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Pupdate

An update on our pup! 

For those of you who have been following my blog or Twitter, you’ve probably heard of my dog Lilly.  For those of you newbies, feast your eyes on the cutest pup in the world:

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Lilly Padfoot Fowler (Yes, our dog does have a middle name, and yes, it is related to Harry Potter LOL)

Unfortunately Lilly has become a bit of a medical anomaly.

Lilly recently became very sensitive to the touch on her lower spine and was having muscle spasms in her lower legs.  These were very painful for Lilly.  I took Lilly to the vet and we set her up to get x-rays.  Lilly’s x-rays looked grim.  The vet said there were lesions on her spine and some of the vertebrae looked “moth-eaten.”

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Our neighbor bought Lilly this toy when she got really sick.  Lilly LOVES it and it is the only soft toy that the hasn’t tried to ingest.

Worried about an infection, we ran basic bloodwork just to be sure it wasn’t an active infection.  The bloodwork came back normal.

Under the recommendation of our vet we headed to the neurologist.  There Lilly did an MRI, which revealed significant inflammation in her discs and spine.

After blood cultures and additional testing we finally had an answer.  Lilly has an infection in her spine and Brucella-canis (not to be confused with the human version).  This is weird on multiple levels.  1) Brucella-canis typically impacts dogs that are still intact and Lilly was spayed at a young age, and 2) the infection in her spine appears to be a different strand of bacteria than the Brucella (usually it is all just Brucella).

(For those of you wondering why her basic bloodwork was normal, apparently Brucella doesn’t typically change the white blood cell count.  I’m not sure why the other infection didn’t show up though.)

This was pretty sad news.  There are three treatments I’ve come across in my research.  1) Fix your dog (Lilly is already spayed, so this option is already out/done).  2) A treatment plan of antibiotics (Lilly is currently on two, that should, in theory, attack both the Brucella-canis and the infection in her spine).  3) Euthanize the dog.

From what I’ve read, Brucella, while treatable, is hard to treat.  Antibiotics have trouble actually clearing the Brucella completely out of the dog’s system and often times Brucella ends up reoccurring.

Lilly went on multiple antibiotics in addition to the pain meds she started when we first saw our regular vet.  She stays on two of the antibiotics for 12 weeks and we do x-rays every 3 weeks to ensure that things are going alright along the way.  Then in 12 weeks we will redo her blood cultures and see if we were able to clear everything out of her system.

We are really worried for Lilly but are taking it a day at a time.  We are also ensuring that she gets the BEST care possible.  Lilly is our baby and it has been one of the hardest things we’ve experienced to see her in so much pain.

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When Lilly doesn’t feel good she basically glues herself to me.  This is her sleeping off a painful day on top of me while I read a book.

The good news is that the vet seems to be confident about the combo of antibiotics that she is on.  We’ve also got Lilly’s pain under control now.  Poor girl just occasionally gets a bit nauseous from the medicine.

Mostly though, she has been acting much more like herself now that she has been on the antibiotics and pain meds for awhile.

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Lilly starting to feel a bit more like herself!

 

I’ll keep you updated on Lilly here and my Twitter.  Please keep our sweet baby girl in your thoughts and prayers!  We love her so much and just want to see her healthy and pain free again.

Other Updates…

I just got back from an academic conference in Minneapolis for journalism and public relations.  It was a great conference and I thought Minneapolis was very nice!  Here are two pictures:

Other than that I’m studying for my comprehensive exams.  I can’t wait for these things to be over!!!  First exam is in the beginning of September, which is going to be here before I know it.  So on that note, I’m going to the library to study!!!

 

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“Would You Rather?”

I came across this “Would You Rather?” on Zainab Sheikh’s blog, “A Bibliophile’s Obsession: Books, Paperbacks, and Coffee.” She found it being passed around in the blogosphere and decided to take it.

Seeing her post inspired me to do the same! Too much fun to resist!!!

