Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eviscerated Fruit, Prom Dresses, and Vegas.

Ah, the eviscerated fruit of our labor. 
In other words, we carved pumpkins.
Here they are. Dazed, Vacuous, and Confused. Our gourdy triplets. 
Every year, I put off this one holiday tradition for as long as I can, sometimes trying to convince my kids that magic markers are really, truly, JUST GREAT for decorating pumpkins.

Well, this year, for a change, we actually did the deed. It was super slimy, I broke all three special carving knives that came in this (what seemed like) nice pumpkin carving kit, and I overdosed on Old Bay-covered roasted pumpkin seeds in my attempt to recover from the situation.

When I tried to help the kids, those knives bent and broke pretty fast. I think the serrated metal blades were made out of some new-age, cheap metal. Like AnnoyMommyum. Or Frustratogen. Either that, or I've been channeling Thor and had NO IDEA.

Well, now it's Halloween and tonight I'm eating candy until my dental fillings scream with indignation. If fillings could scream. Woot! *ow*

On another note, this weekend I am going to Vegas for the first time this weekend for the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I have no idea what to expect regarding Las Vegas. If there aren't ten sweaty Elvis impersonators waiting to welcome me at the airport gate, I will be deeply disappointed.

I'll be on a sci-fi panel on November 2nd called "Resurrecting the Future"with authors Alexandra Bracken, Rachel Cohn, Kimberly Derting, Anna Carey, Jennifer Bosworth, Chris Howard, Karri Thompson, and signing swag later on since I'm still bookless (not for long). That night I'll be attending the prom-themed YA party. Not wearing my prom dress:

Hello, Laura Ashley concoction! I'm not wearing you. I looked like a shapeless twig in you back then, and I've confirmed that I still look like a shapeless twig in you now. Back to the closet you go.

Happy Halloween everyone! 
Eat candy and be happy! 
And don't let the gourds get you down!

p.s. what happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas. 
I'll be back with pictures! (Just not any with me wearing my old prom dress.)

And last but not least, I've been interviewed over at The Madeleine Project.  The questions were really different from any interview I've done before, so please stop by if you can. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Typing at the Speed of Squirrel

I am a fast but sloppy typist. Speed-wise, I'd say I'm faster than a snail, slower than a greyhound. I type at the speed of squirrel.

In middle school, my mom enrolled me and my sister in a summer typing class. I still remember some of the exercises.


Well, it worked.  By the end of the summer at the tender age of 12, I was typing 54 words per minute. No two-finger keyboard punching for us! (That's also called the "Hunt and Peck" method. AKA the "Eagle Finger" method. *cue Eagle screaming*)

I'm still pretty sloppy though. I make so many typos and I can't seem to reform myself. Like, I can't help but type "ration" instead of "ratio." I constantly type "Tank you" instead of "Thank you."

And I am incredibly blind to my typos when reading my manuscripts. They're hella sloppy, but thank goodness for spellcheck and copyeditors!

I was wondering how fast my typing was, so I randomly googled this test:

And I clocked in at 83 wpm. Not bad! But nothing compared to the 216 words per minute achieved by Stella Pajunas-Garnand from Chicago in 1946. 

Stella = Greyhound.

Me = Squirrel.

Or these guys. Check out their 2010 Typing Championship final round! (Fast forward to about 2:00 to see the actual competition.)

Are you a "Hunt and Peck" typer? Ten finger whiz? Ever clocked your speed?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Not OktoberFest.

It's OktoberFret!

The month where you realize summer days are really, truly, coldly over and the dead leaves raining down are proof. And suddenly, the things you promised to finish by September 1st are still not done, and the things you thought were forever away are just around the corner (hello, launch day in 62 days and counting!)

*bites fingernails*

So goodbye, weeds in my garden that are taller than my head. I'll let winter take care of you.

Never mind to the pile of books I still haven't read. It'll have to wait until vacation.

Hello book-I-need-to-write, which I wanted to start writing a month ago. Sorry I'm late.

