Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Years Later PSA

This is a post that I do every year, because it is something that is, for obvious reasons, very important to me to educate and inform people about. Since posting about my experience with an ectopic pregnancy and talking about it, I have had three women who told me that knowing the symptoms was what got them to the hospital in time. Please read it. Please tell other women about it.

First and foremost, I'm glad I'm not dead.

Seriously. I'm really, really glad I'm not dead. That would have sucked. And, thanks to the fact that I recognized warning symptoms and had some emergency surgery four years ago today, I get to be alive to appreciate being alive. I'm a big fan.

So in honor of my not-dying anniversary, I'm doing a PSA about ectopic pregnancy. Even if you never plan on having children, these are important symptoms to know because you could very well save the life of someone you love. Or your own. (Unless you are a guy, in which case your risk of ectopic pregnancy = non-existent. Still, you like women, right?)

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. This is a bad thing. Usually the egg implants in the fallopian tube; occasionally it implants other places. 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic. That's 1 in 50. Certain factors increase your risks--tubal scarring, abdominal surgery, endometriosis, fertility treatments, IUDs--but it can happen to anyone. I had no real risk factors.

An even scarier statistic than the one-in-fifty? Ectopic pregnancies are the number one cause of pregnancy-related death. Part of the problem is that many women with ectopic pregnancies don't even know they're pregnant. Because your body doesn't produce as many hormones, you might continue having periods like normal, ignore the sudden pain, go to bed because you're feeling tired and dizzy, and never wake up.

I know that sounds terrible and scary. It is. It happens. So even if you don't think you're pregnant, or if you think you are just having a standard miscarriage (which was what I thought), always, ALWAYS call the doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain on one side of your lower abdomen. When you press down on it, it will be a stabbing pain that you will feel reflected in the other side, but one side will be more tender. Once your tube actually bursts the pain will lessen considerably--DO NOT IGNORE THAT. All it means is that you are now bleeding internally.
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded when you aren't lying down. This would be because of the internal bleeding. Also, difficulty and discomfort breathing.
  • And finally, the key symptom: when you lie down, you have a sharp, stabbing pain in your shoulder. This is called referred pain, and is caused by the blood filling up your abdomen and pushing on your lungs. (This is also a symptom of a burst appendix and often happens after abdominal surgery, in case you were interested.) If you EVER have abdominal pain that is reflected in your shoulder when you lie down, go to the hospital immediately. And have someone else drive you.
Like I said, you may not think you are pregnant, but if there is any chance whatsoever you could be and you have these symptoms, have someone drive you to the hospital immediately or call 911. If I had ignored my symptoms and let my husband go to work that day, I probably would have fallen asleep on the couch and never woken up again. I was in surgery within two or three hours of the pain starting, and at that point I had lost so much blood I nearly needed a transfusion.

But, because I am obsessive and had researched every pregnancy-related topic under the sun, I knew something was wrong. And I'm not dead. And that's a good thing.

Here's hoping you never have to recognize the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. But now you can, and that's the important thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Keeper of the Lost Cities + Giveaway

I have an adorable friend. Her name is Shannon Messenger. Rewind two years back when I'd do local signings, and Shannon came. To all of them. Some of them had a lot of people. Some of them were at random times and had...like three. One of whom was always Shannon. We got to be friends, then she got a book deal, and then another book deal.

Shannon is the GIANT in the middle between the lovely Becca Fitzpatrick and some random super short girl. Shannon's so tall, guys. Like, almost halfway between five and six feet!

I'll admit it: when Shannon sold her books, I was pretty scared.

Because I really, really liked Shannon. And it's AWFUL when you really like someone but don't care for their books. And even worse when they've been so supportive of your books and you regularly meet up for lunch, etc etc.

GOOD NEWS: HER BOOKS ARE AWESOME.

This was a huge relief for me, and is nothing but exciting for you. I've already read her YA, LET THE SKY FALL, which will be out March of next year. (Yummy yummy, put it on your list.) I'm currently reading her middle grade novel, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, which is super fun and a great read for the younger set. (Think first Harry Potter book as far as reading level.) (Shannon, you are never getting away from Harry. Sorry. Every middle grade writer has the specter of Harry looming over them, just as every YA writer has to smile and nod that yes, their book is sort of like Twilight, in that it is a book that has characters who are teens.) (Though Shannon's book has the same fantastically written alternate world-within-our-own that is the best kind of adventure escapism as HP.)

