Aquatic Medicine, Writing, & Being Overwhelmed

I haven’t felt that great lately.  I’m the type of person whose mind is always racing, and it only gets worse when I have a ton of things going on.  I’ve got about a half dozen major things that I need to get done soon, and I keep brainstorming how to do each of them.  The result is a thousand different thoughts flying through my head.  Couple that with my apparent addiction to energy drinks and the result is me feeling like I’m going insane.

Full Throttle® Red Berry by Coca-Cola Brands

Side note: Full Throttle Red Berry mixes Coke’s great energy drink with a surprisingly delicious and unique tasting blend of berries.  It gets a 9 / 10 – Amazing.

Let’s break down all the stuff I need to get done.


Because I was too lazy to try to get any externships for vet school, I ended up filling my schedule with ridiculous rotations that I have no use for.  First I had molecular biology, which showed me how boring labwork can be.  Then I had anatomy, which basically meant I cut open stuff for ten hours a week.  Now I have Aquatic Animal Medicine.  I should point out that this name is a lie; the only aquatic animals we learn about are fish.

Gold Fish

AKA nature’s failures.  

I want to be a small animal veterinarian, which means I’ll be working on dogs, cats, and pocket pets like rabbits and ferrets.  I figured I’d take this rotation so that I could learn a few things about fish in case a client ever had some questions about them.  I did not figure that this rotation would be excruciatingly boring.

The first day was kind of cool; we got some lectures about fish anatomy and then did  some necropsies on healthy fish to get a feel for what is normal.  They definitely look different inside than the animals I’ve worked with, so that was interesting.  The next two days were spent performing necropsies, external exams, and checking skin scrapings on fish from one of Michigan’s lakes for the Department of Natural Resources.

Now on our first day, we’d euthanized three fish by filling their tank with MS-222, a chemical that can either anesthetize or peacefully kill fish depending on the dose.  These fish would swim around and then calmly roll bellyside up.  This chemical is expensive, though, so it wasn’t feasible to do it on the sixty DNR fish.  That meant that on Tuesday and Wednesday, these fish would need to be euthanized another way.

That way was smashing them in the head with a stick, severing their spinal cord with a hacksaw, and then pithing their brain with a dagger.

The Walking Dead - Terminus slaughter scene (Sam dies)

A recreation of my current vet school rotation.

As a bonus, our fish would occasionally start flopping while we cut into them, because their stupid nervous systems can’t even die right.  They were absolutely dead, but their muscles still spasm like crazy long after they’re gone.

To be fair, it didn’t seem like the fish suffered.  And I do eat meat, so I know it’s hypocritical of me to get all grossed out by the process of killing something.  But still, I didn’t enjoy watching this.  I did get used to it after a while (except for that hacksaw on bone sound) and, for a short time, got into our work.  It did feel cool to examine the fish’s organs for signs of disease and find parasites under a microscope.  But it definitely got old by the second day.

Thursday was spent listening to lectures on fish behavior for three hours, which would have been mildly interesting except for the fact that our professor was overseas and we had to communicate via Skype.  The communication kept cutting out, making things incredibly annoying.  That afternoon we did lab work.  I should correct that; we actually did about an hour of actual lab work ourselves and then watched a graduate student move cells into new beakers for three hours.

I thought Friday would be better, but I was wrong.  We listened to a fish veterinarian give another Skype lecture for an hour, but he spent about 40 minutes of that time talking about his career path.  I don’t want to work at an aquarium or at a fish farm, so hearing about his different jobs did nothing for me.  We then went to a pet store to try to find sick fish to necropsy.  Neither pet store had very sick fish, so when we got back to the lab we spent three hours necropsying tiny goldfish we could barely see only to find a few bacteria.

I do not like this rotation.

I want to be back in the hospital where things are busy, where I’m working with living things, and where I don’t have to do labwork that involves switching liquids between test tubes and waiting a half hour for them to get centrifuged.  Next week is going to be more of the same.  We have two days of full Skype lectures (how are you supposed to pay attention to lectures for 8 hours?), two more days of dissecting fish for the DNR from another river, and then Friday is lab work.

