Monday, February 25, 2013

Medical Mondays: Narcolepsy

You've probably heard of narcolepsy. Who hasn't jokingly labeled themselves as a narcoleptic when excessively tired? (No? Maybe that's just me then.)

Or watched the abundant YouTube offerings of narcoleptic dogs?

Narcolepsy is a real sleep disorder, usually characterized by four things:

1. Cataplexy
2. Hypnogogic hallucinations
3. Sleep paralysis
4. Daytime sleepiness

Cataplexy is emotionally-triggered muscle weakness. It can be only part of the face, or body and often causes a person to collapse.

Hypnogogic hallucinations are vivid hallucinations that happen while falling asleep. They can be visual, sound, or touch hallucinations and occur because of a mix of wakefulness and dreaming during the REM cycle. As you can imagine, they can be quite frightening.

Sleep Paralysis is the inability to move or speak on the first few minutes of waking or just before sleeping. Unlike cataplexy, this isn't triggered by emotions. People often feel like they are suffocating when this occurs.

Daytime sleepiness goes beyond what normal people might have with a little sleep deprivation. People with narcolepsy will often fall asleep at inappropriate times, called "sleep attacks."

How many people have narcolepsy? For every 100,000 people, about 25-50 people have narcolepsy. It tends to show up in the teens and twenties.

What causes it? Rare brain lesions can cause it, but most cases occur because of a loss of two neurotransmitters (the signaling chemicals between brain cells): orexin-A and orexin-B. The orexins promote and stabilize wakefulness and prevent inappropriate entrance into REM sleep. There also may be hereditary factors at play. There is also a debated autoimmune theory as well (body attacking itself in areas that cause narcolepsy).

How do you diagnose it? By symptoms, and by an overnight sleep study (polysomnography) and the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).

How do you treat it? By treating non-narcolepsy sleep disorders; using medications that help keep patients awake during the day (stimulants); and REM-suppressing medications (like Effexor, or venlafaxine).

For those who would like more info on narcolepsy, here are some resources:

PubMed Health

And for your poor poodle with narcolepsy:

As much as narcolepsy is often used as a punchline in the media, I for one am glad I don't have it! It's a waking nightmare, if you ask me.


Medical Mondays is a series intended to help writers with their fictional scenarios. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar. :)

Friday, February 22, 2013


This is my new, favorite weather-related exclamation.

I'm having a second snow day at home with the kidlets. Someone posted this on a local weather station and though I Tumbled it, I had to share with you guys too:

Hee hee. 

Today, I'm hoping to get some plotting and outlining done. That, and eat too many carbs, because that is always what snow makes me want to do.

What are you guys up to? Do you write well on a snowy day?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tumbling into Tumblr

Thank you guys again for all your support surrounding my news! I'm still on Cloud 9. :)

So about two weeks ago, one of my friend Elsie Chapman and I were tweeting about Tumblr. She kinda, sorta dared me to get onto Tumblr, a microblogging site, and I kinda sorta replied,

"Why? Because email/Twitter/Facebook/3 blogs/Website/LinkedIn/Google/Pinterest/forums aren't hacking it as enough social media in my life?"

Ha ha ha.

And then, I stopped laughing. Because I joined Tumblr.

I resisted for so long because I didn't get Tumblr. You reblog other people's content? What for? Aren't I doing enough already? Won't it be too much to keep up with? Am I too creaky for tumbling? Will it give me a headache? What else could I possibly blog or microblog about that matters? Will this do anything for my platform as a YA sci-fi writer?

So here's what I decided. I joined Tumblr for the following reasons:

1. It's easy. The idea of reblogging other people's content means I can post "new" content on my Tumblr blog without much work. It can be audio, visual, quotes, video, anything. The time commitment is very little. Sometimes with my blog here, it can take hours to write a single Blogger post. Also, I decided that if I'm picking up a new social media site, I'm going to make it super low-key and low-stress. No set schedule, just Tumblr new stuff whenever I feel like it. And it's linked automatically to post to Twitter when I publish anything.

2. It hits a different readership. Right now, The Word is My Oyster is really a blog for writers and the writing blogging community, less so for readers. The Class of 2k13 aims to hit readers, librarians, teachers, and readers, but focuses on the books themselves much of the time. The League of Extraordinary Writers is more a science-fiction writer's blog, but I only post there once a month.

3. It has different content than anything else I do. My tumblr blog is going to be more about getting my geeky science side satisfied.

4. Visiting other people's Tumblr sites is so easy. On the dashboard of my Tumblr, I just scroll down to see new stuff in a flash. And that, in a nut shell, is why Tumblr is so fantastic--it's quick, visually and mentally, for both reader and bloggers.