  1. Read only series or stand-alones?

Series, but preferably if I have all of the books in the series in my hands. I hate being left on cliff hangers for a year!!! Interestingly, when writing, I tend to write more stand-alones.

  1. Read only female or male authors?

Female authors. I do have a few male authors that I really like, but my current three favorite authors are all female (J.K. Rowling, Jeannette Walls, and Sarah J. Maas).

  1. Shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

I would have originally said Barnes and Noble all the way! Now that I’m in a doctoral program though, I really appreciate Amazon Prime. But this isn’t a both kind of game, so I’m going with Barnes and Noble! In my heart I think I’m still a Barnes and Noble person because I always look there first for reviews and upcoming books. If I have the time I’ll also roam the store there for a good hour at a time.

  1. All books become movies or TV Shows?

Movies, for sure. I haven’t liked many of the TV show conversions. The book is always better either way, but movie conversions win out for me!

  1. Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

5 Books per week for sure. That’d involve losing a lot of sleep right now since I’m in school, but it’d be worth it. I’m a binge reader. I don’t sit down to read 5 pages… I sit down to read books. I read the last Harry Potter book in pretty much a day.

  1. Be a professional reviewer or author?

Author *swoons*!  I’m an aspiring author in the middle of editing my first novel.

  1. Only read your top 20 favorite books over and over or always read new ones that you haven’t read before? 

This is one of the most difficult questions EVER!!!!! AH! I love rereading my favorite books. I must have reread Harry Potter about 10 times now. Maybe more.   Shoot. This is brutal. Okay okay, in this moment if I had to choose, I’d say new ones. I’ve reread all of my current favorites a lot and some of them have sequels coming out and I would be devastated if I couldn’t read those.

  1. Be a librarian or bookseller?

Never have thought about this one. “Bookseller” is so vague. So I’m going to go with bookseller, but specify that I’d own my own small-town bookstore and coffee house. Yupp. Wait, maybe I’d do a bookstore/brewery combo instead. “Fowler’s Growlers” has a ring to it. LOL!

  1. Only read your favorite genre or every genre except your favorite?

Favorite genre. I’ve been a passionate reader for as long as I can remember. I’ve read heavily in almost every genre (no joke), so I’d be happy to continue to read in my favorite.

  1. Only read physical books or ebooks?

PHYSICAL! It pains me that the physical book is dying out like the newspaper. (Well, okay, I’m not that sad about the newspaper). There is something about a physical book that makes the experience of reading it that much better. I will buy ebooks occasionally, because I like to read late into the night and I don’t want to keep my husband up with the light. Any book that I really love in ebook form I usually own a hard copy of though. I love the idea of having an office/library in my house one day. I find books so comforting and really value them. So for me I’m always going to be a physical book kinda gal!

 

Feel free to post your own answers in the comments!

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A Poem of Mist and Fury

This poem is inspired by the wonderfully written “A Court of Mist and Fury,” by Sarah J. Maas.

Tears of starlight weep from the sun.

A daughter of the forest and wind.

Deeds that cannot be undone,

Wretchedly tore her from her kin.

 

Nightmares haunt her in the dying light.

The daughter of no one and nothing.

Stars of diamond and pearl shine in the night,

A hope for dreamers left hunting.

 

Hardship, trials, and shadow forged her anew.

A warrior unsure of her next battle.

Finally facing that which was true,

She could make the kingdoms rattle.

 

In the tranquil twilight she found love.

This warrior of wolves and starlight.

The stars listened to her from above,

Answering dreams whispered to the night.

 

She could be master of everything.

A dreamer who dared.

She and her bonded take wing,

Darkness and starlight masterfully paired.

——-

With my comprehensive exams on the near horizon, I’ve been stressed.  One of my favorite ways of releasing stress is reading (for enjoyment) late at night.  After finishing rereading this book, I was feeling rather inspired and penned this poem!

