Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory

Today (well, everyday, but especially today) I'm remembering my father who passed away three years ago. He served in the Air National Guard. My father died unexpectedly of a disease called HCM. Never heard of it? Neither had we before his death. I would love to share a little bit about it with you since it is a completely treatable (but rarely tested for) disease if you know you have it.

From Wikepedia: "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM or HOCM, is a disease of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) in which a portion of the myocardium is hypertrophied (thickened) without any obvious cause. It is perhaps most well-known as a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The occurrence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a significant cause of sudden unexpected cardiac death in any age group and as a cause of disabling cardiac symptoms.

HCM is frequently asymptomatic until sudden cardiac death; it can be detected with high accuracy (70%+) by screening via ECG or echocardiogram. Routine Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Screening of athletes in Italy since the 1970s has reduced sudden cardiac death by 89%; in the United States such screening is not routine and has consistently been opposed by the American Heart Association, presumably due to its rare incidence."

The above paragraph claims HCM as frequently asymptomatic, but it is my personal belief that because it is a rare disease, the symptoms that patients exhibit are often misdiagnosed and/or ignored as "not serious". My father presented the following symptoms that never led doctors to perform an ECG: Periods of rapid heartbeat, intense feelings of "heartburn" without cause, asthma.

After my father passed, my uncle, who realized he had all these symptoms, immediately went in to get tested and has HCM (it is genetic). He is being treated.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I also want to honor all the service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and those who continue to serve.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recommendations and Awards

This book, Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White, comes out September 21st and you should buy it because it's going to be all kinds of awesome. How do I know? Because Kiersten is all kinds of awesome. I'm so excited to read it.

In other news I won this award:

Apparently someone likes me. Thanks Medeia .

I think someone else might have given me an award recently, too, and I can't find it. So if you did and I didn't post it, it's not because I'm snubbing you, it's because I'm disorganized and lazy. Hopefully the award was for being the most disorganized and lazy person in the blogosphere and then it would be one I deserved. :)

Also, hop on over to Elizabeth Mueller's blog. She's having a really cool Avatar contest, with great prizes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-from a chocoholic

So I was telling a friend about the fact that even though I started my sugar detox with the intent of detoxing from sugar, I didn't really think it would work. I thought that after the five weeks I'd give myself a cheat day every now and again and still love the chocolate without have the intense need to keep eating it after a few bites. Well, it's only been 3 weeks, but I cheated. I had to have just one little taste of this chocolate cake that was sitting in my house for two days straight. And I did. And it tasted sooooo good. But after I ate it, something strange happened. It was like I had just eaten a bitter cotton ball. My mouth felt filmy and I had this acrid taste in the back of my throat for the next several hours. And then I was mad. How dare my detox diet actually work. I didn't want to hate chocolate. I just wanted to enjoy it occasionally.

So I was lamenting to a friend (yes, I'm a huge whiner) about how upset I was that I couldn't enjoy the benefit of sugar on occasion. That warm happy feeling it gave me without the nasty side effect of cotton-bitter mouth. And do you know what she said? She said, you can always inject it straight into your veins--it will give you the same feelings without the side effects. I told her she was going to be my maddeningly unhelpful advice today because that's just about the most unhelpful advice I've ever received. (But thanks for trying, Candi, you're the best)

Keep eating chocolate, it's good for you. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

What I Wish I Had Known--Agents

Even though I’ve been writing on and off since High School, I’m coming up on the three year mark of when I started writing “for realz”. In other words, when I decided I was going to pursue publication. I’m not saying I know everything now…far from it. But there are things I’ve learned over the past three years that I thought I could share. Since most of you have been in the business as long or longer than I have, I’m sure this series of posts will feel as maddeningly unhelpful as my Monday posts do, but maybe it will be helpful to someone. (btw, this is why I normally don’t give advice or claim to know anything on my blog—because I feel the need to write a paragraph of disclaimers about how I really don’t know anything and how you probably shouldn’t listen to me) So, here goes, my first post on ‘what I wish I had known’ three years ago.

Work pays off. Three years ago agents seemed like these mysterious, unreachable creatures who if I was lucky enough, one day I might be able to charm. Now, I realize how untrue that is. This business isn’t a magical creature that can only be tamed with luck. Putting yourself out there, learning all you can, meeting other writers, essentially immersing yourself in this world will all pay off in the end. And contrary to how it might feel when you’re in The Query War Zone, agents aren’t the enemy waiting to sniper you from their perch on the high tower. Now that I have an agent, I realize they don’t spend all day reading query letters and plotting how to ruin the lives of aspiring writers. They really do want you to succeed. That's not to say those who have agents have worked harder than those who don't, obviously that's not the case. I have a lot of good friends who have been working really hard for just as long as I have and it hasn't happened for them yet. But I do believe that it will. So don't give up.

Agents are real people. Sometimes because we communicate with them in such a distant, formal way, it feels like they’re the gatekeepers to the publishing world and if we don’t say things just right, they’ll lock us out forever. But I’ve had several friends who after doing some major edits have written to agents who had partials and fulls and admitted that their manuscript wasn’t perfect and that they have taken the advice of other agents and writers and fixed things. What? Someone admitted to being rejected by other agents to current agents looking at their work? Oh no! That’s suicide, right? No, it’s not. In this case, the agents asked for the more recent version. Because they know that manuscripts aren’t perfect and I think if they know you’re willing to take criticism and improve they know you’re not a diva about your work. So talk to them like they’re real people, be honest with them.

Perspective. We should be honest with them, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be polite and courteous to agents. They belong to a network and word can get around fast. Even though my agent has her own agency, she shares office space with a few other agents and an editor that also have their own agencies. So in her case, she would just have to talk really loud to share a story about a writer being a jerk with at least five other people. The whole reason you’re looking for an agent is because of their connections. So don’t let them use their connections against you by treating them badly if they reject you.

