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Real or Not Real?
There is something oddly satisfying about hunting for lists of books and seeing the same books come up time and time again. It makes me feel like I am actually finding the books I will need. The sad thing is that I know the issues I'm looking at come up a lot on the side and aren't tagged, which is frustrating. I guess this will be the first of what I'm sure will be twenty million where I ask my reader and writer friends to rack their minds for any level of mention of mental illness in YA SFF literature. It can be as simple as Raoul's alcoholism in Squire or Niko commenting on how the voices of madness are much more interesting to something more central like PTSD in Mockingjay.

Mar. 3rd, 2011

So apparently, there is this relatively,new show on ABC called Off the Map, which I had thought looked interesting when it first came on, but had never really watched. Last night, I had it on in the background for long enough that today I decided to watch the episode on Hulu.

So part of the plot line that I didn't get to preview last night was on Stem Cell Tourism. For those of you who aren't aware, I know a little more than the average person on the topic thanks to working with Dr. Levine.

So, here is the gist of the plot from last night. A random patient goes to South America to receive a stem cell treatment to treat his ALS. The port that was used for the injections in his treatments gets infected, and thus causes him to go to the clinic where the show is set to have it looked at. The family finds out about what is going on and begs him to stop. Eventually he realizes that he should accept his own death, and when the Stem Cell doctor arrives, he tells him where to go because all stem cell doctors in the third world are quacks.

Okay, honestly this depiction of Stem Cell Tourism makes me really mad. This is a topic that many people find intriguing, but most are honestly ignorant about the details. When a show on a major network, like ABC, by some of the biggest names in the production of the modern medical drama (these are the same people who create Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice) depict stem cell medicine in this manor most of their viewers will accept that this is how it is in the real world.

I'm not trying to say that there aren't clinics out there that exist only to prey on the  people who are willing to try for a cure at any cost, because there are. These places honestly, however, are typically found out and forced to bounce from country to country.

That, however, is actually the exception in stem cell treatments even in the developing world.

Most treatment facilities provide the complete package in a standard roughly the same as what would be expected of a non-major hospital in the United States. They are clean and professional, and many US trained doctors choose to practice overseas to avoid the red tape of legislation at home. There is no chance that the patient would be allowed to get that infected without a nurse alerting the doctors. The patients are watched closely for adverse effects from the treatments.

In fact, the very fact that the patient ended up at the random clinic makes me mad. The patients pay a fairly good amount of money to stay in the hospital and receive not only the stem cell treatments, but other therapies as well (which does make it hard to conclude whether or not the treatments are effective). Even in the cases where the people did not stay in the hospital proper, they were well observed following injections. It is unlikely that a person visiting a foreign country could get away from their entire family for the amounts of time needed for treatments.

(Most treatment facilities seem to provide the injections into the spinal column which requires laying completely still for several hours afterwards. This was not the method used in the show, however.)

Okay, I will admit that these shows need to have excitement, and there are clinics where the scenario from the show does more or less happen, but it really gets on my nerves the way this was portrayed as entirely negative. The people who get these treatments usually do so with the support of their families, and are desperate for a treatment that they cannot receive in the US. When people are taught via popular media that all this medicine is quack, they will be less likely to accept it when the research comes from IRB approved empirical studies in the Western world.

Is it really so hard to portray this in an even remotely positive light?

(Sorry, that this is epic and follows no real order)

Call for Stories

Our Stories, Our Lives is a collective blog that hopes to share the experience of mental health with the world. We are looking for individuals who want to contribute stories, art, poems, or any other creative medium about how mental illness has affected your life through a personal diagnosis or one to family or friends.

This collective blogging experience is set for full public launch in the beginning of May 2011, so the deadline to express interest in this project is April 1.

  • Please email your interest to
  • Include an idea of what experiences you want to share even if you have not completed a project yet.
  • Let us know if you want to post your work yourself or if you would like it posted anonymously.
Lucid Moments
So since I am completely incapable of concentrating on one thing at a time, while keeping up with the Tech-Miami game, working, and studying for my cogneuro exam, I started reading medical blogs. Very bad idea. Now I am probably three or four tasks behind in my studying (seriously, I'm scared I'm going to fail this exam becuase my brain wasn't working for a month), but further, I've started entertaining the idea of picking up the few requirements I still need, taking the mcat, and tring the med school route. This will pass. Eventhough I wanted to be a doctor for over 18 years, I know it will pass again. I realized that I liked studying medicine from the outside more than I wanted to actually be the doctor.  There are any number of reasons, but I think that is the most important. Tonight, however, a part of me has forgotten that. Its gone back to the 13 year old completely enthuasiatically signing up to be i the first class of students in a Medical science magnet high school.

