Word Association

Clearly, I’ve been a bit AWOL– swept up in a few real-life issues and neglecting my poor little blog.

I’ve been singing all day about buying a Corolla. I have no actual intention of doing so. And, no, it’s not a jingle.

In the words of Adrian Monk, here’s what happened:

A couple of weeks ago, my family met at a restaurant to celebrate my mother’s birthday. A Mexicanesque place called “Uncle Julio’s”

Which led to a discussion between my mother’s first cousin and my own first cousin. My mother’s cousin had “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” stuck in her head, due to the restaurant name. My cousin, being a young thing, had never heard of the song.

Turns out, neither had my husband.

The conversation went on long enough that on our way home, my husband demanded I sing the song for him. He loves it. And ever since, he’s been asking me to sing it, he’s been humming it often, trying to sing it himself.

Here’s the problem with that… he doesn’t remember the words.

Unstymied, he makes up his own as he goes along.

Which is why, as the song lodges itself in my noggin, instead of
“Goodbye to Ro-o-o-o-osie-e-e, the Queen of Corona,”
I’m finding myself singing,
“Going to buy me-e-e-e-e-e, a brand-new Corolla.”

I love my goofy husband. null


If You Believe in Love…

“I don’t know if you believe in Christmas…
Or if you have presents underneath a Christmas tree.
But if you believe in love,
That will be more than enough
For you to come and celebrate with me.”

~ Kermit the Frog, “The Christmas Wish”

Happy Holidays, everyone!

This one time… at band camp…

Okay, I never actually went to band camp.

But I was in a band.

No, not that sort of band. A supercool 80’s rock band, circa 1987.

Of course, we had no musical training whatsoever, unless you count forcing my 7-year-old cousin to show me what she’d learned in piano lessons for the previous 2 years. One of us was slightly tone deaf. And we had no instruments, save my beloved casio keyboard/calculator (about 12 inches long):


We were thirteen years old…
One blonde, one brunette, AND one redhead…
who had watched Dirty Dancing at least 100 times and memorized all the dance moves.


We had an original song– music and lyrics composed by yours truly.

I KNOW! How could we not have made it?

Perhaps it was because we only performed in my best friend’s basement. Alone. Or maybe it was because we never quite hit on the right combination of jelly bracelets and legwarmers. I’m afraid the world may never know.

Sadly, (or perhaps not-so-sadly) I don’t have the capacity to add the original tune to my wordpress blog. However, you may rest assured that Mr. Kiddoc feels it was perfectly representative of the time period and could have been a HUGE hit in 1987.

So I present for your amusement,

It’s a Fantasy

It’s a fantasy
That I dream each night
I envision you
Holding me tight.
If you’d take a chance
Like I wish you’d do
Then my fantasy
Could be coming true (It’s coming true!)


It’s a fantasy
It’s my hopes and dreams
You’re the one for me
This I know
Tonight I’ll wish upon a star
And wherever you are
I hope you feel my love
for you forever

Cuz in my fantasy
We are lovers, you and I
And you say that we’ll
Be together ’til we die
You will notice me
On that magic day
And you’ll say to me
Those three words I wish you’d say.

(Repeat chorus)

It’s a fantasy
It’s a fantasy
It’s a fantasy*

(* the last one should be whispered for dramatic effect, natch.)

So… now for the audience participation:

Guess the NAME of my band. Alternative names may be suggested in the comments. 😉

Two Minutes of Your Time–

I decided that the original mock-up trailer I made was a bit too long.  So, I’ve edited to just under the 2:30-minute mark. 

The Long Long Trailer– Fun with Mock-Up Novel Trailer for The Edge of Memory

So, everybody (and their brother) makes book trailers these days.  Or so it seems.

I’ve greatly enjoyed watching them, but had no plans of making one myself.  After all, I am seeking representation… not published yet.  And I wanted to use the song with the lyrics snippet that inspired me with the idea in the first place, but I don’t have rights to it.

Once I discovered Windows Movie Maker was already installed on my laptop, I decided to make a quick mock-up… just to test it out and I loaded it into youtube so I could show it to a few friends, but was hesitant to post it here.

As an aspiring novelist, I have deep respect for intellectual property rights.

But today, I noticed a little marker on my youtube file… the music I used (Half-Acre by Hem) has been claimed by its copyright holder and they do not object to it’s use on youtube.  Score!

