I am a skunk pillow. And the skunk is shedding.

Apparently Hobkin was tuckered out from his earlier berserker activities last night. He snarfed down his dinner and then climbed up on the couch, looking for me. So, of course, being the sucker I am, I left the work I was doing on the computer, went to the couch and sat down beside him, whereupon he flopped asleep and pinning me there for the remainder of the evening. There was much napping.

Hobkin did, considerately enough, hop down a couple times to stretch and use the bathroom, giving me the opportunity to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, before demanding I return to the couch so I could be his pillow.

Yup, I am naught but a skunk pillow. And I am covered in skunk fur. Apparently the heat has brought on a bout of shedding. It’s not that bad, not nearly as bad as, oh say a black, long-haired Spainycat’s fur dispersal, but it’s still indisputably shedding time. Hobkin is looking rather scruffy from the mismatched fur lengths, so during our brief waking episodes, I decided to give him a brushing.

Hobkin does not like being brushed. We came to a “no bite!”/”no brush!” peace agreement eventually, but it was a painfully won truce. Ow. And he still looks scruffy.

Writing stuff:

– Wrote a review of the Sci-Fiction story “Family Bed” by Kit Reed for Tangent and sent it off to my editor.
– Mailed off naamah99‘s signed Ascendancy of Blood chapbook.
– Sent my story inspired by Suzanne Vega’s “The Queen and the Soldier” to its first market. Good luck little story!
– Received a copy of C. Dennis Moore’s review of Ascendancy of Blood. It’s right glowing. Hurray! Not sure when I’m allowed to post blurbage from that, but will do so as soon as I can.
– Received an email from Nathan, my Scrybe Press editor with a bit of news and a sneak peek at some cover art. I really like how much communication there is between us.
– Worked on the rewrite of my current Critters story. There’s been much carnage in the rewrite. But I think the operation just might be a success. Well, as much of a success a story I haven’t sold can be. I’ve now received twenty crits on it (including yours, britzkrieg!) which is a good number for me to run stats on without feeling overwhelmed. Got a wave of positive crits towards the end which restored some of my faith in it. Going to do a couple more passes to incorporate this latest set of comments, then send it off tomorrow. That’s the plan, at least.

There’s a fuzzy chaos fiend in my house. I call him Hobkin.

Last night was not chock full of sleepytime goodness. Hobkin had a sick tummy again. Interesting timing on that, considering how terrible I was feeling for most of yesterday. Is the little fuzzbump picking up on my misery, or is it just a coincidence? But, after sicking up his dinner, we fed him a Pepto Bismol sandwich and his anti-nausea meds, and he rested quietly for a bit. Then, to express his gratitude at our loving caregiving, he decided to engage in acts of skunkie demolition in the wee, early morning hours.

An amuck skunk, streaking through the house like a furry cannonball, and stomping at everything with his tail fluffed straight up, is not the most soothing stimulus to sleep to. As if that wasn’t disrupting enough, I was also awakened periodically by being traipsed over by the fuzzy chaos fiend as he considered my head merely an obstacle in the path of his lawless rampage. Once he reached the dangling strap of my purse, stored on a table supposedly out of his reach, and pulled the whole thing down with a loud “thunk,” spilling credit cards, medical identification, and my drivers license across the floor, and of course waking me up with a start. And he wanted to wrestle. How did I know this? Because he climbed up beside me, pounced on my arm, and commenced mauling my (unresisting) limb into submission. My forearm looks like I plunged it into a barrel full of pins. Ouch.

At least he’s feeling better.

I, on the other hand, am a good candidate for walking deadhood. This morning my eyes were red and bloodshot, my brain felt like marshmallow goo, and until I had my first cup of coffee, I was having difficulty remembering what day it was. It’s going to be an early night.

Writing stuff:

Received signed copies of Natalie’s Grove by Mikal Trimm, Slipstream by Doug Hewitt, and Murdered by Human Wolves by Steven E. Wedel from Scrybe Press, hurray! These are books I’ve written cover blurbage for, so I’m right pleased to hold the finished copy in my eager little paws.

Also got naamah99‘s copy of Ascendancy of Blood to sign. It’ll go out in the mail tomorrow.

Started the rewrite on the current Critters story. Ugh. Major overhaul time. I got some feedback from folks who didn’t seem to get the mythology behind it and so were pretty lost, thinking that I had loaded the story with far too many characters, when really there’s only two characters and a lot of archetypes. Obviously, my main characters weren’t popping from the page. This story isn’t going over well in general. But I like it and think it’s salvageable. So far, I’ve chopped out a couple hundred words and added in a lot more characterization. Haven’t removed the sutures yet. When I do, will I what I’ve got left be a solid story or more closely resemble a literary Frankenstein monster? Sigh.