If you like pathology or fish this would be a great rotation for you, but for me it’s awful.  What’s even worse is that by the end of the day I’m so bored and drained that I have no motivation to do any of the myriad of other things I have to do.


Paranoia Cover

Buy my book, meh.  You’ve heard this before.

I’ve gotten really despondent about my debut novel’s status.  As I wrote about in a previous post, sales for my Paranoia started off slow before settling into low but steady numbers.  After that, though, they crashed.

new sales

March had a staggering 3 sales, netting me $6.

I don’t know what else to do at this point.  I tried raising and lowering the price, but there was no change.  I’ve already contacted all the book reviewers I can and they didn’t seem to raise sales at all.  I’ve started doing some paid advertising on Goodreads and net up to 10 clicks on those ads per day, but no one seems to be buying my book.  It has good reviews on Amazon and it’s not too expensive, so I have no idea what’s going wrong.  I hate having this thing for sale, not having anyone read it, and be out of (low price) options to promote it.  It makes me feel like a failure.

I never expected this book to make me a lot of money, but I hoped to at least a decent people would read it and be moved by it.  I think it’s time I just let this one go and focus on my other projects.  At least a few people read and liked it; that’s something.  And when I finish my second book, a novelization of my pilot script The Ripple Effect (previously called Continuum), hopefully it will get picked up by a publisher.  If I get a lot of readers that way, I’m sure plenty will go back and ready my first novel.  I just have to be patient.

There is one bit of good news, though.  I recently set up a 4 day long promotion for Paranoia that runs from 4/3/2015 until 4/6/2015.  I did my homework and contacted dozens of free ebook promotion sites (this site has a great list for you other authors out there) ahead of time.  The result is 400 Paranoia downloads in just over a day and a half.  At one point yesterday, Paranoia was #596 in the Amazon free bookstore.

number 596 free

Seeing this brought a smile to my face.

I really hope that at least a few of these people enjoy the book and let me know what they think of it.  Even if these free downloads don’t drive up sales, I’d be satisfied with knowing Paranoia touched a few more people.  For now, at least.


My writing partner Ed and I have spent two years creating this TV show.  We created a whole fictional universe from scratch, came up with a dozen characters, fully mapped out a first season, started planning for a second and third run of episodes, commissioned concept art, and wrote & fully edited a pilot script.  There is nothing else we can do except find someone willing to help us get this show on the air.

I absolutely hate that.

I know I’m sounding whiny in this post; it’s just that I’m a writer.  Give me an idea to brainstorm, a script to write, or a show bible to edit and I’m happy to delve into it.  One of my favorite memories from vet school was back when I was working on reviving Jimmy Neutron.  It was around 10 o’clock at night, and my writing crew had submitted our edited 4×01 script “Deep Impacts” to Mike Gasaway to get his read on it.  He sent it back with several major notes; basically the entire second half of the story needed to be rewritten.  I had to get up early to help a bunch of fifth graders dissect pig hearts the next day (vet school can be awesome sometimes), so I should have gone to bed and saved the revisions for another day.  Instead, I popped open an energy drink, put on some music, and stayed up all night rewriting that bad boy.

I was exhausted the next day, but I was still pumped and happy.  Writing is what I love.  Begging other people to look over my stuff and waiting to see if they’ll get back to me?  That I hate.  But it’s a part of the job, so I’ve been struggling to do it.

While Ed is mailing out stuff to various writer’s agents out in Hollywood, I’ve been contacting established people in the industry.  For pretty much every kids’ show I admire, I’ve emailed or Facebooked their writers, directors, and creators.  I told them why I admired their work, laid out the basics of The Ripple Effect, and asked if they would be willing to look it over.  This is a long shot, but we got really lucky when we contacted the Jimmy Neutron crew.  I figured we might do so again.

contact hopeful

One message I sent.

So far we haven’t.  Only one person has bothered to get back to us to let us know they don’t have time to examine our materials.  I don’t at all blame these people for ignoring me; they have no way of knowing if our stuff is even professional and I’m sure they’re insanely busy.  It’s just something I had to do to ensure that I tried every option of getting The Ripple Effect on the air.

