Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Writer's Workspace Interview

Hi guys!

Nutschell Ann Windsor (yes, her name really is Nutschell) over that The Writing Nut has interviewed me about my writing space and stuff.

Come take a look. You'll get to meet my Halmoni and my mossy glass cloche!

(Also, thank you all for visiting. I've had a lot of "Please visit this other blog" posts lately, but this is the last one for a while, I promise.)

Do you have anything special about your workspace that you'd like to share? Because I'd like to know. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CassaFire and a Warning from Kate

Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh!

Alex has been a great bloggy friend and supporter since I started blogging as a wee little thing. He's also seriously obsessed with Kate Beckinsale, but that's for another post. We're not going to get into the details of how he and his wife deal with THAT.

No. Instead, we're going to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts! 

There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. 

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

He's also got a book trailer here!

If you haven't been following Alex's blog, you should. Not only is he super supportive of his followers, he's got info-stuffed posts about entertainment and books galore. 

You can get Cassafire at these places:

For the love of Kate, please buy Alex's books!  
"Buy the book, or I will cut you."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Medical Mondays: Meet my left white toe!

Sheri Larsen (from Writers Ally) asked me a question recently about Raynaud's phenomenon. She's interested in having a character with this affliction.

Have you heard of Raynaud's?

Raynaud's phenomenon occurs when certain body parts, such as the fingers and toes, are exposed to cold. (Stress can sometimes be a trigger too). The artery in that body part will constrict abnormally (vasospasm), cutting off the blood flow.

As a result, the finger or toe will turn sharply white, or blue.The attack can last up to 20 minutes, and often the sufferer will feel numbness, tingling or aching. In some severe cases, people can actually kill off their finger tips or get ulcers from the lack of blood flow.

Once the affected digit is rewarmed, it often turns reddish in color as the blood flow returns.

When there is no obvious cause to Raynauds, it's called Primary Raynaud's disease.

When there is another disease causing it, it is called Secondary Raynaud's phenomenon.

Here are some common causes:
  • Scleroderma*
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosis*
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome*
  • Buerger's Disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Vibration induced (Jackhammer's disease)
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Sclerosis.
*autoimmune diseases

Believe me, there are a lot more of these!

Immediate rewarming is the first treatment. There are several types of medication that can be used as to prevent the episodes, such as calcium channel blockers or other vasodilators to keep the arteries from constricting. Other methods, such as using prostaglandins or blocking the nerves that lead to vasospasm, can also be used in severe cases.

I'm pretty sure I have primary Raynaud's affecting my left second toe. It's become a Nebraskan thermometer. As soon as it hits about 10 degrees, my toe tell me by going paper-white.


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. :)

Now follow Medical Mondays on Twitter! #MedMonday

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wish you were here: A Glimpse into my world

Hi guys! Today I'm over at the Lucky13s blog where I'm going to give you a peek into the world of THE FOUNTAIN, my YA sci-fi coming out Summer 2013 with Dial books.

I'm going to dish on some major world building elements that only a handful of people know about. Time to spill a few secrets...

Hop on over if you can!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tres Cosas

Not sure why I felt the need to pull out my Spanish for the title of this post. I only know medical Spanish, actually. I can tell you how to prep for a colonoscopy ("Mucho diarrea! Lo siento!") but can't order a drink in a restaurant. Go figure.

I was going to take a blogging day off. See, it's 5:30 in the afternoon. Practically Thursday, I tell you.

Anysmurf, I have some items that need sharing.

I'm super thrilled that a certain bloggy friend, whose name rhymes with Blaura Bliamond, has some good news that she has FB'd about, but has yet to blog about. The news rhymes with Blublishing and has something to do with Blanuscript I may or may not have beta read. Go Blaura!

Please take a moment to visit Deb Salisbury, who's blogging about our Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question this month: What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why?  Do you read fiction or non-fiction, and what genres?  Mysteries and YA, or archeology and astronomy? If you missed them, check out previous posts from Laura, me, and Sarah!

I got interviewed about my book over on this wonderful blog, Presenting Lenore. You get to hear about my bucket list, the song I listened to endlessly while writing THE FOUNTAIN, and which dystopian books I like. It was so fun! Please come and check it out if you have a moment.

