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!

N-n-n-na-notorious (book trailer)

What can I say? I love this book trailer. I would like to kiss it. The only thing I’d modify is the thumbnail, which I will if I have time before my (dum dum dum dum!) next secret partnership emerges February 24th.

My husband snorted and said, “Typical Hollywood,” but I was hypnotized by my own work. My eight-year-old son, Max, who showed no interest in my Hope Sze books prior, glommed on to the trailer and said, “Mommy, this is your best one.”

While we were brushing our teeth, he said, “Mommy, who does Hope Sze marry?”

“I can’t tell you, Max.”

“Why not?”

I laughed. “Well, for one thing, I haven’t decided yet. Maybe she doesn’t marry anyone.”

“You have to tell me.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m your son.”

I laughed and hugged him.

After I tucked him in bed, Max said, “Mommy, can we read the Hope Sze books?” (He pronounces it Zee. Close enough.)

“Um, they’re really grown-up books, Max.”

“Why?”

“Well, they have people killing other people and sex and stuff.”

“I still want to read them.”

“Okay.” But in the meantime, we’re reading Gordon Korman. He loved Bugs Potter (in fact, he liked Bugs Potter Live at Nickaninny even more than Who Is Bugs Potter?), and we’re just starting on Beware the Fish.

How ’bout you? What are you reading, and do you consider book trailers a godsend, or the downfall of civilization?

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!

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

The Most Notorious People Have Spoken

My peeps have weighed in about the Notorious D.O.C. cover. One line stood out to me. “The grey is more serious and the red is more sexy.” (Unrelated photo below, demonstrating serious +/- sexy.)

 Image

Grey

Pro

Better angle

One shoe on, one off makes it clear that she’s hit “instead of tinkering under the car”

Some like the tire tread and blood

Works as a thumbnail

Red draws attention to the title

Con

“I don’t like her body.”

“I don’t like her butt. It should be more toned. Is she someone who works out?”

“What’s with the panty line?”

“I don’t like the dress colour.”

“Yeah, the grey on grey.”

“I can’t tell at a glance if she’s face-up or face-down.”

“I don’t like the reflection in the car—it took me a minute to figure out what it was.”

“Why is she wearing flip flops? Why is she wearing a dress?”

Tire tread not realistic-looking

Paw print on the book spine (Olo Books logo)—unclear what this is

Red

Pro

Red top draws the eye

Red is the colour of blood (and is sexier!)

Model has Asian background, like the Lisa Lee character in the book (very important to me, as I hate whitewashed covers)

Shot in the rain, also like the book

Rollerblades in the background (part of the book—Lisa Lee was blading in the wee hours of the morning)

Model wearing work-out clothes

Con

Body angle not as eye-catching

Car wheel distracting

“Looks like it was shot in a garage with a reflective floor”

Not clear what the Rollerblades are in the background

No tire tread

Both shoes on

My take?

Both covers have strengths and weaknesses. But, in the end, my two covers are not so much competing against each other as competing against every other cover in the world.

The people who really disliked the grey cover were the ones who saw it in person. So it’s entirely possible that the grey works better online and the red works better face to face.

Which is a tricky question, since most people will buy this book online. It will be available to order in bookstores, but most people will see it on Amazon or as an e-book first—the opposite of the days of yore.

Which makes me wonder if I could have a different cover for e-book or print—or if I just have to choose the one that looks better as a thumbnail rather than in real life, which is an interesting reversal of fortunes.

First I have to get a copy of the red in print. Then I’ll decide. However, my decision will not be set in stone. And this is not a democracy. (Even if it were, only 22 people have voted so far, with the vote 13 to 9 in favour of the grey, which is not a stunning sample size.) Ultimately, I will choose the cover, and I may be crazy enough to do it differently for e-book and print book, or make one cover special order. Through the miracle of technology, I can also change my decision later. Hooray for indie publishing, and thanks for taking the time to vote!

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.