This will pass.

Thankfully though it happened after registration otherwise I might have ended up having to get out of organic and physics II.

Plus, even if I had tried, there is no way a med school would accept me with my First/Second year grades. Its probably good that this will pass and I will go back to wanting to do Grad work in public health/medical sociollogy/programs that look alot like what I'm doing now but with more medicine and on a higher level. 

Who knows? There's always the possibility that I could decide in a few years that I've changed enough that I could make this work and retake those Cs to see where things go. I can always dream. Right?

Writer's Block: Ten for the Tenth

Lucid Moments
So I have serious writer's block today. Perhaps because yesterday's writing exercise was a five page paper on Memento. I could count that as today's as well, but I don't think I shall. Therefore,  I shall use today's lj writing prompt.

I often think of songs as where they could fall in the soundtrack of my life, but to try to come up with 10 favorites will be an interesting challenge. I'm fairly sure that my list would change if I was to write on this tomorrow, yet if I tried to create a different list tomorrow then my answers from today would cloud my judgement in writing that entry. Anyways these are a few of my favorite songs.

1. Christians and Pagans - Dar Williams
     Only pumpkin pies were burning. . .

2. Bad Day - R.E.M.
     A public service announcement followed me home the other day. . .

3. Everybody Hurts - R.E.M., but I am currently loving the Corr's cover
     When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on. . .

4. After All - Dar Williams
    Go ahead push your luck . . .

5. Heroes - Jill Souble
    My favorite poets took their own lives. . .

6. Joy to the World - Three Dog Night
     I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the war. . .

7. Paint it Black - Rolling Stones
    No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue. . .

8. La Vie Boheme A/B - RENT
    To going against the grain, going insane, going mad. . .

9.  I Think I'm Paranoid - Garbage
     Prop me up with another pill . . .

10. Little Razorblade - The Pink Spiders
       This lucid dream is not reality and it makes me so anxious. . .

Okay, this list might just how out there I am. Plus, the making of this list showed me that while I listen to music all the time and am conscious of the lyrics, I do not think about it enough. Anyways, here the list shall stand for today.

To the trolley driver

Lucid Moments
If at eight-oh-six, you must go, then leave
Lecture not scheduled till eleven.

Nov. 6th, 2008

Lucid Moments
So, as a good Tech student, or rather any college student trying to manage as much as I am, I will not be doing NaNoRiMo (sp?), but I am going to set a goal to update daily. There might even be more than one entry daily. A number of these may be private, but I hope some of these can be public. Anything other than a simple creative endevor to get my brain working will be screened before I change it to public, so I hope that I can avoid as many of my stupids as possible. I really am sorry that my brain sometimes fails. Anyways, if there is anything you want me to write about, post it, and comment like hell or anything you can see. Kay?

Virtual Tour Fun

Love Story

Before my brain starts bleeding from the fun that is over 250 flash cards on Cognitive Neuroscience, I thought I would bring to everyone my contribution to Mindy Klasky's virtual tour for Magic and The Modern Girl. The book should be in stores now. These are refined, enhanced, and spoiler-free versions of the questions that I submitted. I have read the book, and it is awesome. My response to the answer for question one is that sure it is the case that I just wanted to spend more time with the cast of characters of the Jane Madison series. This is my third time participating and a few of the questions seem to have built upon questions from previous years. What can I say - I tend to get stuck in mini-ruts. Anyways, in case anyone wants to read the past two years worth of questions they can be found here and here (that is if anyone actually reads this...). With that, this years q&a shall begin.

1. The ending seemed a little rushed. This may be just me, but I would have liked to have seen the last few scenes last a little longer (in terms of the writing - not the temporal sense of the book). Without spoiling people who care about being spoiled, was there any specific reason for all of that action to happen within so few pages?

