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A lot of news

Hey, all. I know I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, things have been pretty difficult lately. I’ve been trying to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, which is something I look forward to every year. It’s an international event that takes place in the entire month of November (which is why it’s called National Novel Writing Month), where writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s definitely a challenge, but totally possible.

This year, however, I will not be reaching my goal of 50,000 words due to a few things going on. That said, I will still be logging my wordcount—so I’m still participating in a way. If you’re interested in writing a novel, NaNoWriMo is definitely a great opportunity to get started. The online community there is very supportive, and you get wonderful resources and tips to help you with your writing journey. On your typical year, there are write-ins, where you go to a library or café to work on your novel with your fellow writers, which is a great way to make connections and friends who have the same passion for writing as you do. Click here to learn more about NaNoWriMo (hope to see you next year).

Even better, if you have a child who is interested in writing, sign them up for the Young Writers Program through NaNo. It has many of the same resources for kids, and is definitely a great way to challenge them to work on their story-making. They’ll find some good friends as well, and a support group of kids their age to help them grow in their craft. Click here for more information on the Young Writers Program.

Currently, the first two books of the Edania Chronicles series are out. Click here for Bugged Out! and here for Escape from Hotel Barbaas (and don’t forget to leave a review once you read them). I will be working on editing book #3 come December, and I will be planning to release in March. I will keep you updated in case I release sooner. The third book in the series is called Welcome to Wacky Water World. See the blurb below:

It’s new. It’s yummy. It’s wacky. It’s…dangerous. Wacky Water has just hit the shelves, and it’s all the rage on the islands. Even better, a waterpark has opened at the Wacky Water bottling factory. On opening day, everyone at Force-Pointe High is there.

At the same time, a mysterious illness is going around school. Symptoms range from low energy and fatigue to hypothermia, and it seems that the more Wacky Water someone drinks, the more severe the illness. Nobody seems to be making the connection between the water and the sickness. Nobody, that is, except for Abby and her friends. And when James has a vision of the next Ark, it appears to be surrounded by water.

Abby can’t shake the feeling that the president of Wacky Water is hiding something. The woman looks like a typical high-powered executive, but there’s something in her eyes that Abby doesn’t like. Something cold. Something evil.

The team is tasked to investigate the Wacky Water World park, but are instructed not to make a scene…what’s the worst that can happen?

Onto other business: the Indie Wordsmiths newsletter is set to release next Wednesday, November 25th. If you haven’t already, I would sign up. You’ll get all the latest news from each of the Wordsmiths, as well as occasional promotions and freebies. Click here to sign up.

Well, that’s about it for me this week. Until next time, happy reading!

Indie Wordsmiths Info

Hey, all! Just stopping by to let you know that the Indie Wordsmiths newsletter is scheduled to be sent out this Friday, October 23rd. If you’re already subscribed, keep a lookout. If you’re not subscribed you, go ahead and click here to sign up! You’ll get all the up to date info about each wordsmith, as well as occasional freebies, promos and more!

Also, if you didn’t already know, the second book in the Edania Chronicles series is out now. Click here to check it out!

Well, that’s about it for this blog post. Until next time, happy reading!

Escape from Hotel Barbaas out now!

Hey, all! It’s official, Escape from Hotel Barbaas is out now! Here’s a little blurb about the book:

 A mysterious hotel that shifts rooms. A forest filled with killer plants. More mutant bugs.

At first, things seem to be back to normal for Kelly and her friends. James is lecturing everyone about proper hand washing, Abby is back to panicking about gymnastics, and Nick is the same old goofball.

But when James has a vision showing the whereabouts of the second Ark, their lives are once again thrown into chaos. At the Edania HQ they meet Gideon, an eccentric administrator of the organization who sends them to Soraya Woods, a place where Kelly and James know well.

They soon realize that things aren’t as quiet and tranquil as they remember. The woods have been overtaken by evil plants that attack if you get too close and insects that make the shadow mantises look like harmless butterflies.