Bonjour, author who must promote herself and her book, because it's part of the job these days. I am you and you are me and that's that. Trying to be brave instead of bashful and it's kind of weird!

And welcome to chilly temperatures that I'm not ready for, even though I always say I'm a Fall/Winter girl. After getting a snowstorm this past May, I was never more happy about summer in my whole life. And now it's gone!

Anyway. Enough fretting! I'm chowing down on some candy corn and getting over it! Halloween is on the way, my kid's costumes are all put together, the air smells faintly smoky and delicious, and I have a good pair of boots to wear. So take that, OktoberFret!

What are your favorite things about October? 
Have you been fretting over anything lately?

And before I go, a few thanks!

Thank you all for the tweets about my Buzzfeed post on 18 Weird Things That Authors Do. If you haven't seen it, check it out!

Thank you for reading the excerpts of CONTROL on Wattpad. I've been revealing new pages with every 50 reads. Part 5 goes up today sometime!

And finally, thank you for entering the ARC giveaway of CONTROL on Goodreads. It closes on October 26th, so if you haven't entered to win one of five copies, please do so!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Medical Mondays: Eyeshine and Red-Eye on Photos

Hello all and happy middle-of-October! Can you believe it's gotten this far into fall? I swear a few days ago it was August. What the--?


Today I'm blogging about tapetum lucidum. What is that?

It's this:

Hello cutie lemur! Source: Wikipedia
Tapetum lucidum is the reflective layer behind the retina (the inner surface of the eye, which is the light sensitive tissue that picks up images seen) of an animal eye that reflects light. It's the reason why when you shine light at your dog or cat at night, you see their eyes glow.

The color of the eyeshine you see depends on the angle of the light hitting the animal's eye, and the kind of animal. Each species has its own set of different crystals that make up the tapetum lucidum, and that is why:
  • Some fish have white eyeshine
  • Horses have blue eyeshine
  • Cats, dogs and raccoons have green eyeshine
  • Rodents and birds have red eyeshine
What about humans? Well, humans and most other primates don't have a tapetum lucidum.

What about red-eye in photographs? This occurs when the camera flash is very close to the lens that is taking the photograph. The light hits the choroid (a blood vessel layer behind the retina) and reflect back into the camera, which records the photo. The red color comes from the redness of the blood 

Source: Wikipedia
Why do some people always have red-eye in photos? Or the reverse question, why do people like me never get red-eye? People who have lighter skin tone and blue eyes often have less melanin (dark pigment) on the inner surface of their eye (the fundus, which contains the retina, optic disc, fovea and macula) so more light is able to pass through to the choroid. In people like me, the melanin in my fundus (geez, that sound SO PERSONAL) absorbs that light and very little gets reflected back by my choroid. 

How did they do this in Blade Runner?

Rachel and Deckard have a moment. (Source: Warner Bros.)
Man, wasn't that cool??? They showed the eyeshine of an artificial owl too, and the eyeshine of both Rachel (a replicant) and the owl highlighted the fact that they were both artificial. Beautiful and perfect, but fake.

What the director did was shine a light straight at Rachel that was extremely close to the camera lens. If you look carefully, you'll see that Han Solo (whoops, I mean Indiana. *slaps face* I mean Harrison Ford!) has a faint eyeshine, but you don't notice it in the movie because Rachel closer and in focus.

What's the red reflex?
This is a reflex that doctors look for when we sometimes shine light into your eye during an exam. In kids, the reflex is very bright. When a more white reflex is observed instead (called leucocoria), that is usually a sign of pathology, like an eye cancer (retinoblastoma in kids), cataracts in older individuals, or other problems. 

Well! Everything you needed to know about eyeshine! Thanks for stopping by and leave any questions in the comments. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Online Resources for Teen Writers

Hey all! Thank you so much for participating in the free Wattpad CONTROL Sneak-Peek this week (I swear I'm not trying to rhyme on purpose!)