I'm sorry that you were disappointed by the ending - I'd like to think that you just didn't want to close the pages on the last (for now!) Jane Madison book.  
The narrative pattern for MAGIC was essentially the same as for GIRL'S GUIDE and for SORCERY, with one minor exception.  GIRL'S GUIDE and SORCERY come to their respective climaxes, and then there is a single chapter of denouement.  MAGIC actually has two concluding chapters - one immediately after the action, and then a second one to tuck in various series loose ends.  Therefore, while the writing seemed rushed to you, the wrap-up was actually was spread out over more pages than in the prior volumes.

2. I realized after writing this, that this question is a sort of follow up to a question from last year. In Sorcery, there was a recurring image of the peacock. Early in Magic, Jane's computer monitor is described as peacock blue. This is simply a descriptive term (Right?). Peacock blue, however, has a number of different shades that it can refer to. Could you specify what color peacock blue is for you?
I picture a color that is a deep blue - approximately hex #003399.  It's interesting that you should ask about peacock blue.  In conjunction with the release of MAGIC, I'm auctioning off a necklace-and-earrings glass bead set that was designed by a prominent reference librarian who just happens to be a jewelry artist.  All proceeds from the auction will go to First Book, a charity with the mission of getting kids their first books to read and to own.  Peacocks are the theme of the amazing set (I just might bid on them myself!)  The auction will open October 1 and go through October 31 - details will be on my website -  

3. Does Jane ever get her highlights fixed?
Now, the answer to that question should be kept strictly between Jane, Neko, and Jacques!

4. Following the coffee/tea rut my questions have developed, have you ever tried Teavana's teas?
Alas, I haven't had the chance!  Let me know your favorite, so that I can try it when I seek them out!

5.  So, I'm currently in the process of trying to figure out what I want to do for grad school and as a result where I would like to go. Randomly enough I'm trying to decide between Public Health (okay, not exactly public policy, but its close enough to turn on the light bulbs in my head) and Library science. At least partially due to going to a school in the top 5% for grade depreciation (combined with the fact that I just spent the weekend before midterms sleeping and reading this book), there is no way I am going to be offered full scholarships to Harvard and Yale (are those the right schools? I don't have the book in front of me.). Now that I have written a tome, what would you tell someone considering going to library school?  Along those same lines, what was your experience like starting out within the world of library science?  A more interesting question might be what were Jane's first experiences like?
First, thank you for letting MAGIC be part of the determination process for your school choice :-)  (Ah, the number of nights I stayed up reading, far too late, when I should have been preparing for little things like the LSAT!)
Second, I don't know anything about Public Health schools, except for the fact that a close friend from law school teaches in the program at Johns Hopkins.  I can't give you any advice about which programs are strongest, which best combine your specific policy interests with general public health education, etc.
Third, I enjoyed library school, but it was very much a means to an end.  I attended Catholic University, which allowed me credit for two courses because I had a J.D.  Therefore, I only needed to take ten courses, which I chose to stack five in one semester, and five in the next.  (This was mostly do to the way tuition was calculated - I paid by the course for up to three courses; all others taken that semester were free.)  I found library school to be very interesting, in terms of specific coursework, the history of librarianship, learning unique reference resources, etc.  I didn't find it to be particularly intellectually rigorous, but it required a lot of time management skills to complete all of my courses on my expedited schedule.  Finally, there were numerous group projects, which I disliked, because I've always been something of an academic loner.  My overall advice:  Figure out what you want to do after library school, then construct a course schedule that will best prepare you for that practice.  Don't just drift into library school, assuming that you'll figure out what you want to be "when you grow up" at the end of the process.  (There isn't a lot of financial aid for library school; it's not the type of graduate program where students typically get "free rides" for all of their course work.  On the brighter side, employers generally don't care strongly where you got your degree (unlike, say, law firms, which care very much about where their associates went to law school.))
Fourth, as for Jane - *she* enjoyed the group projects far more than I did :-)  She wasn't transitioning careers, so it took her a bit longer to figure out what she wanted to do.  At first, she thought that she'd be a children's librarian - before she realized that she really didn't have the temperament (as demonstrated in MAGIC!)