They eventually find themselves at a beautiful but rundown hotel in the middle of the woods. But things aren’t at all what they seem. The two caretakers of the hotel seem a little too eager for them to stay, and there’s something moving in the walls…

You can purchase Escape from Hotel Barbaas here, and it’s available as an ebook or paperback.

Also, if you haven’t done so, go ahead and sign up for the Indie Wordsmiths newsletter by clicking here. You’ll get more info on my series, as well as my fellow wordsmiths’ works! It’ll be my turn to write the newsletter for October, so be on the lookout toward the end of next month!

Well, that’s it for this blog post. Until next time, happy reading!

New book coming out on Friday! Get a sneak peek here

Hey all, great news! I’m almost done editing Escape from Hotel Barbaas, so I’m confident that it’ll be releasing on time. I’m planning on it being published this Friday!

To celebrate, I’ve decided to give you guys a couple of sneak peeks! For one, here is the tentative cover, made by the very talented Jenny Ahern (Instagram @aeonpigments):

Second, I’m also including Doren Report #3. The report will introduce one of the main villains of the book: Thistle, a Corrupted that has a very…earthy disposition. Hope you enjoy!

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you don’t like spoilers, the following text is an excerpt from my second book!  

(Also, please forgive me for the terrible formatting…I’m still learning how to work with WordPress).

DOREN REPORT #3: THISTLE

TOLLES ISLAND

DOREN CORP. 

DEATHBORNE CAVE BRANCH 

CENTRAL CONTROL ROOM

It had been seven days since the neophyte agents of Edania had defeated the shadow mantis queen and acquired the first Ark. Dr. Barbaas, an executive member of Doren Corp. in charge of the mission, was summoned to present himself before Doren to explain his failure. Luckily for Barbaas, he already had a plan to not only abate his master’s wrath, but to get back in his good graces. 

“Barbaas, you have failed!” Doren screamed from his computer-generated prison cell. “Your mission was derailed by a group of schoolchildren. What’s worse is that the vile Edania Organization has the Ark. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Barbaas, taking the full brunt of his master’s anger, bowed down at his virtual feet. “It’s true that I have failed you, Master,” he groveled. “I am incredibly sorry about that. But my darling shadow mantis queen and her brood—may they rest in peace—not only had the Edania agents to contend with, but they also had those F.E.S.P.A. fools to fight.”

 “Silence!” Doren snapped. “You assured me that she could handle both fronts, and yet we don’t have the Ark.”

 Barbaas winced. “My apologies, Master. I miscalculated, something that will not happen again. I swear to you by all that is oh-so-evil and indecent that I will get the next Ark and deliver it to you, along with the lifeless bodies of these new agents.”

 Doren was silent for a long moment. Finally, he spoke. “You have a plan to retrieve the next Ark and destroy Edania’s new agents, do you? Let’s hear it.” Doren crossed his pixelated arms. “And hope that I like it, or you may just find yourself in Deathborne Pit.”

 “Don’t be too hard on him, Master,” said Flutura, feigning sympathy. She had been listening from a corner[G1] , enjoying Barbaas’s thrashing. She walked eagerly to the center of the room in front of Doren’s computer. She flicked her silky hair in Barbaas’s face. “Perhaps all he needs is a more feminine touch to help spruce up his otherwise meager plans.”

 “Puleeease, as if I need your help, man hands! I’ve got the feminine touch I need already,” Barbaas snarked.

 She turned to Barbaas and blinked at him. “Don’t snap at me just because you failed your mission,” she said. “If I were you, I’d step down before you embarrass yourself and Master Doren further.”

 Barbaas giggled. “My new plan is way beyond your comprehension level, Flutura.”

“I’m not the one who failed to get the first Ark,” she said with a wicked smile.

 He put his palm in her face. “Dr. Barbaas is talking now. Please refrain from deafening me with your petty squawking.”