So, here’s my mock-up trailer.  Eventually, if I’m marketing impending publication, I have some fabulous photographer friends I intend to hire to take some pictures for a new version.  The ones I’ve used for the mock-up are mostly public domain pics and a few of my own.

In Deep Smit– 09/12/08


I am getting these Deep Smit posts out later and later. Work has just been beyond busy lately, as I’ve been working more than usual to accommodate some of my staff’s schedule requests. But the upside of that is that once I leave here tomorrow, I don’t have to work another overnight shift for more than a week!

Time off rocks, of course, but that’s not what I’m in Deep Smit with this week.

I’m in Deep Smit with my husband, affectionately known online as “Mr. Kiddoc” since “Kiddoc” is my usual online username. This is not to say that I don’t usually love my husband… of course I do. But every once in a while something happens that endears the one you love to you all over again.

Mr. Kiddoc loves the FreeCreditReport.com commercials. All of them. The commercial starts and I watch his head start to bob, which is usually followed by approximately 30 minutes of him humming the jingle under (and over) his breath.

But that’s not why I’m in Deep Smit with Mr. Kiddoc, either.

I am deeply smitten with my husband’s concern for the FreeCreditReport.com guy’s “Dream Girl”.

If you haven’t seen the commercial

Mr. Kiddoc’s thoughts:

If she’s his dream girl, why can’t he get past whatever happened with her credit? I mean, she’s not lazy or anything… look… she’s doing the laundry while he’s standing around playing the guitar. That’s just not right.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Sorry, folks, he’s off the market. Photobucket

Back on the Chain Gang: What’s the Big Idea?

null My turn again for the Blog Chain posting! null

Today’s topic was started by the lovely Elana Johnson on Mindless Musings. The question before the group is “How do you get your ideas?”

I, for one, am big into “What if?”.

The inspiration for The Edge of Memory started out in a random way. It began as a tv commercial for an insurance company. I don’t watch much TV, although my husband often has it on while I’m doing other things, but the music from this commercial stuck with me so strongly that I googled it. The song turned out to be “Half-Acre” by a band called Hem.

The song is about your home being a touchstone, but the part of the lyrics that got wedged into my imagination was:

I am holding half an acre

Torn from a map of Michigan

And folded in this scrap of paper

Is the land I grew up in.

Half an acre is not very big– my yard and the yard next door. So I began thinking how a small piece of a detailed map would be practically meaningless out of context. And that led to conceptualizing a person who would need to find this out-of-context place. Why would that place be important to the character? And if it was so important, why wouldn’t she know about it already or remember it? null

To have a true attachment to the place, I felt like the character needed to have lived there for a good chunk of time. Of course, the longer she’d lived there, the stronger the connection, but also the less likely she wouldn’t already know about it. So then I had to reason why she wouldn’t remember a place where she’d lived. Using my medical background regarding plausible explanations for memory loss, I knew that I would have to give her a pretty traumatic background. That raised questions: Is it better or worse to remember something traumatic? Does the truth really “set you free”?

As a hospitalist pediatrician (an inpatient specialist), I see the sickest of sick kids. And many of the most striking cases I’ve handled have been for victims of abuse. I see patients who get very sick or die from brain, heart, or lung problems, from cancers, from serious infections. Every bad outcome is tragic in pediatrics, but the difference is that in cases of abuse the problem is purposely inflicted. And unlike the other sick patients who usually have a loving entourage of family and friends at the bedside, the victims of abuse are often alone. null

And of course, the effects of child abuse don’t stop once physical wounds are healed. They can suffer from prolonged psychological problems: depression, fear of intimacy, anger problems, substance abuse, eating disorders, and hosts of others. The future can seem grim for child abuse survivors, but I like to believe they can find their way to peace and happiness eventually.

So I resolved to write a story of survival and triumph. And entertain the snot out of the reader along the way, natch. null

Short answer… Overanalyzing song lyrics allowed me to tap into my medical experience and my mushy hopes for child abuse survivors. Then I made my story as interesting as I could. 😉

Okay Bloggy Peeps, I’m out. The Next Big Idea is over on Mary Lindsey’s site. Write on! null

Everything I Needed To Know About Publishing I Learned From Willy Wonka

Well, that title is a bit misleading… I’m new to writing and publishing and don’t know “everything I need to know” by a long stretch.

The inspiration for this blog post came when a quote from Willy Wonka popped into my head and seemed to fit my quest for publication.

