Saturday, June 29, 2013

Me, Esquire

As some of you know, I'm a lawyer by day (and occasionally by night and weekend too when work gets busy). For the most part, I really enjoy it. I work primarily in the field of estates - trusts, wills, that sort of thing. I like it because I help people plan for their futures, for their families. And I like being there to help them through their grief, to tell them what to do when they are too upset to know.

But I find some of it astonishing... the people I meet are sometimes more outlandish than the characters I create in my books (and I write fantasy!). I guess, having grown up in a somewhat astonishingly functional family, that I didn't expect the level of dysfunction I see in so many clients.

The stories these people tell and the grudges they can bear... it's remarkable. I worked on a case a long time ago where two feuding siblings had bankrupted a multi-million dollar estate fighting over who got a set of silverware. Silverware.

I like it because the stories keep things interesting and give me faith that no matter what my subconscious dreams up, there are stranger things than are dreamt of in my philosphies.

But I also find the fiction version of the law astonishing. Not things like Legally Blonde (admittedly, a large part of why I went to law school) or Law and Order (if they actually obeyed most of the laws, it would be the most boring show on the planet). But I've read more than a few books that include tales of wills forcing marriage and other bizarre things to inherit.

And I love it! I don't begrudge the authors their literary free rein with the law. Goodness knows the reality can't compare. Some days its more than fiction, but most days its a lot less. But I love seeing the law used creatively in fiction.

So, if you have any legal stories or threads in your work in progress, let me know. If I have time, I'll try and help you out.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Frances!

Our most recent recruit, Frances Pauli: ELEW Releaser of the Hellhounds, celebrates the anniversary of her birth this day.

When I think of everything this organization stands for, I often think of Frances. I first met her many moons ago when I was working slush--I believe it was my very first R&R letter, and her book was one of those I thought of again and again. My experience with R&Rs was that they usually went ignored or often I received a rant from the writer for my trouble. Instead, lo and behold, a revised version of her book arrived sometime later, and once I got my manicured claws in, I have not let her go. I've had the extreme privilege to work on several of her books and I love each one more than the last; Frances is the height of professionalism, an exceptionally hard worker, and has one of those writer brains I want to build and fort in and curl up with hot cocoa while I watch in awe at all the twists and surprises her work takes.

The happiest of birthdays to you, Frances.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guilty as Charged.

I don't read much for pleasure. That's a capitol offence pretty much for an author, and I lose a lot of sleep over it. I'm not kidding. It really bothers me. It's not that I don't adore reading, that I haven't spent my life until now as an avid reader or anything like that. I love a good book as much as the next person...more than most if you factor out my fellow bibliophiles.

Other authors will snort and shake their heads if you tell them you don't have time to read much anymore. I get it. I actually agree with them 100%. You have to read as an author. Perfectly valid. It's vitally important to expose yourself to others' words, to keep current with your genre, to stir the creative juices. I believe all of this...and yet, I don't read much for pleasure.

The problem is not and has never been that I don't want to read, its seriously just that I don't have time. Make time. I can hear them chanting it in my head at night. Maybe it's that easy, but I have little kids, I have home schooling, housecleaning, writing, editing, cover making, errands and laundry and holy moley some days I don't get to shower or even sleep. (And I get that everyone is busy and this is just me whining. I do.)

I want to comply, but most days, reading for pleasure (or anything for pleasure) is not going to happen. Despite the fact that I love nothing more than to ignore the world and spend a day embedded in a good story of someone else's making, it's just not very likely that I'll get to do that more than once or twice a year.

So usually I feel like a turd about it instead...except I got to thinking about what I do read, and it turns out that is a substantial amount of fiction. I won't even count my own books, which I read from seven to twenty times each during the editing phase. I won't count blogs or industry news'zines or anything nonfiction.

And I still read like a fiend.

Because I beta read for my friends. I critique for some authors and I review for others. I read tons of awesome books all the time, and I haven't been counting them at all. If I actually factor in the reading that I've done "for work" as pleasure reading, (and most of it HAS been a pleasure) I am like a reading machine!

And away floats my guilt...except they also say to keep current with what's popular in your genre, and I also agree with that wholeheartedly. Crap. It's back again.
I can't win for losing here.

The moral is to read, right? Or maybe, not to beat yourself up about it if you can't do what everyone says you "should."
Shoulds, don't do anyone any good.

But books do. :)
Even awesome rough ones written by your friends.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Series Post: Ask Dr. Dina - Burns

ETA - Regular reader and eviltry fan Robert Morris is offering a SHINY in the comments! Be sure you read them and see if you can spot the evil!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I do not hold a current medical license or certification (I let them lapse because I no longer work in the medical field and don't intend to ever again). What I do have is an extensive medical background in various fields. Everything you read here is the result of either education, training, research and interpretation, or personal experience. The information in this post is not to be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice or examination. Seriously, if you're having an immediate medical problem and you're reading this blog for help, get off the damned computer and call an ambulance! 