My exams are this September, so my posting might continue to be a bit more sporadic until I make it through these tests!  I promise I’ll continue to post, but it just might not be every Saturday on the dot like it used to be!

In the event that you are curious (perhaps not likely, but hey, it could happen!) comprehensive exams are written, in-camera, essay exams that will determine if I can continue in my doctorate education.

They involve two 4 hour written exams where you have to answer around 4 questions in each exam that cover all of the material you’ve learned in the past two years in addition to using that material to support your own position.  Did I mention that this is all from memory?

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There is also a third exam that involves 4 take home questions that I’m currently working on over the summer.  This third exam isn’t from memory like the first two, but that just means it needs to be that much better!

After the three exams you then have to orally defend your responses to a committee of experts that basically challenge you on everything you wrote.

Folks, this test is like Feyre fighting off the Middengard Wyrm in “A Court of Thorns and Roses.”  The test is just barreling towards me!  I’ve got my strategy though and I’m feeling confident (silently chants “I am Brooke Fowler and I will not be afraid!” LOL…. “Throne of Glass” fans, that one was for you!).

 

 

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Chalk Paint Love

I did a little remodeling of my bathroom vanity!  See my experience and tips for using chalk paint below!

I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress recently while studying for my comprehensive exams!  I’m also trying to edit my novel!  So to relieve a little of that stress I decided to give my bathroom vanity a MUCH needed facelift!

Here is the “before” photo:

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I like how I’m photo bombing my own photo!

 

Well as you can see we are talking about “cardboard” builder grade vanity cabinets here!  I was worried about painting them because moister makes these bad boys warp.  I did a lot of research though and decided to give chalk paint a try.

I went for a gray because I think it worked best with our bedroom color pallet and gray seems to be in right now on HGTV.

While I was at my little remodeling adventure I decided to also replace the mirror!

Here is my “during” photo:

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Another coat of paint and some coats of wax later….

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Ta-da!

 

It went really well I think!  I’m also loving the new hardware and mirror!  I’ve got to change the light fixture though.  That will be my next project I think.

TIPS FOR CHALK PAINTING:

  1. The number one tip is definitely not to go crazy with the wax.  Less is more!
  2. Consider buying the (ridiculously) expensive wax brush.  I bought a cheaper version from a local hardware store and it made for an unpleasant experience.  The bristles kept coming off in the wax.  I tried using a T-shirt, but it made it more difficult to lay down the wax evenly.  So my tip would be to consider buying the expensive wax brush if chalk painting is something you think you are going to be doing a lot of!  If it’s a small one-time project, then you could probably save your money.  (For the paint itself, a regular brush worked just fine for me!)
  3. Don’t be intimidated by it!  When I first started reading about chalk paint and waxing I was kind of intimidated by the waxing process.  It turned out to be way more manageable than I thought it would be!  So for your first piece pick something you are okay with potentially messing up, and then just go for it!

 

Side Note:

I apologize for missing the last two posts!  Life has gotten quite crazy this past month and I’m doing my best to balance it all.  On that note, enjoy these pics of me attempting to do yoga:

I know what you are thinking…. but Brooke that is just your dog, that doesn’t look like yoga.  Exactly!

Lilly kept dropping her toy on my face and would lie down on my mat anytime there was even a hint of free space on it.

At one point I was doing downward dog and there was literally a dog standing underneath me.  I didn’t get much yoga done, but Lilly definitely put a smile on my face!

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Sketchbook Journaling

My experience sketchbook journaling and some tips when starting your own!

I first decided I wanted to try sketchbook journaling after reading the book Cathy’s Ring: If Found Please Call 650-266-8263, which is a novel written as a journal that is chock full of sketches!  As someone that enjoys both writing and drawing I had to ask myself why I wasn’t already doing this!

So for over a year I kept a journal sketchbook.  I didn’t do it every day, but anytime there was a memory I wanted to keep I’d find a way to represent it through a sketch. 

