Thursday, December 20, 2012

Benefits and Nook Giveaway

Hey guys,

I'll be taking a blog-cation for the holidays. Before I go, a few things.

First, if you haven't, please check out the auction for Publishing Hearts Connecticut benefitting the Newtown Youth and Family Services. It will be going on all week. There are some amazing things being given away (signed books by some amazing authors, promotional deals, query/manuscript crits) so spread the word!

Second, there is a Nook giveaway this month by the Class of 2K13. A Nook! So sign up while you can.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a wonderful, love-filled holiday. I wish I could give you all a big, squashy hug through this computer screen, but I'm sure I'd just spill your coffee.

Oh, eff it. I'm gonna do it anyway.

*SQUASH*

*SPLASH*

See you in a few weeks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Way to Help in the Face of Tragedy


I'm still in shock from the terrible killings in Newton, Connecticut. The media is on fire with details of the events, some of which are burned into my psyche now. Social media is pouring out discussions on gun control and the state of mental health treatment in our country. And all the while, it's still incomprehensible to me.

With all my heart, I wish I knew with absolute certainty that my family will be safe every time they step out into the world. Only a little while ago, there was a shooting at the Von Maur minutes away from my home. I saw the towers fall on 9/11. No place is truly safe. I know there are no guarantees in life. But to be reminded of this by the slaughter of innocents -- it's too much.

Why, why did this have to happen?

I wish I had answers and solutions.

I can do a little something, as little as it is. And something is better than wallowing in despair.

Shelli Johannes and Miral Sattar have put together an auction to help.

I've donated a query critique and a first-five pages critique. All the proceeds go to benefit Newtown Youth and Family Services.

For details on the Auction, please click here at Publishing Hearts Connecticut. 

In the meantime, love your loved ones. Appreciate every day you have. Even in the face of these unconscionable events, I have hope for this complicated, precious, and sometimes heart-breaking world we live in.

Be brave, and live.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Deja Vu Blogfest: The Wishbone Theory


Hey guys. This blogfest come courtesy of DL Hammons, who puts the AWESOME in RECYCLE. (Did you just go, "Uh, that makes no sense. There is no such word as REAWSOMECYCLE." Well, there is now.)

The purpose of this blogfest is to repost an old post that you think deserve another shot in the spotlight. So here you go! 

*****

December 1, 2010

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 would our dream come 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 shouldn't 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!"

*****

Thanks for stopping by. It's not every day that a wishbone breaks like that
 and teaches me a lesson!

Click here for the list of all the blogfest participants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Angela's Hurricane Sandy Relief

Hey guys. Angela Felsted is doing a very generous thing.


She is going to donate the proceeds made from her new novel, CHASTE, from Dec. 12th - 15th to benefit those who are recovering from Sandy by giving that money to the ELCA. They have local people who can determine where the funds are most needed, and 100% of the money donated to them will go to helping those affected by the hurricane.


She's committing to match the proceeds dollar for dollar up to $1000.

From Angela: 
"As much as money and manpower is needed now, I'm sure it will continue to be needed then. I have friends going up this weekend to help with cleanup and I'm sad that I cannot go without neglecting my other responsibilities. This is my way of contributing to the cause. Merry Christmas everyone!"


Monday, December 10, 2012

Medical Mondays: Cinnamon and the Dangers of the Cinnamon Challenge

Hey guys. I had so much fun writing the wintergreen post last week that I thought I'd blog about a favorite spice of mine, cinnamon. It's one of my favorite candy flavors of all time. Give me some Red Hots or Hot Tamales or cinnamon gum, and I'm a happy girl. Mmmm.

Cinnamon has been around for millennia. It was a sought-after spice that comes from the soft, inner bark of the Cinnamomum species. Most cinnamon found in grocery stores is from Cinammomum Cassia, which originates from China. Ceylon cinnamon, or Cinnamomum Verum ("true cinnamon") can be find in specialty stores and is sweeter, milder, and more aromatic than its stronger, harsher, and less expensive counterpart.
Cassia cinnamon also contains a chemical called coumarin*, which if taken in high quantities can cause liver toxicity. For this reason, Cassia cinnamon importation is banned in Germany.

*coumarin, which is a fragrant, organic compound also found in sweet grass and sweet clover, can be converted to the anticoagulant dicoumarol by certain fungi. It caused the spontaneous bleeding death of cows when they ate moldy sweet clover. Coumarin is also the precursor to making warfarin, or Coumadin, which many people take to prevent their blood from clotting and causing strokes or deep vein thrombosis (DVT or pulmonary embolism). Coumarin smells like freshly cut hay, and is used sometimes in cosmetics. Like the lotion I used yesterday that covered my hands in a rash. YUCK!
source
Traditional Medicinal uses of cinnamon (Chinese and Aryuvedic)
  • helps with nausea, indigestion, menstrual cramps, colds, diabetes, 
  • increases energy, circulation
(source)

Some interesting cinnamon research:
  • cinnamon has been shown to kill mosquito larvae
  • it's been found in some studies to work against HIV and HSV (herpes virus), and found to have general anti-viral properties
  • may inhibit Alzheimer's in mice
  • may prevent colon cancers
  • cinnamon supplements have helped treat type 2 Diabetes in some patients

A few words on the Cinnamon Challenge. It's been making the rounds on YouTube and the internet. Apparently, the challenge is to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in a minute, without water or food. People find the videos entertaining, because within a few seconds, the cinnamon dries out the mouth of the person, and some crazy coughing and spewing of brown cinnamon clouds ensues.