FIRE FIRE FIRE! Yeah yeah! Huh huh heh heh huh huh….

In case you haven't figured it out by now, this post is going to be about burns.

Now, you don't necessarily need fire to burn yourself, but heat is generally the norm when it comes to searing your character. These are called "thermal" burns in medical speak.

Other ways your character can taste burn-y include chemical, radiation, and electrical. (I know, you'd think electrical burns are thermal burns, and technically you'd be right, but they do a different kind of damage than thermal burns, so get a category of their own. Different types of burns do different types of damage. Lemme 'splain.)

Here. Have a helpful chart. The post below is basically what that chart says, only more with the words and not so medicalish. Onward!

Thermal burns are what people think of most often when they hear "burn." Medical people complicate things (okay, differentiate) by sorting thermal burns by what caused it and what damage was done.

Thermal burns include:

Flash burns - literally just that. Done in a flash. An instant. BOOM. (BADA BOOM!) Explosions of any kind can cause them, such as natural gas, compressed gasses like propane, or other flammable liquids like gasoline and lighter fluid.  A lot of heat for a tiny window of time (that will seem like an eternity to the one experiencing it, OR they might not even notice they got burned, it was so fast). SOMETIMES clothing will protect you from flash burns, unless it catches on fire. Then you're going to notice the burning part. Ever singed your hair or eyebrows over a barbecue when you opened it to a giant ball of flame? Congratulations. You've experienced a flash burn.

Flame burns are what most people think of when you say "burn." Flame burns are you on the barbecue. It's fire, plain and simple, and how hot that fire burns depends on what it's got feeding it. Oil burning is a lot more dangerous than wood or paper because it's a liquid and water doesn't do anything but spread it around. You need to smother oil with powder, foam, or anything to wipe it away. House fires, charcoal grills that use lighter fluid, smoking around a can of hairspray, car wrecks, clothes or blankets catching fire from stoves or heaters…there are a LOT of ways to burn yourself the good old-fashioned way.

Scalds are caused by hot liquids. We've all burned our tongues on something hot that we've eaten or taken a sip of. That pot of coffee that just finished brewing? 180 degrees Fahrenheit, baby. 82.2 Celsius. Now, some people like it that way, others wait for that shit to cool off a little before they take a sip. (Personally I think coffee drinkers weird for drinking coffee in the first place. You want to play tough, drink tea like I do. Tea is brewed at anywhere from 176 F [80 C] to 212 F [100 C or boiling]. Just sayin'.) Water at 140 F (60 C) can cause a second degree burn in three seconds. That same water, heated to 156 F (68.8C) will cause the same injury in one second.

Not a whole lot of difference there. You've noticed, I'm sure, how much cooler (or warmer) your house feels when the temp changes either way by only a couple degrees. The same is true of burns. The intensity of the heat and length of exposure are crucial, and seconds can make the difference between a first and third degree burn. More about the degrees of burns in a minute.

We've all had what are called contact burns. These are what happen when you touch something hot – a Crockpot, stove-eye, the dashboard of your car or the leather seats when you sit on it in short shorts in the summer, bare feet on hot sand…. Again, millions of examples. Also again, the degree of the burn depends on how long the contact was and how hot the object was. Most people jerk their hand away from something hot they've touched almost instantly (there are some medical conditions that keep people from feeling temperature changes and pain, but we're not talking about those right now), so contact is usually minimal, but occasionally you can't move fast enough, are pinned against something, the heat welds your hand to the object…you get it.

Let's talk a little about degrees of burns. You hear it all the time on TV. Most people know that third degree burns are the bad ones. And yeah, they are, but really, ALL degrees of burns are bad. Just because something is first degree doesn't mean it won't scar or that it won't get infected (yes, burns are wounds, either open or closed, and they can get infected in a number of ways - more on that when we talk about infection).

First degree burns are the superficial ones. They only involve the outermost layer of skin - the epidermis. It's red, but there aren't any blisters. It hurts and takes a week or two to heal. Most sunburns are first degree burns.

Second degree burns are just what they say - they move into the second layer of skin. These usually have blisters, and blanch (turn from red to white/go bloodless) when you apply pressure to them. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes not, and usually take anywhere from two weeks to two months to properly heal, if they don't get infected. Some sunburns are second degree. (Blisters, it's second degree.)

Third degree burns go through all the layers of the skin. It's stiff and white and doesn't blanch at all. They generally don't hurt at all (because there aren't any nerves there to conduct pain) and will take months to heal, if ever. They require surgery and a vast amount of treatment.

