Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Novel Snippet 1: Sailing Ships (working title)

Here's a small snippet of my young adult novel, with the working title of "Sailing Ships."


     I woke up on the first morning of summer vacation absolutely bored, as per usual. Not having many friends to hang out with, I just lazed around in my pajamas all day until my parents forced me to go to our large backyard, with the dogs-a greyhound, Lucy, and a German Shepherd, called Joe. I have always hated the outdoors, especially the small flying stinging inhabitants of that world, so I begrudgingly went out with a book. I sat under the shade of a tree, with a hat, sunglasses, and copious amounts of sunscreen to avoid heat-induced nausea when a rogue lime-green Frisbee hit me square between the eyes.

     “Augh!” I cried.
     “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!! Are you ok?? My dumb brother has terrible aim,” said a young man’s voice with an audible “HEY!” in the background, which I assumed was his dumb brother.
     “Yeah, yeah I’m ok,” waving off the boy, eyes still squinting from the throbbing pain. “I do feel a bit like Marcia-“
     “-of the Brady bunch! Oh my gosh don’t tell me I broke your nose!!” The boy laughed at my joke, but suddenly his voice changed to one of alarm at the possibility calamity.
     “No, no, it’s alright,” I said, finally being able to look into the concerned face of a boy with ruddy brown hair and faint freckles, no more than 6 inches away from mine. God, he has the deepest green eyes I’ve ever seen, I caught myself thinking. Blushing, I turn away.
     “So, Marcia, what’s your real name? Or is it really Marcia, because that would be a crazy coinci-“
     “It’s Emily. Emily Claire Fraser…What’s yours?”
     “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you Emily Claire Fraser!” The easily 6 foot 2” tall boy in the Green Bay Packers football jersey and cargo shorts bowed dramatically, looking up with a grin and introduced himself as Joshua. Joshua Turner or Josh, if I liked. I liked Joshua.

     “Bro! Is she okay??” cried the dumb brother from the yard next door.
     “Oh! I almost forgot about him!” Joshua said with a wink and turned to reply to his brother, “Yeah, she’s fine, I think! No lawsuits today!” The realization that he had never asked me whether or not I wanted to pursue charges flashed across his face, and as he glanced down at me, I laughed and shook my head no.
     “That’s my little brother, Noah. Don’t mind him, he’s just a knucklehead,” Joshua said, gesturing towards the yard.
     “I heard that!” cried Noah as he walked back to the Turner house. Noah didn’t seem to be too perturbed by the comment, as he had a smile on his face.

     My parents arrived then, and, by some small feat, had already met Mr. and Mrs. Turner, both lawyers, respectively. Mom and Dad were thrilled that I had made the acquaintance of Joshua and Noah already. “Someone you can play with, dear!” Dad said in a typical goofy dad tone. I blushed with embarrassment when Joshua came to save the day. “Oh yes, I’m sure we’ll have lovely tea parties and play ‘house’ all the time, won’t we, Em?”
     “Uhh, it’s Emily, and sure, we can even play cowboys and Indians with your brother,” sarcastically raising an eyebrow at my dad. I normally didn’t like it when people called me Em, but when Joshua said it, it sounded…better somehow. I kind of liked it, but I would never admit it.

     My parents then left “us kids” to our own, but Joshua had to go back home. They had just moved in, and Joshua needed to help his dad with some lifting, as his mom had a back problem or something.
     “I’ll see you later?” Joshua said, a question hanging in the air, waiting for an invitation.
     “Yeah, sure,” I said, trying to sound cool, but I’m sure it sounded awkward.

     I watched him walk away, and I saw that Joshua had broad shoulders, a small mole behind his right ear, just visible underneath his brown hair which had touches of sun-bleached gold, naturally tanned skin, and a fairly nice butt. I tried to wave away that last thought as I turned away towards my own house. I glanced back at him, and caught him looking at me too. I blushed and looked away, though I could distinctly feel the beginnings of butterfly larvae in the pit of my stomach, I willed them behave as I closed the back door behind me.

     I went to the bathroom and looked myself in the mirror. I had shoulder length, dirty blond hair, with terrible freckles all across my round face. Any amount of makeup wouldn’t cover them up, believe me, I’ve tried. I wore thick black-rimmed glasses, and my old and faded University of Wisconsin baseball cap, which was my dad’s from his college days. Did I really catch him looking at ME? I thought. I snapped out of my thought by my mom calling me to help with dinner. I hadn’t even realized that it was dinner time until I saw the golden rays of sunset pouring in through the window. “Coming!” I cried, as the thought entered my mind, this is going to be an interesting summer, isn’t it?