(I wanted to insert a YouTube video of someone doing the Cinnamon Challenge, but every single one has serious profanity, for obvious reasons. So here's a picture instead.)
I didn't actually do the challenge. Cinnamon aspiration is NOT on my To-Do list.
Maybe it's funny, but there is a serious risk to doing this challenge. Inhaling cinnamon can cause serious inflammation of the lungs, gagging, and can lead to infection. Also, most commercial cinnamon in the U.S. is made of Cassia, which means a tablespoon of ingested cinnamon has moderately toxic levels of coumarin in it.

So yeah, leave this challenge to the YouTube fame-mongers. Please!

****

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! 

   All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How not to kill a fish

A little over a year ago in September of 2011, my hubs bought me a betta fish. I named him Finney. He was my first betta, so I asked the pet store person for advice.

"Don't overfeed him! Only one pellet of food a day. And skip a day a week! They can go a long time without food."

She said this rather forcefully. I don't know about you, but when a person speaks with a strong conviction, I tend to second guess myself. I tend to think they are right, and I am wrong.

I'd read up on the internet where several websites said to feed my fish more that that. And yet, there was that voice.

"ONLY ONE PELLET OF FOOD A DAY! AND SKIP A DAY A WEEK!"

So I ignored the internet, fed Finney one teeny, weeny nugget a day, and dutifully skipped Sundays.

Finney's fins started to shrink.  They got stumpy, as if something was mysteriously chomping chunks out of it every week. When I got him, he had lush fins and brilliant iridescent blue scales with a black face. Finney's face turned a dusky gray and the blue became muted and paler.

So one day, after Finney gave me fishy-eye-glare of pathetic hunger, I said, "Eff it, I'm feeding him more. If he's going to die, he'll die with a full stomach." So I put in three nuggets a day. And he didn't die. In fact, his fins started to regenerate and his color came back after only two weeks.

The moral of the story? And what does this have to do with writing? Or life for that matter?

The loudest, most insistent voice isn't always right.

It's not a volume contest, after all.

Bad book reviews come to mind in this scenario. Those can scream pretty loudly! Or maybe it's bad writing advice, or querying advice, or career advice. But if your instinct and other, quieter sources say otherwise, maybe, just maybe you should ignore that loud voice.

Remember this old adage?

Feed a person a fish, you keep them alive for a day. Teach a person to fish, you feed them for the rest of their lives.

Who knew there was something to be learned about feeding the darned fish?


Finnegan the Fish. Doing well. Swimmingly, in fact.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Medical Mondays: Wintergreen Party tricks, Poison, and Ben Gay!

I've been fascinated by wintergreen ever since I read this passage in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

“Under the snow on the south slopes the bright red berries were ripe among their thick green leaves. Almanzo took off his mittens and pawed away the snow with his bare hands. He found the red clusters and filled his mouth full. The cold berries crunched between his teeth, gushing out their aromatic juice.
“Nothing else was ever so good as wintergreen berries dug out of the snow.”
Later on, they'd collect the glossy wintergreen leaves and cram them into a jar, filling it with whisky. The liquid would be then be used as wintergreen flavoring, for cakes and cookies. 



Wintergreen and berries. Source: Wikipedia

Wintergreen is the plant  Gaultheria procumbens. You guys know it as a flavoring in candy, gum, chewing tobacco, confections, drinks, and toothpaste and mouthwash. Hello BenGay. (That's why achy people smell like that!)

Historically, it's been used as a topical medicine, to treat joint pain, fevers, headaches, and other symptoms. When the wintergreen oil was rubbed into the skin, it provided an immediate cooling sensation. 

The main ingredient in oil of wintergreen is methyl salicylate. Which I made in high school organic chemistry class! It was so fun. First, you take some methanol (wood alcohol--ooh, I made that in eighth grade. Set it on fire, too!) and add it to crushed aspirin tablets (acetyl salicylic acid) and then add some sulfuric acid. You cook it a while, and then...

Are you with me? Yes? No?

Well, it was fun, I tell you. At the end of it all, you get methyl salicylate. It smelled so good! Want to try? (DON'T do this at home. But DO suggest to your organic chemistry teacher that this be your next lab project when you study esters. Here's the method on making it in orgo class. Esters are THE funnest part of organic chemistry. Almost as fun as making nylon. Try making the Juicy Fruit ester! Isoamyl acetate, I love you. Okay, I'll shut up now.)

Methyl salicylate, like aspirin, can be poisonous in high doses. One single teaspoon (5ml) of methyl salicylate is the equivalent of 23 tablets of aspirin! People, particularly children, have overdosed and died from rubbing too much of a methyl salicylate muscle-pain relief cream into their bodies. 

Other factoids:

Apparently, oil of wintergreen is really useful for rust removal and degreasing machinery. Good to know, sort of.