6.  I have asked before about your progression of study and jobs. There has recently been a new twist as readers of your lj would know. Are you happy with all of the changes on the way? If you could go back and change anything, would you, and if yes, then what?
(For those who don't know, I recently left my full-time librarian management job for a national law firm, so that I can write full time.)  I am absolutely thrilled with my current job - I am able to correspond with readers, to create new book proposals, to editing existing manuscripts, and to draft new novels, giving more attention to each piece of the puzzle than I ever was able to do before.  I've made each career transition at what seemed to be the perfect time - I left lawyering to become a librarian just as I was set to begin the major push toward making partner (a "reward" that I found potentially substantially dissatisfying).  I left librarianing just as I developed a plethora of new writing ideas.  The only change that I would make would be to smooth the current economic environment - it's more than a little scary to be writing books in a world where every headline screams at people that they don't have the money to buy books or the time to step away from their frantic jobs to read them.

7.  I recently found a book that had been signed to a particular individual on the book swap rack at the library where I work. As an author, how would you feel if this was one of your books?
My initial reaction would be one of sadness, likely tinged with a bit of frustration ("I took the time to sign that book, and s/he didn't care enough to keep it?!?")  Realism would probably win out in the long run, though.  We all have numerous books and limited shelf space.  I give books to my local library all the time (but I keep the ones signed to me!)

8.  Did you know how everything was going to end when you started Magic or did the plot evolve along the way?
When I started the entire Jane Madison Series, I knew how some things would turn out (essentially, I knew what would happen in the last, last chapter of MAGIC.)  I didn't know, though, what would happen in all the other chapters of MAGIC until I started outlining that novel.  (I sell each of my novels to my publisher, based on a synopsis that is a few pages long.  After they accept the synopsis, I break the action down into a pretty specific outline, stating what will happen in each individual chapter of the book.  That outline lets me massage the pace of the story, work in the details of actions, etc.)

9.  What happens to the characters who aren't in the last, last chapter of MAGIC?
I have more Jane Madison ideas in my head, ways to continue Jane's story and the the stories of her friends, relatives, and other witchy denizens.  At the moment, I don't have any other Jane Madison novels under contract, but if MAGIC sells well enough, and if enough people let my publishers know they care....  ::grin::

10.  How would Jane describe the perfect mojito for mojito therapy?
It's icy cold, served in a tall glass, and very, very, very lime-y.  (Jane prefers her mojitos with about twice the amount of lime juice as is typical for the cocktail!)  This autumn, I am preparing a Recipe Calendar, featuring some of the key recipes from Cake Walk, including mojitos.  (I am contributing recipes for Almond Lust and Lust After Dark; other prominent urban fantasy, science fiction, and mystery authors are contributing their favorite recipes.)  All proceeds from the calendar will go to First Book.  Check my website for details - I hope to have them up very soon!

11.  Do you have The Tempest memorized, or did you have to look up the Shakespeare? Also, why the Tempest in particular?
Prospero, the magician in THE TEMPEST, is famous for his library of magical books - he seemed to be a logical Shakespearean link to Jane.  Also, Miranda in that play discovers a broad new world when she moves beyond her father's familial protection and into the world of romance and intrigue.  While I don't have the play memorized, I've read it a few times before, and I've seen two staged productions.  (Generally, I like parts of the play, but it has some strange interludes where Shakespeare worked hard to show the exoticness of island life - interludes that I think harm the general storytelling.)  I rely on electronic versions of all of Shakespeare's plays to double-check the quotations that Jane and Melissa exchange.

12.  . I'll probably think of something else latter, but this will serve I think. You said you like to end on this note, so to quote Jed Bartlett, "What's next?"
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  Oh.  Wait.  You weren't asking about what's next for Josh Lyman.
I have already turned in the first volume of a new series, the As You Wish Series.  THERE'S THE RUB will be published by Mira, appearing in October 2009.  It's the story of a stage manager who discovers a magic lantern that contains a wish-granting genie.  Alas, her wishes don't quite go as she thinks they will...

Now that you have read the questions and responses, you should go buy the book. It is out as of today.

Note: After I have regained my senses (aka once I get through with the two exams I have today, all text except q&a is subject to change).

