New middle grade books for June 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 9.26.16 PMJust in time for summer, an excellent selection of new middle grade releases hits bookstore and library shelves this month. Look for new titles from Dorian Cirrone, Karen Cushman, Kate Messner, Tricia Springstubb, JenniferSwanson and more. I rounded up 24 books for this blog post for the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. Read more: New Releases: June 2016 …

 

So, I had a heart attack …

Three months ago I had a heart attack. And since the symptoms of a heart attack are different for women, and since the kind I had can strike people with no markers of heart disease, I’ve decided to tell my story. And because I love to name drop, I’ll do some of that along the way because I was with authors I love that night.

I was at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, surrounded by friends. Authors Kirby Larson, Kristen Kittscher and I had just finished a presentation on our middle grade mysteries when in a flash everything changed for me. I had full-on flu-like symptoms, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I whispered to Kirby that I didn’t feel well and needed to leave; she took one look at me and tried to intervene, asking to take me home or to urgent care. Something was off. She told me she was worried, and that I looked “ashen.” (That specific word comes into play later.) I assured her I’d be fine. My friend Sara Nickerson looked concerned and touched her chest, a movement that triggered something in my brain.

I am having a heart attack in this photo. But look at who I'm surrounded by -- friends and writers. Love these women! Kirsten Kittscher, Kiry Larson, Suzanne Selfors, Sara Nickerson, Jennifer Longo.

I am having a heart attack in this photo. But look at who I’m surrounded by — friends and writers I love. Kristen Kittscher, Kirby Larson, Suzanne Selfors, Sara Nickerson, Jennifer Longo. I love these women!

As I headed to my car, a pressure came into my chest. Weird, but not too bad. I thought about what Kirby had said, how Sara had touched her heart. I tried to stop the crazy thoughts in my head that maybe I was heading toward a heart attack. I thought about going back to the store, knowing that anyone in there would help me. My dear friend Jane (friends since college) had just left the bookstore and lives nearby. I knew I didn’t have to be alone. But I decided to drive home anyway.

A few minutes into the drive, stabbing pain in my back came and I knew precisely what it was (thank you PBS documentary on women and heart disease!). Still, because I’m a dummy, I drove all the way home, threw up and then the pain went down my left arm to my little finger.

I walked inside and asked Kevin, my husband, to take me to the ER. He asked no questions, just jumped up and grabbed his keys. I remember saying something like I might be embarrassed if it was nothing, but that I’d rather be embarrassed than dead. He just said: “We’re going.”

My heart attack was not the Hollywood kind where someone (almost always a man) grabs his chest and doubles over in pain. Every one of my symptoms was one that would stand on its own as a possible heart attack; all of my symptoms are ones that could be, and often are, dismissed by healthcare professionals, let alone the people having them. When I walked into the ER, I listed them quickly and specifically. If you are a woman (or you know one), please take note of my heart attack symptoms:

  • Stabbing back pain between my shoulder blades
  • Pain radiating down my left arm to my little finger and ring finger
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain (this was the least of my symptoms)
  • And, I said, “A friend said I looked ashen.”

All were noted, the word “ASHEN” in all caps, and I was taken in immediately. It was confirmed that I was having a heart attack, or, as I now call it, a myocardial infarction (MI). Just a couple months after a physical where I’d had a normal ECG and full blood work, with cholesterol scores so good I could have framed them. I exercise, eat reasonably well, don’t smoke, I’m not THAT old, and I was having a heart attack.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 3.10.02 PM

The heart attack (MI) was caused by a tear in an artery wall, which is called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD. SCADs occur predominantly in women who are fit and healthy, with an average age of 42. We don’t know why they happen, and I’m not sure there’s anything I could have done to prevent it from happening. The first articles I read kept referring to SCAD as a rare disease. The SCAD Research Alliance says this: “SCAD isn’t rare. It’s rare to meet a survivor.”

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My friend Jane took this photo just minutes before my heart attack. I still feel like the person here, although my new normal is definitely different.