And, the best of all, wintergreen is triboluminescent, which means it lights up when crushed. Remember this party trick? Take a Wint-o-green Lifesaver, go into the bathroom, turn out the light, and aggressively chew the Lifesaver with your mouth open (messy and not attractive. Good thing the lights are out.) And this is what you'll see: 


Neat, right? 

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. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photo Shoot Photos! And some advice.

They're here!

So the photo shoot was in September. After tossing out, oh, maybe a thousand of bad shots where I looked either drunk (I wasn't drinking), like the Joker from the first Batman movie (me + Jack Nicholson + makeup = scary), or just plain bizarre (oh god, THAT is what I really look like when I smirk?), I have the leftovers.

Which I'm pretty happy about. So here they are!










Okay, five is enough. That last one, my sister thinks is hilarious because she says I'm channeling a flamenco dancer (not my goal). Mostly, I like it because the field we were shooting in was so pretty! It really was that dreamy-gorgeous.

My author photo will likely be plucked from one of the middle three pictures. 

So what did I learn about doing author photos? (Much of which was given as advice to me in September--thank you!)

  1. Timing. Never aim to do photos during a midwest heat wave (had to reschedule that one). Fall and Spring are great times if you're aiming for outdoors (which is when photographers often get booked, so book ahead.) We also did a late afternoon shoot--the lighting was very forgiving.
  2. Bring sturdy shoes in case you have to walk in rough areas (that pretty dell we photographed in? It was steep, rocky, and I had to walk around it in heels. Felt like some dystopian fashion nightmare. I am amazed I didn't break an ankle.)
  3. A hair stylist is not a bad idea. I am SO glad someone else did my hair that day. It never looks that good!
  4. Makeup. Wow, does the camera wash out color! If I could do it over again, I'd wear a tiny bit more eye makeup and mascara. I thought I caked it on. I was wrong. I did, however, have fun playing with makeup the week before the shoot.
  5. Clothes. White tops wash you out if you're in your 30's or older age set and have pale skin. None of my white shirt photos looked good. It's no coincidence that my top three author photo contenders all feature the same, simple dark top. Know what works well for you (particularly as far as necklines go) and stick to it. Bring a few changes of clothes. More than three, and you'll spend a lot of time seeking on-site bathrooms or flashing too many passer-bys in your car. Many photographers will have a limit on how many clothing changes, as it is a time-suck for the actual shoot.
  6. Do a combo of big smiles, no smiles, and small smiles. My big smiles looked horrendous--wrinkles and psychotic happiness, check! And my no-smiles made me resemble a murderess. Glad I had plenty to choose from. 
  7. Sleep well and eat healthily the few days before. Go easy on the salt and stay well hydrated. Diet reasonably. The shoot was surprisingly tiring. I would have officially entered Bilbo Baggins territory if I'd been sleep deprived. Some people like to lose weight before a shoot,  but it's not wise to crash diet or you might resemble a dried mushroom that day. Gradual weight loss is better (and healthier!).
  8. Pricing/rights. My photographer was affordable for me and most importantly, she and I own dual rights to all image reproduction. I also got a copy of all the proofs and got a set of thirty edited photos. All are high resolution. Ask if you will have digital (web use) AND print rights (book jackets, promotional material), and how much it will cost. Most photographers will charge a sitting fee (for the actual shoot) but if you forget to ask, you might not realize that the actual image use is extra (sometimes in the hundreds to thousands of dollars per image, and sometimes only for a specified period of time).
  9. Don't freak out about the zits. I have one word of balm for this stress: Photoshop. Yay!
Phew. I am so glad that is over! Big hugs to Chelsea Donoho Photography for doing such a fabulous job! 

And thank you, my dear readers and Twitter friends, for all your advice back in September! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Medical Mondays: Argyria and Smurfs, or "Why is that dude BLUE?"

Hey guys! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks again for joining in the Ally Condie MATCHED giveaway. The winner is...J.E. Fritz! *applause*



So today, I thought I'd talk about blue people. No, not the Na'vi, or the Smurfs. But I'm think I know what the secret ingredient in Chef Smurf's delicious cakes were:

Silver. 

So there's this disease called Argyria that is caused by chronic ingestion of silver (or application of silver to the skin) that causes the skin to turn blue. In the past, people who worked in factories with silver compounds or silver dust sometimes had Argyria.

This is from Wikipedia. Sorry for freaking you out on an early Monday morning:

From Wikipedia
Why does this happen? Silver is a natural antimicrobial, and has been used for skin salves, eyedrops, and oral medication to treat a variety of ailments besides infections. To this day, silver is often used to impregnate certain objects, like intravenous lines or endotracheal tubes to prevent infections. When too much silver is absorbed by the body (usually chronically ingested or taken) the silver compound reacts with sunlight to cause the bluish hue. This photo-reactivity of silver compounds was the reasons why it was originally used in photography and daguerreotypes. 

Generally, silver is thought to be of low toxicity, but few, rare people have died from chronic over ingestion of silver.

So. In case you were ever interested in looking like the Silver Surfer, be advised that eating your mom's fancy, sterling silver spoons won't really work. At all. 

Also, Smurfs are weird. Just thought I'd say that for the record.


