Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Reading: Retellings

My summer reading journey continues. This week I'm finishing up The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. He also wrote Coraline, which I finished a few weeks ago. Here's the blurb:

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens (called "Bod" for short). At the start of the story, Bod is a toddler who witnesses the murder of his family by a mysterious man known as "Jack". Bod escapes from the family home before the murderer reaches him and stumbles into a nearby graveyard where the resident ghosts and other supernatural creatures "adopt" him and protect him from the evil Jack and his associates who continue to hunt for Bod.

I confess that the ghoulish take on The Jungle Book was intriguing. Have you read any retellings lately that you enjoyed?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Medical Mondays: Aneurysms

Hi everyone! Hope you are having a good Monday so far.

Jennee at Cheap Therapy asked:

If a person has a brain aneurysm, how long would it take before it might kill them?

This an an interesting question and one near and dear to my heart, as a family member of mine suffered (and miraculously survived) a ruptured aneurysm.

First off, what's an aneurysm? Aneurysms occur when part of a blood vessel, usually an artery, stretches out in a balloon-like fashion in a portion of the vessel. The pressure from the blood inside can make the aneurysm even larger, and it can burst.

The causes? They can be hereditary, due to atherosclerosis, diabetes, smoking, aging, and copper deficiency, among other things.

Why are they bad? The problem with arteries bursting is there is a lot of pressure forcing that blood out. It's that force which normally pumps blood into your brain and body, after all. When an artery bleeds out, it's hard for your body to stop the bleeding and "bandage" the broken vessel (which is why we put pressure on cuts, to give broken vessels that chance). But of course, you can't put pressure on internally bleeding vessels. So a ruptured aneurysms can be catastrophic, to say the least.

Where are they found? They can be found in the biggest arteries of your body (like the aorta) and in smaller but important vessels that supply blood to the brain. These intracranial aneurysms are the ones that Jennee is asking about.

So if a person has one, will they definitely die from it? The answer is...not necessarily. Having an aneurysm does not automatically mean you'll die from it. It depends on a lot of factors.

The larger the aneurysm, the higher the chance it could rupture. Small ones are less likely to rupture; larger ones (bigger than 1 cm across) have a much higher risk.

Also, the rupture risk changes depending on which vessel in the head is involved, how healthy the person is to begin with, any bleeding problems, if they're on a blood again, it depends. But one this is for sure, a ruptured brain aneurysm is a very, very serious thing and carries a very real death risk and morbidity (that's permanent non-fatal stuff like speech, movement, and memory problems) risk.

Thanks Jennee for a great question!

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

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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Breaking the Twitter Barrier

Okay, well. I've succumbed.

Up until now, I never really cared about who was tweeting whom, or what, or why.

This past week, during the crazy querying process, an agent apparently tweeted that they liked my query.

Suddenly, my (heretofore nonexistent) Twitter antennae went up.

And they stayed up. I started Twitter stalking following a few agents. And then I decided to just come clean.

So I'm on Twitter, y'all. And it's still so weird and new, I feel like I'm riding a bicycle with no handlebars.

Got any tips for a newbie?

Want me to follow you? Let me know, and I shall.

I'm @LydiaYKang. I can't wait to hear more of what you guys have to tweet about!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ficelle Anyone?

I came across this literary device recently. I thought a ficelle was some fancy French bread.

I was right! It is. But it is also this:

A term used by Henry James to denote a fictional character whose role as confidante is exploited as a means of providing the reader with information while avoiding direct address from the narrator.
(from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)

The word comes from the French word "string," as in, the strings that pull a marionette's limbs, to manipulate the story, so-to-speak.

Neat huh? I never thought as side-kick characters in this way, but it's certainly a useful thing.

Also, don't forget to check out Deb Salisbury's post on "How do you personify your Muse?" Check out answers from Sarah Fine, myself, and Laura this past month!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Blog! Must come visit!

I'm doing a rare Tuesday blog post just to tell you this:

This is my friend Julie.

She writes.

She's a doctor. (Starting to sound familiar?)

She blogs. (Finally! I've been bugging her forever to start!)

She's so funny I've occasionally wondered if I needed, preemptively, to put on a pair of Depends before we chat.

And she's one of my crit partners.

Please go visit her blog, Gypsy in my Soul, and follow her. She's awesome. I promise you won't regret it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Medical Mondays: Stendhal Syndrome/Double Rainbow

Stendhal Syndrome occurs when a person is in the presence of artwork that literally overwhelms the viewer, causing symptoms of dizziness, hallucinations, delirium, rapid heart beat, and occasionally fainting.

