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:


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.


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

“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: 

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.



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.


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:

Facebook Author Page: Author Page:

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.