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Monday, October 24, 2016

When the Turtles Took Over: Guest Post by Veronica Scott

I'm beyond enthused to be one of nine authors contributing to Pets in Space, a wonderful collection of novellas and novelettes. After all, pets + space! What could be more fun than that? But along with the fun comes adventure, aliens, intrigue, excitement and compelling romantic mayhem. We're also very proud that part of the proceeds will be donated to Hero-dogs.org who provide trained service dogs and companion animals free of charge for our veterans. For the next several weeks, Pets in Space authors will be guest blogging to share insights into their stories, pets, experiences and favorite things.

Today, I'm very pleased to have Veronica Scott, author of Star Cruise: Stowaway in Pets in Space, here as our guest blogger.
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Have you ever taken on a pet without understanding what you were in for? Because it was adorable and cute maybe? Or because your children were just begging to adopt it and you figured what the heck? 

That was me and red-eared slider turtles.

Years and years ago, a small tropical fish store opened up near where we were living then and my daughters wanted to stop in and see the pretty fish every time we went shopping. (I’ll tell you the sad story of us and aquariums another day.) Then one day the proprietor had acquired a few baby red-eared slider turtles. The kids were fascinated and begged to adopt one each. Since I used to have those little green turtles when I was a child (who knew about salmonella in those days?), I said fine and off we went. Of course we had to have a large aquarium so they could swim and that was an expense, plus a small motor to circulate and clean the water...

Fast forward a year. The turtles were each the size of a salad plate and rejoiced in names primarily drawn from characters on the "Xena Warrior Princess". (I have no idea how to tell the sex of a turtle so hopefully they liked their names regardless of accuracy.)

We now had six of these turtles in a massive aquarium, with THREE motors running constantly...they’d come down with pneumonia at one point over the winter, and I spent an insane amount of money on the only veterinarian in our area who treated turtles, not to mention medicine. Have you ever tried to give a turtle medicine three times a day? Remember they can duck back into their shell and refuse to swallow. Plus they hiss very convincingly and kick with those clawed feet. But I’m kind hearted and I can’t bear to see an animal suffer so of course we had to try to save these guys. They had to be taken outside daily to get their dose of sun (although I seem to recall buying special lights). We had to completely empty the aquarium and clean it thoroughly once a week, which was a massive operation, including scrubbing the rocks that the turtles liked to sit on. Every week I was afraid we’d either break the glass aquarium or come down with some exotic disease despite the gloves we all wore.

I was keeping that small pet shop in business, buying filters for the pumps, and food – the turtles preferred live worms, live goldfish, insects, hamburger, bits of hot dogs...the problem being that they are messy eaters so the water got nasty fast. Turtles are kind of unclean which doesn’t matter in a nice lake or pond – circle of life and all that – but in an aquarium, not so good. It really wasn’t the lovely centerpiece I might have once naively envisioned for my living room.

Yes, I see you shaking your head and pondering why I was doing all this but I think sometimes when you’re in the midst of a situation, you can’t see how out of hand it’s gotten. And the turtles were interesting to watch. One of my best memories ever is when we set up the Christmas tree and turned on the lights and all six of them swam to the edge of the aquarium and were mesmerized. That was cool to see.

So what finally brought this insanity to an end? My best friend and I took our children to the local natural history museum, which also had a few live animals on display, including mature red-eared slider turtles. They were the size of serving platters. I will never forget how horrified I was to see what was in my future – six gigantic reptiles in my living room, probably each in their own aquarium by then, with filters the size of nuclear power generators and a refrigerator just for their food!

Fortunately I had a friend who had a friend who wanted to adopt them. He had a ranch in a very rural area and I asked NO questions. He came one day in his truck, loaded up the aquarium, the pumps and the turtles and we were done. My electric bill went down $60/month!

Very important moral of the story: don’t adopt any animal without knowing more about it first, what kind of care it requires, and if it’s an exotic, what the requirements may be if it outgrows the habitat you can safely provide. Of course it’s easier to research these things nowadays and I never again said yes to adopting any pet without thinking long and hard. No impulse buys.

It’s strictly cats for me now! Nice, normal housecats whose care I totally understand and can handle.

So when I was writing my story for this anthology, I gave my hero a cat and an alien, furry pet, but no turtles.

The blurb for Pets In Space:

Even an alien needs a pet...

Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved.

Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

 And the blurb for Star Cruise: Stowaway:

Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.

A quick excerpt from the story – Owen, the cargo master, is going to see the stowaway in the sickbay.

As he walked through the public corridor, not enjoying the close encounter with the throng of passengers he usually avoided, he passed the florist shop and hesitated. You take flowers when someone’s sick, right? Squaring his shoulders, he stepped inside the small shop and picked the most colorful bouquet the clerk had to offer, dismayed at the limited selection available. He vaguely remembered a discussion at senior staff not too long ago, and the Purser saying the ornamental hydroponics trade should be bringing in a lot more credits but was languishing. No wonder. Critically, he surveyed the flowers he’d bought, some of which were missing a few petals and already browning at the edges. He’d have an opinion if the topic came up again.

Holding the flowers clutched like a wrench at his side, he entered the sickbay, ignoring nurse Relba’s widening eyes as she focused on what he carried. “I’m here to see the lady, the one brought in last night,” he said, feeling like an idiot, not knowing her name.

“Sorry, sir, the patient’s not allowed to have visitors—

Author Bio:

Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and "SciFi Encounters" columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s "City On the Edge of Forever."

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2 comments:

  1. And now we know The Trouble With Turtles! Thanks so much for being our guest today, Veronica.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Even now I can't believe how out of hand it all got!!! Thanks for having me as your guest to relive it :)

    ReplyDelete

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