The syndrome was named after Stendhal (the pen name for Henri-Marie Beyle) a French author who experienced the syndrome during a visit to Florence, Italy.

In novels, Stendhal Syndrome has been seen in:

Astoria, by Robert Viscusi
The Importance of Being Seven, by Alexander McCall Smith
among others.

It can also occur when viewing beauty in the natural world.

So, okay. Some people have blamed the reaction by the infamous Double Rainbow video guy on Stendhal Syndrome.

Others have illicit causes.

You be the judge.

Have you ever experienced Stendhal Syndrome?

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

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.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Are You Reading?

It's hard writing posts in the summer. There's so much stuff on the agenda, you know?

So I'm making this another short and sweet post.

In my effort to read more MG, I'm reading Holes, by Louis Sachar. Here's the blurb:

Stanley Yelnats isn't too surprised to find himself at Camp Green Lake, digging holes in the dried up lake bed, day after scorching day. After all, his family has a history of bad luck.

The boys at Camp Green Lake must dig one hole each day, five feet deep and five feet across. But what are they digging for? Why did Green Lake dry up? And what do onions and lizards have to do with it all? The answers lie in Stanley's own past...

So how about you? What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Brave New World (of writing)

So far, I've got this new book idea. My writing friends have been kind enough to tell me the idea doesn't suck lemons.

I also tested it on my nine-year old son (who's a Harry Potter fanatic) and I had to gently pry him away from my laptop when he wouldn't stop reading my brainstorming notes.

The only problem? All the fiction I've written has been YA.

This shiny, new idea is clearly middle grade.

Er. I don't write MG. I read it, a little, but not as voraciously as YA.

What's a person to do? It's like the project chose me, and I have little to do with choosing what type of novel it is.

So now I am reading MG and researching the differences between YA and MG, beyond the obvious (age, subject matter, voice, etc).

How about you? Have you ever been hit by an SNI in a genre/category you weren't used to writing? How did you adapt?

Also, please stop by Sarah Fine's blog to see how she answers this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question: "How would you personify your muse?" Check out my answer from last week, and Laura Diamond's from the week before. Deb is up next week!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Medical Mondays: I am a Zombie

Hello fellow writers! Today's post is one to help fuel your imagination.

Cotard Syndrome is a rare disorder in which the sufferer believes that he/she is:
  • dead
  • decomposing/putrifying
  • missing internal organs
  • not actually existing
  • immortal
It is named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist who first described it in 1880. It's been observed in people after head trauma, and may be related to Capgras Delusion (see my earlier post, "Are You My Mother?"), in which a person believes a loved one has been replaced by an imposter.

It can be observed in those with schizophrenia, biploar disorder and is often associated with those suffering depression. Keep in mind that though it has relationships with these disorders, it is still a very rare disorder.

Treatment includes treating the underlying disorder (such as schizophrenia).

Hmm. In writing, Cotard Syndrome would bring a whole other dimension to the zombie trends out there, wouldn't it?

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

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.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It's summer and I've got some stir-crazy kidlets at my house, so I'm making this one short and sweet. (How ironic! Read on.)

What is that word up there?

Sesquipedaliophobia, or it's longer version, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia means "fear of long words."


Hmm. That's only slightly less hard to pronounce than "Mxyzptlk."

What about you? Do you shy away from complicated, long words in your writing?

Or if you don't care to answer that question, don't you think those words sound like some horrible disease complete with itchy rash?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Muse, with Labels

This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question comes from Deb Salisbury.

"How would you personify your muse?"

Well. Once, I thought she was like this, a bit S & M-like. But now, I realize she's more like this:

Cute right? Well, let's get down to the details and see how cute she really is.

1. Earplugs. These are some of the many items in her arsenal. She shoves these in so I can brainstorm ideas and have no idea that my family is asking me when, for the love of their empty stomachs, dinner will be ready.

2. Sunglasses. More like blinders. She slaps these on me all the time. What pile of dirty laundry?

3. Lasso. Not the lasso of truth, just a lasso. When I get busy doing the proper things, she yanks me back to focus on my ideas. It's okay except when I've got soap in my eyes and my laptop is far away.

4. Glue. Used to stick my butt to the chair so I can get my writing done.

5. Sharp claws. So she doesn't lose her grip on me.

6. Bellybutton. Not sure what this is for.

7. Thumb spike from hell. Great for poking me, mercilessly at times, most often after midnight.

8. Big, innocent eyes. "It's for your own good, sweetie!" she says. Ha. Not so innocent when it's three in the freaking morning.