 She slapped his hand away. “Run your mouth all you want—the fact is that you were unsuccessful in your mission. And you know what Master Doren does with useless trash.”

 “Still your tongue, Flutura!” yelled Doren. “I’m the one who decides who is useless and who isn’t. Barbaas, tell me your plan, now.”

 Flutura took a bold step toward the computer screen and grunted quietly. “But he failed. Aren’t you going to punish him?”

 “Although it’s true that his insects were defeated, it still showed promise,” Doren said. “I will allow him one more chance to redeem himself, should I like his plan.”

 She stomped her foot. “But—”

“Perhaps you’re the one I should punish, Flutura,” Doren remarked. “After all, you have very little to show for the resources I have given you. Have you located any of the Arks? Have you made any plans for collecting energy, or devised a strategy for identifying and defeating these new Edanian agents?”

 Flutura took a step back. “I— I—”

 “Trust me, my dear, you will be the one I punish should you be so insolent again. Do you understand me?”

 Flutura bowed low to the ground. “Yes.”

 “Now, Barbaas, your plan?” asked Doren, turning his attention to the gratified doctor.

 Barbaas sneered at Flutura. “I’ll tell you as soon as it gets here. Or rather, she,”he said. He took the communication device from his lab coat. “Alrighty, you can come in. Show us what you’ve got, sweetie.”

 There was nothing but silence.

 “Wait for it…wait for it…” Barbaas said, practically giggling from his excitement.

 “What are we waiting for?” Flutura asked angrily.

 Barbaas glanced down at the floor behind her. “That,” he said, pointing down at the ground.

 Something slithered over Flutura’s foot, and she leaped back. “A snake?” she squealed. But it wasn’t a snake. It was a writhing green vine that slithered like a serpent to the center of the room. 

A rustling sound echoed all around the central control room, like bushes being shaken by the wind. The room quickly became overrun by long, green vines that moved and slithered by themselves. 

Other strange flora began to grow . Bushes with waxy purple leaves that looked like skeleton faces; giant Venus flytraps that coiled through the support beams; and beautiful glowing sunflowers that were as white as moonlight.

 “Where are all of these plants coming from?” asked Flutura, trying not to trip over a group of slithering vines that tried to coil around her foot.

 “From me,” said a feminine, earthy voice from behind her.

 A tall, thin woman walked into the room. Her long, vibrant orange hair was untamed like wild brush. Her skin was pale ashwood gray, and her eyes were autumn orange. She wore a dark-green skin-tight lab uniform.

 The woman approached Flutura. “You’re in my way. Step aside, little moth.”

 Flutura glared at her. “How dare you? I should cut you down like the weed you are!”

 The plant-woman showed her nails, which were long and sharp with green nail-polish. “Careful, buggy, this weed has thorns. It would be a shame for that lovely face of yours to get gouged by them.”

 “I’d like to see you try!” Flutura snapped. She grabbed a moth-shaped throwing star from her pocket.

 “Now, girls,” Barbaas said with a sinister grin. “As much as I would love to see this cat fight, we have business to take care of.”

 “You heard Master Barbaas. Move,” said the woman.

“He’s no master of mine,” Flutura chided. 

 “Flutura, move your fat self over and let her through,” Barbaas snarked.

 “It’s okay,” the plant-woman said. “If she won’t move herself, I’ll gladly do it for her.”

 A vine wrapped around Flutura’s ankle. Before she had time to react, the tendril knocked her off her feet before lifting her up from the ground. 

 “Put me down this instant, weed girl!” Flutura yelled as she struggled to free herself. She was upside down, suspended seven feet in the air.

 “It’s Thistle, little bug. I’d learn to remember it,” she said as she joined Barbaas in front of Doren’s computer.

 “I said, put me down!” Flutura insisted, flailing in the air.

 “As you wish.” Thistle snapped her fingers, and the vine loosened its grip.

 Flutura nimbly flipped right-side up and landed on her feet.