*****


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. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Ally Condie REACHED Giveaway!!

Hey guys!

So last week I went to my first book signing by a YA author. Ally Condie came by my local indie bookstore, The Bookworm.

Look!


See that book she's holding? It is the third in her Matched trilogy. I'm excited to read it because I hear she did a fantastic job of finishing up the series. At the signing, she talked about how she picked the poems highlighted in each book (All dead white guys! No copyright issues!) and how to become an author (write every day). It was a great signing, and I also got to meet some fantastic book lovers and bookstore people too. :)

So in honor of Thanksgiving, I'm giving away a signed copy for you guys! 

Because I'm thankful for so many writing-related things--for young adult novels, for my writing, for authors, for my writing friends, for bloggers, for my blog readers...for so much!


The giveaway ends Sunday night, November 25th.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Author Spotlight: Jessica Bell Interview and Show And Tell in a Nutshell

Click to add me to Goodreads!
Hey guys! Jessica Bell is hanging out at my blog today to discuss her new writing book, Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing. 

But first...a few interview questions!

When in your writing career did the "show vs tell" nirvana happen?
I never truly understood the difference until I’d accomplished it by accident one day, very early on in my career. During the fourth draft of my debut novel actually. My motivation was that I needed to increase the word count in one of my manuscripts. It was 60,000 words and I needed 80,000–100,000 before I could submit it to agents. So I combed through my manuscript, marking scenes I thought I could expand. By the time I’d finished reworking the first scene, the concept clicked. I finally understood what all the fuss was about because I was forced to be more detailed (even though my motive was purely cosmetic!). My writing had become cinematic, it had movement, my characters were three dimensional and I didn’t even have to mention their personality traits because I was showing them. But above all, my writing evoked emotion. This is what successful showing does. It uses the five senses (and sixth) to evoke an emotional response from your reader without telling them how you want them to feel.

What are you working on now, writing wise?
I'm working on my third novel, called White Lady. It's set in Melbourne Australia and is about a young woman named Mia who is fighting fat with white ladies. (Yep, I'll leave that to your own interpretation for now! Hint: don't think literally.)

Make us a little jealous of your new hometown, Greece. (what you had for breakfast, a view, etc.)
Well, it's not really new. I've been here for eleven years! What did I have for breakfast? Thick Greek yogurt with banana and honey, on my balcony in 20 degree Celcius heat (It's supposed to be winter). I'm six stories high, and today the air was so crisp, and the sun just the right heat to sit in. Bliss. My view isn't too bad either. Though I'm in the center of town, I have mountain views!

Um. Okay. I'm jealous!

And now...about her book!

Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader's highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.

The author, Jessica Bell, also welcomes questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at showandtellinanutshell@gmail.com

Reviews:
“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don't tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author

Purchase the paperback:
$4.40 on Amazon US
£3.99 on Amazon UK

Purchase the e-book:
$1.99 on Amazon US
£1.99 on Amazon UK
$1.99 on Kobo

About the Author:
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit: 
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beta Crits, Weetabix, Chicken 'n grits

I've had the title for this blog post in my draft folder for over a year and a half. After all this time, I've forgotten why I titled the post like this.

(I know, I know. This is probably a sign that I ought to be sleeping more. Or that I need an MRI of my brain. Or some vitamin CS (common sense).)

But anyway, onto Beta Crits, or having your writing critically reviewed by someone else before it can be seen by special someones--agents, editors, the money-spending public.  I think the funnest thing about having Beta readers is that it means, by definition, I am the Alpha reader. Makes me want to bark and howl, just a tiny bit.


Because I'm not really Alpha-ish about anything. On bad hair and zit days, I do feel Alpo-ish, though.

Next:

Weetabix. 


Nekkid Weetabix above; cooked Scrapple below. (Notice how the parsley makes the dish so much more...socially acceptable.)


What can I say about Weetabix? I have never met a Weetabix in person, but if I did, I would have this enormous urge to chuck it at someone. It would be a great food of the Apocalypse. You could eat it, use it as bricks to rebuild whole cities, or throw it at mutant zombie LOLCats.

Notice how much it resembles Scrapple (a mid-Atlantic food item consisting of filler, shunned pork bits, and more filler. I have eaten this many times. It tastes like some sort of low-brow paté mixed with already-been-chewed tortilla chips.)

So yeah, I think fried Scrapple and Weetabix might be long lost BFFs. Just my take on it.

Chicken 'n grits. I have very little to say about this last one except that it need to get into my stomach, and fast.

(Was this post random? Maybe. I did play "Let's say non sequiturs while we eat breakfast today" with my kids, so I think I kind of got infected like that.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Richards: BLACK CITY releases today!

Hey guys, I'm over at the Lucky 13s blog interviewing the lovely Elizabeth Richards on her release day for BLACK CITY! Check it out. :D


Monday, November 12, 2012

Medical Mondays: Common Symptoms of NaNoWriMo

I've never done NaNo. Every single year, I've been in the midst of revisions in the fall, and end up joining the smaller group of writers revising their WIPs, who have no fancy banner, only the BIG RED PEN. The NaNoRevMo-ers.

