Monday, July 29, 2013

Chicken Run & Aging

I hate to complain about aging. I need something better to say these days than "Oh my creaky back."

The other day during a rant on general stiffness, my hubs said, "You're a spring chicken. You're not old."

Well. I'm not really a spring chicken. Hell, I might be summer chicken but only on a good day. And anyway, you know what they did to the hens that stopped laying in Little Town on the Prairie? (And yes, I am a hen that has stopped laying. FYI. Not in the hormonal sense, but in the "baby-oven-is-closed-for-bizness" sense.)

Ma Ingalls made them into chicken pie.

In the words of Babs from the movie Chicken Run (*cue British accent*):


Monday, July 22, 2013

Medical Mondays: A Copper Problem

Hey guys!

Back with another Medical Mondays. I haven't been doing these quite as much lately, partly from burn out (they take a while to write and put together). But FYI, behind the scenes I have been fielding LOTS of questions from writers about medical stuff. Most of the time though, the questions aren't quite fitting for actual blog posts, or the authors want to keep the questions super sekret. :) Which is why Medical Mondays has been a little quiet of late.

But I'm going to keep posting when I can. Because this stuff is too fascinating.


A little while back, I did a post on Argyria (silver toxicity). I must be going through a metal phase (cue the head banging. Actually, don't, because OW my neck.)

Today, I wanted to talk about when another metal that can sometimes serious problems--copper.

What do you think of when someone says "copper"? Shiny, good luck pennies? Maybe the greenish tinted roofs of university building (green from oxidation)? How about plumbing pipes?

But not everyone thinks of copper that's inside their bodies. Commence the copper Q & A.

Why is copper needed in the human body?
Copper is a trace element needed for in-cell energy production, iron transportation, neurotransmitter production, connective tissue health, and free-radical scavenging. A better way to understand why it's important is to explain what happens when it's not around, hence the next question!

What happens when people get a copper deficiency?
They can have bad anemias (low white blood cell [infection fighters] and/or red blood cell [oxygen carriers] numbers). They may get a jerky, unstable walk (ataxia), incoordination, spasticiy, and may lose their vision. Also (as if that weren't enough) it can cause pale skin, brittle light-colored hair, enlarged liver and spleen, weak bones, and mental slowing.

Where is copper found in our diet?
Lots of places. The most is found in liver, but you probably get your copper from grains, legumes, fruit, leafy veggies, meat, fish, poultry and nuts. Oh, and chocolate and cherries. (Yeah, I'm not deficient.)

Who gets copper deficiency?
Some types of bariatric surgery can cause problems with copper absorption. A zinc overdose* can cause this, and possibly iron overdose. There is a rare disorder called Menkes Disease, which is a hereditary disease causing copper deficiency. Babies on formula without adequate copper supplements and people on dialysis are also at risk. 

I know, it looks like "In Cod We Trust." Or "In Goo We Trust." Apologies.
*A note on pennies
I always think of pennies being made from mostly of copper, but actually that's not true. Before 1982, most pennies were made of 95% copper; after 1982, they're 99% zinc with a thin copper layer on the outside. (Right now, pennies from 1982 or before are worth more 2-3 cents due to the rising cost of copper). So! If you ate a sack of new pennies, you'd get zinc poisoning, which would also cause a copper deficiency! And if you ate a sack of pre-1982 pennies, you could possibly get copper poisoning. Although acute copper poisoning is really rare. And anyway, you're already in pretty bad shape, psychiatrically, if you feel you need to eat a sack of pennies. I'll just leave it at that. 

What about copper toxicity?
Copper toxicity can happen acutely or over time. With acute toxicity, people can have bloody vomit or diarrhea, and in severe cases, heart, liver, kidney failure and death. With chronic (or slow) toxicity, problems can build up over time, such as cirrhosis of the liver, jaundice, heart problems, diabetes (because it affects the pancreas) and neurologic problems. 

