Little Ms. Weird, Part I

I used to think I wrote for everybody. You know, we all love books. We are are all one.

Then I realized that Code Blues, the first Hope Sze mystery, opens with a swear word.

Code Blues is character-based and contains a sex scene, sarcasm, and a reference to racial injustice before Black Lives Matter. Cue the angry reviews. Cue even more because it’s free at the moment.

Okay! Well, Notorious D.O.C. sticks much closer to the mystery genre. Hope tackles a cold case on psychiatry after a woman asks her to investigate her daughter’s death. Not controversial at all, right?

Shoot. Maybe not everyone wants to read about poo on the first page.

Most readers immediately grasp the gravity of Stockholm Syndrome, where a kidnapper targets Hope and a woman in labour. But I don’t hold back on my description of the obstetrics ward, and one agent told me his assistant almost threw up after reading my first paragraph. I thought that was was pretty impressive considering that the first paragraph is literally two words: Birth smells.

Guess my writing ain’t for everyone after all.

When Kristine Kathryn Rusch first read my stories, she said, “They will have to create a new category for you. You’re so direct, you’re almost scary.” She paused. “You’re not supposed to compare writers, but Bob Jeschonek is the same way, for another reason. If you ask him to write a story about a space ship, he’ll write from the point of view of the space ship.”

Which may explain why I’ve always been fascinated by Robert Jeschonek’s writing. I hoover up stories in all genres, but he always does new things that had never occurred to me. For example, in A Pinstriped Finger Puppet’s My Only Friend, he starts off a section called Tomorrow.

Mind blown. How can you start in tomorrow? But he does wild things all the time, wandering in and out of the R-rated section, constantly inventive and challenging.

That’s why I’m honoured to take part in the Weird Bundle he curated at Storybundle. For once, my strangeness becomes a feature, not a bug.

Pay what you want. If you choose $20 or more, you unlock all the books, including Robert Jeschonek’s exclusive Dog & Pony Show and my own Dog Vs. Aliens, Grandma Othello & Shaolin Monks in Space, and you can contribute to the charity Able Gamers. Only available for 21 more days, right here.

Let’s do this!

Because I’m a Derringer Award Finalist

I was toiling at the end of my emergency room shift when I got an unusual message. I turned to my colleague and said, “Hey. I’m a finalist for the Derringer Award!”

“Congratulations.”

“Do you know what that is?”

“I assume it’s a writing award.”

“It is. For the best short mystery stories published in the English language.” I revelled in it for a second, and then I said, “Do you know what a Derringer is? It’s a pocket-sized knife–”

“It’s a gun, actually. A small one, easily concealed and favoured by prostitutes.”

I Googled it, and a bunch of gun pictures came up. “Well, still. Because it’s small, it’s a metaphor for the deadly power of short fiction.”

 A Derringer. Not a knife. Who'd have thunk it?

A Derringer. Not a knife. Who’d have thunk it? Plus, this one looks like it’s wearing lipstick.Photo by DuBoix on MorgueFile

“Favoured by prostitutes.”

“Why do you keep saying that?”

Anyway, the important part is that I’ve been shortlisted for the Derringer. So to celebrate, I’ve turned “Because” into an e-book with an essay detailing the genesis of the story at Kris Rusch and Dean Smith’s Oregon mystery workshop, plus observations on the writing life, and what it feels like to hit the Derringer short list, for $2.99.

because fuller

However, since I love you, my people, I’m giving the story away for free right here for the next seven days.

You can also download Code Blues, the first Hope Sze medical mystery, for free exclusively through the Vuze book bundle. Only until March 16th. Then it will disappear like a sociopath’s conscience. So grab it now! http://blog.vuze.com/2015/02/24/new-medical-thriller-book-bundle-melissa-yi/

While the Short Mystery Fiction Society votes on the Derringers, I do have one weapon in my back pocket. I’m the newest recruit for SleuthSayers, the world’s slickest crew of crime writers and crime fighters. Two of their members, Melodie Campbell and Rob Lopresti, have already won the Derringer (Rob won it twice)! So maybe they’ll help larn me.

In the meantime,

Because

By Melissa Yi

Because you were so fat that I could count the rolls through your T-shirt, and know that they’d build across my belly and back in the exact same way.

Because you spent the check every month, and you never gave me a penny, not even if I needed a new eraser for school. “You just ask your fancy teacher for one. Go on, ask.”

Because I had to ask, and their eyes would burn me with their pity.

Because you’d spend hours painting your nails, but never let me touch any of the bottles, just because I broke one when I was two.

Because I hated the sound of your crinkling chip bags.

Because when Daddy said he was leaving, you said, “Go, then,” and let him walk out the door, even though I screamed and cried.

Read the rest in the format of your choice here (http://melissayuaninnes.com/books/because). Thanks for stopping by. Since people do seem to like freebies, I’ll give away more stories in the future. I may try and coordinate them with my biweekly SleuthSayer posts. The next one is March 23rd. Cheers!

Book trailers, freaks, and bears, oh my

I now have a silent partner who asked me for a book trailer. I never got into those, but NOW I HAVE.