Not every sketch was perfect, but it didn’t matter.  There was something therapeutic about having to find a way to put emotions or events into a drawing to sum it up!

If you are trying to get back into drawing or if you are looking to get those creative juices flowing, then I highly recommend giving this a try!  Years later, I still love looking back at my sketchbook journal.  I remember why I sketched every drawing and what it meant to me at the time.  I’ve found that it is a rich way of being able to capture a memory or vent a feeling!

Some tips if you want to do your own sketchbook journal:

1.        Get a quality sketchbook.  If you don’t it just detracts from the experience.  I just bought a new sketchbook and didn’t realize how terribly thin the paper was and I’ve given up on it.  It’s worth it to pay the extra so that the experience is enjoyable and so that your journal lasts!

2.       Don’t get hung up on making drawings and sketches perfect.  Part of the fun is the messy nature of it!  Let it be a stress free experience!

3.       Don’t forget to write the date on your sketches.  Sometimes I write a brief phrase too.

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Life Update:

I’m editing my novel again now that I’m mostly recovered from being sick.  I’m on some antibiotic that can, to quote my doctor, “rupture your joints.”  So no rock climbing til it is out of my system… annoying!  But hey I’m no longer in a feverish daze, so I mean I gotta take what I can get!

I started a new drawing of my parents’ dog Remi. I’ve learned I HATE drawing white fur!!!!!  It’s so tricky.  I’m also totally nervous to attempt the water on this thing, but I’m going for it!!!  Each time I tackle a new drawing I learn more about how to use my Polychromos.  I’m really enjoying this medium!!! 

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What My Desk Says About Me…

A workspace can tell you a lot about a person.  Here is a picture of my workspace and what it says about me!  (I’ve also included a cute picture of Lilly, my dog!)

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  1. That I cleaned my desk, because well you can see the wood again.
  2. I like colored pencils and art.  (The Vaseline is for softening the lead of colored pencils).
  3. The caulk is there because I need to finish caulking our bathroom and it sits there reminding me.
  4. I’m bad at grammar so I’m working on improving that.  Enter the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (I highly recommend it!).
  5. I like candy (see the little pack of gobstoppers?).
  6. PUPPYCAT and Snoopy!
  7. I used to collect Breyer horses and keep them now as drawing models.  Plus most of them were gifts from family.  I’m a bit sentimental towards them.
  8. Clearly I’m behind on editing.  Look at the tiny pile on the left and the massive pile on the right… yeah, I’m behind.  Thank you sickness.
  9. I wrote the alphabet out to help speed things along when trying to alphabetize my references etc.  However, if you look really close, you can see I forgot a letter and had to pencil it in… go me lol.

 

And just in case you haven’t gotten your dosage of cute for the day…

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This is what happens when you are sick and therefore behind on laundry… Your dog makes a fort.

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In the Ashes of My Dream

It wasn’t what I thought it’d be,image1 (20)

this path I set upon.

Hadn’t realized the forge was hot,

the day that my dreams failed.

Reality burned and shaped me,

fouling that which had drawn.

Revealing a journey not sought,

one chance, or fate, unveiled.

A surprising liberation,

from that which had bound me.

I discovered the truth my heart,

may have sought all along.

Ashes of my dream’s cremation,

answered the repressed plea.

Though hidden from me at the start,

I found where I belong.

This poem is for all the people that have had one door shut only to find another one open and for everyone that never gave up when that first dream failed!

I started writing this poem a few days ago for someone that I know.  They’ve just had their life upheaved, and yet, life has an odd way of working out.  I wanted to try to capture that in this poem.

 

Life Update:

I’m sick.  I have been ever since my last blog post.  I’ve been working for short bits through the sickness, but man o man has this seriously cramped my productivity levels.  Seriously, I’m running out of clean clothes and there are dog fur dust bunnies running wild.  On that note I’m going to go back to work and then I plan on napping some more.  UGH!