But anyway. NaNo is in the air, and with it, the usual symptoms. How do you know someone is doing NaNo?

 vertiginous crazy eyes inspired by trademark ALZ eyes found here.

1. Check heart rate. 
  • Last week of October: It's running uber-fast, with all the last minute plotting and the "I haven't written it yet but it's going to be AWESOME" ecstatic inner voices screaming all over the world.
  • First week of November: Mega-fast. New words! New worlds! Getting those word counts in!
  • Second week of November: Skippity skip. The caffeine consumption steadily increases.
  • Third week of November: Sluggish, often due to the the post-apocalyptic-turkey-consumption crash. 
  • Fourth week of November: Unable to assess. Writers keep smacking away anyone who gets near them, or their laptops.
2. Check bathroom breaks. 
  • Frequent breaks = procrastination or too much coffee/tea/soda
  • Infrequent breaks = writer is either asleep on laptop or is in such writing nirvana that bodily functions are no longer necessary.
3. Insomnia
  • This is both voluntary (from writing) and involuntary (from thinking about writing)
4. NaNoer makes criteria for ICD-9 code 780.4 : DIZZINESS AND GIDDINESS
  • No kidding, this is a real disease code used in medical billing and disease classification. Generally, people make criteria either at the onset of November, because NaNo is beginning, or at the end of November, because NaNo is almost done and the possibility of normal, human functioning is nearly within their grasp.
So. Do you have any of these symptoms? Doing NaNoWriMo? NaNoRevMo? Or just...being normal?

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. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just can't say no. Or can I?


I'm going to complain and then get off my pity potty right after, I swear.

Man, has hit been a crazy few months. I've had long but lovely visits from family. I've gone on trips myself. I've had other visits from dearly missed friends (six houseguests at a time). I've been helping to teach a weekly writing workshop and mentoring three wonderful students. I've got deadlines on my writing that are looming ever nearer. The kids have been busy and my doctor work has been busy. There's the blogging, and also helping to keep other online stuff up and running. As for sleep? Ha! I laugh in your face! (until I pass out at 8 PM and wake up 12 hours later.) My home life in general has resembled...lemme see. You know how right when a tornado touches down in a field, it looks like a dirt bomb went off?

Yeah. That's been my life lately.

There have been no true disasters in my own life (Hello Sandy!) but as a very wise psychologist once told me (Hello Sarah Fine!) sometimes you don't need a Sandy to make your life go nuts. Sometimes it's the little things. Each one by itself is something you can handle, but they're like sandpaper, rubbing away at you until you find that you're worn so thin, it takes very little to break through.

So I've been thinking about the "no" thing. I used to be horrible at saying no. I'm still not great at it. I'm better now. I turned down an offer to teach a college literature course on young adult fiction, for example. I mean, that would be a dream come true for me. Teaching about YA? Awesome! But teaching it de novo, making up a course by myself and dealing with homework and prepping two hour classes?

So I had to say no. For now.

Right now, if you ask anything of me beyond a "hey, how are you?" I'm not going to be able to give much. Sometimes, life gets like that.

What about you? Can you say "no" when you need to?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Relief, Writing Updates, Mood Music

Hey guys,

What a weird week it's been. There's been good news (congrats to Laura Diamond on her release!) and horrible news (I hate you Sandy, you made me cry) and somehow, my writing has trudged onward.

So a few things.

First, if you are looking for ways to help with the disaster relief for Sandy victims, here are some places you can donate.

Red Cross

Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC (Hurricane Relief)

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

Salvation Army Disaster Relief

Second, thank you all for your support on getting me through the end of the first draft of my WIP. I have finally finished it, and now in the pulling-teeth stages of my first revision. 

Third, good luck to all my friends who are writing a new NaNoWriMo novel. The idea of all these people collectively creating worlds makes me very happy. Go Nanoers! As usual, my NaNo timing is totally of and I'm doing NaNoRevMo instead.

Finally, a little music. I'm sure you've all heard this because it's on the Hunger Games soundtrack, but right now there seems to be too many similarities between a dystopian war and Sandy, so here you go.

 
Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars

If you know of other ways to help with the relief effort, please say so in the comments. And if you're doing NaNoRevMo like me, then thank you for the company!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Laura Diamond's NEW PRIDE release day!

Hi guys,

After all the craziness of Superstorm Sandy (thank you for your kind comments on my post yesterday!) it's so nice to have something wonderful to celebrate.

Laura Diamond--writer, psychiatrist, crit partner, cat lover--is releasing her book today! Congrats Laura!


New town, new love, new terror.

It’s here! My prequel novelette, NEW PRIDE, releases today. I’m SO stoked for it to run wild in the world.

NEW PRIDE was born from my upcoming novel, SHIFTING PRIDE (coming December 7, 2012!). In SHIFTING PRIDE, the main character, Nickie, searches for her missing father, Richard…and NEW PRIDE is all about Richard’s journey to independence and new love.