Sophie is just like Harry! Only blond. And a girl. And not a wizard or witch. And actually not very much like Harry at all, but other than that: JUST LIKE HARRY!


If you live in Southern California, Shannon will be signing on Tuesday, October 2nd, 6:30 PM at the Oceanside Barnes and Noble. She is SO CUTE. So so so cute. Come and meet her and get a book signed.

If you don't live in Southern California, the good news is that I do! And I'll get a book signed and personalized for you. If you love fun adventures, get it for yourself! If you have an awesome tween on your Christmas list, get it for them! And read it first before wrapping it. I always do that. (I mean, umm, siblings who always get books for birthdays and Christmas, I never do that.)

To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite book that is JUST LIKE Harry Potter or Twilight (in other words, a book that is written for tween or teen readers but doesn't necessarily have anything else in common with HP or Twilight).

Rules: US residents only. (Sorry.) Must enter by leaving a comment by 12:00 PM Pacific, Monday, October 1st. Only one entry per person (though tweeting and blogging about the contest is always good karma for the Deities of Random Drawings).

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Biggie

"Huzzah! I have written the book I was supposed to write! I will set it aside for a couple of months to let it stew so I can put my finger on what, precisely, is off about it. Doubtless it will be an easy fix! No biggie!"

Two months later:

"I figured out what was off about it! It was the entire plot of one of the dual POV's! I will change that but keep the other one, and it will be a less-than-easy fix, but no biggie!"

One month later, aka last night, aka three weeks before deadline:

"Oh, just kidding! Actually turns out I wrote ENTIRELY the wrong book, start-to-finish, and need to just go ahead and write A WHOLE NEW BOOK. No biggie! NO BIGGIE! HA HA HA WHATEVER NO BIGGIE AT ALL NO BIGGIE NO BIGGIE NO BIGGIE."

If the highest praise you can give a book is that nothing is wrong with it, everything is wrong with it. I refuse to turn in a mediocre book when I know I can do better.

I just wish the whole doing better thing came, you know, THREE MONTHS AGO.

Monday, September 10, 2012

In Which I Calm Down

As I've been going through the archives of my blog (holy CRAP woman, WHY DID YOU BLOG SO MUCH??) and reverting many, many hundreds of posts to draft so they are no longer accessible, I found this one that I wrote a year ago and then never posted. But it feels pretty true, still. It's a constant balancing act, and the blog is not what it used to be, nor will it ever be that again. I've spent the last week rewriting the history of what the blog was, or at least heavily editing it.

The fact of people NOTICING you and appropriating aspects of yourself into their own lives is not a downside to being published. It's merely a side, neither up nor down, and it's something that has to be adjusted to, and the ways in which I adjust to it constantly shift and change. So, take the following post as you will, and know that I adore you for caring about me and my writing, regardless of how much of myself I put out there.

***

Guys, I hate to admit it, but I think I've mellowed out.

Finally.

There was a time not so long ago when I freaked out over everything. Melissa Marr started following me on twitter and I about had a fit. Neil Gaiman started following me and I kid you not I could not sleep at all that night I was so crazy with adrenaline. A good review was the BEST THING EVER. A bad review had me freaking out that no one was going to like my books.

I wanted to be friends with EVERYONE. Established authors, new authors, everyone everyone everyone in the business. And not just friendly acquaintances, but, like, BOSOM BUDDIES or kindred spirits a la Anne Shirley. I wanted to be important in their lives.

I wanted everyone in the world to read my blog, and I wanted to dazzle them with how charming and fun and cute and perky I was. I wanted everyone to like me.

It gets a bit exhausting after a while, you know? More people started reading what I wrote, paying attention to what I said. Rather than thrilling, it led to several OH CRAP moments. People misinterpreted me. They created strange expectations that, when I failed to meet them, meant I hated them or was cold or mean or snobbish or crazy (which, the last one is fair). Or they created huge expectations that I was an infinite ray of sunshine and heaven forbid they find out I'm actually kind of cranky and moody and not actually all that perky all the time.

(My default mode is slug, after all.)

Everything felt huge and important. If I didn't post some glittering piece of cleverness on my blog that day, my books would never sell! If I didn't go out of my way to try and be friends with that author whose work I admired, my books would never sell! If I didn't friend and follow and pay attention to every debut author I was creating bad karma and my books would never sell!

Blah, blah, so on and so forth.

Here's what I've figured out: Slug me just doesn't have the energy to exist in such a state of heightened frenzy. I was talking with a close friend the other day and jokingly said, "I just don't have the energy to be more than five people's friend at any given time." Then I realized...it was kind of true.