Received confirmation via the SFF.net newsgroups that both Ellen Datlow and Gordon Van Gelder are reading my reviews on Tangent. I’m being read by big time editors! My glee is offset by the probability that it might be the only time GVG reads my words as my submissions to F&SF keep getting smacked down by JJA, his editorial assistant. Rah, err . . . I mean dammit, um, I mean . . .

Eugie’s brain confused. Naptime please.

Hobkin doesn’t like my body pillow

Had trouble sleeping last night. Couldn’t get comfortable, so I hauled up the body pillow and after a bit fell asleep on it. Woke up to Matthew chuckling and the sound of Hobkin galloping through the house. It would seem that while I slept, Hobkin tried to climb up beside me a couple times and was thwarted by the big, black pillow in his spot. Frustrated, jealous, and dismayed, he then went for a rampage to show his displeasure. When I realized what had happened I put aside the body pillow and tried to pick him up, but he would have none of it. Instead he squirmed down and charged and stomped at the pillow I had discarded.

Apparently, the body pillow is now his enemy.

After he tuckered himself out by tilting at the pillow for a while, he climbed up beside me and snuggled down for a long nap, secure in the knowledge that he had defended us all from a scary pillow incursion.

I know I’m reassured.

Writing stuff:

Queried a couple markets:
Neo-opsis has had a story of mine since 1/29 and I’ve been seeing responses trickling in at the Rumor Mill from them. They said “it’s in the Maybe list, ask again in a few weeks.”

And sent another nudge to The Strand, which has had something of mine since March of last year. They said that they’re “still considering it but are swamped.”

Ah well. Both better than resounding “no”s.

A Bath for Hobkin, Albuterol, Writing

Gave Hobkin a bath yesterday. It was actually not as traumatic and wetly destructive as previous bathing experiences have been. Not only did I avoid a sudsy tail to the face, but the bathroom does not look like a shampoo elemental threw a temper tantrum there. He flopped over on me immediately afterward, and I ended up with a damp skunk in my lap for several hours. His fur takes forever to dry even with finger combing and brushing. But he’s all fluffy and shiny and sweet smelling now.

This Thursday will be his second birthday. The fuzzwit will be two years old. He’s all growed up *sniffle*. There will be cake.

Discovered something rather odd. When I first started having breathing problems, I found that Albuterol didn’t do squat to help it, so I stuck my inhaler away in a bathroom drawer. But yesterday I was feeling a bit desperate, so I rummaged it out and used it. I started breathing easier very quickly. Took my inhaler with me to work this morning and used it this afternoon. Decided improvement again. That seems to indicate that there’s bronchial spasming at work, which I didn’t think was the case. Something I should bring up with my pulmonary doctor, I suspect.

Writing stats:

I keep pulling up the cover artwork of “Ascendancy of Blood” to admire. I’ve had illustrations/artwork done for several of my stories now, but this is my favorite. It’s just so totally how I envisioned it when I wrote it, and so beautifully executed. I keep looking at it going “PRETTY! Ooo” and grinning like a fool. Maybe I’ll make it the wallpaper on my PC desktop for a while, although that feels terribly narcissistic.

Still no new words, but I did do a couple good rewrite passes on the novella, enough so that I actually printed the whole thing out. (It does all fit into a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope. Hurray.) When I make subsequent changes, I can just reprint individual chapters or pages as need be, maybe save a tree or so that way. I’m not expecting any major rewrites to happen now, depending on the last few RFDR critiques that may still come in. I’m aiming to mail it by the end of this week so I can avoid the post office insanity of tax day next week.

Trapped by skunk

So Hobkin woke me up this morning at 6am, stomping and running around the house like a crazed furry cannonball. As it turns out, because of daylight savings (ffft), it’s actually 7am, but since I fell asleep after midnight, the difference is purely academic.

Played with frisky skunk. Fed hungry skunk. Contented skunk climbs into my lap and flops. Skunk is now asleep. I am awake and bleary-eyed, and pinned at the computer. Typical.

Been getting some excellent feedback on my novella. Enough to prod me to do some research which made me go “ooooo” (and do some rewriting).

I’ve wondered for a while what color spectrum non-primate mammals, specifically Hobkin, can see. People say dogs and suchlike are “colorblind” inferring that they can only see a monochromatic range of colors, but from my experience with our ferrets and Hobkin, they can perceive other colors than black, white, and shades of gray.

For e.g.: We have a bright blue acrylic fur mitt that we used when Hobkin was a baby to play various skunk games. Now that he’s all growed up, Matthew and I have noticed a proclivity for Hobkin to want to wrestle with blue things. He’ll go after non-blue things, but I’ve noticed especially that my turquoise turtleneck has teethmarks in the sleeve, as does the pair of light blue socks I own. He prefers to shake and maul into submission blue things.