NEW PRIDE Blurb:

A shape-shifter without a pride, Richard Leone strikes a tenuous friendship with power hungry, Derek, from an unstable, rogue group. On a hunt in the forest, they encounter a gorgeous brunette, Molly, partying with friends around a campfire. Derek tells the rogue pride and they bristle at humans trespassing on their territory. Richard risks life and tail to protect his secret and the humans—especially Molly—while simultaneously trying to win her heart. When Molly is kidnapped, he faces taking on the rogue pride alone, but quickly finds he has to put his trust in Derek, not only to rescue his new love, but to ensure the rogue pride doesn’t wreak havoc on his new town.

Author Laura Diamond:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, horror, and middle grade. Her short story, City of Lights and Stone, is in the Day of Demons anthology by Anachron Press (April 2012) and her apocalyptic short story, Begging Death is in the Carnage: Life After the End anthology by Sirens Call Publication (coming late 2012). Her debut young adult paranormal romance, SHIFTING PRIDE, is coming December 2012 by Etopia Press. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer , and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. She is also full-time staff member for her four cats and a Pembroke Corgi named Katie.

How to find Laura Diamond on the web:

Blog: http://lbdiamond.wordpress.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/diamondlb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laura.diamond.52
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraDiamond
Amazon.com Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Diamond/e/B009Y7L432/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_8
Website: www.AuthorLauraDiamond.com

YouTube interview: In The DM Zone—Talking about NEW PRIDE:



Hooray! Laura has a great imagination. You will definitely want to check out this book for an exciting, fun read. :D

Click HERE to purchase!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bellevue runs in my veins, so I cry.


This is an impromptu post, mostly because I need to vent. Not anger, but other things.

Sandy rolled in and knocked my second hometown off its feet. I spent over 16 years in New York, and still have family and many friends there. I've been anxiously watching the news, emailing, calling. It's a little like seeing someone punch your best friend in the face, but you're actually watching a video monitor the whole time.

I went to NYU School of Medicine and did my training at NYU Langone Center (back then we called it Tisch) and Bellevue hospital. I was an attending physician at Bellevue for five years before I relocated. With good and bad memories (but mostly good), I still collectively think of these hospitals as the place where I grew up. And not just as a doctor.

So to see them going through this devastation hurts me in a way that is so hard to describe.


This is where I fell in love, and found my future husband.

This is where my first child was born.

This is where I made friendships that are steely-strong, to this very day.

This is where we stood together in a silent scream, on 9/11.

This is where I saved some lives, and some lives saved me.

Maybe I'm being overly emotional. Maybe it's the distance, because I'm here and there's nothing I can do.

My friends and colleagues at Bellevue and NYU are dealing with the aftermath of Sandy, and countless underserved, poor, at-risk patients who rely on Bellevue for their healthcare just lost their hospital for who knows how long.

My heart aches. I will keep watching the news, waiting for my friend's emails, and hoping that they will slowly erase the effects of Sandy. I'm looking to see what I can do to help, besides this. This utter helplessness I feel.

Monday, October 29, 2012

If you like____, you'll like CONTROL

Hey guys! I'm doing a post over at the Class of 2k13 blog about what YA books might lead you to read CONTROL.

(and there's an unexpected surprise in the list!)

Also, there's a giveaway and I'm giving away my Class of 2k12 mentor's book, A BREATH OF EYRE! Steph Kuehn is giving away IF I LIE, by Corinne Jackson. Wanna win these two books? Then enter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 25, 2012

End-of-Draft Turkey Distractions

So I'm finally nearing the endity-end of my WIP. It's a first draft. Sort of.

I wrote 75% of it before a crit partner smacked my literary cheeks and said. "No. Start over."

I don't know why, but at the climactic end of my books I have SO much trouble getting AIC (ass-in-chair) and just writing the darn thing. Maybe because there's so much on the line.

Maybe because I allow myself to be so distractable. Like, "Look! Another turkey in my backyard! Let's Google wild turkeys again!"


 Oh, and just so you know I'm not making up the turkey thing, here's one from the other day that was roaming my neighborhood.

teeny, tiny turkey
So anyway, here I am. Writing and trying not to look for more wild turkeys.

What about you guys? What's the hardest part of writing a first draft for you?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Medical Mondays: Poll results and Sassafras

Well the poll results are in. Looks like you guys are interested in weird diseases, fictional medical questions (yay!), and herbal remedies, among other things. I was surprised but pleased to see that many of you want to know how to be healthier writers. Excellent! Thanks for polling!

So today I'm going to talk a little about Sassafras.

From Wikipedia
I've had an affection for this weedy tree my whole life. It grew wild everywhere in Maryland where I grew up. The leaves are trimorphic, in that they can be unilobular, bilobed (resembling a mitten) and trilobed. The cut end of a leaf has the most amazing fragrance, like root beer mixed with citrus and perfume. I used to break off a leaf at every opportunity to smell its deliciousness.

I'd heard that sassafras root was used for tea and for medicinal uses, but I was shocked to find out how deadly this plant can be.