Muchas Gracias!
*slinks away to order Rosetta Stone for Spanish*

Monday, February 20, 2012

Medical Mondays: Leech Therapy

On the invertebrate tail of last week's post on maggot therapy, there were a number of comments about leech therapy.

Hirudo medicinalis needs it's own post, don't you think?

For hundreds of years, bloodletting was considered a way to "even out" the humors of the body, which included blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. (I'm going to have to do a whole post on humors and bloodletting. This stuff is too interesting!) The first documented usage of leeches happened in 200 BC by a Greek physician.

Someone who suffered from too much of the "sanguine" or blood humor tended to have flushed skin. This is also why people with infections and fevers, also looking flushed, were bled.

Get this man some leeches, STAT!
Leeches were attached to the skin, the leeches did their thing, and voila! The person was supposed to be better.

Sort of.

Leeches have two interesting compounds in their saliva--an anticoagulant called hirudin and an anesthetic.  That way, once the leech bites, the host has no idea and the blood keeps flowing nicely, since most animals are equipped to clot off a cut pretty soon after a bite. Mosquitoes have their own way to keep the blood flowing too.

Adult leeches can suck down 15x their body weight and not need to eat again for a year. They are hermaphrodites. I used to work in a lab in college, and one of the neighboring labs studied leeches. They used to feed them by hanging condoms filled with blood into their tanks. Let's say it together, shall we? Eww.

After a bite, leeches will leave an inverted Y mark surrounded by a circle (like the Mercedes logo.)

Today, the hirudin compound if now synthesized and used an an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots.

Leeches themselves are used to help promote circulation after reconstructive and microsurgery for two reasons:
  • Leeches can decompress tissues engorged from bleeding or poor venous circulation
  • They can remove hematomas (collections of blood)
  • Once detached, the bite sites continue to bleed, which can promote circulation of the affected tissue.
I remember the leeches in the movies Stand By Me and The African Queen, as well as a memorable scene from On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Do remember any good leech scenes from books you've read? Do you have any plans to use them in your writing?

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. :)

Now follow Medical Mondays on Twitter! #MedMonday

Friday, February 17, 2012

Author Spotlight with Stephen Tremp: When Good Research Goes Bad

It's been a while since I did an Author Spotlight. Time to remedy that, I think! I bring you...Stephen Tremp!

Thank you Lydia for hosting me on my fifth stop of my Grand OPENING Tour. I’ve been looking forward to this post as we this topic has never been so relevant. 

 As writers or students of any craft, it’s important we perform our due diligence in research. Or we look to people and organizations that are known for their expertise for advice and guidance. Example: I asked Lydia Kang for help regarding viruses, how they mutate, and how they differ from bacteria and toxins. I needed an accelerant to keep my books moving forward and introduce additional conflict, danger, and challenges. Thanks Lydia!

 Research and Development are in the private sector, governments, militaries, and academic centers such as colleges. Physics, medicine, energy, food, pharmaceuticals, and technology are just some of the areas scientists and engineers are on the cusp of making awesome breakthroughs that can and will change our lives and the way we perceive reality and our place in the universe. 

When cutting-edge research is regulated and performed in controlled environments, we can expect progress in physics, biochemistry, and nanotechnology to benefit mankind and move us forward. We should feel safe nuclear material is used everyday in the private and corporate sectors. Hospitals use it for medical and therapeutic use. It’s used in medical and industrial research. Corporations and universities such as M.I.T. use the material everyday—safely, of course. M.I.T. has the second-largest university-based nuclear research reactor in the country. 

 Problem: There are people who use research, development, and the final product for purposes other than what they were designed for. Or they steal it and use it for their own greedy gain (a concept I use in my books). In real life, this can pose serious danger for countless people. And it can provide the premise and inspiration for writers of just about any genre.  

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, there was nuclear material unaccounted. Nuclear suitcases, of which I patterned the suitcases to open wormholes in BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING (check out the cover art for OPENING) look like ordinary cases people carry around with them and can be left just about anywhere in a major city, set to go off at a prearranged time. 

Then there’s Richard Handl from Sweden who was arrested for having nuclear material and trying TO split atoms in his kitchen. Handl possessed the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment. He stated he wanted to try nuclear fission as a hobby. Handl had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.  

Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event is a great example of good research gone bad. It's about a fired and disgruntled scientist who develops a biological weapon in his kitchen that will thin out the human population. Orson Welles’ 1984 is a story using technology, usually perceived as working toward moving society forward, facilitating the most diabolical evil to control and enslave people. The Sum of all Fears (Tom Clancy) is based on fear most governments have: Nuclear bombs going off in their cities.  

Question: We live in exciting and perilous times. Do you feel safe with the incredible advances we are witnessing? Or do they make you uneasy, wondering if they will indeed be used for good and not evil? 

You can visit Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs

BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING can be downloaded: Kindle for $1.99 Smashwords for $1.99

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time Suckage Continues with Maximum Force

Oh peoples.

I need more sleep. I need more days. I need more height.

As I said recently, I've take up yoga. (Time suck, but it's good for me, so it's allowed.)

I've committed to reading a book a week on Goodreads. Hard to argue with that--I need to read and I want to read. (Please come friend me if I haven't friended you by the way--I love reading my friend's TBR lists!)

The writing workshop work continues. And work. And writing. And family stuff. Not necessarily in that order.

But this week? I started getting involved in Pinterest. At first, I scoffed at it. What, a place where you virtually tack up pictures? So? So what?

So what is right. So awesome! I started pinning with the vehemence of a woman on hi-caffeine chocolate mixed with espresso powder and a dash of Tabasco. And so I pinned.

Stuff I want in my home (including ideal writing caves...*drool*)
THE FOUNTAIN characters, in flesh and blood.
Stuff for my MG novel, THIRD LAW OF MAGIC. 

Heaven help me, I'm a lost girl!

Have you discovered Pinterest?


Please take a moment to visit Sarah Fine's blog for her answer to this month's Sisterhood question: 
What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why? 
Check out previous answers from Laura and me. Next week, Deb is up!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Medical Mondays: The Squirmiest Therapy

Today, I'm going to talk about larval, or maggot therapy.

Please don't puke. Not yet, at least!

I have a pretty strong stomach but even this subject matter made me a little queasy. I had to write this post using "----" instead of maggot. By the end of writing it, I got over it. Hopefully you will too.

Maggot Debridement Therapy, or MDT, is a biotherapy that involves live, disinfected fly larvae placed in a non-healing wound or ulcer.

MBD has been around since ancient times. It was used by the Mayans, the Aborigine in Australia, and was noted during the Napoleonic wars and the Civil war that certain wounds covered with maggots tended to heal better and the patients died less often.

How does it work?
Apparently, the larvae exude a substance that helps to dissolve dead and dying tissues. The maggots then absorb and ingest the liquified substance and end up cleaning out the wound. The healthy tissue is, for the most part, unaffected. Some believe that MDT is even more effective at cleaning this type of wound that a surgeon could.

What about infection?
There's an automatic reaction to think that maggots are "dirty" and would cause more, not less, infection. The truth is that dead tissue is the perfect medium for bacteria to grow. By removing this medium, they actually lessen the chance of infection. Furthermore, maggots exude chemicals that kill bacteria and have a wide-range of bacteria killing activity, even against resistant bacteria like MRSA.

Er...what about the yuck factor?
Maggots can be concealed in a special covering to hide them. They will not lay eggs or multiply in the wound, as they are only larvae, not adult flies. Also, the dressings are designed to let the larvae breath and reduce the tickling sensation of them crawling all over. Er, yuck.

Is this legal?
MDT was FDA approved in 2004 as a prescription-only medical device.

What about in fictional scenarios? 
Remember the movie Gladiator, with Russel Crowe? MDT was used on his shoulder wound.
In Diana Gabalson's Outlander series, there's a physician that uses MDT. Neat, huh?

Okay. Sorry to totally gross you out!

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. :)

Now follow Medical Mondays on Twitter! #MedMonday

Friday, February 10, 2012

OMGerrific Writeratee and Happy Dances abound!

