Busted hand

The shortest version of this goes like this: My dogs started playing, and it ended in collar strangulation, two rescued dogs, and a bitten hand. The (bigger, of course) dog got his jaw hooked under my best-buddy’s collar and they twisted the collar into a figure-8. I didn’t react promptly since all I initially heard was a yelp (very common in their playing, Terra is a wimp and knows that any sort of cry makes people/Teddy/whatever back off because they think they hurt her when they really did not), and I ignored it. Terra pulled her playmate over to me (I don’t know, 30 or so seconds later? maybe more?) and I realized what was going on. I have snap-on collars on both of them because I thought they were easy to get on and off. Nope, not really. Not when the snap is below one dog’s head and beneath another’s chin and both dogs are freaked out. Oh, and I was home alone, of course. For a few seconds I genuinely thought I was going to lose Terra. Her eyes went all glassy, she lost bowel control, and that’s when she bit and I got the collar off right after. I believe she intended to go after the Teddy, to try to make him let go. In any case, Terra was happy for a second after the collar came off, then she smelled my hand and the start of the blood, and she turned around, tucked tail, and tried her very best to fit underneath the bed. She stayed there for quite some time until my parents arrived and she couldn’t resist coming out to greet them.

The story is pretty common among collar strangulation stories. It seems, no real statistic on this it’s just from the stories I have read, 50/50 on dogs biting vs not, and 50/50 on if the dog survives or dies. Death seems to take place between 60-90 seconds after the onset of strangulation, so I think we were cutting it pretty close for a medium-sized dog.

This event took place six days ago. It was night time, so unless we went to the Emergency Room (not only *not* a real emergency, but the estimated cost would have been between $800-$900 for a few stitches) we had no immediate health care options. We cleaned it up and waited until morning. The doc at the urgent care office decided against “poking more holes in healing skin” since the wound was over 10 hours old. He was also considering that leaving it open would allow it to drain better, thus less a risk of infection since 80% of dog bites get infected. Can I say I really, really did not want an infection to start right over the tendons to my right-hand fingers? So I’ll have a scar. If it’s a big deal, I’ll slab some scar-away cream over it when it’s all healed up. I’m also on a heavy-duty antibiotic which even the generic was really pricey on. Comes out to be almost $2 a pill, and I shopped around for the best price, and the pill itself makes even the largest multivite look like a birth control tablet. It’s a little daunting to swallow and I’ve been popping antacids to help settle my stomach afterwards.

My paranoia about keeping everything super clean must be paying off, that or zucchini from my garden has untapped medicinal qualities, because it is now ready to scab over and I can do everything with my hand except wash my hair and work door knobs. The first night, the swelling and bruising over my tendons made it so that I had to use my other hand to open a closed fist. I was a little freaked about that. Thankfully, nurses are as common as engineers in my family and I was assured that as long as I could still move and feel everything, my hand was good. I took a few days off typing and writing. Even though I can write legibly with my left hand, I do not like how long it takes to do. (The last couple of posts were pre-written and scheduled to appear, just as explanation.)

That very fist night, I was reminded of a book I read while I was a child. It think it was by Patricia C. Wrede, but I’m not positive. I was eating a lot of books at the time, and was a major fan of her’s. The major hurdle of the book was that an aspiring harpist (I think it was a harp) slits her palm while helping her family gut fish in the village business. As the wound infects and her hand seizes closed, she believes she can’t play anymore, but a teacher/talent-seeker still believes in her and pretty much puts her through physical therapy so she can play at a (future) professional level. The book closed happy, but that initial thought, that initial realization that you may be physically hindered from doing what you love–that is a terror worth never repeating. And so I was determined to keep on moving my hand, to keep on doing the same things I always had, just with less force. This turned out to be a very good thing, because I had to get fingerprinted this week for my student visa application, and if I hadn’t kept my hand limber they may not have been able to take my prints. As it was I had a few twinges I didn’t tell them about.

I’m getting back into typing again, but I’m building up to it again as the bruising and swelling goes the rest of the way down. So…yeah. I’m just way happy that there hasn’t been a hint of infection so far. And I don’t regret saving my buddy/guard dog, though both of the dogs are now running around completely naked. Collars can go back on them when we need to be in public. Just like toddlers and clothing! (kidding)

Till next time,



Pen Name Musings

I am wholly, unapologetically happy with my current pen name Nicolette Jinks. Since I’m not down a hard and fast career route, there is still a good chance I’ll still end up using my real name to write technical documents, legal papers, and anything nonfiction in general. That is the main reason I took a pen name. Can you imagine “A Beginner’s Guide to FastBooks Accounting” being released right next to “Swift Magic” by the same author? And what about those right alongside a grant proposal in a google search? Ha! That might work itself out, but let me not confuse the few readers I have.