Traditional Uses:
  • Constituent in root beer and sarsparilla
  • Treatment for gonorrhea and syphilis 
  • For pain relief and antisepsis and as an anticoagulant (prevents blood from clotting)
  • To treat a variety of sicknesses, such as scruvy, menstrual problems, fevers, joint problems, for tooth problems, among many other things.
  • To ward off evil spirits
Why it's dangerous:
  •  Sassfrass root tea and oil containing the compound safrole can cause permanent liver damage and different types of cancer. Some of the effects build over time and aren't apparent, to say, root tea drinkers.
Other factoids (and why you shouldn't panic if you see it in your beer):
  • Safrole can be used to produce MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Sassafras extracts without safrole are still used in making root beer, teas, and to flavor microbrews
  • Sassafrass leaves, bark, and fruit are eaten by a lot of wildlife, including deer, groundhogs, turkeys, bears and woodpeckers. 
Living in the midwest, I miss my sassafras trees. I never knew it was toxic until I did this post.

Do you guys know sassafras?

References: Here and here and here.

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. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Character Creation: The Stuff 'n Remove Method





Hey guys! I have a post up on the Lucky13s Blog on how I create characters.


I promise, there are cartoons worth viewing! Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Medical Mondays + Newsy Stuff!

Good morning! Hope you all had a great weekend. This is another bag o' stuff post. Here we go.

*spills bag rather messily*
First off. Medical Mondays. I've posted a little poll over yonder ➪➪➪
I'm curious about what you'd like to see more of. Please vote, I would greatly appreciate it! If there is something I haven't mentioned, then let me know in the comments.

Second. I have a few poems that were recently published in Hektoen International, A Journal of Medical Humanities. The entire issue's theme is on pregnancy and birth. One of my poems is about having a baby in the neonatal ICU. You can read them both here.

Third. I've been working with a group of twenty MG and YA debut authors, and our website has finally launched!  

 Hooray for The Class of 2K13! I have a post up on what inspired me to write CONTROL, and you can read many of the other authors vlogs and posts on the same subject. Follow us on Twitter too, at @TheClassof2K13, and check out our huge, Launch Giveaway! (ends tomorrow, the 16th so enter quickly!) We will also be having giveaways every, single week.

And fourthly...a picture from my visit to New York:


This is my editor, Kathy Dawson, me, and her awesome assistant, Claire Evans, inside her office at Penguin. Kathy is wearing an onyx and silver replica of the necklace that my main character, Zelia, wears throughout CONTROL. It's also on the list of giveaway swag on the above Launch Giveaway. (In my spazziness, I forgot to snap a picture of myself with my agent, Eric Myers. I won't forget the next time!)

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Contest Winners, a Vignette, Google craziness, and a Trip!

Congrats to Sophia Chang for winning Bitterblue and donating a banned book of my choice to my local public library. Woot! Thank you all for making my birthday a great one!

My vignette, The Cobbler, is now published in the fall issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal. It's a super short read and there's plenty of good stuff in this issue, so check it if out if you have time! 

I totally forgot to link to this in the craziness of last week, but check out this post on the Lucky 13s Blog on insanely weird things that debut authors have Googled for the sake of research. I have one thing to say on this subject. HOOCH. And no, that wasn't my research question!

Also, a trip!

Not the stumbling kind. Although since I mentioned it, I'm destined to fall in a pothole now.

Central Park, NYC  (Photo is public domain)

Today, I'm in New York City. Yes I am! My old home for nearly 16 years before I moved to the midwest. I'm visiting the Penguin offices, my editor Kathy Dawson and my agent, Eric Myers, for the first time, along with family and friends.

Hopefully I'll have pictures later!

In the meantime, I'm curious. What is the weirdest thing you ever Googled for the sake of research?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Medical Mondays: Chain of Factoids


Oh, the human body. So fragile and yet so tough.

Let's review some factoids about the amazing human body and exercise a little tangential thinking.

You make about one liter of spit a day. Over a lifetime, that's about one Olympic sized swimming pool. Don't think Michael Phelps would want to swim in that.

Most humans height is equal to the length from their fingertip to fingertip. Except Michael Phelps, whose wingspan is four inches longer than his height.

Speaking of length, the total length of all your blood vessels lines up is around 60,000 miles (though I've read up to 100,000 miles). That's a few trips around the equator!

But let's get two dimensional. The total surface area of your lungs, if laid out flat, would be about the size of half a tennis court. (I'm having visions of lung smeared courts, so let's move on.)

You only need one lung to survive. Actually, you can also live without one kidney, most of your liver, your spleen, your stomach, and many feet of intestine, and of course, your limbs. Talk about traveling light. Sure, you might feel pretty awful, but...

What if you want them back, cyborg style? You can have a cochlear implant (for hearing); an artificial heart; dialysis to replace the kidneys; digital interface placed on your retina (or just a non-functioning replacement eyeball); a deep brain stimulator for depression, epilepsy, or Parkinson's disease; penile implants; and artificial limbs, not to mention the metal plates and bars used to fix broken bones. Using stem cells or tissues, there are also possibilities for replacement pancreas, trachea, bladders, liver, skin and of course, donated organs...the list goes on!

For more factoids to stun your friends, here's a fun list:
100 Very Cool Facts About the Human Body. I can't vouch for the validity of all of these, as there are no references. But they're certainly entertaining!

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. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Also, there are a few days left for my GIVE ONE/DONATE ONE book giveaway, so comment if you'd like to win!  