You don't hear about it a lot, but there is a fourth degree of burn. These burns go all the way through the skin, muscle, and bone. They're black and charred and there's no fixing these. They don't hurt (there's nothing there to hurt), they don't bleed, and they always require surgery - usually amputation - if, and only if, the person burned this badly survives.

Burns cause a lot of damage, not just to the part that was burned. Which leads us into the types of non-thermal burns.

Chemical burns are a complete bitch. These are caused by strong acids or alkali. These are a bitch because even after you get the chemical off or out of you, they continue to cause damage until whatever's doing the damage is rendered inert. Alkali substances usually cause more severe injury since they react with the natural oils in your skin and don't wash off with water. They literally seep into your pores. Examples are battery acid, bleach, ammonia, toilet bowl cleaner…basically any fucking chemical you can think of. You ever heard of a MSDS form? Most places that use chemicals are required to have one on file for EVERY SINGLE CHEMICAL THEY HAVE ON THE PREMISES. Even shit like hydrogen peroxide. Sure, basically harmless, but still. You get that shit in your eye, you're not gonna like it, and a MSDS sheet says everything about what that chemical does and how to deal with it if anything happens involving it.

Electrical burns are exactly what they sound like. It's contact with electricity. Remember when I said they were also thermal burns? They are, only they're from very high heat. Electricity burns a lot hotter than fire in a lot of cases and does a lot more damage. Sources of electricity range from the AC power in your house to DC power found in solar cell panels. (Hint – DC [direct current] is lower voltage than AC [alternating current]. This little bit of info is what pissed Thomas Edison off and led to the invention of the electric chair. I shit you not.)

Now, electric current isn't picky. That shit goes wherever it's easiest to go, and hurts like motherfucker. The contact/entry site/stingy part is the LEAST of your problems. Electric shock can stop your heart, (what did I just say about the electric chair? This is also why they use electricity to start it again, called "defibrillation." Pacemakers also use tiny electric shocks to "shock your heart back into rhythm."), fuck up your brain, screw with your motor function…anything to do with your body's own electrical system (yes, you have one, after a fashion) can take a hit. You can't tell by looking how badly you're hurt when you've taken a literal shock to your system, so you get shocked, you get your bitch-ass to a hospital NOW so they can check you out. Now, I'm not talking about little static discharge shocks like when you scuff your feet across a carpet and touch a doorknob. Everyone does that, and yeah, it's annoying and uncomfortable, but that's not going to hurt you. It will just piss you off enough to take the maintenance man's drill to the doorknob like a gangsta. (Beating up the printer is another issue.) I'm talking high voltage, which is more than 1,000 volts.  You wouldn't think of a lightning strike as being low voltage, but in reality, yeah, they are. Most lightning strikes are under 1000 volts. Also, it's the speed of lightning strikes that's the key issue, not the voltage. Lightning strikes are fortunately rare, and while the aftereffects of them can be highly intense and very interesting, none have been known to convey actual real-life superpowers. To date, anyway.

Now we'll move on to the last type of burn.

A lot of writers get into trouble when they use radiation for things, because of comic books and movies. Radiological burns are caused by…you guessed it…radiation. All kinds. Alpha, beta, gamma…all of them will burn you. Most of them require decontamination to cope with before they stop burning, then there's radiation sickness to deal with. Now, like anything, radiation can be used for good or for evil. The place in the hospital where you get your MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, or X-ray? Radiology. (Many people confuse nuclear medicine with radiology, when actually the two are in the same area. Nuclear medicine is a division of radiology, not separate from it.)

High doses of radiation can, quite literally, melt your face off. But that's an extreme example, and you kind of have to be in the middle of a nuclear fallout in order for that to happen.

Most of us have had radiation burns before. We just call them something else – sunburn. Yep…the sun delivers ultraviolet (NOT "ultra violent") radiation in varying dosages in different parts of the world, and if you're not careful/are exposed too long, you'll get a sunburn. (Or tanning booth burn.) Welding can also deliver this type of burn. Cancer patients sometimes go through external radiation therapy, and radiation burns are sometimes a side effect.

Radiation burns need to be kept in mind most frequently for writers, because they're so easy to get. Have a character baking in the sun? Give that bitch a sunburn and some aloe vera. (Hint: people of all skin pigmentation can get sunburn. It's just more noticeable on those with fair complexions. It hurts everyone equally.) Have a character working as a welder? Sparks fly. Literally. And they hurt on bare skin. Next time you meet someone who welds, look at their arms. You'll see a series of little round scars – these are burn scars from sparks.

And there you have it. Lots of ways to torment your poor character via burns. Maybe they get in a hurry and burn their tongue on a hot cup of tea. Maybe they stay out in the sun too long. Maybe they have cancer and need radiation therapy.

