Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Need Sleep

For the last eight hours, I have been ripping my hard fought words to shreds. Every writer goes through it, but that doesn't make it easier. It also doesn't mean it can be avoided. 

If you've ever told yourself you could write a book, but you haven't tried, pay attention to my words. You might be sure you have the next great novel trapped in your brain, if only had to time to spit it out. Well, how much time do you have? First, you must hone your craft, then study the works of successful authors, and then build a world that exists only in your mind. Then, you spend hours in front of your computer. Days drift away as you sit with your eyes locked on a bright screen of code. Endless nights pass as you search in vain for the perfect scene. If only we insomniacs could harness our collective power, we could solve the ills of the world, but that' not going to happen any time soon. One other thing, I'm sugar coating this. Writing a novel requires total devotion to the hungry beast of words.

Now, back to my day. You see, I've had this sick feeling in my gut for weeks. My opening chapters lacked that certain something--certain death to even the best of novels. To be fair, I also feel the rest of the novel is coming together beautifully. I had to do something so I steeled my spine and posted chapter one to an online writing community for critique. 

I had my answer in one day. It's strange how much vindication I felt. I was right the words weren't working. Well, not so much the words. My fellow writers liked my writing, but it was not an appropriate starting point for any novel. I'm going to have to learn to listen to the gurgling of my gut. 

I took their critiques to heart, and spent the next two nights tossing in bed, torturing my book's structure until it tumbled into position. All the interlocking pieces fitting tight, at least I hope they do. Now that the chapters have reassembled, my gut has quieted. I know more rounds of word assassination lay in my future, but I pretty sure I'll be able to sleep tonight. 

Writing = Anguish ... sometimes. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Update on Tasha's Poisoning

Several of you have contacted me directly about Tasha's recovery. thank you for your concern, and anyone who knows me, knows how much my pets me to me. They make me laugh, curl up with me when I'm sick. keep me moving, and frequently inspire character development. Tasha herself is much like Twig. We sometimes refer to her a Nursie-dog. She also sat with me day and night when I was suffering from a horrific asthma attack a few years back, and I swear she can detect my husband's seizures an hour before they occur. The least we can do is return the favor.

We saw our vet for a follow-up on Saturday. He ran a lot of chemistry on her blood and urine. The result is that my crazy little dog is chemically out of whack. Her pH is 8 when it should be a 3 or 4. She is registering low on some things and too on others. Her urine is forming crystals that glittered among the white blood cells on the slide. Jim is great. He takes his time, and even shows us what he sees directly. Really, we got a look at the slides. To a science nerd like me, that's pretty cool.

So what comes next? I am converting her to a high animal protein food, and keeping an eye on her. It will take time for the poison to leave her body. The good news is that no organ damage has appeared. We pounced on the problem, and headed off a disaster, and because she had a full belly, the plant food bound tothe kibble and make a quick exit when she vomited.

Tasha still gets tired quickly, and gives up on play long before our much older dog. She is fine, but she is just not Tasha. She is taking cranberry extract to support her urinary tract and getting the rest she needs to recover. She should be back to her old self in a few weeks.

Please remember pets can get into trouble quickly. If you love them, keep them away from all chemicals. If you wouldn't eat it, they shouldn't have access to it either.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This is Not a Plant

Meet Tasha, my beautiful, willful, crazy, athletic sheltie mix. She's 33 pounds of coiled spring. Part kangaroo, a huge dollop of goat, and perhaps a smidgen of border collie, she's brilliant and annoying all at the same time. She's faster than any dog I've ever seen, and can outrace even the greyhounds at the park. She loves agility, but we just do it for fun, and she has been the most difficult dog I've ever owned. 

I have spent thousands of hours working with her. Tasha doesn't speak dog. She screams in some language all her own, but she is my responsibility. When my husband wanted to give up, I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier to put in yet another training season for weeks at a time, and with the help of Renee, her agility trainer, I have finally learned to speak Tasha. 

So why am I blogging about my annoying dog? We returned from running errands Sunday morning to find a bag of plant food on the kitchen floor, the corner torn out. It didn't look like much was missing, but there was no way to tell. Even with two dogs in the house, we knew who had done it. Tasha is the only one physically able to reach the counter tops. We put her in a down-stay and made her watch as I cleaned it up and put the groceries away, but something was nagging me. What's in plant food anyway? Is it poisonous? 

I went to the internet. How did we get by without the internet? Anyway, it didn't take long to determine that Tasha was in trouble. A few minutes later, she vomited, twice. WE put in an emergency call to our vet. Jim loves our dogs and they think going to his clinic is almost as much fun as the dog park. He has taken fantastic care of them from puppyhood, but he is in practice by himself, and we didn't hear back. We couldn't wait. I called a ER clinic in the city. "Bring her in as soon as you can," was the reply. 

Long story, short, Tasha needed fluids to flush the chemicals from her body. She was dehydrated and nauseous. I've never heard a dog moan like Tasha did that day. The blood tests proved she had ingested some of the plant food, but no organ damage had yet appeared. She was going to be okay. Just a high level of phosphorus to flush out of her system. 

Here's the lesson folks: dogs will eat anything, especially if they think it's people food, and if they get into plant food. Take them to the veterinarian. 

Tasha is looking better. The hollows under her eyes have plumped up, and she is no longer moaning. I have to admit I was a little concerned she would glow in the dark like an analog watch face. (you have to find humor where you can) She is not 100% yet as my little bundle of energy is already asleep at 6:30 pm, but she has an appointment for a recheck with Jim on Saturday. He will make sure she recovers. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dear Imaginary Reader,

Someone asked recently asked me who had I written Blue on the Horizon for, and I froze. You see, every author wants to think that a wide audience will love their story, but that just isn’t possible. I managed to squeak out the word, female before she fired the next question at me. I felt horrible because I know exactly who I wrote Blue for.

She’s 13 years old, with a crazy swirl of hair known as a cowlick in the wrong location on her head. It makes sure she never, ever, has a good hair day, but she doesn’t care, well, not much.

I know she’s a loner, but rarely feels lonely. She’s had friends, and maybe even has a one or two right now, but she’s been hurt by friendships going bad before so she’s not shopping for more.

I know she’s intelligent, but she tries to hide it from her classmates. I’m sure she loves science, and she finds geology fascinating, but she wants to be an astronomer.

I know she has a pet, but I don’t know what species. It could be a cat, or a dog, or even a chicken, but I hope it’s a tortoise. I know she tells her pet all about her day, and she’s certain it will never share her secrets with anyone.

I know some of her classmates think she’s weird, and it hurts her feelings even though she knows from their perspective it is true.
You see, I know a lot about the person I wrote Blue on the Horizon for, but I’ve never met her.

I also know she’s a year older now, maybe even at a new school. I know she has found another friend who loves science as much as she does, and that together they can recite the periodic table forward and backward to some silly song they made up over the holiday break.

I hope she gained strength from Gaven’s story. After all, if someone so weird can find acceptance, she can too, and that is why I’m pouring my soul onto paper. To tell her that being called weird is perhaps the greatest compliment she will ever receive.

Finally, I know she expects a more sophisticated story from book two of the Legends of the Aurora, and I’m doing my best to deliver. My young reader will welcome back a few old friends, but new characters and perils await her in every chapter. Hang in there kid, I’m working as fast as I can.

Postscript: What I didn’t expect was a fan base of woman, well past the gawky stages of my imaginary reader. I’ve thought about this a lot. My conclusion is that we all remember that stage. I’m pleased that I could bring those emotions to the page is so visceral a manner. I know that I see myself in Gaven, maybe you will too.