“There’s a hundred billion people in this world, and only five of them will find golden tickets [representation as a debut author]. Even if you had a sack full of money, you probably wouldn’t find one. And after this contest [process] is over, you’ll be no different from the billions of others who didn’t find one.”

“But I am different. I want it more than any of them.”

The more I recalled from that film, the more appropriate it seemed. So, here’s what I’ve learned about publishing from Willy Wonka:

  1. You should never, ever doubt what nobody is sure of. If there’s one refrain everyone and their brother is singing, it’s that publishing is subjective. Rejections are expected, even for eventual best-sellers. A particular genre or topic or plot device may be unanimously declared cliché, or overdone, and yet opinions can change in a split-second based on fresh execution. So, all you can hope to do is keep writing what you love, and hoping someone else comes along who loves it as much as you do.
  2. Rude demands and entitlement issues will send you down the garbage chute. There have been a lot of posts about this recently on agent/industry blogs. From moonrat’s unproductive lunch, to odd or hostile letters sent to Jennifer Jackson, Colleen Lindsay, Jonathan Lyons and even intern Jodi Meadows… the one clear fact is that these author reactions did not help them get published. Take home point? Be a good egg.
  3. In here, all of my dreams become realities, and some of my realities become dreams. I am often surprised at how often control becomes a fundamental point of focus. Part of what I enjoy about writing– the reason I find it therapeutic– is that I finally have complete control over something. My characters, their world, and what happens to them depends entirely on what I decide. That is a heady feeling. Interestingly enough, once the writing is finished the next step (if publishing is the goal) means putting yourself in a situation where you have very little control. I think that’s why so many authors get frustrated riding the query-go-round and alternately cling to rules and/or declare them arbitrary and unreasonable.
  4. There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Opening yourself to other people is the only way to share something wonderful you’ve created. It also means they might disrespect or destroy it. Be ready to filter your chocolate river.
  5. A little boy’s got to have something in this world to hope for. I struggle with this one a bit personally. I realize rejections are expected. I know thick skin is a publishing industry prerequisite. I know I haven’t queried remotely enough to make any assumptions about my chances to be published, but reading the odds can be pretty discouraging. But stories are meant to be shared, so I’ll keep a healthy dose of optimism on hand.
  6. Don’t let a golden ticket make the chocolate taste terrible. As much as any aspiring author wants to be recognized and published, the publishing process should not be allowed to spoil the experience of writing. It’s easy to get swept into the madness of query letters, synopses, and pitchcraft. And I’ve spent my fair share of time agonizing over query blurb wording (many can testify to that), but it is important, I think, to remember why we started writing in the first place.

Kate on ktliterary posted a while back about Josie Bloss’s plans for a tattoo to celebrate the release of her novel Band Geek Love, and asked what other aspiring authors would do to celebrate publication. I think I might sing “Golden Ticket” at the top of my lungs:

I never thought my life could be

Anything but catastrophe

But suddenly I begin to see

A bit of good luck for me.

Cuz I’ve got a golden ticket

I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye.

I never had a chance to shine

Never a happy song to sing

But suddenly half the world is mine

what an amazing thing!

Cuz I’ve got a golden ticket

I’ve got a golden chance to make my way

And with a golden ticket

It’s a golden day.

ETA: I’ve added a couple more points to this list. Part II is here.

This is What Happens When I’m Not Busy With Editing…

Since I first started writing The Edge of Memory in October, I have spent virtually every minute I’m alone in the car working on it in my head. I commute 75 minutes each way. So that’s a lot of time.

But I think I’m really done now with editing, until/unless an agent or editor has suggestions for further changes. And the plot details of my next project are still percolating.

I finished a 26-hour shift this morning, and then hit the car for the long ride home. This is the result.

So, with fair warning that the following post will be full out ridiculous, proceed at your own risk…

New from Imaginary Label, a division of Totally Bogus Records, I present the novelist’s soundtrack:

  1. Every Day I Write the Book (Elvis Costello)
  2. Language (Suzanne Vega)
  3. All I Ever Wanted (Depeche Mode)
  4. Paperback Writer (The Beatles)
  5. The Book of Love (The Monotones)
  6. Grease is the Word (Grease Soundtrack)
  7. I Promise You I Will (Depeche Mode)
  8. More Than Words (Extreme)
  9. Open Book (Cake)
  10. The Word (The Beatles)
  11. Words (The BeeGees)
  12. The Story (Brandi Carlisle)
  13. Bookends (Simon & Garfunkel)
  14. I Could Write a Book (Tony Bennett)
  15. The End (The Doors)