“Imbed Biosciences Could Help Burn Patients Heal Faster”

By Laura Ahlgren, Originally published on in the Fall of 2010.

Imagine if a child with burns over ten percent of his or her body could be healed with just one dressing, which kills infection-causing bacteria while promoting new skin growth at the same time. This remarkable technology of wound dressings could be coming to a burn unit near you.

Treating wounds such as severe burns is a tricky business. These wounds commonly get infected easily and require antibacterial ointments to be applied twice daily, which means two excruciatingly painful dressing changes.

For children, especially, this makes an already difficult recovery even more difficult. Children often have to be sedated for dressing changes, as well as sometimes needing feeding tubes to be put in leading to more complications.

A new type of dressing, called biologic wound dressings, use biologic components from animals which promotes growth of cells as a skin substitute. There are two sides to this biologic coin: the first being that it promotes skin cell growth which leads to faster healing, but yet it also promotes bacteria growth which can cause infections. About twenty percent of wounds get an infection with a biologic wound dressing. However, doctors like to use these biologic dressings because they are much easier on the patient with less pain and less hospital time, but don’t like this unfortunate side effect.

This is where Imbed Biosciences, led by Ankit Agarwal, PhD, hopes to come in. Imbed Biosciences is developing a new technology which can put a very thin coating of silver nanoparticles onto these existing biologic dressings in one step.

Imbed Biosciences placed first in the 2010 Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition, as well as placing second in their division in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. Agarwal is also a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical and Biological Engineering, and presented the business plan with a colleague. Imbed Biosciences will also be presenting at the 2010 Early Stage Symposium.

Most people think of silver as something used in jewelry, but in fact, it has been frequently used in wound management for its antibiotic properties. However, doctors have had difficulty with silver in ointments and dressings since the dosage often was too large, thus killing skin cells as well as the bacteria. Imbed
biosciences’ use of silver is one hundred times less than that of leading dressings, and is just as effective.

“This technology uses method that does not affect the structure or activity of the biologic dressings,” Agarwal said.

This is revolutionary because the process of incorporating silver with current technologies requires a lot of chemical and physical processing which degrades the biological components. Imbed’s technology allows this coating to be put on at the very end of the already established manufacturing lines which is “low-cost and very simple,” according to Agarwal. Also, using silver nanoparticles is the most stable form of silver, using one hundred times less silver than other applications.

This technology has not received FDA approval yet for use in clinics, and is currently being tested in animals in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School. One set of tests showed that the Imbed coating killed all the bacteria in the wound compared to the non-coated biologic dressing. Agarwal expects about six more months of testing on the current prototype.

When this technology makes it to market, it might be slightly more expensive than already premium priced biologic dressings, but it would reduce the overall cost of treatment for patients and their families by requiring less hospital time, less dressing changes, less pain medications, and faster recovery. For burn and chronic wound patients this could mean a vastly different, better treatment of an already painful experience.

Ahlgren [was] a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.

First Post!

Hello Internet!

My name is Laura Ahlgren and this blog will be dedicated to my future writing endeavors. My main goal, hopefully(!), will be a novelist, but I also have interests in journalism, communications, and social media (I'm a bit of a Tumblr fiend, to be honest).

As I said, this blog will be dedicated to my writing. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, I'm thinking that at first I could post little snippets of the novel I'm working on; thoughts about the world/my life; etc. I really would love to pursue a career in writing, and I don't have much published out there, so here I am with this blog!

I have written an article for, about Imbed Biosciences, a bioscience company making ultra thin layers of silver for burn bandages. Unfortunately, it is no longer available there, so I'll post it here in a new post after this one. This article was written for my Capstone class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied Life Sciences Communications (concentration: business) and from which I graduated in December 2010.

I've spent the last three years in South Korea teaching English, and now that I have returned to the USA, I'm looking to further my writing career.

So sit back and relax as we go on this adventure together! Feel free to give me tips or comments on how to improve my writing. If you're interested in working with me on some projects, feel free to contact me as well. (I'll put my blog email address in the bio section.)

Happy writing!