 “Ooh, the little moth has some moves. Color me impressed,” said Thistle sarcastically.

 “You’ll see what kind of moves I really have in a moment,” Flutura said, her eyes narrowing as she glared at Thistle. “You were able to sneak an attack, but don’t think you’re superior because of it.”

 Thistle giggled. “That’s not why I think I’m superior, hon.”

 Flutura took an angry step forward. “You wretched little— I am one of Master Doren’s leading officers. Who are you?”

 “Why should I tell you?” Thistle answered calmly. 

 “Enough!” yelled Doren. “I grow impatient of everyone’s bickering. I am trying to run a criminal organization, not mediate a schoolyard squabble! You, Thistle. I command you to answer Flutura’s question: Who are you?”

 Barbaas patted Thistle on the back. “Go ahead, darlin’, give him your credentials.”

 “Very well,” she said. “As I stated before, my name is Thistle. I received my Dark-Segol eight years ago, and for the last three months I have studied under Master Pan—”

 “Pan of the Olympian Alliance?” Flutura asked, her arms crossed.

 “The very same,” Thistle answered. 

 “Why are you here, then?” Flutura inquired. “Shouldn’t you be following that group of fools?”

 Thistle shrugged. “I may have studied under Pan, but I have nothing to do with what he or the rest of the alliance is up to. I simply learned what I could and left.”

 “Are we to believe that?” Flutura snipped. “You’re probably a spy from the Olympian Alliance, trying to get something on Master Doren so he’ll join their group. They’ve been trying to recruit him since the Seven Shadows were defeated.”

 “You can believe what you want, bug,” Thistle said dryly. “I am Dr. Barbaas’s assistant now.”

 “You’ve sure been downgraded. Was Pan not pleased with you?” Flutura asked.

 Thistle’s orange eyes glimmered deeply, going from serene autumn to a blazing fire. “I’ve gone on more than fifteen energy-retrieval missions independently, which is much more than you can say, I’m sure. And, my Dark-Segol is advanced enough to be considered MC level.”

 “Your little plants are powerful enough to be an MC level? I doubt that,” said Flutura.

 “Jealous much?” said Thistle.

 Flutura laughed humorlessly. “Of you? Please!”

 “Aww,” Thistle said, feigning a pout. “It must be frustrating to know you stand before a superior. So sorry.”

 “Why don’t you put your Dark-Segol where your mouth is?” said Flutura.

 Doren’s computer flickered. “Yes, I’d like to see you prove your claim. I am intrigued. You say your Dark-Segol merits an MC-rank—let us see why that is.”

 Barbaas squealed with excitement. “Ooh, you’re just gonna love this, master!” He nodded at Thistle. “Go ahead, show ’em what your lovely plants can do.”

 Thistle bowed her head in affirmation. She closed her eyes and spread her arms out. All of the plants in the room began to grow and contort. They began to change their shape; the vines that slithered on the floor flattened and became smooth and lustrous, covering the whole floor. The shapeshifting plants started to change color, making a black-and-white checkered pattern. The ivy overhead turned a rich and earthy brown. Brilliant golden plants swirled around in the center of the ceiling, merging into one source of bright light. The plants that covered the walls turned red, blue, and purple, flattening to the wall. 

Finally the morphing fauna stopped writhing and conjoining. Now, Doren’s dark, rotting lair looked like it was part of an extravagant palace. The floor appeared to be made of polished marble, and the ceiling looked like a mahogany dome with a brilliant chandelier hanging down from the center. The walls were red with blue and purple tapestries overlaying them. There was even a fireplace on the far wall with a fire crackling in it.

“My Dark-Segol is called the Forest of Illusion, and you can see why,” Thistle said, motioning around the room. “I can make my plants take any shape I wish.”

 “And that’s enough for it to merit an MC-rank?” Flutura asked sassily. 

 Thistle glanced at Flutura, her glowing orange eyes twinkling. “Let me show you what else my powers can do. Master Barbaas, would you kindly bring in a volunteer?”

