Monday, June 10, 2019

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Spring 2019 Newsletter

We made it through the winter! My life has been abuzz with writing projects, convention appearances, and -- kittens! Read about The Great Ringworm Wars below.
You'll also find the Introduction and Table of Contents from Ink Dance: Essays on the Writing Life, now available in a print edition with blank pages for personal notes, so you can use it as a workbook.
Here’s what’s new:

I sold a novelette to Sword and Sorceress 34. "Many Teeth" involves swordswomen, annoying mothers, and dinosaurs. My beloved spouse is already campaigning for a novel-length version.

I turned in The Laran Gambit to DAW last fall, but don’t have a release date yet. However, my editor has let me know the title will almost certainly change, so let’s call it a working title, a placeholder until inspiration strikes!

I'm hard at work on Arilinn, a Darkover novel to be published by DAW, about the founding of that prestigious Tower. 
For your reading pleasure, get 25% off my ebooks (mobi or epub) at Book View Cafe. On checkout, use this one-time coupon: Ross2019

Coming in October 2019!
A Heat Wave in the Hellers, and Other Tales of Darkover®
 a collection of my own Darkover short stories, some previously unpublished, including one that I wrote as a birthday gift for Marion. (At Book View Cafe, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other outlets, in print and ebook formats.)

Upcoming events

I just got back from the Nebula Award Weekend, hosted by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Here I am at the mass autographing at the Nebulas (that's Harry Turtledove in the background). Photo by Dave Smeds.

I will be a guest panelist at BayCon, San Mateo CA, over Memorial Day weekend. I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.

Ink Dance: Essays on the Writing Life
A cup of inspiration, a dash of understanding, a bouquet of wisdom for writers new and old. From the desk of writer and editor Deborah J. Ross comes a collection of warm, insightful essays on “the writing life” – from getting started, negotiating with the Idea Fairy and creating memorable characters, to writing queries, surviving bad reviews, dealing with life’s interruptions and creative jealousy, to nourishing yourself and your creative muse. With space for personal notes.
This collection of my blog posts over a number of years ranges in topic from writing craft to daily rhythms and self-care to staying motivated over the long haul of a career. A number of readers asked for a print version so they could jot down their own notes. It's available now from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and your local bookstore through Ingram (ISBN 978-1-61138-757-5)

To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the introduction by Mary Rosenblum, and table of contents:

This collection of essays guides you through the craft and career of writing with all the useful information of a shelf full of ‘how to’ books, but offered with the warm personal energy of a conversation across the kitchen table. 
From her advice on how to actually get started,  her craft and career tips, to her really excellent counsel on how to survive writing in real life and still nourish yourself and your spirit, this collection offers an in depth look at what it means to be a writer.    Every day.  All the time. 
While Deborah’s career has been New York oriented, most of what she has to say works for today’s author going the small press or Indie route as well. She speaks of the things that helped her succeed or got in her way with a refreshing personal honesty that invites us to examine our own behaviors.   There’s a lot here for any aspiring writer who takes his or her craft seriously.  No matter what you write or how you publish. 
Read it, learn, and enjoy!  You’ll come away nourished. 

Table of Contents
Just You and a Blank Page
Getting Started in Writing
Negotiating with the Idea Fairy
Warm Ups
Open Here
More On Story Beginnings
Structure, Shape, and Interest
Do You Outline Your Novel? Should You?
Dream A Little Dream
It’s Only Fiction
Not Just Another Funny Forehead: Creating Alien Characters
Villains, Evil, and Otherness
Revenge and Retaliation
First Person Perils
Why Write Short?
Why Write Long?
Sexuality in Fiction
The Magic Notebook
Write It Again, Sam
More Thoughts on Revision
Critiquing Vs. Editing
Strategies for Dealing With Writer’s Block
Overcoming the Inertial Hump
Sam In Spades: Why Not to Revise

Career and Survival 

Queries, Synopses, Pitches and Other Uneasy Friends
Pitches and Why I Should Care
Book Promotion Rehabilitation
Non Obnoxious Book Promotion, Part 2
Gate-Keeping in the World of Ebooks
Story And Self
Stages in a Writer’s Development
Blackberry Writing
When A Story Isn’t Ready
Series as Career Killer
How Gossip Can Trash Your Writing Career
Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ignorable
Inner Voices
Surviving Dry Spells
The Magic Phone Call
Letting Go, Moving On

The Writer’s Life
Where Do You Write?
Writing Without Electricity
When Writing Friends Aren’t
Creative Jealousy
Encountering Wannabee Writers
The Lady (and Honorary) Writers Lunch
Exercise and the Older Writer
When Is It Enough?

