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.)


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?