So if you're on Tumblr, come stop by! My Tumblr blog is called Geekery. :)  If you follow me, I'll follow you. :)

Have you tumblr'd lately?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stuff I Love

Hey all! I'm very happy to announce that I've joined the League of Extraordinary Writers, alongside some of my absolute favorite authors. I'm honored and thrilled!

My intro post is on Stuff I Love, so please stop by and have a peek. Thank you, and Happy Valentine's Day! 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


From Publisher's Marketplace
February 13, 2013

Lydia Kang's CATALYST, sequel to CONTROL in which a teen girl in 2151 is forced to align herself with her worst enemies in a safe house that's anything but safe, to Kathy Dawson at Kathy Dawson Books, in a good deal, for publication in Fall 2014, by Eric Myers at The Spieler Agency (World).

This is where I sort of pass out from happiness.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Un-Virtualizing Friends

Happy Monday!

So this past weekend I was visiting family and managed to squeeze in a meeting with two amazing authors I've befriended online in the last year.


On the left is Elisabeth Dahl, author Genie Wishes (coming April 2 by Abrams/Amulet). In the middle is Elle Cosimano, author of Nearly Gone (coming March 2014 by Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin). On the right is a small person being eaten by a shapeless down coat.

Oh wait, that's me.

Random fact: Elisabeth and I attended the same, small high school (different years though) and found out we were both coming out with books this year. Small world, right?

Both of these talented authors have been my online friends for the last year or so, and when I had the chance to meet them in person, I was pretty psyched.

The truth is, I have a lot of online friends--my blog friends, crit partners, other debut authors, and various people in the industry I've "met" over the last several years, but this is the first time I've met anybody face to face! (Part of this reason is where I live and my constant avoidance of conferences, which will hopefully disappear this year.)

So. Have you "un-virtualized" your online friends? 
Who? I'd love to know!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Playlist for CONTROL

Hey guys! I'm blogging over at The Class of 2k13 on CONTROL's playlist. Check it out if you have a moment. And have a great Friday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Medical Mondays: Where IS this DNA stuff?

Hey guys! Thanks again for helping me celebrate the cover reveal of CONTROL last week! I am totally floored by the positive comments and the support. Thank you guys so much! There's still time to try to win a signed ARC and necklace Swag Packs, if you missed out. :)

So today, I have a great Medical Mondays question from writer Clara Waibel, who asks:

If someone is attacked, and gets some part of their body scratched, how long until the DNA of the offender vanishes? Would it take just a shower? Or does it remain in the victim's body for a longer period (assuming the victim is still alive)?

So where IS your DNA? We know it's in the cells of your body, but what about fluids? On your skin? Urine? Spit?

DNA, as you all probably know, are the the coding molecules found inside of the nucleus in your body's cells. So. No cell, no DNA. No nucleus, no DNA. As to how DNA can be detected, here are some facts:

Saliva: Your saliva is mostly water, proteins, and electrolytes with some shed cells from the inside of your mouth, so yes, it has DNA. Commonly, DNA samples are taken from scrapings from the inside part of your cheek, in your mouth. 

Blood: Yep, lots of DNA. But here's an interesting fact--the red blood cells that comprise most of the cells in your blood? They don't have a nucleus, and hence, have no DNA. But your white blood cells (aka infection fighting cells) do, and that's where DNA from blood samples come from. Also, platelets don't have nuclei either.

Urine: Your urine probably has some shed cells from the lining of your urinary tract, but usually it's a very small quantity.

Feces: You had to ask, didn't you? Well, you probably have some shed cells from the lining of your intestinal tract, but you also have tons of bacteria with their own DNA too (don't freak out! It's your natural flora. Yes, you are host to a raging party of happy bacteria in there. Fun.)

Skin: The surface of you skin is comprised of compressed skin cells, and yes, they have DNA still in them. In fact, now they can test surfaces you've just touched for DNA (source: Forensic Mag)

Hair: Your hair shaft is made of keratin, a kind of protein. No DNA. However, the follicle from which your hair grows out often comes loose when a hair falls or is pulled from your head. DNA samples can be taken from those follicles.

So going back to Clara's question. If an attacker scratched someone, that victim might have some DNA from his skin on them, but after a shower, it would likely be gone. Also, if there was broken skin (as in, the attackers DNA somehow got inside the victim, such as by blood-to-blood contact), the victim's defenses would destroy that DNA and the cells that crossed into her blood stream.

Thanks for a great question, and have a good Monday everyone!


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. :)