Thursday, December 20, 2012

Benefits and Nook Giveaway

Hey guys,

I'll be taking a blog-cation for the holidays. Before I go, a few things.

First, if you haven't, please check out the auction for Publishing Hearts Connecticut benefitting the Newtown Youth and Family Services. It will be going on all week. There are some amazing things being given away (signed books by some amazing authors, promotional deals, query/manuscript crits) so spread the word!

Second, there is a Nook giveaway this month by the Class of 2K13. A Nook! So sign up while you can.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a wonderful, love-filled holiday. I wish I could give you all a big, squashy hug through this computer screen, but I'm sure I'd just spill your coffee.

Oh, eff it. I'm gonna do it anyway.

*SQUASH*

*SPLASH*

See you in a few weeks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Way to Help in the Face of Tragedy


I'm still in shock from the terrible killings in Newton, Connecticut. The media is on fire with details of the events, some of which are burned into my psyche now. Social media is pouring out discussions on gun control and the state of mental health treatment in our country. And all the while, it's still incomprehensible to me.

With all my heart, I wish I knew with absolute certainty that my family will be safe every time they step out into the world. Only a little while ago, there was a shooting at the Von Maur minutes away from my home. I saw the towers fall on 9/11. No place is truly safe. I know there are no guarantees in life. But to be reminded of this by the slaughter of innocents -- it's too much.

Why, why did this have to happen?

I wish I had answers and solutions.

I can do a little something, as little as it is. And something is better than wallowing in despair.

Shelli Johannes and Miral Sattar have put together an auction to help.

I've donated a query critique and a first-five pages critique. All the proceeds go to benefit Newtown Youth and Family Services.

For details on the Auction, please click here at Publishing Hearts Connecticut. 

In the meantime, love your loved ones. Appreciate every day you have. Even in the face of these unconscionable events, I have hope for this complicated, precious, and sometimes heart-breaking world we live in.

Be brave, and live.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Deja Vu Blogfest: The Wishbone Theory


Hey guys. This blogfest come courtesy of DL Hammons, who puts the AWESOME in RECYCLE. (Did you just go, "Uh, that makes no sense. There is no such word as REAWSOMECYCLE." Well, there is now.)

The purpose of this blogfest is to repost an old post that you think deserve another shot in the spotlight. So here you go! 

*****

December 1, 2010

After Thanksgiving, we dissected out the wishbone and dutifully gave it to our two eldest kids to snap.

You know the deal. Whoever gets the bigger half is gifted with a wish that will come true. (Which I have other issues with, by the way. I mean, thirty years later, I still can't fly like Superman. What's up with that?)

I digress. Anyway, I steeled myself for comforting the loser. After all, life is about all kinds of losses, right? In the words of large-mouthed English rockers, you can't always get what you want.

Anywho, they gritted their teeth and pulled. And this is what happened:



One of the "arms" got broken after the fact, but in essence, the two sides were equal. I was thrilled. And then I had a wishbone epiphany.

Why would our dream come at the cost of another's?

It shouldn't.

Which brings me back to writing and the machine that is the publishing world. We hear weekly about our writing friends' good fortune. A book sold, an agent snagged, a new novel e-pubbed with the masses downloading quickly in the nanoseconds of a mouse click.

But. This shouldn't take away from our own hopes and aspirations. Because I think the Wishbone Theory sucks.

Our own hopes shouldn't be lessened by the success of others.

Maybe we should have a "Wishbone Chucking" ceremony after Thanksgiving, to toast to hopes and wishes.

All in favor, say, "Chuck away!"

*****

Thanks for stopping by. It's not every day that a wishbone breaks like that
 and teaches me a lesson!

Click here for the list of all the blogfest participants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Angela's Hurricane Sandy Relief

Hey guys. Angela Felsted is doing a very generous thing.


She is going to donate the proceeds made from her new novel, CHASTE, from Dec. 12th - 15th to benefit those who are recovering from Sandy by giving that money to the ELCA. They have local people who can determine where the funds are most needed, and 100% of the money donated to them will go to helping those affected by the hurricane.