 “Will do,” he said. “Hey, Fredrickson, can you come in here for a sec, pretty please?” he said on his communication device.

 “Yes, sir,” Fredrickson said on the other end.

 A man wearing a hazmat suit walked in. “How can I help you, Doctor?”

 “Could you be a dear and put out the fire over there?” asked Barbaas.

 Fredrickson looked around the room. “Did we do some renovations? This room looks really good, sir.”

 Barbaas patted Fredrickson on the back. “It was a last-second thing. Now, the fire, if you would?”

 Fredrickson looked puzzled. “The one…in the fireplace?”

 “No,” said Barbaas with every bit of sarcasm he could muster. “The fire burning in my heart—yes, the one in the fireplace!”

 “Sir, shouldn’t I be focusing on your research?”

 “Trust me, this will be the best thing you’ve ever contributed,” Barbaas said.

 Fredrickson nodded slowly and walked to the fireplace. As he approached, the fire began to crackle and contort.

 “Uh, sir? The fire is doing something strange,” said Fredrickson.

 The red flames shot out of the fireplace and transformed into several sharp vines. They pierced Fredrickson in the stomach and lifted him ten feet off the ground. The vines began to grow over his writhing body.

 Thistle smiled at her vines. “My beautiful plants are very efficient at ensnaring their victims, as well as collecting their energy. They retrieve it slowly, but I make sure they get every last bit. When my plants are done, all that’s left of their prey is dried-up flesh and bones.” She held her hand out and a small ball of light appeared above it. “See? My lovely vines have already begun sapping the energy out of dear old Fredrickson.”

 Flutura grunted at the entire display, watching sulkily as Fredrickson’s life drained away.

 “Most impressive,” Doren said. “But what exactly do you plan to do with such an ability?” 

 Barbaas bowed down. “Please don’t think me presumptuous, master. But Thistle and I have already found the second Ark, and we have a plan underway to get it.”

 “Oh? It is presumptuous,” Doren said. “To think that I would approve of your plan after your first failed attempt. But I may just allow it. Give me details.”

 “As you wish, Master Doren,” said Barbaas. “We’ve found the next Ark deep within Soraya Woods on Tolles Island. It lies underground in an abandoned power plant that was buried by an earthquake some time ago.”

 A ten-foot-tall, fully formed tree shot up next to Thistle in an instant. She leaned against it affectionately. “I planted a tree just like this one, only much bigger, on top of the ruined plant,” she said as she ran her hand down its bark. 

The tree’s branches began to twist and writhe, changing their shape. When the tree stopped its metamorphosis, it took the guise of an old-fashioned brick mansion.

 “The Tree of Illusion,” Thistle continued. “That’s what it’s called. I used the great tree in Soraya Woods to create a grand hotel above the underground plant to lure in any poor souls that get lost in the maze I’ve created in the woods. There are many traps in the faux-hotel, and we’ve already had six people fall victim to my lovely tree.”

 “Sounds intriguing, but what are you planning to do about the new agents of Edania?” Doren inquired. “We need to destroy them now while they are new to their powers.”

 Barbaas giggled. “I’ve got you, Master. The Ark will definitely call out to the kiddos, and they’ll eventually find their way to the hotel, where we’ll ensnare and drain them. They’ll be nothing more than four mummies by the time we’re done with them.”

 “Very well,” Doren said, sounding pleased. “Proceed with your plan. But I warn you again: do not fail me. If you do, you’ll be in an even worse state than Fredrickson is. Do you understand?”

 “Yes indeedy, Master,” Barbaas said with a nod. “Don’t worry, I won’t fail you this time.” He turned to Thistle. “Are you ready to go, dear? So many lives to ruin, so little time.”

 Thistle nodded, and she and Barbaas left Doren’s presence. The moment they left, all of the shape-shifting plants returned to their original states, then receded into the ceiling, floor, and walls, with the exception of the ten-foot-high collection of vines that continued sucking away poor Fredrickson’s life energy bit by bit.