All I can say is, Thank God for iMovie. And the Freak Fandango Orchestra. Any thumbs up appreciated.

Denise Nielsen said their music warmed her up on this cold January day. They’re a Barcelona-based group that tours the world.

I’m also hard at work on Stockholm Syndrome, the fourth Hope Sze novel, where Hope gets taken hostage on the obstetric ward.

stockholm syndrome pregnant-200

Dr. Severine Laplante gave me a tour of St. Mary’s Hospital, updated my obstetric knowledge, and introduced me to a new Russian restaurant, La Caverne. We started off with a light carrot salad, then borscht served in wooden bowls with wooden spoons, and finished off with Pelmenis (pierogi things). Yum!

Also, my lovelies, I’m finally raising my cheap e-book prices shortly, so consider yourselves forewarned.

Come say hi at the  University of Ottawa Healthcare Symposium (UOHS) on January 24th and the Canadian Federation of University Women on the 27th. I don’t bite. Much.

bear severine WP_20150114_001

My new profile pic?

breaking bones cover

Will rise from $2.99 to $3.99

yoga cover NEW octavia ganesha 6x9 with SKULL

Will leap from $2.99 to $5.99

Student body POD cover.indd

Will scale from 99 cents to $2.99

Calling a Code: Code Blues Free for Digital Book Day!

It’s Digital Book Day tomorrow!

In celebration, for the very first time, Code Blues e-book will be free on July 14th, 2014. To download it in the format of your choice, go to Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/81693?ref=melissayuaninnes) and enter the code GT24E.

Or download it directly from your friendly neighbourhood Kobo (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/code-blues).

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Make sure you go to the Digital Book Day website to download up to 407 books, completely free, in genres like mystery, thrillers, sf and romance. You have to page down for the literature, YA and non-fiction, but it’s there.

I know I’m working on Monday, but I’m going to try and get up early or stay up late so that I can gorge myself on words.

I’m happy to see that Code Blues is quite high up on the landing page. At the top of mystery-thriller are CJ Lyons, the pediatric emergentologist turned NYT bestseller who organized the entire shebang; JF Penn, thriller author, speaker, and publishing maven; and Bob Meyer, the only bestseller I know who used to be a Green Beret. But if you go down another four books, there’s me! Sometimes, the late bird does catch the worm!

Dr. Hope Sze rolls into Montreal with three simple goals: 1) survive her family medicine residency, 2) try pain au chocolat, 3) go on a date sometime in the next two years.

Then she discovers a doctor’s body in the locker room. When she tries to uncover his killer, two men dive in to help her.

The one man with charm to burn, the one man who makes her melt, has zero alibi. Code Blues.

Because medicine can be murder.

Written by an emergency physician trained in the crumbling corridors of Montreal, Canada.

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And hey, if you’ve already paid full price for the first three Hope Sze novels, don’t be bitter. It just means that you’re helping to support an writer with two small children. Plus, if you bought them in paperback, you get 50% off the print version of Student Body, the brand new Hope novella, at our yoga-belly dancing-book launch September 20th.

The e-novella is on sale this summer for everyone, for 99 cents!

student body half price

Snoopy dance! In a dignified doctor-y sort of way, of course.

 

A few reviews of Code Blues, to whet your appetite:

 

“Terrific fun.” –Veronica Hares, R.N.

 

“I had just finished a night shift. My boys were coming come on the school bus. And I could not put the flipping book down.” –D. Poilly, M.D.

(If any of you know Dr. Poilly, these are strong words!)

 

I really enjoyed this fast-paced mystery.

Having lived in Montreal, I found the references to the city hilarious as well as relevant.

Hope is a truly likeable and very realistic character-I will certainly be reading the next books in this series, and am looking forward to her developing comfort with the hospital and the city.

A lot of fun to read, and a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

–Anne Zoeller

 

This is a wonderful first entry into what promises to be an on-going mystery series.

There’s a murder and suspects and romance and a white-knuckle finish.

But what really makes this story work and stick with you isn’t all of the above, but the carefully drawn picture of its world and characters.

The protagonist is a new medical resident in the physically deteriorating Montreal anglophone medical system. The facilities are crumbling, and the author skillfully paints a series of characters whose walls are crumbling too. This is a novel partly concerned with boundaries: professional boundaries (when does a physician give ‘too much’), romantic boundaries, relationships that are too co-dependent or too enmeshed to be truly healthy, despite how compelling and driven the characters find them. The novel is partly a meditation on compulsion and addiction–when does the goal-directed driven nature required of medical students and doctors slip over the line from adaptive and necessary to harmful?

—Gregory L. Smith

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

So c’mon. Get it while it’s free! Coupon code GT24E here, or just load up your Kobo here. If you leave a positive review, the book fairy will do a foxtrot.

You can also buy the print book from your friendly neighbourhood retailers, listed here. But I’ve got to give a special shout out to R&L’s Book Nook, which is hosting the Alexandria portion of Books & Bodies on September 20th.

Read, read, read!