And, if you order now, you’ll receive our special Agents Who Blog companion soundtrack, featuring…

For the powerful ladies of BookEndsAin’t Nuthin’ But a She-Thing (Salt-n-Pepa)

For Nathan Bransford, the only acceptable rhetorical questionsBlowin’ In the Wind (Bob Dylan)

For the folks at Folio, embracing the tidal turn towards electronic books and readersThe Electric Slide (Marcia Griffiths)

For desperately query-guideline clarifying Jennifer JacksonAll I Really Want (Alanis Morrissette)

Sadly, the song “Stompy Boots of Doom” has yet to be recorded, so for Colleen LindsayThese Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra)

For Jonathan LyonsThe Guitar (They Might Be Giants) “Hush my darling, be still my darling, the Lion’s on the phone…”

For Ipod-addicted Kristin NelsonPut Your Records On (Corinne Bailey Rae)

For Query Shark Janet ReidManeater (Hall & Oates)

So, gang… what else should we put on this imaginary soundtrack?

A Random Sort of Posting…

I do most of my creative thinking in my car when I’m commuting.  The rest of my life is just packed with too many distractions.

Lately, having plateaued on edits for The Edge of Memory, and patiently waiting for partials to be reviewed, I’ve been spending time thinking about my next novel, which will be more firmly in the “Suspense” category.  I’m very excited about the idea, and I love thinking it over, figuring out the plot details.

But not today.  Today, my mind was cluttered with a variety of oddities.

Like, remember this?

It occurred to me that I should add in a parody for “Somewhere” (There’s a Place for Us).  Obviously, this would be titled, “There’s a Plan for Us.”

Usually, I’d have drummed up the lyrics on the spot, but I was distracted.  By the no-less-than eleven stuffed Garfields displayed in the rear window of the car ahead of me.  Two of them were of the window-cling variety.  Some were quite old-looking.  I increased my speed slightly to pass the car, fully expecting to see an older cat-lady type driving.

Hmmm… chain-smoking young man.  Did he borrow this car?  Was he demonstrating his softer side?  Attempting to woo a Garfield-lover?  Or does he simply love Garfields and I should learn to accept him for who he is?

I’d like to believe the last one is the truth.

And finally, I kept coming back to the realization that Obama finally did it. 

This makes me happy.  I’d like to shout “Yes We CAN!” but, as a pediatrician, that just makes me think of Bob the Builder.

Every Car Has Its Life-Threatening Defect

So, virtually every car has some sort of glitch.  Our old minivan had a transmission that was prone to crapping out without warning.

And my luck dictates that if a glitch is possible, it is probable.

So, recently I was driving home from work in my dream car.  The weather was fabulous, and, inhibitions removed by lack of sleep for 24+ hours, I was rocking out loudly to the Indigo Girls as I sat at a stoplight.

A car pulled up next to me.  I sensed the driver’s intense stare.  “So what?” I figured.  “Let him enjoy my impromptu sing-a-long session.”

From the corner of my eye, I see him waving to me.  Is he about to compliment my singing?  Ask me to shut up?  Tell me to get a life?  I’m 34 years old; it’s been a long time since a stranger chatted me up at a stoplight.  Finally, he will not be ignored.

“Excuse me,” he shouts over my radio.

I hit the mute button.  I get it now.  He needs directions.  There is something in my face that suggests I know how to find places. “Yes?”

“Did you know that your brake lights are out?”


“Yeah… both brake lights are out.  Only the one in your window is working.”

“Oh… thanks for telling me.”

Heading straight to the shop, I call my husband to tell him I’ll be late coming home.  He is skeptical.  “That’s weird that they would both be out.  You don’t even know for sure… it’s just some random guy.  If they really are out, you’ve probably blown a fuse.”

“Well, I’m still going to get them checked.  I’m due for an oil change anyway.” I hang up and drive with exaggerated stopping time.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, Internet Boy is researching brakelight problems for 2006 sonatas.

At the shop I ask them to check the brakelights.  They tell me the lights are working fine.

As I prepare to leave, I decide to check them myself.  After all, why would a random dude stop me otherwise?

Although the taillights come on, they DON’T light when you step on the brake.  I call the mechanics out to look.

The mechanics suspect an electrical problem, but they agree to try replacing the bulbs.

Et Voila!  All fixed. 

Internet Boy calls in with the news that 2006 Sonata original brakelights tend to burn out oddly.