What causes chronic copper toxicity?
Wilson's disease is a heritable disease (1 in 30,000 babies) that causes accumulation of copper in tissues. Besides some of the symptoms above, a classic finding is a ring of an orangey deposit of copper around the iris, called a Keyser-Fleisher ring

Every med student knows this image, but few have seen it in real practice.
How else can a person get copper toxicity?
Food cooked or stored in unlined copper cookware can cause leaching of copper into food. Drinking water from contaminated water source, children accidentally ingesting copper objects, and using copper salt-containing creams can also cause toxicity. So if you have a nice aluminum coated copper pan you cook with and the lining is wearing through, don't use it!

Okay. Well that might be enough copper-infused info to last the rest of your life! And remember--don't eat those pennies!

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

(photos from Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Mighty Dashner-Johnson-Khoury Giveaway and Blurb News!

I've gotten some pretty wonderful author blurbs lately for CONTROL that I wanted to share.  I feel so, so honored and thankful. The whole asking-for-blurb thing is terrifically scary, let me tell you. I've two to add to the James Dashner blurb I received when my book cover was revealed on YABC (which was already fan-freaking-tastic) but these new ones just made me want to cry. So here they are:

“CONTROL is a masterful debut, filled with everything I love in a novel: mystery, danger, and romance. Kang has crafted a world readers can easily fall into and won't want to leave, complete with flawed yet loveable characters. I couldn't put it down!"  --Elana Johnson, author of Possession

"Surprising twists, tender romance, and a fierce, smart protagonist make for a winning formula in Kang's debut. CONTROL is tautly woven and breathlessly delivered—a thrilling read!” --Jessica Khoury, author of Origin

And in case you haven't seen this one from James, here it is:

“Control blew me away. The twists and turns and suspense made for a thrilling ride. Zel is as authentic a character as I’ve read in a very long time. Highly recommended.”  --James Dashner, NYT bestselling author of The Maze Runner Trilogy

So to celebrate my thankfulness, I'm giving away some awesome books!

There will be three winners: 

One will win an Elana Johnson book of their choice.
One will win Jessica Khoury book of their choice.
One will win a James Dashner book of their choice.

And...if the book you want isn't quite out yet (like James's upcoming THE EYE OF MINDS, or Jessica's VITRO) I'll pre-order it for you. :)

Giveaway ends on July 31st. Open internationally. 

A taste of what you could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 15, 2013

Medical Mondays: Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Drunker

It's been a while since I've done a Medical Mondays! But here, I'll make it up to you.

Have a glass of absinthe.
Or maybe...don't?

Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage that became popular in the late 18th to 19th century, even into the early 20th century. You've probably seen it in paintings, in movies, in books, since for a while, it was everywhere among artists and regular folk alike. Hemingway, Baudelaire, Toulouse-Lautrec, Verlaine, Wilde, van Gogh, Modigliani, etc. The list of artists who adored this bewitching, green drink is impressively long!

Absinthe contains essence of wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), anise, fennel, hyssop, Melissa (a kind of mint) and other herbs. Absinthe often had a clear, greenish tint (from the herbs, but occasionally from additives, see below.)

Artemisia absinthium
Its consumption grew very popular between 1840-1860. One of the favorite ways to drink it was to place a sugar cube over a slotted spoon and pour water over the cube. The resulting liquid would be sweetened and turn cloudy.

Absinthe was its own party trick.
Absinthe soon came under fire when opponents of the ubiquitous liquor claimed it caused societal problems and violent psychoses in the drinkers. It was thought to be a possible hallucinogen, which is likely not true. It's possible that some of the adverse effects were from the additives used to occasionally deepen the green color, such as toxic metal salts (whose effects might have been part of the reason why it had such a bad reputation!)

Later, a chemical component from the wormwood, thujone, was blamed for this alleged behavior. Thujone is a psychoactive substance that affects GABA and a sub-type of the serotonin receptor. However, it's more likely that the high alcohol content caused more of these symptoms and problems in drinkers, rather than the thujone itself.