That said, I was considering publishing The King’s Mutt (also: toying with the idea of using The King’s Liaison instead, has a nicer ring to it) under a separate but similar name. Because TKM isn’t urban fantasy. It just isn’t. I might waive the setting differences, except there isn’t even any magic in TKM. It’s more realistic. Not historical or historically accurate, mind you, but it is set in the past, it has no magic, and it deals with love pretty heavily. The writing style is also quite different, but I suspect that my writing style will vary largely depending on which character is telling the tale, so that aspect may be a moot point.

To this end, not that I have read The Casual Vacancy yet, I wonder if my favorite childhood author JK Rowling would have been best to write her adult books under a different pen name. It doesn’t have to be a major name change, nor that secret, but I wonder if it would have been best for her to keep “JK Rowling” used for magical-stuff. Because that’s what her readers expect after Harry Potter. She (and her publisher, agents, and whomever else) had a  compelling reason to stay on with her current name, and I respect whatever her reason was. However, I still wonder. And if I’m wondering about her example, that makes me take my case into some more consideration.

Also: Nicolette Jinks sounds very fantasy-y. I intended for it to be that way. But does “The King’s Liaison” by Nicolette Jinks have the same meaning as “The King’s Liaison” by Nicole C Fredrick? You just saw two completely different covers, didn’t you? On this note, I don’t intend to hide my different names from each other, anyone searching me on the internet will find this post or others, but it will look different on the shelves. I’d keep the books together, but they are so different. Were I to send them to traditional publishing houses, they would go their separate ways. Maybe I should take that as a cue. Multiple names/genres is why I set up my bank account under Standal Publications, after all.

On the subject of “Should You Use a Pen Name or Pseudonym”, James wrote an awesome article on just that! And for those of you who don’t want to click, James is a lady. I would say ‘nough said, but no, no. See, what is just as valuable as the article itself are the comments that follow. Read them and laugh.

So, any thoughts? About genre-specifying? About being too confusing? About pen names in general?


Rebelling NaNo-ing

I just went rogue.

I’m using Camp NaNo for its word count calendar. When I first decided to do NaNoWriMo, I wondered why on earth anyone would do anything besides a straight-forward novel. I mean, that’s what the whole thing is about. Right?

Or is it about making you write?

This was the first time I set my project name to “Various Works”. And when asked for the genre, I decided to use the one category which they all included: Romance. I never thought of myself as a romance writer. But it would seem that I am, at the heart of things. It just isn’t right-smack-there-in-your-face. I might add in here that I love how Camp NaNo has “cabins” with other members in it. There’s no visiting forums, just a little facebook-like status thing that you can chat with your cabinmates in. In one of the many awesome emails the organization sends out, one of them mentioned being a Rebel. To be a Rebel, you set your own goal entirely. I should note that CAMP NaNo allows you to set your own word count goal, you don’t have to write 50k in a month. Does a successful month mean writing 30k words? or 80k? Or does it mean typing up that stack of papers which you would never get around to doing otherwise? 

In joining the Rebel Forces this month, I find that I have discovered several things about my writing. It’s pretty amazing to think about, once you open your mind to other ideas, how you caon expand so much upon your little world, and maybe find a small portion of yourself in the process.

Where to begin?

I dyed my dog the other day, entirely by accident and without knowing that my retriever-looking mutt with one blue eye would add to his unique look by having a mottled chocolate and black hide. It started the night before, when the dogs wanted to go outside before bedtime. I opened the door and they burst through it–scattering at least two baby skunks who had seen fit to sniff around my doormat, most likely in search of the zucchini muffins I had been making all day long.

Nothing can make a dog return to you once it has found a skunk. Nothing but becoming bored or getting sprayed in the eyes. So I did what any loving pet-parent would do.

I slammed the door and cursed at the dogs through a closed window until the quartet had finished with their dance and my two dogs wanted back inside. At this point, Teddy had bolted off to the garden shed, so that wasn’t a terrible place, but Terra had chased the other skunk into the hedge beneath the living room windows. And my house smelled, inside and out, of skunk. If you haven’t smelled it before, it’s like rotting fish mixed with bad egg with a heaping dash of eau de steer compost. But worse.

I cracked open the door. Terra had learned how to be quick about skunks; she stank, but she hadn’t gotten hit in the face, so she was hyper and buzzing with the thrill of the chase. This was Teddy’s first time getting sprayed, and he was a little traumatized by the stinging potency of it. He expected me to comfort him the way I had cuddled him for five minutes after he first got zapped by the electric fence around my garden.

I yelled at them both to get in their dog run. My reaction surprised them, but they went along with joy since every other time I sent them there, it meant they got treats. Tonight they just got locked in and left.