 

My Newest Fan

Today was a busy day at the bus. I got a note! IMG_6121 But first, I’ve got to give props to Cornwall Living Magazine and their launch party last Wednesday. Not only did they let me bring my kids to the launch party, but the swag was perfectly kid-friendly: pencil crayons! And they fed us pizza. Then they played this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rrzh–nA_4E&feature=youtu.be I laughed when I saw myself at 0:55, and Max said, “That’s you, Mama!”

Is it a selfie when you take a picture of your picture?

Is it a selfie when you take a picture of your picture?

 

Okay, that's a selfie. But Max steals the show.

Okay, that’s a selfie. But Max steals the show.

Where's Anastasia? Rolling around on the ground, of course. What else would you do in a restaurant?

Where’s Anastasia? Rolling around on the ground, of course. What else would you do in a restaurant?

Cornwall Living Magazine has generously offered to send free copies to people who ask. So get in there! They also send copies to embassies around the globe. Max, Anastasia and I raced home so I could hand off the kids and hurry over to my interview on Vankleek Cooley via VankleekFM. You can listen here: http://vankleekfm.com/radio-programs/vankleek-cooley/ if you page down to “Listen to the May 28th, 2014 Show – Hour One.”  My interview starts at 31:00.

Fascinating to meet Louise Sproule, the owner and publisher of The Review. We chatted after, and she mentioned that she’s owned the newspaper for 22 years, and her articles can make people cry. They stop her on the street to hug her. One woman brought her flowers.

I explained that my overarching goal is to have my writing connect me with people, places, and things that excite me. But I started off writing in a vacuum, with only “It’s good. Keep writing” from Matt and editors’ rejection letters for feedback. So Louise and I are kind of the opposite. She knows that she has a dedicated audience every week who pay for her words and may tell her so every week, whereas I’m hungry to carve out my audience (not that I’m going to eat them, but while it’s mega-awesome to have a fan in Saudi Arabia and nab a rare sale in Trinidad and Tobago and Norway, I don’t have people crying on me).

Thus, I was blown away when the Glengarry Book Club chose CODE BLUES for their inaugural meeting.   IMG_2342 Then I waited for them to tear me into tiny strips of beef jerky, since that’s what writers usually do. My own daughter said yesterday, when I was packing my books up for Bloody Words 2014, “Mommy, I don’t like your books. I hate them.” Instead, they said that they enjoyed all the Montreal references, the joie de vivre, the multiculturalism. Fast-paced. Easy read. And they liked Hope.

  • “Hope was a really accessible, normal character. Nothing seemed ridiculous.”
  • “I felt sorry for her. The loneliness, the misery, the stress, a new city, her job, working with difficult people and bosses. I felt dirty. She hadn’t had a shower. I felt how she was feeling.”
  • “I’m looking at Hope, working in a hospital is just so foreign, it would never happen to me, I’d be on the floor. But here, I’m following her around, I’m right with her. She’s got these clues, I can put it together, I can relate to her.”
  • “Most people just don’t give a s—. ‘I just got here, I’m not doing that. I’m not going to worry about it.’ Hope just took off with [the murder case] right away.”

None of them figured out the murderer except Anne, a few pages before. Rhonda always reads the last page first, and she was still surprised.

Rhonda is the one holding up Notorious D.O.C. in the back. Isn't she cute?

Rhonda is the one holding up Notorious D.O.C. in the back. Isn’t she cute?

One of them said that she liked she sex scene. “Your description went to the senses instead of a visual image, which I really appreciated, the tactile details, instead of flowery description.”

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

The one with the sex scene. Among other things

I was waiting for the “but.” It never came. Maybe they’re too polite to say anything to my face, but it dawned on me that readers want to be entertained. They want to be pleased. They’re not like writers and critics. On a related note,

IMG_2378

Bob!

I was delighted when Bob, Max’s bus driver, wanted to buy “my best work.” I gave him TERMINALLY ILL, and now he periodically updates me on where he is in the book. “Elvis is awake!” “The other doctor wants to take the case!” Or, “There’s a bit of sexual tension here.” (Good thing I didn’t give him CODE BLUES, huh?) “My wife wants to read the book after me.”

If you got anything out of this post, join the team. Buy my book(s)!

In case you missed the Terminally Ill memo. Including the one that Ellery Queen says Hope Sze is “utterly likeable.”

To my amazement, one of the students piped up and said that she was reading HIGH SCHOOL HIT LIST on iBooks (High School Hit List – Melissa Yi). “It’s a bit scary. Is that okay?” I said, and she nodded. hit list POD cover-2013-ebook   Today, Isabelle passed me the note, and I’m waiting for the bus to come, so I can give her a signed copy of HIGH SCHOOL HIT LIST.

IMG_2377

Vince wanted more dog pictures. Here you go.