Next blog post, I will be starting up the character profiles again (for real this time!). Also be on the lookout for another surprise. Until next time, happy reading!


New Book Release Soon…and More on Lyme Disease

Hey, all! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy (and keeping up with their reading). I’ve been pretty busy at work. It’s been an interesting time working in healthcare. Though, I can’t imagine how it is in the human field, in the veterinary field, we’re pretty busy right now. I’m not complaining, though. A lot of people are getting puppies and kittens since they’re working from home and have time to work with them, so I’ve been getting my fair share of puppy and kitten cuddles!

Now for the progress report. Escape from Hotel Barbaas is coming along great. I’m just doing one more readthrough and it’ll be ready to publish. I’m going to aim to get it published Friday, September 25th, so keep an eye out for it!

Now onto our second instalment of our discussion on Lyme disease. I’m going to go over some key facts on the human end of this widespread vector-borne disease, and I hope you all enjoy it and maybe learn a few interesting tidbits!

As stated before, Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete bacterial infection spread by blacklegged ticks (commonly called deer ticks). Lyme disease is the most widespread vector-borne pathogen in the US (1). It has a very wide range of symptoms, and is often mistaken for other diseases because of this.

Some comforting news (at least for me), is that an infected tick has to stay attached to you for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease (1). This gives you some time to find and remove the tick before it gets the chance to spread Lyme. In the veterinary field, we make sure to tell pet parents that they need to remove the entire tick from the skin. The saliva that ticks secrete as they bore into the skin acts as an adhesive of sorts, basically cementing themselves to their hosts.

If not done correctly, you can leave the tick’s head lodged in the skin when you remove the rest of it. Here are the CDC’s recommendations for proper tick removal(2):

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

Something you should ALWAYS do after removing a tick is to keep an eye on the site of removal. If you have any redness, swelling or tenderness after a few days to a few weeks; go to the doctor (2).

Although Lyme has several general “flu like” symptoms associated with it (lethargy, fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, etc.), it also has a couple of telltale signs as well (but those may or may not manifest). The classic “bullseye rash” is probably the best example. Most people, though certainly not all, develop a type of rash called erythema migrans at the tick feeding site (3).  

For some, the infection doesn’t go much beyond that. However, others develop more serious symptoms such as severe headache and neck pain, rashes in other areas of the body, swollen lymph nodes, joint pains. People can even develop arthritis because of the disease, as well as loss of muscle tone in the face, moderate to severe chronic joint pain non related to arthritis, and even neurological and heart abnormalities. In some instances, it can even cause swelling of the brain and spinal cord (3).

Though Lyme disease certainly can be serious if left unchecked, it can be treated. The sooner it’s caught, the more likely it is for successful treatment. In early stages of the disease, common antibiotics such as amoxycillin and doxycycline can be used to treat the infection. Typically, patients are given a course of these antibiotics for a course of 10-21 days (4), which isn’t that different compared to treating other bacterial infections as far as duration is concerned.  

I realize this all sounds scary, and it’s pretty hard to avoid ticks completely unless you become a hermit. But, there are some things you can do to prevent getting tick bites.  Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees. They start low and climb their way up. When you go hiking, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks. Bug spray is also a great idea (such as OFF!). Another little trick that one of the veterinarians at my work has suggested to people who go hiking, walk through woods, etc. is to get a flea/tick collar from the pet store and wear it around your ankles (VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT allow the tick collar to make contact with your skin—place the collar over your socks/jeans).

For more information, you can check out the CDC’s website for some great info on the disease. There are also a few good foundations dedicated to educating the public about Lyme disease, such as the Lyme Disease Foundation (5) and the Lyme Disease Association (6).

Well, that’s all for this blog post. Next time, I will be talking about one of my villains of my book series. See you then! Until then, happy reading!