I hope that at least one of the agents Ed contacts is willing to look over our stuff, but I know it’s a longshot.  I’m terrified that after all these years of work, this story and these characters that I love may never come to be.  I know I shouldn’t let myself worry about that, but I can’t help it.  Even though it gets to me sometimes, I know I need to keep working on what I think are our best bets of bringing The Ripple Effect to life.  That’s a screenwriting contest and turning this script into a novel.


A writing friend of mine recently let me know of a contest that Nickelodeon is holding.

nick contest

No one else enter this!

This is another huge chance I have of getting started in this industry.  The rules are you must enter a 3 – 5 page script that is funny and tells a cohesive story.  You can also submit an additional page with background information on the characters and world.  I’ve very briefly started brainstorming for this; I have a semi-solid idea for the show’s concept, a few characters, a bit of a season plan, and the types of jokes I can write.  But over the next week I really need to take a few couple whole nights (and a full Saturday) to keep on brainstorming and get a rough draft of the script and one-page show bible down.

It’s not going to be easy to tell a fully story while getting across the major characters in a mere five pages; Ed’s and my scripts always come in really long at first.  But I have to admit, that is a great way for Nick to get you to prove if you have what it takes to be a screenwriter.  This in and of itself won’t be easy, but it’s also going to be really rough for me not to focus solely on this.  When I start coming up with a new idea for a show or story, I basically feel like I’m on drugs.  I get a huge burst of euphoria and energy and I have a crazy need to work on it right now.  It sucks having to delegate only a couple hours that are days apart to work on this, but it’s got to be done.


Eight out of the fourteen planned chapters for The Ripple Effect‘s novelization are now done. I’ve been sticking to writing a chapter a week on Sundays (although I have taken a couple weeks off).  My goal is to get the last six chapters by the end of June.  It’s taking so long because I don’t have every weekend available, not all rotations allow for that luxury.

I’m mostly happy with how this is going so far.  While I think Paranoia is a good book, I do believe it is limited by the fact that I came up with the idea while in high school.  With The Ripple Effect, I think that if it’s done right I can accomplish everything I’ve ever wanted to do with my writing.  Crazy plot twists, insane action, heart-breaking moments between characters, a mature atmosphere, strong female leads, this book can have all of that if I do it right.  Which means I’m terrified I’ll screw it up.

My biggest issue right now is prose.  Quite simply, it’s sucking in this first draft.  Now I know that first drafts are supposed to be bad; they should serve as a template for how your book should be.  But that doesn’t mean I enjoy looking over what I wrote and seeing a high-schooler’s vocabulary.  I’m using basic words and there’s nothing beautiful about my wordplay.  Great prose has never come naturally to me; that’s one reason I fell in love with screenwriting so hard.  In that medium you can focus on the dialogue and set-pieces, you don’t need flowery language.  I’m trying not to worry about it, but I know it’s going to be tough to rewrite this thing once the first draft is down.  For now, though, I have to shove that thought out of my mind and focus on finishing these chapters.

I also think this novel is my best shot of getting The Ripple Effect made.  The young adult book market is huge right now, and I definitely think this story can draw interest.  I’m confident that if I can just get the prose down this thing will get picked up by some agent, and just maybe lead to a TV show down the line.


Last but not least, I need to keep up with this blog.  I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of magic as of late; I want to recapture that raw fury and passion that fueled so many of my earlier posts.  I’m hoping that my next entry will be one of my best; I plan on it being another bad movie review.  But this time I’m going straight to the bottom of the barrel.


If fighting off crappy bird GIFs with clothes hangers doesn’t inspire me, nothing will.

I want to set aside Monday night to watch this thing with a cold beer and some kettle corn, then I’ll do my write up on Tuesday.  I hope that heading into this post with a good attitude will let me have a lot of fun and help the rest of my writing projects come easier.

Well, that’s all I’ve got on my plate. Please consider following if you liked what you read, and I always enjoy hearing your comments and questions.  And as always, thanks for reading!


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I'm a 24 year-old veterinary student, novelist, & aspiring screenwriter. I'm trying out this blogging thing in my spare time.

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