I’m happy on so many levels. She’s obviously intelligent and curious, probably heard about the TERMINALLY ILL book launch and went on my website to find something that spoke to her age group. She reads both e-book and print. And she and her family are willing to spend their hard-earned money on my work! To answer her question, my e-books are available everywhere (just starting out on Google Play today). My print books are available on Amazon, and you can order them through your local bookstore, including R&L’s Book Nook, which will be hosting a book launch for the latest Hope Sze novella, STUDENT BODY, on September 20th, 2014. The Hope Sze medical mysteries are now available in trade paperback at the following locations:

R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria
58 Alexandria Main, Alexandria, ON K0K 1A0; (613)525-9940; rlbooknook@eastlink.ca
The Quirky Carrot
1 main street south; (613)525-2229; Facebook
Sunset Yoga
Église Ste. Marie de l’Assomption, Cp 119 4172 Route 34, K0C 1L0; (613) 662-YOGA(9642); sunset_yoga@yahoo.ca
Fassifern General Store; RR 5 in Alexandria, ON; (613)525-2144
Penny’s Market7340 regional road 23, K0C 1J0; (613)551-4806; info@pennysmarket.org
We’ve added three more retailers:

The Review 76 Main St. E, Vankleek Hill, Ontario, K0B 1R0, Tel: (613) 678-3327, review@thereview.ca The Brown House 20363 Concession Rd 5, Green Valley, ON K0C 1L0 (Hwy 34 & Brown House Rr 2), 613-347-2583 A L Macdonald Grocery Inc. Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0 Phone: (613) 347-2770 Happy reading!

IMG_2379

Here she is. Yay, Isabelle!

Success: People, places, and things that excite me, from Shelagh Rogers to Bloody Words

Joanna Penn and Kris Rusch have blogged lately about success.

My success is minuscule compared to many writers, but my M.O. is not buckets of money. I like money, because it represents freedom, but I don’t neeeeeeed money or prestige.

I set out my goals here. I want my writing to connect with people, places, and things that excite me.

So when I picked up the phone and a neighbour named Rhonda asked me to join a new book club, and said maybe they could do my book for the next meeting, I was deeeeeelighted. (Also, surprised to hear that they’d hesitated to invite me, thinking I might be too busy. Ask me! I’m always looking for fun.)

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Now starring the in the Glengarry book club! Will they like it? Guess I’ll find out next month.

And they did pick Code Blues, the first Hope Sze novel, which was awesomesauce. I just had to giggle in embarrassment when Rhonda told everyone it was a fun, quick read, and that they’d enjoy the Montreal references, but that parking tickets are now $52, not $30. Oops.

Steve Steinbock, the reviewer from Ellery Queen, Facebooked me seven reasons that I had to come to Bloody Words, the mystery conference in Toronto. (The list was hilarious. If I get permission, I’ll post it, but probably the funniest was (2) to join me, Howard Shrier, and Ken Wishnia in a Yiddish cussing contest.) I’d considered going after my friend Rebecca Senese told me about it, but the $190 conference seemed steep. After that message, though, I told Matt, “If Ellery Queen asks you to go to a conference, you go.” So I’ll be in Toronto June 6-8. And I have to say, it made my day that Steve was asking me to come. I’m a very small potato. Unbelieveable when someone higher up in the French fry industry says, Hey. C’mere.

Look. This incorporates both the theme of me as a small potato and the murder theme for me going to Bloody Words. You see how I did that?

Look. This incorporates both the theme of me as a small potato and the murder theme for me going to Bloody Words.You see how I did that?

Then Yasmin tweeted about my blog on Emergency Room: Life+Death at VGH, and I looked her up and realized that she’s one of the stars of the show. In fact, she got the closing words of the final episode. And the most hilarious parts is, she tagged my friend Anna to read the blog post…and Anna is the one who highlighted it in the first place, because she’s my Vancouver General Hospital friend who used to work in Montreal.

Yasmin ER star Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.54.43 AM

So it’s come full circle, and the closest I’ve come to a blog post going viral. In this case, it’s more like my blog post going water cooler, because it’s a relatively small group of people, but still. Shelagh Rogers. Need I say more?

Another Twitter win was that a new friend/fan made up a hashtag for Dr. Hope Sze, #HopeIsCool.

#HopeIsCool twitter Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.54.43 AM

I’ve never met @vmchick, so this here I am, connecting with new people who have excellent taste.  #livingthedream

“You’re quite the celebrity at the dentist’s office,” said my husband Matt, and in fact, when I made it for my appointment, Maria (the secretary), Dr. Levon Kichian (our dentist), and Kim (a dental hygenicist) all bought copies of Terminally Ill. “I started reading it already. Very intriguing,” said Dr. Kichian.

Loose Tooth

Look closely. Combines dentistry & bloody theme. Photo by Terri Heisele.

At the hospitals, they’re quite used to me writing, but if I call for a consult or for an admission, a staff member might say in passing, “Congratulations on your book” (which means they don’t plan to buy a copy, but they’re aware of my fifteen minutes of fame. Cool enough), or “I started reading your book. It’s beautiful. Now I have to buy the other two” (well, only Dr. Shah said that. But here’s hoping!).