Today, I'm blogging over at The League of Extraordinary Writers about resources for teen writers looking for a place to share their stories. :)

And don't forget to please stop by Wattpad to read your free serialized CONTROL Sneak Peek pages!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sneak Peek Pages of CONTROL on Wattpad!

As promised, you can now read the first five pages of CONTROL on Wattpad right here!

With every 50 reads+votes+comments, I'll be uploading more pages. :D

So please stop by and read! (And if you can vote, that would be great!) 
(You do need to have a login and password to vote, BTW.)

*Thank you!!*

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wattpad Promo Week!

Hey guys!

I'm so excited to tell you about an opportunity this week 
to read some serialized excerpts of CONTROL before its December release day!

I'm posting on The Class of 2k13's blog on

I'll be blogging HERE about how to read sneak excerpts of CONTROL 

Pop on over to The League of Extraordinary Writers  
for a sampling of great online resources for teen writers

Thanks guys! Have a great Monday!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stationery Love and Accoutrements

Ah, stationery love. 

(Not to be confused with stationary love, where people throw heartfelt missives while their feet are fixed, immobile, in cement)

I've had a thing for cute stationery every since I was a little girl. I loved the idea of letter writing, of receiving something in the mail written for me. I used to have this huge collection, with strawberry scented sets, folding papers that became envelopes, special stickers to affix them closed.

Haven't used these in years, sadly.
Sealing wax with stamps (rose, leafless tree, and maple leaf)
One of my childhood friends and I would sometimes send each other letters complete with genuine wax seals and stamps. That took a little practice! You had to drip just enough of a blob bigger than the stamp diameter, and press just at the right time, or it wouldn't work. And that wax burned waaay hotter than candle wax! The scar on my thumb has since faded. ;)

My first (and really, only) fountain pen, a Waterman from college
I even had a thing for fountain pens, loving that scraping of ink onto paper, picking my different ink colors depending on my mood. I had purple, brown, black, and midnight blue. I bought my first fountain pen with my first college work-study paycheck, freshman year. I was journaling back then like mad. I still have the pen! And I absolutely loved the smell of fresh ink. It almost makes me wish I lived in the 19th century. The act of writing was such a beautiful effort, then.

Mix of Japanese and Korean stationery. Not much left!
So that picture above? This is all that's left of my little collection. I need more, though mostly my kids used it to send notes to their cousins and out-of-state friends. Korean stationery is my favorite. Sometimes the typos and grammar errors on it are ridiculously adorable. Morning Glory is my brand of choice.

How about you? Got a thing for stationery or its accoutrements? Are you picky about your writing instruments?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Medical Mondays: Ow, my eye!

Hi guys!

Leslie Rose emailed this question:

If someone was impaled in the eye by a something about the consistency of a stiff palm frond what kind of damage would there be to:

A) Cause bleeding
B) Impair sight

Great question. I'm not an ophthalmologist, so I'll do my best with this answer. 

Obviously, the idea of a stiff, razor-sharp, pointy palm frond in the eyeball would make anyone shiver (and maybe gag. Just a little.) So get the gagging over with, and let's see what we can do for this poor character!

When the wall of the eyeball is broken through from trauma, it is called an open globe injury. This case would be called more specifically an open globe laceration, and often accompanies an intraocular foreign body (fancy term for some thing from the trauma left over inside the eye). I didn't include a picture, but you could probably imagine the coffee-spewings that might occur if I did. And I don't want to pay for anyone's broken laptop so...if you're brave, Google "open globe laceration." But let the Googler beware.  ;)

So. Would it bleed?
Yes, but the eyeball wouldn't necessarily be dripping blood. The white of the eye (the sclera) would likely be very reddened from irritation and bleeding would occur around the area of the wound beneath the thin membrane (conjunctiva) that covers the sclera (called a subconjuctival hemorrhage.) 

Would it impair sight? Depends. 
Most penetrating globe injuries include trauma to the cornea (the clear covering over the iris, or colored part, of your eye). The vision right after the injury helps predict whether the vision will stay bad. For example, if the vision is still decent and medical help is sought immediately, it's in the character's favor that they'll keep good vision in the eye.