And one last thing: Sarah Fine is being interviewed on her favorite sci-fi books and *gulp* CONTROL is on the list! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Give-One/Donate-One Birthday Giveaway


You know, all week I've been like, "What am I going to blog about on Thursday? I can't think of anything. I've run out of ideas. What, what, what?"

Well, it's the night before and I'm exhausted. I've had a tiring week. I've been super stressed out for lots of reasons.

And then it hit me.

Oh man, tomorrow is October 4th. I forgot. It's my birthday. 

So instead of ignoring it, which I'm apt to do, or grumble about my lousy week, I'm going to ask you guys to cheer me up.

A while ago, I did a giveaway where I asked you what was at the top of your TBR list. I loved hearing about what you guys wanted to read.

So to celebrate my birthday and get me out of this stressy funk, I'm giving away two books: One book for one of you guys, and second book to my local public library. 

To enter, please leave a comment with:
1. Email addy!
2. What book is at the top of your TBR list that you don't yet own...
3. ... and what book you think should be donated to the library. 

I'll announce the winners in one week. 

Spread the word! And send me some virtual salty snacks. Or hugs. I'd prefer that to cake!

Monday, October 1, 2012

J.K. Rowling and the Scathing Review

It's October! Cue one of my favorite U2 songs! I'm wearing three scarves today! Hooray for autumn!

Okay, now that I've got my seasonal ya-yas out, let's move on. 

J.K. Rowling's new book, The Casual Vacancy, is now out. As expected for an author of such renown, her book is getting a ton of attention.


Some of it, however, is not the good kind of attention.

The famous Pulitzer-prize winning NY Times book reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, posted an unfavorable review of Rowling's book.

Some choice quotes:

"Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull."

"Instead of an appreciation for the courage, perseverance, loyalty and sense of duty that people are capable of, we are left with a dismaying sense of human weakness, selfishness and gossipy stupidity."

The whole review is here. And in case you are wondering:

limn (l m). tr.v. limned, limn·ing (l m n ng), limns. 1. To describe. 2. To depict by painting or drawing. (from the Free Dictionary)

(I'm not too embarrassed to say I had to look it up.)

So. 

Did Kakutani's review affect me? Yes.

Will it prevent me from reading Rowling's book? No. My biggest barrier is the many others books ahead of it right now. The review didn't make the book shoot up my TBR list to the next one in line. But I remain rabidly curious about how a kidlit author shifted gears to write a contemporary, adult book, and whether she was successful or not. I also cannot seem to kick my affection for Rowling as the author of some of my favorite books of all time.

How about you? What affect does a review by such a famous reviewer on such a famous author have on you?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Leigh T. Moore interview & The Truth About Faking!

Please welcome Leigh T. Moore, a longtime blogging friend whose fun, YA contemporary novel, The Truth About Faking, is now available!
 
1. How long did it take to write The Truth About Faking? It’s funny because I wrote this book faster than any other book I’ve ever written. I literally had the whole thing done in two weeks. It was crazy. But then I spent two years revising it—LOL!
     Okay, not really. I did finish the first draft in the spring of 2010 and did revisions and started shopping it around to agents. Then I wrote my other book Rouge in the fall of 2010, and it hit faster for whatever reason. TTAF basically sat neglected for all of 2011. I picked it up again in March and thought, “Hey, this is really a great book! I need to do something with this.”

2. Plotter or pantser? Weird hybrid. No, I do make a plan—I try to write the whole story start to climax to finish before I begin (I do not call this a synopsis), and if that feels good, I dive in and start writing.
     But it’s not a rigid outline or anything. Like my original plan was for TTAF to be sad and angsty. But then Jason showed up, and he and Harley had such fun chemistry, it all turned happy and funny. So I guess I just kind of follow the characters.

3. Let's do some music. What song would you pick to personify Harley's personality? Hmm… good question. This is the only book I’ve ever written that didn’t have a playlist. I guess because it just happened so fast. Let me see… if I were to give Harley a song… Hmm… Maybe The Cure, “Just Like Heaven”? I dunno. You’ve stumped me. What do you think?

(I think the song is perfect! Warning: no Robert Smith in this video. But there's kissing. And moar kissing.)

4. You do contemporary YA and historical. Any other genres? Yes! I actually wrote a YA light sci-fi last spring that I adore. It’s a crazy adventure-romance set in south Mississippi with cows and aliens… the main character’s the assistant to a large-animal vet. Anyway, it’s tons of fun. I can’t wait to share it with readers. It’s currently with the agents, and I hate how slow that process is. But soon!

THANK YOU so much for having me, Lydia! It’s so great getting to share TTAF with everyone at last. I hope it makes people smile.



Jason just wants a date with Harley.
Harley just wants a date with Trent.
Trent's still getting over Stephanie.

When Harley and Jason decide to fake date, they uncover a school of deceptions. Trent's got a secret, but so does Jason. And the more time Harley spends secretly kissing her fake boyfriend, the further she gets from her dreams with Trent.

Worst of all, Harley's mom is getting cozy with her hot massage therapy student, and even Harley's Reverend Dad can't fake not being bothered by it. But when the masks finally come off, can everyone handle the real truth?
 
Available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and Kobo!

You can find Leigh at her blog, on Facebook, and Goodreads!