One last win: Kobo’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre had pushed me to talk to bookstores. I found it hideously embarrassing, but I got over it, and now the Hope Sze books are available in the following select locations:

R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria
58 Alexandria Main, Alexandria, ON K0K 1A0; (613)525-9940; rlbooknook@eastlink.ca

The Quirky Carrot
1 main street south; (613)525-2229; Facebook

Sunset Yoga
Église Ste. Marie de l’Assomption, Cp 119 4172 Route 34, K0C 1L0; (613) 662-YOGA(9642); sunset_yoga@yahoo.ca

Penny’s Market
7340 regional road 23, K0C 1J0; (613)551-4806; info@pennysmarket.org

Coming soon:
Fassifern General Store; RR 5 in Alexandria, ON; (613)525-2144

You can also order any Olo Books/Windtree Press book from your local bookstore. Just go in and say, “Here’s my money,” and they’ll make it happen.

Thanks, exciting people. You rock!

“Only connect.” —E.M. Forster

Terminally Ill Blasts Australia, New Zealand, and R&L’s Book Nook!

I love Australia and New Zealand. Aussies and Kiwis just seem to get my sense of humour.

blog australia with caption sxc 1398862_25566265

Don’t you love that potentially ill face? (Photo by Peter Togel.)

So I was excited to hear that Kobo’s Aussie/NZ merchandiser, Olo Books, and Windtree Press will host a book blast for Terminally Ill, dropping the price from $5.99 to $2.99 this weekend only (March 28-31, 2014). Exclusively for Australia and New Zealand.

Closer to home, R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria (613-525-9940; rlbooknook@eastlink.ca) will stock the Hope Sze novels in trade paperback. You can order any Olo Books paperback (click “print” on header here) from any bookstore, but R&L will have a signed stack of Code Blues, Notorious D.O.C., and Terminally Ill ready to go, and they don’t charge tax. Sweet!

Don’t live in Alexandria or Australia/NZ?

For a limited time only (48 h), all newsfeed and newsletter subscribers will receive a secret promo code for a FREE Kobo copy of Terminally Ill. The code will arrive in a newsletter on Thursday, March 27th. Happy reading!

 

melissayi_terminallyill_eBook_final daishoNotorious POD cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Winners of the Code Blues/Devil’s in the Details Contest

Congratulations to our wonderful winners who completely surpassed my expectations.  I thought people would post little details like “My respirologist has a squeeze toy in the shape of lungs,” but instead, these people offered full-fledged stories!  (You can tell they’re all professional writers.)

First place:  Michael Angel

Second place:  Anonymous

Third place:  Cindie Geddes

Honourable Mention:  Dr. Michael Moreton

And now, on to the stories!

First place:

Michael Angel

My only medical ‘detail’ story is really a small item that many others would miss, as it was about a young doctor, not a device or strange implement.

Back around 1999, I ended up in the emergency room when my ulcers ended up rupturing a blood vessel in the stomach. Once it was determined which end of my GI tract was bleeding, I was prepped for surgery to put a scope and a laser, I believe, down the esophagus to cauterize the leak.

I was very woozy, but remember being by myself in the hospital bed, late at night, feeling all alone. Two doctors, one crusty old resident and one young doctor, came to check on me one last time before I went in. I put on a brave face, but honestly, I was flat-out terrified. I’d never been so close to feeling out of control, completely at someone else’s mercy as to whether I’d make it through the night.

So I shivered. The older doctor noted this, saying something to the effect of “What’s the matter?” I replied, “I’m…just…cold.” He huffed, “It’s not that cold in here.”

The younger doctor didn’t say anything. He saw the look in my eyes, and simply reached out and took my hand in his. The very act, that ounce of compassion, instantly calmed me. He knew I was scared, knew I was shamming the ‘cold’, and let me know that though I wasn’t out of the woods, they were going to do their best.

I stopped shivering.

As you can guess, I made a full recovery, which included a regimen of drugs to kill H. Pylori. And though I never learned the young doctor’s name (I was too out of it that night to note his tag), I’ll never forget what he did.

– Michael Angel

Second Place (Anonymous)

Make Me a Woman

I recall as a teen contracting The Clap in the early ’70s, back when it was the second worst STD on the scene. (It was more fun to horrify each other with stories of Syphilis-inspired brain rot and madness.)

Although I made light of it, waxing lyrical about the “annoying drip, drip, drip of Gonorrhea”, and singing, “Gonorrhea, Why?” (to the tune of “Cara Mia Why?”) I was actually quite distressed, and I was a very shy young thing, too. I slipped into the VD Clinic as anonymously as possible (as I am now writing this post) and submitted with quiet dread to a pelvic exam given by a retired (back from the dead) male doctor with a hearing problem. Like going to Grampa for an oil check. (Oh, God.)

On my back, blinking at the bright light, trying my best to keep my mind elsewhere, I endured his fumblings with the speculum, which wouldn’t go in. Instead of taking it out and having a peek, he kept pushing on it, rather painfully from my end of things, as I, having analyzed the problem, called out, “I think I have a tampon in! I think I have a tampon in!” The nurse at his elbow lent her voice to mine. “Doctor, she thinks she has a tampon in!”

At last he heard us, stopped trying to shove my cervix up my nose from the inside, and allowed me to take the tampon out. It is no surprise that after the exam, when he got me to stand up and gave me a nice big injection in the butt, that I finally passed out cold on the floor.