It was soon banned in several countries around the world, including the U.S. and France, among others. But in the last 20 years, it's become popular, with many countries lifting the ban, but with strict rules over thujone content.

So...if you want some Absinthe, you can get it (not for me, though--I'm not a huge fan of anise-flavored stuff). Today, it may not be quite the same thing they had in 1860's. In the U.S., for example, it has to be thujone-free.

It's it a fascinating history? And there's so much more. If you're interested, check out:

New York Times
The Wormwood Society

So! Could you imagine writing absinthe into a scene? Or have you ever tasted it?

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

(photos from Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My WriteSpace & Glowing Bunnies!

It's been a crazy few weeks since ALA and I'm back from vacation. Hope you all had a great 4th of July!

In case you missed it, Meagan Spooner (author of Skylark and These Broken Stars) featured me on "In Search of the Write Space" feature on her blog. There are a few surprises in there (payphones? bird poop? bugs? manatees?) plus a swag giveaway, so check it out!

Also, today I'm posting at the League of Extraordinary Writers on Glowing Bunnies and caveats when writing sci-fi. There's a fun doodle I made, so please stop by!

And finally, don't forget to enter Mila Ferrera's SPIRAL Ebook and $50 gift card giveaway down below. :D

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Always Do The Thing That Scares You BLOGFEST!

Hello! I'm here to celebrate the release of Mila Ferrera's fantastic NA book, SPIRAL!

SPIRAL is one of those read-in-one-sitting books. It's an intelligent romance that is so gripping, with a romance that is pretty sweet and spicy for you new adult fans out there. Seriously, you won't be disappointed and I'm very picky when it comes to NA!

So today's Blogfest is about doing the thing that scares you. And let me tell you, I've done that a few times. But there is one situation that I'm particularly proud of.

Rock climbing. 

See, I have a fear of heights. Any situation where there is a real possibility of falling and smashing my head scares me crazy. 

So I was a little worried when I went rock climbing for the first time many years ago. It was at the Gunks in New Paltz, NY.

FYI, this is not a picture of me. I was wearing a purple Dinosaur Jr t-shirt.
You could practically see the waves of fear surrounding me like a big, black aura.
I was terrified. With the help of my experienced friends, I panted, squeezed, shoved and grappled my way up that cliff face. There were moments of panic, of nearly screaming "I can't do this!" I did at one point stick my elbow into a crack to keep from falling. Yes, it was painful.  A few times, I nearly considered purposely falling, just to get the whole thing over with. 

But you know what was just as strong? My inner voice that said, "Don't quit. Focus. To hell with the fear. Just do it."

Nike didn't pay me to say that, but honestly, it really does mean something. And when I reached the top, it was one of the purest sensations of success I have ever felt. 

Was it worth the terror?


What did I learn?

That my mind can be stronger than my fear. That was a priceless lesson. 

So! Let me tell you a bit about this book! Because at it's core, it's about conquering fear for the sake of love.

About SPIRAL: 

Nessa Cavanaugh, psychology student, knows how to stay on an even keel. Despite the urging of her mother and her academic advisor to get a life and have some fun, “all work and no play” sums up her plan to survive her grueling internship year at a children's hospital. She doesn't want to end up like her father, whose constant ups and downs broke her family, and avoiding unnecessary emotional entanglements is a must.

Then she (literally) runs into Dr. Aron Lindstrom in the middle of her disastrous first day on the job. The attraction is instant—and terrifying. Nessa knows she should stay away—especially when she finds out he has a reputation for being a player—but Aron is brilliant, intense, and as sexy as they come. When he challenges her to take a chance on him, her plans to stay focused on work start to crumble.

But what begins as passion takes on a dangerous edge, becoming an emotional roller coaster that’s frighteningly familiar. As things spiral out of control, Nessa must decide whether she should hold on for the ride or run … even if it means leaving her heart behind.

And here's a fantastic giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for stopping by!