I woke early the next morning, researched up the Humane Society’s skunk shampoo (a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap), and gave them both the bath according to directions. Pretty much, that included spraying them down until evenly wet but not soaking, then working the shampoo into their fur and leaving them to drip-dry. After decades and tens of farm dogs, my family has practice with de-skunking a dog.

So once both dogs had been washed, they went back in the dog run, I went to work for the morning, and when I came back right after lunch, Teddy had become an auburn. He was completely oblivious to this, racing around completely skunk-free, a bright red-brown in the sun, and his usual black in the shade.

Being a formerly chronic hair-dyer, I realized very quickly that peroxide + sunlight (even in the shade) = bleached hair. But this did nothing to lessen both my surprise and my instant, gripping feeling of guilt. Bleached hair didn’t fade. The pigment was lifted from the hair shaft, making it impossible to go darker again without putting pigments back on the hair shaft. Which meant if I wanted him to be black, I’d have to go find a non-peroxide black dye meant for humans and hope that it worked on him. Not going to happen. The good news is that peroxide doesn’t damage the actual production of hair, so I would only have to wait several months for his hair to grow in. But being a long-haired dog, this means he would boast the ombre look which is so “in style” at the moment.

Terra (who is a blue heeler) did not have any changes in her hair color, not even the black spot on her rump. She looked exactly the same as before. Maybe a little bit less dusty, but that was it. The farm dogs had managed to all be yellow labs or golden retrievers, so any bleaching of their hair was not noticeable, if it happened at all.

So, while I was in shock and watching the two dogs romp and play, Teddy’s brown coat shining in the sun, I decided I’d make the most of it and share my discovery with my friends and family. And hope my husband would be OK with me dying his dog the same color as his beard.

*     *     *         *

Unfortunately, this is a true story. And it came about, of all things, because I was thinking and working on the beginning–the real beginning–to my work in progress, The King’s Mutt. When do you know where to begin? How do you start? It can easily get so befuddled while writing a novel. How far back is too far? Is the middle really OK?

Feral Magic taught me how to tell a story. Maybe it isn’t the best, but it’s a decent enough start. The King’s Mutt has taught me about beginnings. And how sometimes your beginning ends up as your middle, and that’s fine. Bear in mind that a story will have a beginning with consequences that aren’t always forseen until the very end of the tale.


Wise words whilst writing

Ever started to type, get on a real good roll, and then–nothing. Not even a cricket. Sometimes I can just rattle on about whatever pops into my head, and then the action starts the story again and we’re back on our merry way. Sort of not happening right now. So I thought I’d pause to share the most recent of my little rambles. Just because I’m certain every writer is guilty of this. At least once. Cue: Story and ensuing ramble.

Don’t panic.

It was the first thing that came into my mind. Don’t panic, but don’t stick around to see how this ends up working, either. And don’t ditch the horse. If these two didn’t kill me, the King would.

Some days, life just sucks, doesn’t it? And clearly I will remove these such comments upon editing, but what they hey, I just need to be typing right now instead of brooding and oooooh, spaghettio’s sound good. Those things probably aren’t the best for me. In fact, they aren’t even all that good I just like them because they remind me of lunch before speech therapy with Mom, when I would have a leg go to sleep and we would have to pull over on the road and rub it because it felt like ants were biting me alll up and down. Ahh, those were the days. I remember the last day of speech therapy. I drew a picture of rain and was pasting rain drops down on the paper, and the lady kept correcting me on how I was saying things. I didn’t understand why words had to be said a certain way. I just knew it was wanted from me.

And look at me now, paying attention to the nuances of words and the way they sound, not just the meaning behind them or expecting people to understand what I’m saying and meaning anyways. When did 9000 words become so very few to me? This is insane.

The truth is, I don’t know what goes next. I can’t think of anything. Lalalalala, la. Darn it.

I guess I can just focus on typing. I have a heck of a lot of handwritten pages to finish up. But it won’t make sense unless this gets all patched together.

I don’t know why I had to go all the way back to the beginning. I started in the middle. Then pushed it back. Then back again. Doing intro’s are annoying, and erasing four of them are even more so. But I’ve got to do what it takes to make this thing right, you know? That’s what I keep telling myself. It’s just so maddening because of how close this is to finishing. Dad used to say to me that the last 10% of a project takes 90% of the effort. I always wish he wasn’t right. But he is.

…and this is the brilliant thought I leave you fine folks with today. I know. It’s amazing. Beautiful. A real tear-jerker.

Phhha! Stop laughing at me, it isn’t nice to do that. 😉

Till I have something more inspirational (and more dedication to giving you guys a steady posting schedule),


~Your Dearest Nicolette