So, potentially dangerous defect now repaired.  Total cost to me?  $5.86 for the bulbs.  Installing them was free with my oil change.

I seriously love my car.

Oh… and if you have an ’06 Sonata, you might want to replace your brakelight bulbs. 😉

John Denver and I Made Up Today…

Remember this?

Today, for the first time in a month, Sunshine on My Shoulders came up on my random mp3 disk.  But today was a gorgeous day.

So John and I are officially back together. 

Wearing my $5, non-prescription sunglasses in the springtime sunshine, letting my eyes caress the hollow of each individual leaf shimmying in the wind on the distant trees, I had that “new glasses” feeling.

My myopic readers will know what I mean… that moment when you walk out of the optometrist’s office with brand-spankin’ new lenses on your face and realize, “Oh, yeah… this is what the world is supposed to look like.”  Everything looks brighter and more intricate than you remembered.

Except I now get this feeling with naked eyeballs.

Thank you, LASIK.  

Six months later, and you still seriously rock.  

Brain the Size of a Planet and Still Dumb

Ms. Brain-the-Size-of-a-Planet was one of my ex-boyfriend’s nicknames for me (Douglas Adams fan, natch). There is ample subjective and objective evidence to suggest that I am a smart person. And yet…

I have a lovely mp3 mix that I listen to in my car. A playlist of ~200 songs that I listened to while writing The Edge of Memory. In short, songs that I have listened to approximately 116,000 times, give or take a thou.

About once or twice a month for the last 4 -5 months, I have the following internal conversation with myself in the car:

Huh… I never noticed the back melody in this song before… *tilts head to listen closer*... It’s an odd rhythm, really… *wrinkles nose*... I don’t think I like it. It really doesn’t fit with the rest of the tune… *shrugs* Huh… I don’t hear it anymore… *slaps forehead*… Crap, that was my cell phone, wasn’t it?

I have rationalizations of course. I hardly use my cell phone. When folks need to reach me, they usually page. My pager is on 24/7, and I can pick that sound out of any din, even when deeply asleep.

But still… you’d think I’d have figured it out by now, wouldn’t you?

Bite Me, John Denver.

John Denver is messing with me.

Or maybe the Universe is just laughing behind my back.

Let me preface this blog post by saying that I love my car. When my husband asked me what my dream car was last year, I told him an ’06 Hyundai Sonata. He said, “you’re kidding.” And I got my dream car.

My car has an MP3 player, which I also love. And so I have mega-mix MP3 disks with me at all times, on random. Over the last month or so, the weather in Chicagoland has been… how shall I say… craptastic.

The only nice days so far have been the ones where I’ve been lucky enough to work a 24-hour shift.

And recently, when the weather is at its most icky– such as just before the blizzard on Good Friday, or at 5 am this morning when I left for work in the cold drizzling gray– my MP3 player keeps picking “Sunshine on My Shoulders”.

“If I had a day that I could give you,

I’d give to you a day just like today.”

I just bet you would. Sadist.

I don’t need “Sunshine All The While”.

But a day or two would be great.

Musical Musings

Someone today mentioned great “Dance Movies”, one of which was West Side Story. This reminded me of an inspiration I had for a silly project back in medical school…

A parody of West Side Story, about rival insurance companies. The sweet young couple love each other dearly, but cannot wed as their preexisting conditions prevent them from adding themselves to the other’s policy.

I thought one “gang” should be the Mets, but I never came up with a good Shark-analog. Still, I composed these parody snippets:

When you’re a Met,

You’re a Met all the way

From your first check that clears

to the last time you pay…


I feel sickly. Oh, so sickly!

I feel crummy and bummy and dead

And so sickly, I just want sit and hold my head.

I feel awful, oh so awful

It’s unlawful how awful I feel

And so sickly that I hardly can believe I’ll heal

See the sickly girl in that mirror there?

Who can that repulsive girl be?

Such a pale face! Such a fuzzy tongue! And such puffy eyes!

What a sickly me!

I feel icky and disgusting

Like my ‘pendix could bust… there it goes!

And my doctor has me paying through my runny nose.

And a friend of mine actually won tickets to see West Side Story while I was in medical school, so I told him about this idea and we whipped up this one that night (this is mostly my friend’s):

I’m an MD in America

Come and see me in America

I’ll make you healthy in America

For a small fee in America

If you are ill in America

I’ll give you a pill in America

Or some Ny-Quil in America

And send you a bill in America!

So, big broadway smash, right?