Nourishing Yourself
Survival as a Writer (or Artist, or Musician)
Defining Writing Success as Publishing
Would You Write Anyway?
Zen Yoga Writing Practice
Nothing Creative is Ever Wasted
'Tis the Season To Get Crazy
Community and Solitude
Cross-Training for Writers
On Writing and Healing
Writing Fears
Goals vs. Wishes
Settling In Meditation and Writing
The Great Ringworm Wars

It all started last December with an article in the local newspaper, saying that the animal shelter was overcrowded and were offering half-off on adoption fees. So, since mine beloved spouse had been languishing in the absence of a dog (a German Shepherd Dog, preferably of German working lines, to be precise), I went to the shelter’s website to take a look. Behold, there was a young female who looked great in her beauty shot. We called the shelter. She wasn’t at all workable for us, being super high-energy and not cat-safe. (GSDs have a high prey drive, so it takes a special individual dog – like one that’s been raised with cats and taught proper manners – to not regard them as Fun Things To Chase and Kill). While I was on the site, I noodled around the list of adoptable cats and saw a couple that reached out to my heart. I have a soft spot for tortoiseshells, and my long-time favorite cat was a dilute (gray) tortie.

Then up speaks Daughter Who Abides With Us, saying she has quietly harbored Kitten Lust since the Ragdoll kitty she brought with us died (FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, invariably fatal). She went looking on the web for another Ragdoll or similar breed and found one. A family conference ensued, replete with “I had no idea you wanted a kitten so badly” and “I didn’t want to be a burden” sorts of statements. Further research led us to not one but two kittens:

Sarah (Daughter Who Abides With Us) located a Maine Coon mix, a gorgeous red and white girl at a local private shelter. Bright red, unusual in a female, with golden eyes. I felt a certain loyalty to the public shelter, especially since they had a sweet little dilute tortoiseshell tabby (“torbie”) with only one eye. We called the private shelter, passed their application procedure with flying colors, and reserved her. Then we decamped to the public shelter to look at Pirate Girl.

(Note: we already have one one-eyed cat. Gayatri came to us from the same public shelter about a decade ago. From the damage to her eye and her extremely hand-shy behavior, we deduced it was traumatic.)

Pirate Girl (aka “Cornelia,” now Freya, Odin’s wife) was timid at first but began to warm up to us quickly. Given everything she’d been through in her short life – her intake photo with a hugely swollen lesion on her eye, covered in fleas, with a cold and parasites, was truly pathetic – it was no wonder. We brought her home but isolated her in my office to give her time to adjust and get used to being in a house instead of a cage. After a week, she was making love to us, purring like mad, gobbling up the kitten food we provided, and trying to make a break for it whenever we opened the door. So we tried her in the general household, taking it step by step. (First put adult cats in bedrooms, let kitten roam free and smell where they’d been; reverse procedure; put kitten in dog crate with adults loose, observe them for hissing and other bad words; introduce under close supervision.) It turns out that Shakir, our male, about 10 years old, fancies himself a patient, indulgent grandfather to kittens. Before long, he and Freya were romping and curling up together. Gayatri (the Original Pirate Queen), not so much, but as she mostly hang out in Sarah’s room, the hissing was manageable.

Then came time to bring “Hallie” (now Red Sonja, guess why) home. Poor girl, she was found abandoned and turned into a different public shelter at only one month old, and was set to be euthanized the same day. Fortunately, one of their staff called the private shelter and they rescued her.

I bet you’re wondering where the ringworm comes in. Guess? Sonja been handled a bunch in the private shelter so she was much more outgoing, but they did tell us she’d had ringworm and had been treated. We left Freya in the living area, put Sonja in the office, and then took her to our vet.

Eeek! Hairs glowing under Wood’s light!

Yes, indeed, ringworm had come to live at our house.