Agents are smart. They know this business. If you get a lot of agents telling you the same thing about your work, maybe an edit is in order. It’s so easy to say, “this is such a subjective industry” (and it is, I’m not denying that). But, if everyone is telling you something, maybe it has merit.

What about you? What have you learned about agents since you started your journey?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

This week I read another of my "debut author challenge" books: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis. It kept me entertained and reading, which in my opinion is always a good thing. It did feel the need to throw in a few "f" bombs, so if you have sensitive eyes like I do, beware of them burning. :) Other than that it was a clean, creative, fun read. I'm really glad I decided to do this debut author challenge because it's introducing me to books I might not have picked up otherwise.

"Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Look First

Living out in the country now, I have learned many great things like, what stars actually look like, that crickets are really loud, and that coyotes actually exist (and that their sole purpose isn't to try to blow up road runners with faulty bombs). But one lesson I've learned is that when putting my hand into or under things, perhaps I should look first. Because while under one sprinkler box might live three cute little frogs:

Under the next one might be something like this:

So, always look first. Always. I'm still shuddering.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

Do you believe that before last week I had never read Ally Carter?!? I know, it's crazy. Well, thank goodness I alleviated my shame by reading the first book in The Gallagher Girls series: "I'd tell you I love you but then I'd have to kill you". And now I see why everybody has been telling me to read her (Ally, I mean [I don't assign genders to books, although, maybe I should]). It was super cute and funny and so squeaky clean I would even let my eleven year old read it.


"Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies.

Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”—but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she’s on her most dangerous mission—falling in love."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Put down the candy bar and back away slowly

Hi, my name is Kasie, I'm addicted to sugar. Proof: Last Sunday, my mom brought over some cookie dough to make cookies at my house (yes, I'm spoiled) and every five minutes, I snuck a glob of cookie dough. Every. Five. Minutes. Do you know how many cookie globs that equals??? A lot. I could go on and list several examples, but they all start to sound the same. So, I decided to do something drastic. I decided to quit sugar. I found a diet that is for this very problem and is supposed to cleanse my body of its sugar cravings. It lasts five weeks and restricts me from several things, including sugar. Today is day seven on my complete sugar detox and let me just share with you some excerpts from my food log to show you how well it's going.

Day 1: Whipped up some egg beaters for breakfast and topped them with sliced avacado. Yum. This is going to be easy.
5 hours later-- MUST EAT SUGAR. Why did I decide to do this? This is craziness. I love sugar. Sugar and I are good together.

Day 2: I was making the kids lunch this morning and some peanut butter got on my finger. Much like Stephan from The Vampire Diaries when he saw human blood, I stared at it longingly and then had to stop my shaking hand from closing the distance to my mouth. It was pathetic.

Day 3: My daughter offered me a piece of her candy bar today. Not good. I didn't eat it, but I did stare at it until my daughter had to say, "Are you going to take it, or not?"

Day 4: I had a dream last night that a skunk was clinging to the ceiling above my bed and that a talking dog was telling me how to move so I didn't make it angry. I'm convinced this non-sugar diet is making me even crazier than I already was.

Day 5: Why did I buy that Vanilla air freshener? My whole house smells like cookies. I need cookies. I might eat the glade plug in. Is this food log supposed to record what I did eat or what I didn't? I seem to be fixated on what I didn't.

Day 6: Daughter: "Ew, what's that smell? Is it your dinner." Me: "Probably."

Day 7: I woke up this morning feeling half way decent. Maybe I don't need sugar/chocolate after all. I'm suspicious. I think I may have gotten up in the middle of the night and gone on a chocolate binge. Must set up nighttime video recording device.

What's my advice? Eat chocolate. And if you're anywhere near me and you look, smell, or taste like chocolate, you may want to maintain eye contact and back away slowly.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Winner

I know you've all been holding your breath this week in hopes of winning my contest. :) But only one person had luck on their side. The name drawn from the completely random hat was RIVKIE RE. Congrats. I hope you enjoy this book. I know I did. I'll email you shortly to get your shipping information. You must've been crossing your fingers and pressing your thumbs. :) As for the rest of you, tune in Monday for an edition of Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice, which is just as good as winning a free book (the previous statement was not true at all, but let's all humor me and pretend it was).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to Win a Free Book

Elana Johnson has decided to "spread the awesome" and facilitate a book lovefest on her blog. If you click on the "recommended reads" link in her post today, it will take you to a list of all the bloggers participating and the books they'll be giving away!! Or just follow the path--At the bottom of Elana's post, she sends you to another post, at the bottom of that post they send you to another one, and so on, it's like a free book highway. There's like a hundred of them so your chances of winning a book in the coming week are amazingly high.

Just in case you need some extra luck try the following:

*Cross your fingers.
*Blow away lost eyelashes.
*While driving, hold your breath through tunnels (please don't pass out on long ones).
*Find some birthday candles to extinguish.
*Press your thumbs (I have no idea what this means, but our German foreign exchange student used to always tell us to do that for luck).

And for my part in the madness, may I recommend the debut author: Rachel Hawkins and her lovely book, "Hex Hall".

I've already reviewed the book on my blog, so click here if you want to know more about it. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and would love to give you a chance to win it! I'll make the rules simple: Leave a comment for one entry, become/be a follower for another entry. And even if you don't win it, you should read it, because it is awesome. I'll announce my winner on Friday.

And to continue on the "love highway" for another recommendation go see Valerie Kemp for a chance to win "Stolen" by Lucy Christopher.