She's committing to match the proceeds dollar for dollar up to $1000.

From Angela: 
"As much as money and manpower is needed now, I'm sure it will continue to be needed then. I have friends going up this weekend to help with cleanup and I'm sad that I cannot go without neglecting my other responsibilities. This is my way of contributing to the cause. Merry Christmas everyone!"


Monday, December 10, 2012

Medical Mondays: Cinnamon and the Dangers of the Cinnamon Challenge

Hey guys. I had so much fun writing the wintergreen post last week that I thought I'd blog about a favorite spice of mine, cinnamon. It's one of my favorite candy flavors of all time. Give me some Red Hots or Hot Tamales or cinnamon gum, and I'm a happy girl. Mmmm.

Cinnamon has been around for millennia. It was a sought-after spice that comes from the soft, inner bark of the Cinnamomum species. Most cinnamon found in grocery stores is from Cinammomum Cassia, which originates from China. Ceylon cinnamon, or Cinnamomum Verum ("true cinnamon") can be find in specialty stores and is sweeter, milder, and more aromatic than its stronger, harsher, and less expensive counterpart.
Cassia cinnamon also contains a chemical called coumarin*, which if taken in high quantities can cause liver toxicity. For this reason, Cassia cinnamon importation is banned in Germany.

*coumarin, which is a fragrant, organic compound also found in sweet grass and sweet clover, can be converted to the anticoagulant dicoumarol by certain fungi. It caused the spontaneous bleeding death of cows when they ate moldy sweet clover. Coumarin is also the precursor to making warfarin, or Coumadin, which many people take to prevent their blood from clotting and causing strokes or deep vein thrombosis (DVT or pulmonary embolism). Coumarin smells like freshly cut hay, and is used sometimes in cosmetics. Like the lotion I used yesterday that covered my hands in a rash. YUCK!
source
Traditional Medicinal uses of cinnamon (Chinese and Aryuvedic)
  • helps with nausea, indigestion, menstrual cramps, colds, diabetes, 
  • increases energy, circulation
(source)

Some interesting cinnamon research:
  • cinnamon has been shown to kill mosquito larvae
  • it's been found in some studies to work against HIV and HSV (herpes virus), and found to have general anti-viral properties
  • may inhibit Alzheimer's in mice
  • may prevent colon cancers
  • cinnamon supplements have helped treat type 2 Diabetes in some patients

A few words on the Cinnamon Challenge. It's been making the rounds on YouTube and the internet. Apparently, the challenge is to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in a minute, without water or food. People find the videos entertaining, because within a few seconds, the cinnamon dries out the mouth of the person, and some crazy coughing and spewing of brown cinnamon clouds ensues.

(I wanted to insert a YouTube video of someone doing the Cinnamon Challenge, but every single one has serious profanity, for obvious reasons. So here's a picture instead.)
I didn't actually do the challenge. Cinnamon aspiration is NOT on my To-Do list.
Maybe it's funny, but there is a serious risk to doing this challenge. Inhaling cinnamon can cause serious inflammation of the lungs, gagging, and can lead to infection. Also, most commercial cinnamon in the U.S. is made of Cassia, which means a tablespoon of ingested cinnamon has moderately toxic levels of coumarin in it.

So yeah, leave this challenge to the YouTube fame-mongers. Please!

****

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. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How not to kill a fish

A little over a year ago in September of 2011, my hubs bought me a betta fish. I named him Finney. He was my first betta, so I asked the pet store person for advice.

"Don't overfeed him! Only one pellet of food a day. And skip a day a week! They can go a long time without food."

She said this rather forcefully. I don't know about you, but when a person speaks with a strong conviction, I tend to second guess myself. I tend to think they are right, and I am wrong.

I'd read up on the internet where several websites said to feed my fish more that that. And yet, there was that voice.