Gonorrhea, why, indeed?
–Anonymous

Third Place:  Cindie Geddes

I went to my favorite doctor for an allergy shot. We got to talking and I mentioned some pain I was having in my abdomen. He felt the spot I pointed to and said it was likely some kind of calcium deposit (he probably said something more medical, but I’m not a doctor, so I don’t really remember) on my sutures from a hernia operation a year earlier. He used to be a surgeon. “We can just go in the next room, and I can get it right now,” he said.

“Can I watch?” I asked. I’m always fascinated by how my body works.

“Sure. We’ll use the vasectomy table.”

We went in, set the table so I was nearly sitting up, and went to it. He gave me some numbing injections, cut my ab open and dug around until he found the sutures. Sure enough, he found what looked like little rocks at the ends of my sutures. But cutting them off was going to be awkward because he was the one holding the retractor thingies.

“Can I help?” I was loving the whole thing. Couldn’t feel anything but tugging, but he was giving me the tour of what he was cutting and why, and it all looked pretty damn cool.

“Sure,” he gloved me up and handed me the retractor thingies, and I held them while he snipped the little rocks off. Then he let me feel the little rocks (still gloved), and that’s exactly what they felt like — rocks. Suddenly, my pain made perfect sense.

My recovery was the easiest I’ve had of any ab surgery (I’ve had, I think, nine) because I knew exactly what had been done and understood exactly what was happening during recovery.

I had a similar little surgery two years earlier. Cost: $7,000 (thank dog for insurance). With that one, I was knocked out, had the usual huge staff, waited in pre-op for three hours, post-op for six. Cost for this one: $700. Complete time from entering the vasectomy room to going home: 35 minutes.

My doc gave me his cell phone number to keep him posted on how my recovery was going and insists I use it still for any little question or concern I have.

This is all very very wrong in the US. I don’t use his name because I suspect he could get in big trouble. But it’s my favorite interaction with a doctor ever. And the easiest procedure I’ve ever had. I love this guy.

Cindie Geddes

Honourable Mention:  Dr. Michael Moreton

Dr. Moreton was gracious enough to contribute two stories.

The call came when I was in the Ante-Natal clinic at the United Family Hospital
in Beijing. It was from the Consular department at the American Embassy. A
pregnant American woman who was working with an aid agency in Tibet had
gone in to premature labor, they had contacted the assistance company to fly her
out but Washington had insisted that an Obstetrician go with the team. A wise
precaution. As, at that time in 2000, I was the only licensed western Ob in Beijing
there was not much choice of who should go.

I picked up an Emergency delivery pack from Labor and Delivery and the
appropriate medications that we were using to relax the Uterus from the
pharmacy and while waiting the SOS team to pick me up, did a little shopping.

We were using a military plane as they were roomier than any other planes. The
Chinese military is very business orientated and their ambulance planes were
available for hire.

We took off and had an uneventful flight and we landed in Lhasa. It was crystal
clear day and after the murky skies of Beijing the intensity of the light gave
everything film-set appearance. Unfortunately there was no time for sightseeing
and we drove to the hospital.

I was apprehensive; I had been to Chinese hospitals on evacuations before where
they were reluctant to release the western patient. Partly as it was a loss of
face but also a loss of a golden goose. This time it went without incident and
the staff were very accommodating. I handed out the products of my shopping,
canned hams, pantyhose and cigarettes always seemed to be useful for this part
of the ceremonies. The patient was pleased to see us and her contractions were
infrequent and mild. After monitoring things for a few minutes we loaded her
onto the ambulance and started for the airport. It was at this point that I started
to feel light-headed and a little breathless. I discounted this feeling that just
thinking about Mountain sickness had caused psychosomatic effects.

When we were on the runway loading the stretcher on which she was lying
was a difficult maneuver. It took four of us to do it as we had to raise it to chest
level to get it onto the plane and I was in a position where I took a lot of the

weight. When the stretcher was loaded, I stepped back and at that point it hit.
A blinding headache, a wave of nausea and a desperate feeling of shortage of
breath overwhelmed me. They bundled me onto the plane, shut the door, gave
me oxygen and within minutes I felt better. Luckily the plane had two beds, so the
patient and I lay alongside each other on the return journey. She was very calm
and reassured me that everything was under control.

Dr Michael Moreton is a Canadian OB/GYN who spent over nine years in China. He is
now the International Medical Coordinator of The Bangkok Hospital, Thailand.

___
The call came when I was in the Ante-Natal clinic at the United Family Hospital

in Beijing. It was from the Consular department at the American Embassy. A
pregnant American woman who was working with an aid agency in Tibet had
gone in to premature labor, they had contacted the assistance company to fly her
out but Washington had insisted that an Obstetrician go with the team. A wise
precaution. As, at that time in 2000, I was the only licensed western Ob in Beijing
there was not much choice of who should go.

I picked up an Emergency delivery pack from Labor and Delivery and the
appropriate medications that we were using to relax the Uterus from the
pharmacy and while waiting the SOS team to pick me up, did a little shopping.