I no longer desperately crave to be friends with ALL OF THE PEOPLE. I'm happy to be friendly with a great many people I admire, and to be truly friends with just a handful of people I trust absolutely, who not only have time for me in their lives but most importantly whom I have enough time to be a good friend to in my own. It doesn't mean I hate the people I've dropped out of regular contact with, or hate the people I never got to know well enough. It just means I don't have room in my life to be a good friend, and I'd rather be a friendly acquaintance than a bad friend.

Good reviews and positive regard from people I admire? Still totally awesome. Doesn't keep me up at night, though, nor does it really change my life on any significant level.

I guess what I am saying is I was trying to live so much of my life on display that it got diluted, and strange, and very, very lonely. I no longer desire to share chunks of myself on the blog. I like myself. I like to keep myself to myself and the few other selves that I know love my self even when it isn't being funny or smart. (They like slug Kiersten. Slug Kiersten is cuddly, and sends weird text messages, and never leaves a slime trail.) (Or at least if she does she is polite enough to clean up after herself.)

Sometimes I think about closing the blog forever. It served a purpose, an important purpose, in my life. I had a lot of fun with it, and I learned a lot through it. But I no longer have an entirely private life, and the more public that certain parts of me become (particularly my second-toe on my right foot) (wait I mean not literal parts, that would be weird, that toe should remain off the public radar) the more I want to keep the other pieces of me very, very far from screens or soundbites.

I'll be honest: when people tell me they dream about me, or confess they have crushes on me, or wish they had my life, it creeps me the crap out. I'm not saying they're creepy people. I'm saying the idea that I exist in the lives of people who do not exist in my life is utterly bizarre and I still don't know how to reconcile it.

So I keep writing my books, and I keep my friends close, and if I'm a bit more private and closed-off than I used to be, well, that's just because my second-toe on my right foot demands it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Number Twelve

"Oh, and I finished a first draft on Saturday."

"What? You were writing another book?"

"Oh. Um, yeah."

"What about the MIND GAMES sequel you are rewriting? And [super top secret project]?"

"Oh, you know, still doing those, too. Just wrote another book in the meantime."

"You're insane."

"This has been established."

I used to always do summary posts after I finished a book, giving away details and word count, so on and so forth. Fortunately/unfortunately I've gotten much more secretive in my old age. (Husband: "If [eight-year-old daughter] follows the same timeline you did, you'll be a grandma in thirteen years!" Me: "STOP IT RIGHT NOW NEVER TALK ABOUT THAT AGAIN.")

However, in keeping with tradition, I'll catalog this for posterity. (The posterity that WILL NOT BE MAKING ME A GRANDMA IN THIRTEEN YEARS AHEM.)

This is book twelve. Books one (2006) through three (2008) and book five (2010) will never see the published light of day. Four was PARANORMALCY (2009), six and seven were SUPERNATURALLY (2009-10) and ENDLESSLY (2011), eight was THE CHAOS OF STARS (2011-ish), nine was MIND GAMES (2011), ten (2012) was a book I hope will eventually see the light of day after some editing and finding the right place for it, eleven (2012) was the MIND GAMES sequel, and twelve (2012...obviously) is a book I've been affectionately referring to as either CW Special or Hot Witchy Twins.

(I put in those dates so I can keep it straight in my head because I can never remember these things. Books stop existing for me as soon as I stop working on them. It also gives you an idea of how long it takes from when a book is written to when it is published.) (Also, yes, that's three completed novels this year. I'd like to get in a fourth, actually, but we'll see how editing schedules play out.) (LOOK I DON'T LIKE SLEEPING, OKAY?) (That's a lie, I adore sleeping, sleeping is my favorite. I just like keeping busy, because a busy mind is a happy mind.) (And it means I have an excuse for never getting the dishes done. "Sorry! I wrote another book instead. See?")

It was a fun book, because I needed fun, and it's soapy and chock-full-of-drama and kissing and boarding school secrets and family mysteries. At 70k words it's my longest draft since ENDLESSLY, and I expect it to go up by about 10k in edits. Which...50k word books are so much nicer to edit, lemme tell you. Alas. I'm hopeful that this will be the undetermined fourth book from my last book deal with my fabulous publisher, HarperTeen, but only time and editing (and editing and editing) will tell. Regardless, I had fun writing it, and thus its purpose was fulfilled!

Anyhow. Never let it be said I squander all my free time while the kids are at school. I only squander most of it, and then write feverishly to compensate.