But, if vision is really poor after the injury (can barely read anything on an eye chart, or can barely see a hand waving in front of their face, or differentiate between light and dark), that's a poor prognosis.

Other signs of a bad outcome are:
  • character can't be seen by an ophthalmologist and have surgery (if necessary) within 24 hours.
  • residual palm frond is stuck in the eye, causing infection (endophthalmitis
  • other injuries, like a eyelid laceration, detached retina, broken eye socket bone
  • blunt trauma to the eye
  • if the vitreous got extruded from the eye. (That's the fancy way to say "eyeball jelly spurting out." Sorry, guys.)
There you go Leslie! So basically, her character's vision in that eye would depend on how severe the injury was, and how quickly they could seek modern medical help with an ophthalmologist.

(Just an aside, let me tell you how happy I was when I finally figured out how to spell OPHTHALMOLOGIST correctly in med school. So proud. Look at how many H's there are in that word! And that wonky LM!)

I'm sure your eyes are watering. Keep them away from palm fronds, okay?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Schmirffday-Birthday Musings

Hello all!

I finally lifted my head up today and looked around, wondering...what HAVE I been doing all week? A whole lot of busy nothings and somethings.

October hit and I realized CONTROL's release is less than three months away. Suddenly, it doesn't seem so far off anymore and I've been trying to mobilize myself for what's going to happen after the release. Things like launch party, going to conferences and book festivals, and generally being a non-introvert (EEK).

So here's a random (and not so random) list of things I've been up to.

1. Revising a new book that may or may not ever see the light of day. One of the things I'm proud of is is I get to delve into my own Korean culture to furnish this world, and that's been fun!

2. I got a prose poem published this past summer! I keep forgetting to say anything about it. The poem is called "The Clot" and it's in Great Weather for Media's summer anthology, The Understanding Between Foxes and Light. 

3. I have a team of people helping me with Control's publicity and marketing. (That sentence I just wrote? Weird. Dream come true, but...weird.) I met the Penguin team in August and I'm excited about what they've got planned to help get the word out about Control. (Like the cool Goodreads Giveaway of 5 copies of Control ARCs going on right now--enter here!)  And I'm also working with Dana Kaye Publicity, who's been amazing with helping me set up lots of events after Control comes out. :)

4. The RT convention is not around the corner, but if you want to go, time to register. I went to RT (Romance Times) last year for one day; this year I'm going for almost a week in May and only just found out that I made it onto several panels and events! So if you'd like to be surrounded by books, authors, and New Orleans culture, it's time to sign up!

6. I promised my son I would hand-make a blue octopus costume for Halloween, because we can't find one ready made that isn't a million bucks. So yeah, I just cut the sleeves off of some super cheap blue shirts and have MUCH sewing to do. Soon. And tentacle stuffing. And sucker glueing. Gads, what I gotten myself into?

This will be my son, soon enough. If I can get my act together...

7. Getting over bronchitis. It's so not fun coughing like you're dying of galloping consumption and about to fade away like Ruby Gillis in Anne of the Island. (Oh, I just got my PPD and it's NEGATIVE. Just FYI.)

Ruby, pre-TB. Source
8. Today is my birthday. I've been too busy to notice my schmirffday (which seems like a better word for it, as it sounds like how I feel when I hear the dreaded word). When I decided to write a blog for today, I was like, what? What am I going to blog about? Is it October already? OMG, look at the date; I'm old tomorrow. When did that creep up on me? I'm not going to tell you how old I am, except to say it's older than you think. Let's put it this way--I've been invited to a Prom Party at the Vegas Valley Book Festival in November, and if I go, I'm wearing my junior prom dress, a black polka dotted Laura Ashley dress. I don't even think that's cool enough to call retro, isn't that sad? So that pretty much tell you what you need to know, birth-date wise. :)

What are you guys up to these days? Tell me one thing that's been keeping you occupied lately!