So I did some surfing and discovered that non-primate mammals are normally considered to have “dichromatic” vision (versus primate vision which is “trichromatic”). That is, they only have the (S) and (M/L) type cones in their retinas, so they can see blues and yellows, but not reds or greens. This is the same as (or very similar to) the visual ability that people with red/green colorblindness have.

Which explains why Hobkin can differentiate blues, and yet can still be considered “colorblind.” Neat!

I’ve rewritten the sections where color is viewed through my protagonist’s eyes to make his vision dichromatic. He now only sees things in muted shades of blue and yellow, as well as black, white, and grays.

Well, I’m excited by it . . .

Hobkin’s adventure, writing stats

So we thought Hobkin was all better, but then he decided to have a relapse as well as refuse to eat his breakfast yesterday. As long as he was eating, I figured we could handle it, but when he turned up his nose at cucumbers, bell peppers, bok choy, watermelon, and bread, I got scared.

Called the vet, bundled skunk into carrier, off we went.

The vet we have is fantastic. They specialize in skunks, but they’re a forty-five minute drive away if the traffic is reasonable. The traffic was almost reasonable. We made it in an hour.

Hobkin didn’t have a temperature. From scruffing he didn’t seem dehydrated, although he was considerate enough to display a “bad tummy” symptom while we were there so they could test that. They also wanted to take blood.

Did you know there’s a new insurance company policy that owners can’t help restrain their own pets during veterinary procedures? Otherwise it nulls their malpractice insurance. How stupid is that? I’d be totally slack-jawed at the idea of owners suing vets after being bitten by their own fuzzies, except that’s exactly what brought about this policy change.

So they whisked Hobkin off to get his blood drawn, and while he’s gone, I heard these loud, piercing squawks. I knew there’s a parakeet next door, and I assumed they were doing something terrible to that poor bird. After a bit, they returned, lugging a very distressed Hobkin and he’s making these noises. As soon as they handed him to me, he stops, and clings to me for all he’s worth.

My poor baby! If I’d known it was him screaming for me, I’d have come running! I didn’t know such sounds could come out of him. I’ve heard other skunks scream, but Hobkin’s never done so before. I get stressed when he makes “roinking” noises, which is nothing compared to the sounds he was making at the vets.

I was traumatized. Hobkin was traumatized. Matthew tried to comfort both of us.

The vets ran their test on the small amount of blood they were able to pull. He was on the borderline of dehydration so they wanted to stick him again and get some subcutaneous fluids in. This time, the vet agreed to let me hold him for the procedure. Hobkin didn’t even twitch when the needle went in.

He’s such a momma’s boy.

They pumped a huge amount of solution into him, so much so that he had a bubble of slosh in his side. It actually skewed his coat so his stripe was crooked. Throughout the night I kept trying to tug it straight. Heh.

They also gave us amoxycillan and an anti-nausea drug to give him three times a day, which fortunately have agreeable tastes.

The clincher? As soon as we got home, we fed Hobkin lunch, and he snarfed it right up.


Writing stats:

Obviously there was a derailment on the writing train. But after we returned from our veterinary foray, I managed to crank out 3000 new words.

Also finished my review of the latest Ocean of the Mind and sent it to my editor. He said he’ll post it as soon as the substitute reviewer he found for the story written by the guy I know sends that in.

Hope to get more writing in today.

Minty bread

Hobkin sicked up his dinner last night. I think we were pushing too much food too quickly on his recuperating tummy.

The evening was a repeat of last night’s. Fed Hobkin small bits of veggies and bread by hand at regular intervals. Sometimes it’d stay down, sometimes it wouldn’t. But he’s not dehydrated and he is getting some nutrients into him. He’s quite active, not lethargic at all, running about, attacking socks, stomping at everything, so we’re continuing with our current course of care.

Managed to get him to take Pepto Bismol by soaking a dose of it into a piece of bread. He appears to like minty bread well enough. Maybe it’s just the liquidness of it he doesn’t like? Anyway, that seems to have helped.

Me, I have a headache and my insides are definitely unhappy. It’s stomach flus all around. Blah.

Despite the questionable health status of everyone, Matthew still tried to put together a fun St. Paddy’s Day. He made vegetarian Irish Stew. Shooed me out of the kitchen so I couldn’t see what he put into it, but it was very yummy. Even on my sensitive digestive tract.

One good result from all these sedentary evenings is that I’ve been getting a lot of writing done.

Writing stuff:

3000 more words on the novella. Plowing ahead. The real test will come at the 8K word mark. Something usually starts going wonky with my flow when I breach the “this ain’t a short story no longer” marker.

Also scribbled up a synopsis so I know where I’m going with it, and did quite a bit of research to shore up my facts and details.

Been actively putting into practice the “if I get stuck, skip the scene and go on to the next” stratagem. It’s working great so far.