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
  2.  https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/index.html
  5. https://lyme.org/
  6. https://lymediseaseassociation.org/

Slight delay

Hey, all! It’ll be a quick post today. I know I was supposed to talk more about Lyme disease today, but things have been pretty busy for me.

Good news is that Hotel Barbaas is almost ready to publish. I’ll be releasing it mid-late September, so be on the lookout!

I promise next post will be more interesting. I’ll be discussing more about Lyme disease, and I’ll be starting the character profiles up again. Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to giving you guys more info on the Edania Chronicles!

Until next time, happy reading!

Editing and Lyme Disease (it makes sense to me)

Hey, all! I’m making decent time with editing Escape from Hotel Barbaas, so it should be good to release late August-mid September. Be on the lookout for more news regarding that.

As I stated last time, I am going to be discussing an infectious disease every month, starting today. My first pick was an easy one: Borreliosis, better known as Lyme disease.

And, no, it’s not named after limes. It actually got its common name from a small port town in Connecticut where it was first documented (1).

The causative agent of Lyme disease is Borrelia spp., a family of bacteria spread by ticks. The most common strain is Borrelia burgdorferi, though its relative Borrelia mayonii has been found to cause Lyme Disease in the United States as well. There are a couple of other species of Borrelia that cause Lyme in Europe and Asia, namely, B.  afzelii and B. garinii (2).

Borrelia is a family of spirochete bacteria. While spirochete sounds like some kind of mythological monster, it just means that the bacteria are shaped like spirals. Looking at the bacteria under the microscope, it’s clear to see why the order of bacteria got its name.

Look how squiggly they are! Aren’t they just adorable?

Picture: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532894/figure/article-18460.image.f1/

Despite Lyme disease being fairly well known, it is notoriously under-diagnosed, though it is the most common vector-borne bacterial disease in the United States (1). This is because it has such a wide range of symptoms that mimic other conditions, hence it’s nickname “The Great Imitator”(3). The severity is also variant, ranging from extremely mild to severe. In fact, some people don’t show any symptoms at all.

For this week’s blog post, I’ll focus on the veterinary implications of the disease, since that’s the field I’m more familiar with. I will discuss the human medicine side next time.

Many mammals can contract Lyme, though, cats don’t seem to show symptoms of it (4). Dogs, on the other hand, most certainly can. Lyme disease can affect dogs as much as it can humans, and is therefore very important to keep an eye out for ticks on your dogs. Though, many dogs who contract Borrelia are asymptomatic, others can get quite ill.  

Just like in humans, it can take several weeks or even months for symptoms to develop. There is a range of symptoms; including fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. More serious symptoms include the swelling of the joints, limping, orthopedic pain, and even kidney disease(5).

The most common carrier of Lyme in the US is the blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick (5). Whenever I go over flea and tick prevention, I tell clients that the general rule is: the higher the deer population, the higher the tick population. It is very important to keep your dog (and cat—even if they’re unlikely to contract the disease, there are plenty of other health concerns associated with ticks) on an effective flea and tick preventative (6).

My personal favorite (though there are others) is Frontline or Nexgard. Both are products manufactured by Boehringer-Ingelheim (previously Merial). Unfortunately, no flea/tick preventative will keep ticks off of the pet (anti-tick forcefields have not been invented yet). However, the products should kill the ticks before they have the chance to spread Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks have to be attached (actively feeding) to the pet—or person—for 24-48 hours in order to transmit disease. Frontline and Nexgard do a pretty good job, and we see some pretty good success with it. ***It is important to note that it’s recommended that you get ANY flea, tick and heartworm preventative from a licensed veterinary office. Though many flea/tick preventatives are not considered prescriptions, getting them over the counter does come with some risks, such as forgery and inappropriate storage. It is also important to note that all heartworm preventatives are treated as prescriptions because they’re used to prevent a parasite found in the heart and bloodstream.***

Your dog can be tested for Lyme at your family veterinary office. Many can do the test in-house, meaning you can get the result in ten minutes. The test we use at my work also includes a heartworm test (I will be discussing heartworm eventually), and tests for anaplasma and ehrlichia (two other tick-borne illnesses).