We were using a military plane as they were roomier than any other planes. The
Chinese military is very business orientated and their ambulance planes were
available for hire.

We took off and had an uneventful flight and we landed in Lhasa. It was crystal
clear day and after the murky skies of Beijing the intensity of the light gave
everything film-set appearance. Unfortunately there was no time for sightseeing
and we drove to the hospital.

I was apprehensive; I had been to Chinese hospitals on evacuations before where
they were reluctant to release the western patient. Partly as it was a loss of
face but also a loss of a golden goose. This time it went without incident and
the staff were very accommodating. I handed out the products of my shopping,
canned hams, pantyhose and cigarettes always seemed to be useful for this part
of the ceremonies. The patient was pleased to see us and her contractions were
infrequent and mild. After monitoring things for a few minutes we loaded her
onto the ambulance and started for the airport. It was at this point that I started
to feel light-headed and a little breathless. I discounted this feeling that just
thinking about Mountain sickness had caused psychosomatic effects.

When we were on the runway loading the stretcher on which she was lying
was a difficult maneuver. It took four of us to do it as we had to raise it to chest
level to get it onto the plane and I was in a position where I took a lot of the

weight. When the stretcher was loaded, I stepped back and at that point it hit.
A blinding headache, a wave of nausea and a desperate feeling of shortage of
breath overwhelmed me. They bundled me onto the plane, shut the door, gave
me oxygen and within minutes I felt better. Luckily the plane had two beds, so the
patient and I lay alongside each other on the return journey. She was very calm
and reassured me that everything was under control.

Dr Michael Moreton is a Canadian OB/GYN who spent over nine years in China. He is
now the International Medical Coordinator of The Bangkok Hospital, Thailand.

I was a House Physician at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary in 1964. A
patient was admitted with confusing symptoms and after investigation
it was found that he was suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning, as he
had been exposed to arsenic in his workplace for many years.

Even on the professorial medical service nobody had any experience in
treating this problem. We made rounds and presented the case to Dr
Sutton the junior consultant on the service. When we came to therapy
he turned to me and said “Phone Dr Preble and see if he has any
advice” This was quite logical Dr P was a Consultant Veneriologist and
had had experience in using arsenic in the treatment STDs before the
advent of penicillin. He surely would have seen overdoses and would be
able to advise.

I called him at his private clinic in Rodney St.

‘Good afternoon sir, I am Dr Moreton, a House Physician at the Royal
and I need your advice —- “ He cut me off.

“Don’t say a word on the phone, dear boy. Come and see me this
afternoon”

For more of Dr Michael Moreton’s tales, please read the Medical Post.

I got the blues. Code Blues.

Code Blues

Dr. Hope Sze rolls into Montreal with three simple goals:  1) survive her family medicine residency, 2) try pain au chocolat, 3) go on a date sometime in the next two years.

Then she discovers a doctor’s body in the locker room.

When she tries to uncover his killer, two men are more than willing to help her.

The one man with charm to burn, the one man who makes her melt, has zero alibi.

 

Code Blues.  Sex, drugs, and doctors.

 

Written by an emergency physician trained in the crumbling corridors of Montreal.

***

In the tradition of J.K. Rowling, I wanted to release my first novel on a significant date and chose August 15th, 2011, our 13th wedding anniversary.

Since I just got the edits last night from Camden Park Press and the 300 dpi image from Nicolas Raymond a few days before, it’s been crazy, but I did it.  Code Blues is now live on Smashwords and will take 24-72 hours to make its way into Amazon’s Kindle system.  I plan to release it on paper too, but not today.

P.S.  My children are still alive.  Matt and I did manage to celebrate by doing lunch at Ban-Lao Thai and going to DHC to view disturbing horsehide and wax sculptures by Berlinde De Bruyckere.

Me, the CBC, and my medical radio drama (!)

CBC Radio is commissioning a medical drama from me.

Squee!  Snoopy dance!  Yahoo!  Rah rah rah!  Boing boing!

I am so happy!

How did it happen?  Well, it all began when I was an 18-year-old university student, living off campus in a basement apartment with no windows, no TV, and no Internet.  Yes, Virginia, I was that poor and cheap.

I started listening to CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, because it was one of the few stations I could get on my Consumers Distributing pink clock radio.  I got hooked on Morningside, the Peter Gzowski show, and then on public radio itself, for the stories.  Radio is all about the story and creating pictures in your own mind.

I promptly wrote a radio drama and submitted it to the Ottawa CBC.  I got a nice letter back, full of feedback, much more encouraging than anything else I’d gotten thus far.

Even so, I did what a lot of new writers do.  I got discouraged.  I filed the letter and didn’t write any more radio dramas.

But I kept writing short stories and poems and, a few years later, novels.  I went to writing workshops.  I joined a critique group or two.  I won some awards, published some stories and poems, got rocked hard by life, but got back in the writing ring.

Meanwhile, some of my friends achieved the Holy Grail of novel publication.