Virtual Tour

Writing a note
So, I am going to take a short departure from the usual entries of my journal to discuss a new book. mindyklasky has a new book out, technically today. It is titled Sorcery and the Single Girl; I found this book in the store last week and already read it. It is awesome and was the first book in a long time that I have read without putting it down. It will certainly make you wish that you lived the fabulas magical life of the heroine, now on to the main part of the entry. Starting with her last book, Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, the author has hosted a virtual tour. Here is my minor contribution to this tour.

1.  The levels of detail you put into both Girl's Guide and Sorcery. The part of me that painted my nails galactic grape wants to know if code red nail polish is a real color? If so, how much research do you put into these books and how does this compare to the research process for the Glasswright's Series and Season of Sacrifice?
Code Red is, in fact, a real color; I browsed online for quite some time to find a name that matched the warning signal that Jane seemed to be sending :-)  I do a lot of spot research as I'm writing the Glasswright books, seeking out specific names of products, or recipes, or menus.  For the Glasswrights series, on the other hand, I did a lot of up-front research, learning about medieval stained glass technique.  I could have written the Glasswrights series on a stand-alone computer, but I need Internet connectivity to write the Witchcraft books (or else, I leave a lot of blanks along the way!)

2. (Alright, I had some issues wording this one to prevent spoilers for others, as I have no fear of them - Due to finals, I wikipediaed the plot to Deathly Hallows- Opps?  I THINK THAT YOU AVOID SPOILAGE HERE - I'LL GO AHEAD AND ANSWER!  :-) ) So, there is a reoccuring image of the male peafowl in the novel. While many may have overlooked some of the earlier occurances of this bird, I tend to key in on its presence as they have been my favorites for as long as I can remember. While some people buy wolves or dragons, I collect peafowl; this laptop I am typing on is peacock-blue (and I didn't know that when I bought it). Okay, long life story latter, why the male peafowl?
The peacock imagery grew as I wrote the novel - originally, I had a single reference to peacock blue ink (a color used by my fourth-grade piano teacher!)  Later, I found myself folding in other references to the tone of the bird's cry, and then to a specific painting that actually hangs in the National Gallery of Art.  I realized that there were thematic links to be drawn.  When I started researching the meaning of peafowl in other cultures, I knew that my image was going to stay - and then I went back and strengthened a couple of the earlier references, eith more details.

3. Every time I have read either Girl's Guide or Sorcery it makes me want to pack up my bags and visit DC (or go to grad school there). If I were to make a visit there, what are things that I must do, and what is overrated?
I am a huge fan of the National Gallery of Art - especially the permanent collections in the West Wing.  I also love the entire walk along the National Mall - all of those monumental buildings, cheek by jowl.  The one museum, though, that I really don't appreciate (and I know I'm in the minority!) is the Air and Space Museum.  It's the most visited museum in America, but I send my visitors on their own, these days....

4. I tried to avoid asking about caffienated beverages, but they play such an integral role in the novels. That is definiently not a bad thing. I have snuck a 10 cup coffee pot into the library, so I could have good coffee during the middle of the night. What I would like to see however, is more about Jane's tea habits.The term tea can stand for so many different yummy drinks. Last year, you told me that your mundane caffiene consumption came from tea. Did this characteristic of Jane's personality loosely come from your own habits? And what are you currently drinking (I am allways collecting teas to choose from)?
Jane drinks many flavors that I enjoy - her apricot oolong is a favorite that I once got to enjoy at the Four Seasons (as I was sampling their afternoon tea, to write a scene in GIRL'S GUIDE.)  These days, I'm drinking a lot of Republic of Tea teas.  I'm partial to their Blackberry Sage and Ginger Peach.  (I also love a good lemon-flavored black tea, but they're surprisingly rare among the upscale teas out there.)  The one tea that I dislike strongly is almond - either an herbal or a black tea blend.  The flavor is just too strong for me!

5. (Because I always love these) What question that hasn't been asked do you feel like answering and what is the answer?
I like to round out interviews with "what's next?"  I have already drafted the third Witchcraft book (MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL - in stores October 2008!)  Next month, I'll start writing an entirely new series about a stage manager who discovers a magic lantern when she's cleaning out the prop closet.  She has no way of predicting the strange show in her future, when a genie grants her wishes!