So I said I wasn't going to blog as much because there's so much going on. But here I am, breaking my own promises. In the words of Inigo Montoya, "Let me essplain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
  • The writing workshop is going great! I led my first class last night with my poet friend, Todd.  Todd's chapbook just came out on February 7th! I'm kinda polishing my nails on the fact that I told him to get his Toddacious butt in gear and publish a chapbook. And he did. I take full credit for all that work. Okay, maybe enough for him to owe me a cupcake. Ya feel me Todd? Cupcake, I say! Actually, he also critted my early fiction and I have him to thank for telling me, oh-so-kindly, that my cliffhangers were all fake. Hey, live and learn (from the most talented, when possible).
  • I started taking yoga classes. No more creaky sinews for me. I've twisted myself so hard I actually couldn't breathe. And I didn't pass out! Today I am going to cook myself alive in a Bikram yoga class. (That's hot yoga for you. And no, it's not an exotic accompaniment to falafel.) If I don't visit your blogs, it's because I've melted into a pile of goo.
  • I'm 30K into my current novel.  The first draft process is both painful and so awesome. I'm trying to write every day, but sometimes I can't, which is why...
  • I owe $6 to our Write On to Build On Facebook group. That's six days in the last month I haven't written anything. Now I need to join a Read on To Build On group so I can catch up with my growing TBR pile on Goodreads. 
Next, some *squee* news. 

Laura Diamond's short story, City of Lights and Stone, is going to be published in the DAY OF DEMONS anthology by Anachron Press! In April! But April is too far away! So I shall wait. Grr. Luckily, I already got to read it. It's so. So. SO. GREAT! I really mean every one of those exclamation marks.


Sarah Fine just announced the sale of SANCTUM, the first book in the GUARDS OF THE SHADOWLANDS series! Yes, it's amazing.  Yes, she just announced her other book, SCAN, last week. And yes, this one KICKS OTHERWORLDY you-know-what. Read here for the juicy details. Go Sarah!

Finally, some manatee news. You read that right. Manatee.

So Alz at A Nudge in the Right Direction hand sews these little manatees. You can see her handiwork on this blogpost and this other blog, Sparkling Rampage.

I basically begged and was completely infantile in my effort to get Alz to make me one. I mean, manatees are the awesomest animal ever. They have been mistaken for mermaids. They are also called sea cows. And they have a prehensile upper lip. What's more awesome than that?

So anyway, after the begging Alz caved. Money was exchanged. Secrets were handed over. I might have promised to name my next child "Alz Krispy Manatee Kang."

So I got this in the mail yesterday:

It's a purple, hand-sewn manatee! And it's not really just a manatee, because it has this stitched sweetly over it's little mammalian heart:

It's a Lydiatee! I loves it. And I'm not letting my kids touch it unless it's for soft cuddles. My Writeratee is going to cheer me on during my tough writing days and give me high-five-flippers for when I am making progress.

Thank you Alz! And thanks Krispy for forcing Alz to cater to my sirenian whims!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Inspiration and Perspiration

This week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question comes from Deb Salisbury who asks:

What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why? Do you read fiction or non-fiction, and what genres? Mysteries and YA, or archeology and astronomy?

Good question Deb! I guess I need different kinds of inspiration.

For book ideas? Recently, I read through a copy of Scientific American and got so many new sci-fi ideas. I love mooching off the latest technology! The Little House books by Laura Ingalls inspired my second novel about a kick-ass, flint-lock rifle-shooting gal in the upper Mississippi territories. I wanted to take a smart, strong frontier girl and amp her up a notch. Someday I'll revive Polly Sterling out of that shelved novel.

But truthfully? Most of my ideas don't usually come from books or magazines. I have a running fascination with the human body, disease, mortality, and fertility that keep cropping up as themes in my writing and poetry. 

For writing style and plotting? YA books for sure. When I'm sad that I've hit the last page, or have to reread a paragraph just so I can turn of words around in my brain again...*sigh* These books make me sweat and work harder (No inspiration, no perspiration!). Here's a teeny, tiny list of books and how they inspired me:

The Hunger Games: Make every sentence earn its existence. There is no superfluous fluff in there.
Harry Potter: Keep the MC's goal very clear and the reader desperate for a resolution. (JK should have renamed the book "That-Which-Cannot-Be-Put-Down")
The Scorpio Races: Flawless world building. Loved her non-stagnant, lyrical prose.

There are so many other books that inspire me (as well as many that have taught me what I don't want to do), but then this post would be waaaaay too long.

