Happy Tiggerversary!

Six years ago today, I drove north to Wendy’s Feline Friends and picked up my orange boy.

Yesterday, my friend Sarah took this amazing picture.

Tigger!

I think I have a can of tuna in the closet. So it will be a very happy Tiggerversary for Tig and Meimei.

Unsettling science

Not satisfied with overmedicating children for ADHD, some scientists are now saying we should medicate children who daydream. Which means that had I been born in this modern generation, I would have been ripe for being diagnosed with this brand-new “disorder”. I remember doing a lot of daydreaming in school. And yet, I managed to graduate high school and college without being dosed for it.

Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children.

There are several alarm bells going off as I read this article. Here’s the first:

Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.

Isn’t that interesting. The “experts” researching this condition are being paid by Eli Lilly to figure out how they can treat it with already-existing drugs–thus adding to Lilly’s bottom line.

Here’s the second:

Yet some experts, including Dr. McBurnett and some members of the journal’s editorial board, say that there is no consensus on the new disorder’s specific symptoms, let alone scientific validity. They warn that the concept’s promotion without vastly more scientific rigor could expose children to unwarranted diagnoses and prescription medications — problems that A.D.H.D. already faces.

“We’re seeing a fad in evolution: Just as A.D.H.D. has been the diagnosis du jour for 15 years or so, this is the beginning of another,” said Dr. Allen Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “This is a public health experiment on millions of kids.”

In other words, there have been no scientific studies on the so-called disorder.

And here is the last alarm, which proves to me that this “disorder” is a load of crap:

Dr. Barkley declined repeated requests for interviews about his work and statements regarding sluggish cognitive tempo. Several of the field’s other key researchers, Stephen P. Becker of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Benjamin B. Lahey of the University of Chicago and Stephen A. Marshall of Ohio University, also declined to comment on their work.

If it’s a true disorder, why are they not speaking to the press? Could it be because there is no science behind it, only the desire to increase their research grants from Eli Lilly?

Dr. McBurnett recently conducted a clinical trial funded and overseen by Eli Lilly that investigated whether proposed symptoms of sluggish cognitive tempo could be treated with Strattera, the company’s primary A.D.H.D. drug. (One of Strattera’s selling points is that it is not a stimulant like Adderall and Concerta, medications more susceptible to abuse.) His study, published in The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, concluded, “This is the first study to report significant effects of any medication on S.C.T.”

An Eli Lilly spokeswoman said in an email, “Sluggish cognitive tempo is one of many conditions that Lilly scientists continue to study to help satisfy unmet medical needs around the world.”

Uh-huh.

You know what makes up a significant portion of my writing time? Plotting. You know what another word for plotting could be?

Daydreaming.

If the New York Times is treating this trend with such outright skepticism, I don’t believe it will take root. But in this era of Nanny State Uber Alles, I wouldn’t want to lay odds.

B&N epubs now available in the U.K.

U.K. customers can now get The Catmage Chronicle epubs via Barnes & Noble. Nook Press just opened up to some European countries. I’m on Kobo as well, so if you don’t live in the U.S. or the U.K., just click here for a copy.

A sneak peek at the cover of book 2

The ISBN is borrowed from book one’s cover. I’ll get that that eventually, but I’ve only just finished writing the book. But here it is, for your viewing pleasure.
Darkness Ascendant cover

Commenting and user registration

I’m closing user registration until further notice. I’m tired of deleting spam accounts, and, well, those are the only users registering these days. I’m pretty sure that only about four people actually read this blog, and that’s because I send it to my FB and Goodreads feeds.

That’s okay. I can wait until my audience builds up. I’m a very patient woman. Except when I’m driving.

An opt-in mailing list for readers

My book is being featured tomorrow at eBookSoda, a new readers’ site where they’ll send you ebook recommendations tailored to your personal taste with an opt-in mailing list

It’s a new list started by an independent author in the U.K. I’m quite impressed with it. Give it a look.

Making your mother cry

The questions that young writers ask the most are the ones that are probably the most difficult to answer. What does it take to be writer? How do you know if you’re any good? What, people wonder, is that special, magic ingredient that makes the difference between a wannabe and a writer?

It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot. It’s impossible to find any single answer to that question. But I found some that work for me.

There is a scene in The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting. Tommy Stubbins is asking Polynesia if she thought he could learn animal languages. Her response to Tommy: “Are you a good noticer?” She goes on to explain that animals talk with more than the sounds they make. A tail wag, an ear lift–each of these things speaks volumes.

It’s a perfect question to ask of a young writer, as well. Because a good writer needs the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. A good writer notices events and surroundings, stores them away somewhere in her brain, and takes them out again when she needs to develop a scene. If you’re a good noticer, that scene comes to life. If you’re not, it falls flat. It’s inauthentic. The reader gets bored.

There’s something else that came to me today. I think I’ve finally figured out the essence of what it takes to be a writer: You have to be able to make your mother cry.

Let me explain. Many years ago, I wrote a short story about a poor boy in a who lived in “the Projects,” a government-subsidized apartment complex. I modeled the Projects on my own experience living in one for three years as a child. Like I did with all of my stories in those days, I gave it to my mother to read. When I asked her what she thought of it, she said it made her cry. I was taken aback. It wasn’t a happy story–It’s a story about hope and disappointment–but I didn’t think it was that sad. But then she told me why she cried: Because I had described the Projects so well, it brought her back to the time in our lives when we lived there. And they were not a happy time.

So. Are you a good noticer? Can you make your mother cry? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you’re a writer, my friend.

Julie’s final cover art

Julie Dillon send me the final version for the cover of Darkness Ascendant (a.k.a. book 2). It’s simply wonderful.

Book 2 cover art

Kindle Countdown sale

There are about two hours left to get the Kindle edition for 99 cents.

A sneak peek at book two cover art

Julie Dillon worked her magic again, and the cover is phenomenal. It’s in the final stages, but here’s what it’s going to look like.
Darkness Ascendant cover

Can’t wait to see the final product.

In other news, the writing is moving forward. I expect a March publishing date.