Wish I felt a little less lightheaded.

On the Nature of Skunk Tummies

Hobkin seems to be on the mend. I hand fed him small pieces of high-liquid veggies, watermelon, and bits of bread at regular intervals last night. Even managed to coax him to lap up a bit of Pepto Bismol. He sicked up some of his food, and a lot of it passed through his system far too quickly for any sort of decent nutrient absorption. But I think enough got into him to do some good. And he maintained an appetite.

He was very clingy, and very prone to startling. Well, he is a small animal with a wee brain, after all. His tummy is upset and he doesn’t understand what’s happening, so he’s scared and easily frightened. That translated to him wanting to curl up all night with me, and keeping me pinned on the couch. My night was pretty sedentary, but I got a lot of writing done.

I keep checking his scruff to see if he’s dehydrated, and although his fur is a little dry, he seems okay on the hydration front, which is my biggest concern. I’ve had to force fluids orally and administer them subcutaneously to small animals before. They don’t like it; I don’t like it; there’s much unhappiness all around. I’d like not to have to go through that again.

This morning, Hobkin ate a meal of veggies and watermelon without me having to hand feed him. And had his normal (if slightly smaller) lunch of cottage cheese and more veggies. So we’re holding off on making a decision whether to take him to the vet’s for another day to see if he’ll be able to get over this bout of upset tummy without medical intervention.

I wish the little fuzzwit could tell us how he’s feeling.

In related news, Matthew had a few disturbed stomach pangs last night, and today I felt a bit unsettled myself in the GI department. Not sure if it’s us being sympathetic to Hobkin, or we’re all three of us sharing a bug. I know ferrets and humans are susceptible to the same colds and flus, but haven’t been able to ascertain whether that’s true for humans and skunks. If we humans worsen, I suspect I will have my answer.

Writing stuff:

Continue reading

Sick Skunk

Hobkin appears to have some sort of tummy upset. He ate a tiny bit of broccoli at breakfast, but turned up his nose at more broccoli, a tomato slice, a chunk of sweet potato, and celery. And he didn’t eat any veggies at lunch, although he did tuck away most of his cottage cheese. So far he hasn’t sicked anything up, but he’s not doing so well at the back end.

Matthew tried to feed him some Pepto Bismol, but he would have nothing to do with it, and spent the day napping (or sulking) under his hutch.

Went shopping after work to pick up some cucumber, bell pepper, and bread. Wanted to make sure we have plenty of veggies high in liquid to offer him, and something mild to tempt his appetite with. I’m worried about him becoming dehydrated. If he doesn’t start eating better by tomorrow, he gets to go see the nice vet people. Poor little guy.

Writing stuff:

Another 1000 words on the fantasy/VR fusion thingy, and I’m at zero draft. I think due to my non-chronological writing, there’s some rough transitions in the middle. Want to go over those before handing it to Matthew to first reader. Managed to meld Greek, Chinese, and Celtic mythos into a single story. I hope that’s a good thing.

Heard from the editor of the ELP Library. My excerpt “Visiting Day” is due up on June 20th. Also saw that Infinite Matrix had published a new story, “Safe Harbor” by Karen D. Fishler, so I reviewed it for Tangent. Going to have to ask my editor when in April I take over the SciFiction.com reviews as they publish weekly.

Skunk-in-armpit, Big Fat Greek Wedding, Writing stats

Hobkin was quite snugglesome last night. Actually, he was so snugglesome this morning he woke me up before my alarm. He kept burrowing into my armpit. As most people reading this (excluding puskunk and alijt) probably don’t have a frame of reference for sleeping with an attention-mongering skunk, lemme say it’s a bit like having a stuffed animal insistently trying to imbed itself into your body. There are many much worse things than having a living plush creature trying to fuse into one’s armpit, but it still proves a little difficult to sleep through. I think he was either cold or wanted to be hugged. As soon as I gathered him up in my arms (and out of my armpit) and cuddled him, he quit trying to burrow into me. But then, of course, I was wide-awake and totally pinned. Typical.

Saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding for the first time last night. I quite enjoyed it. I see why it did so well. It’s charming and funny, despite being predictable.

Writing stats:

The editor/publisher of the Tales of the Paranormal anthology sent me an email requesting to use my story “Inspirations End” on her website to promote the anthology. She said it was one of her favorites, which I’m well pleased by, but I’m not sure if I’m fond of the idea of having it online as I’m trying to sell reprint rights to it, and having it so readily available might make that difficult. Hmm.

And what the hell is the deal with the Blasphemy anthology? I was counting on bringing it and Tales of the Paranormal to Fantasm but I have still yet to hear of a publication date or see edits to approve. Grumble. Launching another query . . .

Also scribbled out a synopsis/outline and cranked out 800 words on the new high fantasy/virtual reality fusion piece.