Not me.  Boo.  But after I did some local book launches for my anthologies and people started recognizing me from my face in the newspapers, I realized that I’d achieved minor success anyway.  If all I wanted was to see my name in print and for strangers to congratulate me, I’d done it already.

I still wanted My Novel.  Or rather, My NovelS.  But in case you haven’t heard, the novel biz is in a tizzy.  Smart, hard-working New York editors who were receptive to my work, sometimes who had my novels on their desks, lost their jobs or traded jobs (in one memorable case, got a better offer from the Girl Guides Association, and more power to her).

Also, I realized that a physical book wasn’t the be all and end all of success for me.  What I really want, as I mentioned in my writing “bucket list,” as Cindie Geddes succinctly put it, is this: Writing connects me with people, places, and things that excite me

It doesn’t have to be a book.

It doesn’t have to be an e-book.

I just like to create and get my work out there so people can react to it and I can have fun.

So one day, when I was Googling around, I came across the CBC site, Pitch a Show to CBC Radio.

And I said, hey.  New York is sinking and hasn’t figured out how to swim.  But what if I got on national radio instead?  After spending time and energy flogging my books, I love the idea of my friends and family and, yes, strangers just turning on the radio or downloading a podcast to hear my work, for free (that’s your tax dollars at work.  You’re welcome!).

So what should I pitch to the CBC?  Well, it was a no-brainer.  My medical thriller, Code Blues.  I already knew they liked true behind-the scenes-medical stories based on their show “White Coat, Black Art” (catchphrase:  “This is medicine from my side of the gurney”), so why not a medical radio drama written by moi?

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Side note:  I wanted to be a writer before I wanted to become a doctor.  But I’ll be honest.  I didn’t want to starve and I don’t like risk (see my poker vs. writing blog).  So I said, “Hey, I’ll just become a doctor and it’ll give me something to write about!”, not computing how tiring and time-consuming medicine would be because I was used to doing everything I want.  Well, I was 22.  I’m soooo much humbler now.  But anyway.

Now, I really could combine medicine and writing.  I’d already written the books to prove it.  So I wrote a pitch.  I knew it was much better than what I’d done when I was 19 because I’ve been honing my writing skillz in the meantime.  I’d also done a few things with CBC radio, like my Outfront piece, “Dying to be a Doctor,” a round table discussion featuring me and my friends about medical school.  From this, I knew that the CBC likes stuff set in Quebec, and my book is based on my residency in Montreal, only embroidered (sex, drugs, and murder.  You’re welcome again!).  The info said you could get feedback from your regional contact person, so I sent it to the contact person for Montreal, Carolyn Warren.

She emailed back, like, two days later, and we set up a meeting.  Wow!

We had to reschedule, so by the time we met, she said, “I’m going to Toronto in two days to meet with the other drama people, so if you’re able to get that to me by the end of the day tomorrow, believe it or not…”

I checked my watch:  almost lunchtime.  She needed it in 28 hours.  Done.  Luckily, I wasn’t working that day or the next, and I know how to write hard and fast and beg online for instant critiques.  She warned me that the CBC has a very limited budget, but I figured everything’s a long shot right now, so why not try?

She met with the drama people in Toronto and said they were interested in Code Blues and my werewolf story (Wolf Ice, at the time my most recently-finished novel, featuring sex, drugs, murder AND werewolves.  De nada!).

wolf ice cover moon-200

No way!  CBC and werewolves?  Okay!  I quickly outlined a cast list and ten episodes for Wolf Ice, too.  More begging for instant critiques.  Got that one out in 48 hours.

Then waiting.  Summer vacays=waaaaaaaaaiting.  I suppose Buddhists would say that’s good practice for impatient people like me.

In the Fall, Tom Anniko, head of CBC Radio Drama and Comedy, emailed me to set up a phone meeting.  Palpitations time!

He said that CBC won’t do werewolves (sigh), but medical dramas have got “CBC DNA” all over it (more palpitations).  He needed me to pitch the show, but without murder and love triangles.  Realism.  Patients in the hall, long wait times, what are the doctors really thinking.

I can do that.  I sent him my original pitch from July.  He made a few suggestions and sent it to other producers.

Then Tom needed an outline of the first episode.  I admit I felt a bit less sprightly in the last stages of my pregnancy+working in the ER+writing other stuff+looking after my family, but fortunately, in my earlier burst of mania, I had already written most of the first episode.  So I turned it into an outline and shot it back.

Then it was Christmas time and budget machinations that I wasn’t privy to.  I didn’t mind since I had my hands full, literally, with a newborn baby girl.

And today…

Drum roll please…

I got The Email from Tom.

He’s sending me a contract.

We’re aiming for a rough draft mid-February, polishing, and a final version at the end of March.

Hence,

SQUEE.

For my writing bucket list, I checked off this:

Writing connects me with people, places, and things that excite me

Hey, I’m living it every day now.  I just had to realize that.

I also added two new categories, national and international recognition.  That’s really what I want.  The medium doesn’t matter so much, so I bumped the novel goals.  I still have those goals, but now I’m looking at radio.  I’m thinking about a new audience.  I’m thinking about Real Actors performing my work!

WowWowWowWowWow!

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200