I’ve met some wonderful women through a SCAD Survivors group and I’m thankful every day for them and the research now being done at the Mayo Clinic. SCAD survivors share information on how hard the first year is, the fear of recurrence (a real fear, as it happens frequently), anxiety, making progress in cardiac rehabilitation, and finding a “new normal.”

I am incredibly grateful to my friend Kirby because her concern and her words got me to the point where I knew this was real. This was big. Ashen is an unusual color for me unless, as it turns out, my heart is not getting enough oxygen.

Heaps of thanks to my family and to all my friends, and those who, when they asked what they could do, came when I said the dog really could use a walk, or two, every day for a few weeks. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister Act: 10 middle grade novels with sisterly love

When I was about ten, I almost grasped an important grammar lesson from my father: If there are two siblings, one is older and the other is younger, not oldest and youngest. It was a conversation about comparatives and superlatives, but what stuck with me is that you need three to add the all-important -est to an order. This blew my mind, as I had firmly planted in my mind that I was the youngest. Turns out I was merely the younger. My dad tried to explain it to me in terms of “good, better, best …” and this is about where I stopped listening and just imagined (more…)

New releases: February 2016

Hooray for leap year 2016! February 29 means we have an extra day for reading this month, which you’re all going to need when you look at this lineup of selected new releases. Here are two dozen titles in this round up from the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog: 

Read the rest of the post: New Releases February 2016

Goodreads giveaway for Hannah West mysteries (you should enter!)

I was so excited when my boxes (four boxes!) of pretty new Hannah West books came that I immediately set up a Goodreads giveaway for Hannah West: Sleuth in Training (link goes directly to the give away). Then the good people at Two Lions publishing stepped in to offer 20 (twenty!) hardcover copies of Hannah West: Sleuth on the Trail. You should enter!

hannah west sleuth in traininghannah west sleuth on the trail

With a Dog By My Side: Favorite middle grade books with a canine sidekick

(this post was originally published on The Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog on 11/20/2015)

Dogs I like” is one one of my book shelves on Goodreads, and I feel a tremendous delight each time I get to add a new book to the shelf. These books are not necessarily about dogs (although some certainly are); rather, these are the books where the author (more…)

October 2015 middle-grade releases

highly unusual magicEach month the collaborative blog the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors lists new releases. Following this feature saves me a lot of time as I look for the new, the brightest, the yet-to-be-discovered books written specifically for middle grade readers. It’s not an all-inclusive list, which would be exhaustive. And its manageability makes it a terrific resource.

Here’s an excerpt from and link to the post:

Did you happen to see recent headlines about how independent book stores aren’t just surviving, they’re actually thriving? The Week magazine summarizes findings and offers its own spin on why book stores are vital, including the fact that they “curate and recommend in a human way.” That point is crucial for middle grade readers who depend (often unknowingly) on parents, librarians, teachers, and booksellers to help them find the right book at the right time. We here at the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors take the privilege of being able to curate and recommend quite seriously — and joyfully. And with that, we happily present you with fifteen choice middle grade books heading to book store and library shelves this month (continue reading October new releases on the Mixed-Up Files blog here).

Timeless intrigue of Greek myths

Bigger than life characters, epic battles, good versus evil, outlandish monsters and over-the-top family strife are just a few reasons Greek myths are now — just as they have been for generations — absolutely irresistible for middle grade readers. And while no kid wants to hear this now, getting a grounding in Greek tales will serve these young readers well the rest of their lives. So many references in literature (Shakespeare, for one) and pop culture have roots in these myths, and they’ll also provide fodder for kids’ own stories and interpretations.

shadowthievesIf <strong>Percy Jackson and the Olympians</strong> first reeled your reader to Poseidon, Zeus, and Athena, you may be wondering what books to grab next. Or maybe your reader likes the idea of Greek myths, but isn’t really sold on the whole Percy Jackson thing. Either way, here are some ideas for what to read next:

Timeless intrigue of Greek Myths for middle readers — From The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors  (continue to read post I wrote … ):