In conclusion, Lyme disease is a major health concern due to the fact that it is spread by ticks, and that it has a very wide range of symptoms. I will post a link (click here) to an interactive map that shows the prevalence of Lyme disease in the US and Canada (you can also choose to see the prevalence of other diseases in dogs and cats as well, it’s an awesome resource).

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be talking more about Lyme disease in my next blog post, though I’ll be focusing more on human infection. And I’ll also have more info on my book. Until then, happy reading!

Sources:

1) https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/epi/lyme.html

2) https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/mayonii/index.html

3) https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/about-lyme/

4) https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/lyme-disease-potential-unlikely-problem-cats

5) https://www.boehringer-ingelheim.us/news/news/lyme-disease-dogs-5-things-pet-owners-should-know

6) https://www.idexx.com/en/veterinary/facts-about-lyme/

Book Promotion

Hey all! Life has been pretty interesting, to say the least. I haven’t really had much time to make a new post the last few weeks, but here it finally is.

I’ve gotten the manuscript back from my editor, and I’m going through my final edits of the second book in the Edania Chronicles series: Escape from Hotel Barbaas, and it’s coming along pretty well.

As for the infectious disease of the month, I’ll start that in August…we’ll start with one everyone should be familiar with: Lyme disease. I look forward to talking about this interesting spirochete bacterium and giving you some interesting facts about it.

I also have to postpone my character profiles, but look for them in the near future. I look forward to introducing you to the heroes and villains of the Edania Chronicles, so be on the lookout.

In other news, I’m going to be promoting Bugged Out! later this month. The ebook will be free from Saturday, July 25th-Wednesday, July 29th. For more information, be on the lookout for the Indie Wordsmiths newsletter (you can subscribe by clicking here).

For those of you who have already read Bugged Out!, let me know what you think by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I would love to know how you like it!

Well, that’s all I have for now. Until next time, happy reading!

Status Report

Hey, all! This is going to be another short one. But, good news: my second book is ready to ship out to the editor! That’s the good news. The bad news is that the release is probably going to be pushed back a little. Thank you for bearing with me, this is a learning process. I’ll get a better handle on things as I go.

I’ll be posting on the blog every other Monday for a while. Life is busy right now, and it’s proving difficult to post something every week. Rest assured, I’ll be keeping you guys in the loop!

Next blog post, I’ll be introducing you guys to one of the villains of the series. I’m excited to start the character profiles back up, so make sure you keep an eye out.

Until next time, happy reading!

Progress report and Indie Wordsmiths Newsletter

Hey, all! This will be another short blog post. I have a lot to do this week, and I need to get started on it.

This month, it’s my turn to write the monthly newsletter for the Indie Wordsmiths. Be sure to check it out if you’re already subscribed to it. If not, go ahead and click here and subscribe if you want the latest information on what the Wordsmiths are doing. And, hey, you’ll even get some freebies and promotional material on occasion. I will be including something special in this month’s newsletter, as well as a bonus sneak peek at the next book in the Edania Chronicles series!

Next week, I’ll be continuing my character profiles, which I’m excited about. My series has a lot of interesting characters, and I look forward to introducing them to you! Let me know who your favorite character is so far in the comments.

Keep an eye out for more information on the second book in the Edania Chronicles series: Escape from Hotel Barbaas. I’ll reveal more as we get closer to the release date (which is still to be determined). I will definitely keep you posted with progress reports.

I’ve also decided to add something fun to the blog (at least it’s fun to me). Every month, I will be discussing a different infectious disease or other significant public health issue. I have a passion for learning about germs, and the immune system’s ability to combat them. I think it’ll be a great time…I mean, who doesn’t like talking about Gram staining and Kotch’s Postulates?

Well, that’s it for this week. Happy reading!