's a single cell, it's independent. But what Dementor would be scared by a speck? Plus, it's so geek-sized.

The next thing that popped into my head was a kiwi. Not the fruit, but the flightless bird from New Zealand. Quirky, cute, and quite grounded (literally).

And finally, I thought of the platypus. It lays eggs, has fur, poisonous claws, and a duck-bill. A jack-of-all trades, not classifiable, and certainly a weird thing in this world. Possibly alien.

Yep, people. I'm a platypus.

So what shape would your Patronus be?

Don't forget to check out
Danyelle's post this week on Social Media--What's Your Poison?

If you missed it, check out Laura's post, mine from last week, and stay tuned for Deb's post in the next week!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Medical Mondays: The Mad Hatter Misconception

Hello all. Last week's post on the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome received many comments that will likely spawn future Medical Mondays posts, including this one.

Nick mentioned how the Mad Hatter is named so because the hat-making industry in the 1800's often used mercury (Hg) to cure the animal pelts used.

The usual symptoms of mercury vapor toxicity include:
  • parasthesias (numbness, tingling, and burning pain in the limbs)
  • slurred speech
  • hearing and vision problems
  • hallucinations
  • anxiety or depression
  • tremors and incoordination
The Mad Hatter of Lewis Carroll's story was more likely based on an eccentric furniture dealer named Theophilus Carter, who was known to hang out in his doorway wearing a top hat.

Many locals in Oxford called him "The Mad Hatter" and he was well known for his invention of an alarm clock bed that dumped you onto the floor when it went off.

That sounds mad to me. I'll stick to my regular alarm clock, thank you very much!

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice (see sidebar disclaimer).

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer.
Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Share a Story

A few months ago, I used my maternal right to force my eight year-old son to read the first fifty pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Me: "You'll like it! I promise!"

Son: "I don't want to."

Me: "Trust me, it's great!"

Son: "But...I don't want to!"

Me: "Read the first fifty pages and if you don't like it by then, I'll never make you read another page."

Son: *sees my I-mean-business-face and submits to my "deal"*

By page 10, he was still asking me if he had to do it. By page 25, still complaining. An hour later, I found him on page 75 and completely ignoring my existence.


Right now, he's on the fourth chapter of the Order of the Phoenix. In between, the times we've had discussing Harry's world have been SO MUCH FUN.

So, when was the last time you shared a world and brought a friend or loved one to a book you adored?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Social Mediocre

For this week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog, I've asked the gals to answer this question:

What kinds of social media do you use, and why? Twitter? Blogging? FB?

Well, I blog (duh) and I Facebook, but my FBing is pretty tame. I mean, the most interesting thing I've posted this year is the wild turkey that showed up in my back yard. I thought that would impress my old friends in NY. And then they told me, "Er, we have wild turkeys here too."

Ah well.

Truth be told, I can hardly manage this blog. I try really my best to visit every person who leaves a comment and that can take a lot of time. See my time commitments over yonder on my sidebar? They really do take up 25 hours a day.

Someday I might Twitter and FB in earnest. But right now if I did that, I'd feel like Bilbo Baggins when he held onto the Ring of Power too long.

"I feel like butter scraped over too much bread."

So. Do you guys FB? Tweet? Blog? Vlog? Other? All of the above?

If you missed it, check out Laura's post from last week, and stay tuned for Danyelle and Deb's post in the next weeks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Medical Mondays: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

I swear I am not making this up.

The Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can cause a person to perceive that objects or their own body parts are strangely too small, or too large. Sufferers can also have distorted time perception (going too fast or too slow) or sound can be warped.

Causes include migraines (which can be associated with all kinds of neurologic symptoms), temporal-lobe epilepsy, or even Epstein Barr infections (the virus that causes "Mono", or mononucleosis).

The treatment involved treating the underlying illness that causes the symptom.

No, the treatment is not a bottle that says "Drink me."

Sorry folks!

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice (see sidebar disclaimer).

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer.
Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Contest Winners and Literary Devices Part 7: False Documents

Thank you all for joining in my 500 Followers Contest to celebrate independent bookstores! I used to help pick the winners. They and their corresponding bookstores, are:

I'll be emailing you shortly to get you your gift cards!

And now on to today's post.

Have you heard of using false documents in fiction? The one I remember the most is The Princess Bride, by William Goldman, who pretends that he's abridging the original tome written by S. Morgenstern.

S. Morgenstern was likely a tongue-in-cheek reference to Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern, who coined the term Bildungsroman, a type of story that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the main character.

I'm so gullible. When I first read this book as a teen, I thought he was telling the truth and even sent a letter to the publisher Harcourt to request the missing scene. They never wrote back. :(

BUT it turns out you can now request it at this website, which I just did. Finally. After like 20 years, I get to read it!!! (*Rubs hands together, cackling to myself*)

Okay, I just got the email. All I have to say is, "D'OH!"

I guess I'm still so gullible. Anywho.

Here are a bunch of other examples: Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, The Name of the Rose, The Handmaid's Tale, The Club Dumas and... a ton of others.

So...what do you think of "false documents" in fiction, either as documents within the novel, or the novel itself pretending to be a truth? Have you ever done this in your own storytelling?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Breaking the Wishbone Theory

After Thanksgiving, we dissected out the wishbone and dutifully gave it to our two eldest kids to snap.

You know the deal. Whoever gets the bigger half is gifted with a wish that will come true. (Which I have other issues with, by the way. I mean, thirty years later, I still can't fly like Superman. What's up with that?)

I digress. Anyway, I steeled myself for comforting the loser. After all, life is about all kinds of losses, right? In the words of large-mouthed English rockers, you can't always get what you want.

Anywho, they gritted their teeth and pulled. And this is what happened:

One of the "arms" got broken after the fact, but in essence, the two sides were equal. I was thrilled. And then I had a wishbone epiphany.

Why should one person's dream be at the cost of another's?

It shouldn't.

Which brings me back to writing and the machine that is the publishing world. We hear weekly about our writing friends' good fortune. A book sold, an agent snagged, a new novel e-pubbed with the masses downloading quickly in the nanoseconds of a mouse click.

But. This shouldn't take away from our own hopes and aspirations. Because I think the Wishbone Theory sucks. Our own hopes don't need to be lessened by the success of others.

Maybe we should have a "Wishbone Chucking" ceremony after Thanksgiving, to toast to hopes and wishes.

All in favor, say, "Chuck away!"

Two last notes. Don't forget to join my 500's Followers Contest that ends Friday. Last chance for one of four gift cards at your local bookstore!

And do stop by Laura's blog today for this week's Sisterhood Blogpost on social media: what's your poison?