Sunday, April 18, 2010

What to do now?

Okay, so the pooch is doing okay. She eats grass and throws up every other day or so, but I know that's because she has a tummy ache and is getting a natural antacid. At least there's no more bleeding. She looks good (although frailer) and is active, enjoying her walks, eating well, going potty. What else is there in life? I swear I'm coming back as a dog in my next life, although, knowing my luck I'd belong to someone not as loving as me. ; )

I'm finished with the rough draft of my latest story. What to do now? This is the hard part. I know I have to let it sit unread for a while, then go in and rewrite, revise, reshape once I can read it again with new eyes. Well, they're still the old worn out eyes, but you get my drift. I have the synopsis done and there's this contest I'd love to enter. I've always jumped the gun in the past and sent off three chapters without revising the entire manuscript, and then I've kicked myself when I got the results. Even if I scored high, or placed, I knew what had been shaped over the months of waiting for the results was so much better, and that I'd shot myself in the foot by rushing. You only get one chance to get your work in front of that final editor or agent.

But I want to enter this contest. This specific contest. Not some other contest. I sound like a spoiled brat. But I wonder, is what I have the best I can do? I have shaped this story as I've written. And this time I'm working with a wonderful critique partner. Decisions, decisions. Maybe I'll let it sit for two weeks, and then revise for one. I'd still have time to meet the deadline. I'm beginning to sense a plan forming.

I got my results back from the annual Golden Heart contest. They don't provide comments or critique, just scores, but you can tell by your scores how well your story is received by your peers. There are five judges and the entry is scored from one through nine, with five being average. There are three tiers. This year I made it into the top tier but didn't final, you need to have eighty percent, which I did have but they can only choose the top eight scorers in each category. My scores were great, and I'm very happy, although part of me is sad that I was so close. I felt like the swimmer who came in second by a score of 112th of a second or something equally as ridiculous.

Oh, well. There's always next year. ; )

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sick Dog. Good Books. Comforting Blogs.

My dear Nikki (an almost 11 year old Akita) became seriously ill the week before last. On the Thursday morning she collapsed in the street when we started out for our walk. Thank goodness a neighbor came by and helped me. He picked her up and carried her back to the house, his comment "She's a substantial young lady" floating on the early morning breeze. Nik at that point weighed in at 108 pounds.

I got Nik to the vet and we couldn't figure out what was going on. She was acting just the same as my boy Akita who lived to be almost 13 (elderly for this breed) and he'd died with a cervical spinal chord degeneration. Nik wouldn't let anyone touch her and even with her being muzzled they were unsuccessful in getting any x-rays. She was given an anti-inflammatory shot and a pain killer, and sent home with a new NSAID drug to be administerd once a day starting the following morning. The plan was to give her a light anaesthetic on the Tuesday and try to get some studies done so we'd know what we were dealing with. My Vet knows that money has been tight lately and she was trying to help me as much as possible without running wild with tests and treatments. I appreciated that.

On Sunday morning Nik refused her medication and wouldn't eat anything. In the afternoon she vomited. I didn't worry too much as she's always had a sensitive stomach. If she gets nervous, that's the first place it will show up. Sunday evening she had a bloody bowel movement, but it was old blood. I rushed her home and took her to the emergency hospital. Four hours later they wanted $2,000 to keep her in overnight, medicate her, give her IV fluids etc. This month is tax month. I said I couldn't do that. I opted for $675 and one IV fluid replacement and pain meds, and something to slow the motility in the bowel. I'm an ex-ICU nurse. I figured I'd stay up all night and tend to her needs, and take her to her own Vet on monday morning.

At one am Nik had bright red blood from her bowel, vomited three times and was in awful pain and discomfort. I got out my emergency credit card and drove her back to the hospital. They kept her there for two days and $3,000+ later I got to take her home. She's thinner, she's been on oral medications, antibiotics and Flagyl for the tummy. She looks good, but is frailer than before.

So, we had the first vet bill, the hospital bill, the carpet cleaning bill, the new medication and diet food bill. Tomorrow I take her for a follow-up with her own vet. Another bill. This has been a harsh month. But you know, with all of the angst and the cost, the hardest thing of all was having to sign the resuscitate/do not resusciate (should she have a cardiac arrest) sheet. I'd taken one look into her trusting big brown eyes and knew she still had quality of life. But that's one hell of an awful thing to have to think about.

What got me through all of the terrors of the last ten days were my writer's blogs. Every time I felt down I'd visit Jenny Crusie's blog,
or Lucy March's blog, Just being entertained, or hearing of someone else's troubles was almost enough to cheer me up, or at the very least help me to put everything into perspective.

But the best...the very best cure for waiting for a loved one's results, and then nursing them back to health, is a good book. I read Wild Ride, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

What a fabulous story. I love how these authors write outside of the box. They tell a story that has so many layers. Not layers like in a seven layer cake (you know cake, filling, cake, filling, cake, icing) or a lasagna, where it's all the same. No this is more of a Mexican dip. You ever see or taste one of those babies? Yum. There's cheese, there's beans, there's salsa, there's guacamole, there's...well you get the picture. Jenny and Bob's books are like that dip. Everytime you think you've hit that final delicious layer you find another. And those layers all blend so tastefully together that all you need is a perfect corn chip to give it crunch. Oh, and a Margarita. Definitely a Margarita. And salt.

Anyway, Wild Ride is a must read. I think everytime I reread it I'll find something I missed the first time around. So, there are no spoilers here for anyone who is waiting for the paperback edition.
This is a quote from the flyleaf:
Mary Alice Brannigan doesn't believe in the supernatural. Nor does she expect to find that Dreamland, the decaying amusement park she's been hired to restore, is a prison for the Untouchables, the most powerful demons in the history of the world. Plus, there's a guy she's falling hard for, and there's something about him that's not quite right.
Go get it. You'll love it. It's a suspense. It's a love story. It's full of spit and vinegar. And yet, underlying all of that are the basic needs of family, love, and the need to know that someone has your back.