Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Five 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.

This year it is strange to think about. Five years ago I didn't have an agent. I didn't have a book deal. I was sure I'd get pregnant again right away. It took me four years to really heal, to realize that waiting for something I "needed" to make me happy was keeping me from being happy with my amazing life. So, I changed my view of things. That was the real happy ending. The baby I had in June? Our deliriously joyful bonus.

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 five 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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


*sort of

On Saturday at 2 PM pacific, I'll be doing my only signing event for THE CHAOS OF STARS/the rest of the year. (This is on account of The Baby Otter.) It's at the San Marcos library in California.

And, because geography is a great big meanie and constantly prevents us from hanging out, good news: thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can come! It will be broadcast live, on the Epic Reads ustream channel, thanks to my wonderful publisher.

So, while I can't physically sign your book, you can see me read from CHAOS, talk incredibly fast, take questions (including yours if you ask one on twitter!), and even be entered to win prizes if you are watching live!

YAY TECHNOLOGY. YAY BOOKS. YAY YOU! I hope you can make it!

(And don't forget that, if you buy CHAOS any time this week [including preorders], you can fill out the form and get three signed bookmarks. And don't forget that you are a wonderful person, you see the world in a way that no one else can, and you have so much to offer everyone around you. And don't forget to pick up some milk at the store, because you're nearly out.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I have pretty bookmarks! And I want to share! If you buy THE CHAOS OF STARS the first week it's out (either pre-ordered or purchased between now and September 17th), simply fill out the form and I'll send you an envelope containing signed bookmarks and my sincere gratitude.

Fortunately sincere gratitude, while massive, weighs nothing. Otherwise the postage would be more than I can afford.

Welcome to the World, THE CHAOS OF STARS

Isadora was first mentioned on this blog in March, 2010.

You'll note that's over three years ago.

Isadora sold in August, 2011. That was after four episodes of completely throwing out what I had and starting over. And, as is usual when editing with a professional, that was only the beginning of the work that went into making the book that became THE CHAOS OF STARS.

For a girl who is used to writing fast, it was rather tortuous.

Of all my writing, I'm proudest of this book. It made the biggest journey from draft to finished product of any of my books, but the thing that remained constant was Isadora's voice. She's the reason I kept going back to it in spite of frustrations, in spite of constantly wrestling with what I thought the story should be versus what it needed to be. There was a moment--and it came very late, during my last round of revisions--when I realized that I finally had the book I'd meant to write all along. I was elated. And massively relieved, because there were times I doubted I would ever get there.

I'm also slightly terrified for it to finally go out into the world. Oh, my dear, stubborn, problem child of a book. I hope people will appreciate it, and that anyone who needs the message at the heart of the story will find it. I hope it makes you laugh, I hope it surprises you in the best possible ways, and I hope you'll keep letting me tell you stories.

I do so love telling you stories.

Thank you. Isadora is yours now.

Monday, September 2, 2013

CHAOS Thoughts

Isadora was the voice that wouldn’t go away. I started her book, stopped, set it aside and declared it would never work no fewer than four or five times. But unlike most of the other ideas I decide aren’t happening, she wouldn’t leave me alone. There's a particular constellation that's important in the novel and when I'd decided to quit writing it, I kid you not, I felt actual guilt every time I saw those stars in the sky. When you start apologizing to stars, either you are crazy or you need to just write the dang book.

(Cover design by the brilliant Michelle Taormina. Bookmark design by Keary Taylor.)

In the end, THE CHAOS OF STARS came together when I finally gave up on what I thought the book should be (action! adventure! a trilogy!) and let it be what it needed to be—an intimate family drama, a book about allowing people to love us even if it isn’t the way we think they should, and an exploration of that strange period in adolescence when you realize your parents aren’t perfect and you don’t know what to do with that information. Made even worse when your mother is literally the goddess of motherhood. If she can’t do it right, who can?

Plus a hippo-crocodile-lion underworld demon who may or may not devour your heart whole. Because what’s an intimate family drama without one of those?

It's a strange little beast, more contemporary than paranormal. And it's by far my most personal book. I started it when things in my life were not what I wanted them to be and I felt very angry and betrayed. Isadora, my darling, arrogant, angry narrator, was the voice I needed at the time. I love her. I love the particular journey we went on together, through betrayal and anger to hope and happiness. 

I hope it's a journey you'll enjoy reading in just one week. And, if you want, you can read the first sixty pages online for free right now.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

THE CHAOS OF STARS Southern California Signing!

Hello, my lovelies! Very quickly, with more to come soon:

My only signing for THE CHAOS OF STARS' release (on account of the tiny and very cute baby) will be on Saturday, September 14th, at the San Marcos library! 2 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069. Books will be available for purchase, and you're also welcome to bring any books of mine you already have. I will bring lots of sharpies, and bookmarks, and my special CHAOS manicure (spoiler: SPARKLES).

The signing will be at 2 PM. I know that's kind of a weird time, but it's because we're doing something cool so that others who cannot come on account of that jerk Geography will be able to participate, too...


 Oh, the suspense. The suspense.

More later!