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A Pause From Regular Programming

The semester is OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I made guys and gals!  I’m taking this weekend off from blogging, but I’ll return with regular programming next week!  I may even make two posts now that I’m done with school!

QUICK UPDATE:

-I’ve got two weeks to finish my edits and then it is beta reader round two!

-I learned how to spin a sword last night… now someone needs to just cast me as a Jedi in the new Star Wars movie and my life will be complete.

-Chocolate chip cookies got me through finals weeks and now I’m addicted.

-It has rained here for like almost a month straight.

-I’m making breakfast for dinner tonight with my husband (YUM!)

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Seconds to Rule Them All…

The first 10 seconds of an online video will make or break you.  So what does this mean for writers and bloggers?

While conducting research for school, I came across this article from Ad Age. The article, by Mary Pedersen, shares the harsh truth about just how long viewers will give your online video before moving on.

*Cue drumroll*

Ten seconds.  You have ten seconds to grab their attention and 30 seconds before you already lose 33 percent of your viewers.  Your viewership continues to drop steadily after that.  By one minute you have lost 45 percent and by two minutes you have lost 60 percent.

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Image from Ad Age and research from Visible Measures

 

So what does this mean for us writers and bloggers?

  • If we ever do a video post, we better make those first 10 seconds as addicting as chocolate.

  • I would venture to say a similar rule of thumb applies to blog posts.  Don’t “click bait” your audience with a misleading title (people tend to get annoyed at this), but make sure you’ve made those first few lines of your post “sexy.”  People are intrigued, they want more… oooh la la.

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  • The importance of the first few sentences in a query letter has never been clearer.  If we are only giving videos 10 seconds, we probably aren’t giving query letters much time either.  Not to stress all of us aspiring authors out or anything, but we better make that letter sing!

Again, I’m making a leap here from a study done on online videos, but with how many query letters agents get in a year (this agent reported 3,000), it makes sense that they probably move quickly through these letters.

Just like the first 10 seconds of a video, I think the first few sentences of a query letter are equally important.  An agent isn’t required to finish reading our letter, so we have to make them want to!

 

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Time flies, so we better move fast!

 

  • Lastly, when querying you often send the first 10 pages or so to the agent.  Ten pages to draw them in and hook them!
    • Maybe our own literary “ten second rule” has been there all along… titled something along the lines of, “the ten page rule of thumb for novels.”  This doesn’t mean we have to all start our novels with epic battle scenes etc., but it does mean we better spin a rich and immersive story from the first sentence on!

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*I couldn’t resist the Lord of the Rings play on words for the title…. Nerd alert, I know!*

15 Minute Free Write

I’ve been seeing a lot of free writing challenges, so I gave it a try!

 —

“Can I get a number?”

Zira turns and studies the pale man in the dingy bar light.  He looks a bit nervous under her critical gaze, but he holds it and tries again, “Can I get a number?”

Zira smirks and catches the bartender’s eye and holds up five fingers.

“Sure, you can get a number.”

The barman sets down five shots in front of Zira.  She tosses him a bill that he pockets quickly before clearing off.  Zira turns back to the now paler man, and holds up the first of her five shots.

“Five, the number of times I’ve been kicked out of this bar,” Zira downs the shot and quickly picks up the next. 

“Four, the number of weapons I’m carrying on me.” 

Another shot down.

“Three, the number of men I’ve killed at this very bar… well, if you can call them men.” 

At this the man is backing up, finally catching on that the woman he tried to glamor is not a human.  Zira casually picks up her last two shots and takes a step forward after the man.

“Two, the number of seconds you have til I kick your ass.”

The man turns and starts running.

“One, the number of seconds you have til I kill your ass.”

Last shot down.

“Zero, the chance you have of out running me vampire,” Zira snarls and lets her wolf loose.