Is there a particular book that's inspired your writing?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Medical Mondays: Give me a (crippled) hand!

This week, Melissa Sarno has a great question.

She has a teen protagonist who is a serious classical pianist. She needs some sort of injury or illness that would make it impossible for her to play. Melissa also has a few stipulations:
  • If possible, she'd like it to be a strange and mysterious illness
  • She can't physically lose her hand
  • It has to be relatively sudden in nature
*cracks knuckles* *ow that hurt*

Okay, here we go with some possibilities. There are a lot of diseases that can cause hand or arm problems in teens, but many of them may not show up suddenly, so I tossed them.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Specifically, Systemic Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, previously called Still's Disease, or if over age 16, Adult-onset Still's Disease)
  • any joints can be affected, so the hands and wrists would work in this scenario
  • a pink, spotty, flat rash also occurs often around the armpits and waist. It often accompanies...
  • a high spiking fever that can occur for days on end and is not responsive to antibiotics
Multiple Sclerosis
  • less common in teens but certainly can occur
  • symptoms for Melissa's character can include numbness, tingling, and weakness of her hands and arms. Other problems include unsteady gait, vision problems and weakness of other parts of the body.
  • unlike adults, children and teens with MS can also have lethargy and seizures
  • MS can be very mysterious for people who don't understand it. The cause is unknown and it's not contagious, but can be quite debilitating and wax and wane in severity
Trauma (okay, these aren't "exotic" but might be a realistic possibility for a teen)

  • Car accident. A hand can easily be traumatized in a car accident from rollovers, crush injuries, or contusions
  • Ring injuries. Ever heard of the kid who climbed a fence, got their ring stuck, and fell? Sadly, it happens. Catching a ring can cause a "de-gloving" injury that is repairable but debilitating.
  • A penetrating injury like a knife cut could injure a tendon. Though repairable, it could impact playing for quite a while.
  • Sports injuries. Think broken fingers, blunt impact, stuff like that. 
If you can think of others, please add to the discussion!

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. :)

Now follow Medical Mondays on Twitter! #MedMonday

Friday, February 3, 2012

Congrats to Sarah Fine! (and an interview!)

Okay, I did just say I was going to be blogging a wee bit less lately, but this is too good not to share!

From Publisher's Weekly:

Stacey Barney of Putnam Books for Young Readers acquired world English rights to Scan and a sequel, Burn, by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine. Jury is a manager/producer for film and television, and Fine is a child psychologist; this is their first collaboration, and it’s a high-action YA thriller about a 16-year-old boy who has been prepared his whole life for "something important," only to discover it means he's one of the last humans left on earth. The first title is due out in 2013. Joanna Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation did the six-figure deal.

Kathleen Ortiz at Nancy Coffey Literary also did a huge amount of work for this too, and deserves a shout-out!

I've been keeping CIA level mum-ness about this for weeks. As you guys know, Sarah Fine is also a wonderful blogger, child psychologist extraordinaire, and I'm proud to say she's a great friend.

Finally, I can do this officially (cover your ears, if you have delicate drums...)


Congrats Sarah! 


Also, the wonderful Beth Christopher interviewed me for her "On the Trail" series. It was super fun and if you want to see one of my favorite places to hike, check it out! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sporadicus and Imposteritis

No, I'm not talking about a new type of mold.

No, I'm not talking about watching Stanley Kubric films at odd times of the day.

And no, I'm not trying to quote the movie Clueless. As if!

For the next nine weeks, I'll be helping to run a weekly writers' workshop. It's the same workshop that nurtured my early attempts at poetry and prose, and let to writing fiction. But this time around, I'm a leader in the group. *Gulp* I'm kind of nervous, because I'm basically a self-taught writer of fiction and poetry. (Ooh, maybe now is the time to whip this little certificate out!)

I wonder when that "imposter" feeling will go away.

Anyway, because I'll be devoting several hours a week to this workshop, you'll notice that I'll be pretty sporadicus with my blog posting. (Remember, purposeful misuse of silly words is charming, not idiocy. Or so I tell myself.)

How about you? Have you had a chance to mentor budding writers, or been part of a writing workshop?

Do you suffer from Imposteritis when it comes to hanging out with other writers?


Don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's blog, where she answers this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling blog question! Next week, I'm up. :)