"ONLY ONE PELLET OF FOOD A DAY! AND SKIP A DAY A WEEK!"

So I ignored the internet, fed Finney one teeny, weeny nugget a day, and dutifully skipped Sundays.

Finney's fins started to shrink.  They got stumpy, as if something was mysteriously chomping chunks out of it every week. When I got him, he had lush fins and brilliant iridescent blue scales with a black face. Finney's face turned a dusky gray and the blue became muted and paler.

So one day, after Finney gave me fishy-eye-glare of pathetic hunger, I said, "Eff it, I'm feeding him more. If he's going to die, he'll die with a full stomach." So I put in three nuggets a day. And he didn't die. In fact, his fins started to regenerate and his color came back after only two weeks.

The moral of the story? And what does this have to do with writing? Or life for that matter?

The loudest, most insistent voice isn't always right.

It's not a volume contest, after all.

Bad book reviews come to mind in this scenario. Those can scream pretty loudly! Or maybe it's bad writing advice, or querying advice, or career advice. But if your instinct and other, quieter sources say otherwise, maybe, just maybe you should ignore that loud voice.

Remember this old adage?

Feed a person a fish, you keep them alive for a day. Teach a person to fish, you feed them for the rest of their lives.

Who knew there was something to be learned about feeding the darned fish?


Finnegan the Fish. Doing well. Swimmingly, in fact.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Medical Mondays: Wintergreen Party tricks, Poison, and Ben Gay!

I've been fascinated by wintergreen ever since I read this passage in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

“Under the snow on the south slopes the bright red berries were ripe among their thick green leaves. Almanzo took off his mittens and pawed away the snow with his bare hands. He found the red clusters and filled his mouth full. The cold berries crunched between his teeth, gushing out their aromatic juice.
“Nothing else was ever so good as wintergreen berries dug out of the snow.”
Later on, they'd collect the glossy wintergreen leaves and cram them into a jar, filling it with whisky. The liquid would be then be used as wintergreen flavoring, for cakes and cookies. 



Wintergreen and berries. Source: Wikipedia

Wintergreen is the plant  Gaultheria procumbens. You guys know it as a flavoring in candy, gum, chewing tobacco, confections, drinks, and toothpaste and mouthwash. Hello BenGay. (That's why achy people smell like that!)

Historically, it's been used as a topical medicine, to treat joint pain, fevers, headaches, and other symptoms. When the wintergreen oil was rubbed into the skin, it provided an immediate cooling sensation. 

The main ingredient in oil of wintergreen is methyl salicylate. Which I made in high school organic chemistry class! It was so fun. First, you take some methanol (wood alcohol--ooh, I made that in eighth grade. Set it on fire, too!) and add it to crushed aspirin tablets (acetyl salicylic acid) and then add some sulfuric acid. You cook it a while, and then...

Are you with me? Yes? No?

Well, it was fun, I tell you. At the end of it all, you get methyl salicylate. It smelled so good! Want to try? (DON'T do this at home. But DO suggest to your organic chemistry teacher that this be your next lab project when you study esters. Here's the method on making it in orgo class. Esters are THE funnest part of organic chemistry. Almost as fun as making nylon. Try making the Juicy Fruit ester! Isoamyl acetate, I love you. Okay, I'll shut up now.)

Methyl salicylate, like aspirin, can be poisonous in high doses. One single teaspoon (5ml) of methyl salicylate is the equivalent of 23 tablets of aspirin! People, particularly children, have overdosed and died from rubbing too much of a methyl salicylate muscle-pain relief cream into their bodies. 

Other factoids:

Apparently, oil of wintergreen is really useful for rust removal and degreasing machinery. Good to know, sort of.

And, the best of all, wintergreen is triboluminescent, which means it lights up when crushed. Remember this party trick? Take a Wint-o-green Lifesaver, go into the bathroom, turn out the light, and aggressively chew the Lifesaver with your mouth open (messy and not attractive. Good thing the lights are out.) And this is what you'll see: 


Neat, right? 

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. :)