[Note: Ringworm has nothing to do with worms. It’s a fungal infection -- aka dermatophytosis or tinea – of skin and hair. It’s highly contagious, especially in young critters like puppies or kittens or toddlers, whose immune systems aren’t fully in gear. In humans, the lesions spread out in a characteristic ring shape, hence the name. The fungus produces infective spores that can remain, inert but just waiting, in the environment a considerable period of time. The usual mode of transmission is by direct contact with an infected animal.]

There followed a protracted discussion with our vet, her consulting veterinary dermatologist, and the owner of the private shelter. Could the hairs that fluoresced be old, inactive infections? Could she still be infective? What treatment had she received and how long ago? (Answer: more stinky, dehydrating lime sulfur dips and oral meds than you would ever want to put a kitten through.) Could she have been cured and then re-infected?

After a while (vets take vacations and poor Sonja was tearing apart my office out of boredom and the sure feline knowledge that there were cats out there somewhere and she wanted to play now), we decided the risk was small so we’d introduce her to the others. As before, Shakir was a gentleman, although one early encounter consisted of Sonja throwing herself on her back in front of him, screaming, and him looking utterly perplexed because he hadn’t touched her or growled or hissed, he’d only looked.

But it was the wrong call. You knew that, didn’t you? We found out when Sarah developed a spot of ringworm. Then another. Then I did. So yes, the kittens were infective.

Picture a mad scramble to take three cats to the vet. Gayatri really hadn’t had any direct contact, so we left her for last. Shakir was fine, but poor Freya had caught it. Back into isolation for both kittens, this time with a treatment plan:
  • Shampooing (to kill the spores in the coat) two or three times a week with fungicidal stuff that has to be left on for 10 minutes while the kitten, wrapped in a towel, shivers and complains;
  • Oral fungicide (to kill the fungus in the hair shaft) daily;
  • Topical fungicide twice a day to the lesions we knew about;
  • Daily vacuuming and every couple of days changing bedding and wiping down hard surfaces with disinfectant and/or dilute bleach.
  • Wearing a smock or sweatshirt when in the room, washing hands after touching the kittens, using prescription antifungal cream.
  • Recheck in 2 weeks.
Sarah and I developed a shampoo routine, involving preparing 4 towels, timer, and so forth. I held each kitten while she shampooed and rinsed. She’s amazingly patient and gentle. The whole process took about an hour.

Two weeks later, Freya had exchanged one set of spots for another, and Sonja had new lesions. This was one tough fungus. Were we sure that everything in the office had been cleaned? It was time to up our game.
  • Shampooing every other day, followed by a dilute bleach dip that gets left on to dry;
  • Oral fungicide daily;
  • Topical twice a day;
  • Continue daily vacuuming plus electrostatic dry mop (Swiffer) plus washing floors every couple of days;
  • Continue changing bedding, washing or bleaching toys;
  • Continue wearing a smock or sweatshirt when in the room, washing hands after touching the kittens, using prescription antifungal cream.
  • Recheck in 2 weeks.
By this time, the kittens knew What Was Up on shampoo days. Their poor coats were all dry and rough from the bleach dip. It’s a credit to their sweet natures that neither ever tried to bite, considering all the awful things we were doing to them. Mine beloved spouse helped out with the vacuuming.

Next recheck, we were almost out of the woods. Both kittens were fluorescence-free. But as the vet said, if this were any other case we’d be done, but this is one hella resistant strain. So they were still in isolation, although we (Hallelujah!) stopped the baths and dips, went to once daily topical on the last places there were spots, and vacuuming as before. The theory is that by the gold standard, fungal culture, Sonja was clear when she left the private shelter, so we might get a clear culture anyway. If there’s still a small infection, it should flare up when we stop the shampoo/dip, so that’s our experiment.

They were still clear in two weeks, but another chapter began: one of our adult cats, Gayatri, showed suspicious patches of hair loss under her collar where we hadn’t seen it before. Yep. Same deal, only she totally freaked out at being bathed. She’s 12 and is entitled. We did the oral meds plus topical liquid plus dilute bleach dips twice a week. It worked like a charm

We were in the clear! The next challenge was introducing everyone. The kittens had thoroughly bonded to one another, so they romped gleefully through the house, leaving the seniors in peace. Nevertheless, rapprochement accompanied the inevitable hissing, and before long, Shakir was playing and cuddling with “the kids.”

have to put this in a story. . .
Copyright © 2019 Deborah J. Ross All rights reserved.

My mailing address is:
PO Box 1412, Boulder Creek CA 95006

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