9. Fangs.
She sucks all the good sense out of me, and replaces it with fantastical ideas.

There you go. She's a tough little sucker, she is.

So what's your muse like?

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

Medical Mondays: After an Attack

Today's Medical Monday's post is from a fellow blogger, writer, crit partner, medical-world colleague, and all around great gal: Laura Diamond.

*GRAPHIC CONTENT ALERT* In order to answer the questions well, I have to talk details. Sorry!

She asks, "My character is raped and injected with a drug. Would she need HIV prophylaxis afterwards?"

Boy, we really put our poor characters through so much. But to be realistic in fiction, we need to look at the facts.

After an unprotected sexual encounter, as well as injection drug use (both against the victim's will) we have to worry about several diseases.

Hepatitis C and B are both contracted through bloodborne means. Hepatitis C is more easily transmitted via needles than sex; Hep B is easy transmitted via both routes.

Postexposure Hep B/C treatment:
Unfortunately, none exists for Hep C. For Hep B, a vaccine would be given at the time of the evaluation, then one and six months later. They could also get prophylactic Heptatitis B immune globulin. The victim should be tested for both at the time of the evaluation, then a few weeks later. If positive for Hep C, they'd be referred to a specialist for possible treatment.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can be contracted through bloodborne routes assuming several things--the person with HIV has a very high viral count, and the amount of blood transferred has enough virus in it. In the healthcare environment, the risk of contracting HIV from a needlestick exposure to an HIV infected patient is about 3/1000 without taking meds (CDC). So for this victim, worried about HIV and needle exposure, there would be a lot of questions that needed to be answered--how risky was the perpetrator? Was the drug injected like heroin, using a dirty needle, or a clean one?

Sexually, HIV can obviously be contracted, but certain types of sex are more high risk than others. For instance, the person on the receiving end is higher risk; also, anal receptive sex is much higher risk than vaginal because of the risk of tears and bleeding.

Postexposure HIV Treatment: A two or three antiviral drug regimen would be offered to the victim, to be taken for about a month. This is method is not set in stone; the medications can be difficult to take, and the risk of contracting HIV varies widely depending on the exposure, and the HIV risk factors of the perpetrator. The victim would need to be counseled heavily on the risks and benefits of taking the medications.

Other STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and trichomonas are also a concern for rape victims.

Post-exposure STD treatment: Usually a cocktail is offered to the victim that includes treatment for all but syphilis, which can be tested for and treated later. The cocktail includes an intramuscular injection of an antibiotic (ceftriaxone), plus two other antibiotic pills taken for one day (azithromycin and metronidazole).

One last word--emergency contraception is usually offered as well during a post-rape evaluation and treatment, along with counseling and follow up appointments.

Hope this answers the questions, Laura!

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

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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting to Know Me MEME.

Last week, Laura Diamond tagged me for a meme. I haven't done memes in a while, and this one really had me thinking a long time. And away we go!

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

I'd pick my first date with my hubs.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

There are so many!

I'd redo a conversation with a friend a few years back. I hurt her terribly and had no intention of doing so, and it was all about using the wrong words. Wish I could do that one again.

What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?

Janine Garofalo's character in The Truth about Cats and Dogs, only with slightly less sarcasm.

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?

There are a lot of people I intensely dislike or think are horrible additions to humanity, but I don't think I could actually kill anybody. I'm going to pick an historical person and say Hitler.

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

Pathologic procrastination.

Describe yourself in one word.

Quirky. Adaptable. Occasionally incapable of following directions.

Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.


Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.

I love connecting with the writerly community. (So what if I copied Laura's answer word for word?)

Name at least 3 people to send this meme to, and then inform them.

Jonene Ficklin
Old Kitty
Leigh T. Moore

Have fun gals! And have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shiny, New Idea and Traumatic Brain Injury

I got struck on the noggin a week ago with a new idea for a book. How appropriate, given I've been writing about traumatic brain injury (TBI).

in writers due to a fast-moving, hard-hitting Shiny, New Idea (SNI) is not such a different beast.

I'm dizzy and delirious and have short-term memory loss (mostly with regards to housework, LOL).

I can't remember what I was doing at the time the SNI hit me. Good thing too, because it probably involved taking the garbage out to the curb or unclogging my bathroom drain. Gross.

Have you been hit by a SNI lately? What weird things did it do to you?

Also, take a moment to stop by Laura Diamond's blog where she is tackling this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic chosen by Deb Salisbury: How would you personify your writing muse?