If you have your character run into a burning building for whatever reason you've got them doing that, they may get burned in addition to smoke inhalation, falling debris, chemical exposure...

...but that's a post for another time.

Questions about medical issues with your writing? Leave them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. (THESE MUST APPLY TO FICTIONAL SITUATIONS ONLY. I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR, NOR A SUBSTITUTE FOR ONE.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Permanence. I've been pondering this a bit lately, as I'm in the process of having a tattoo removed. Crazy, right?

I mean, everyone tells you that tattoos are permanent. I've certainly seen more than my fair share of old Navy tattoos blurred on the now-aged arms of older gentlemen. You get one and you hope that it's something you'll like forever.

Or you were really drunk and a tattoo of cookie monster seemed like a good idea at the time. (note, this is not why I'm having my tattoo removed... nor is my tattoo of cookie monster. I digress.)

At any rate, writing is something to consider. If you publish a book, you're leaving a (theoretically) permanent mark on the world. I know that's why some people dream of publication. Your words out there to inspire generations (or at least torment them in literature classes for centuries to come - yeah, thanks Boris Pasternak).

And a book is a permanent thing. In some ways. But we're evolving so quickly these days with technology and publishing isn't too far behind. e-books are everywhere and they seem a little less permanent than a hardback. Maybe it's just me.

But even the real deal, solid hardbacks, can change. I've spotted more than few typos in my days of reading. Whether it's author error or a misprint or something, they're there. And they appear and disappear between editions like will o' the wisps.

So even the written word is not as permanent as you might think. But who cares?  You've been recorded for posterity. And who knows, maybe they will be teaching your book in centuries to come. After all, some of the greatest artists aren't appreciated until they are gone.

There's not any real message here, just philosophical ponderings on permanence and forward progress. What say you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress: Mother, mother

Very, very quick lesson today, folks.

When do you capitalize "mother" or "father"? When DON'T you capitalize? Is it all just RANDOM?

No, it's not.

First, let's talk nouns. There are two types: proper and common.

Proper nouns are nouns that are names of things, basically. People's names, towns, cities, brands, etc. They're all officially and they think they're better than other words, so we capitalize the first letter of the word.

Common nouns are general nouns--non-specific, non-names. They are your basic, solid noun.

I'm a writer named Skyla, and I live in a small town called Campbellford.
Also, I will punch you if you randomly capitalize Writer and Author (outside of the title of a piece) because you look like a douchebag when you do.

Some nouns can be both proper and common, and no, "writer" still isn't one of them. Mom/mom and Dad/dad, however, are.

It becomes a proper noun when you're using it in place of a name.

My mom once asked a cute guy in the checkout line at the grocery store for sperm so she could have grandbabies.
I'm talking about my mother, I use "my" before mom, therefore it's a common noun. I'm not using "mom" to replace her name in that sentence. (If you're unclear, try substituting a name: "My Heather once asked a cute guy..." See? Doesn't make sense.)

Here is the proper noun example:
OMG, Mom, why the FUCK would you ask a total stranger for his sperm to impregnate your daughter??
Some of you get what I'm talking about.
Replacing "Mom" with "Heather" works in this sentence--it's a proper noun because it's replacing one. And that's how it works with Dad/dad. And obviously Mother/mother and Father/father.

It is very common to get these two mixed up--I see a lot of seasoned writers do it. But it's a quick fix, so there you go.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why Writer?

If you make the decision at some point to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) eventually someone is going to ask you why. It's inevitable. Someone here posted a great quote awhile back to the effect that: writing is very hard and has little chance of any reward for that effort.

It's a good quote.

So, people are going to want to know the reason you've apparently lost your mind. Your friends and family first, and at some point, other authors. They'll talk a great deal about your motivation and though they insist there is no right or wrong answer, you can tell by the tone in their voices that there IS in fact a correct and an incorrect response.

Here's a hint. The right answer is not "for the money" or "to become famous." Both those answers will earn you a measure of scorn proportionate to the ridiculousness of the suggestion. (In truth this is exactly what they wanted you to say, because they in fact are holding on to the "right" answer and have been dying to whip it out and show off) They make a big deal of this right answer. I have seen it on many blogs, forum posts, Facebook...all the fancy places. I'm going to make a big deal about it too, but only so I can make fun of it. That's sort of what I do.

The right, just and valid reason for becoming a writer is: Because I have to write. (This is even better received if you emphasize the have to. haaaaaaaahve tooo write.) It is often paraphrased thus: There is a story inside me that has to come out. 


As it comes down to it, I don't have any problem with "the correct" reason to write, except that I don't believe in "one correct" reason for anything. And they make a good point in that, if you can easily walk away from writing and never look back, you should probably go for it. It's hard and often thankless, yes, yes. I'll run with that. But who cares if someone decides to write just for the money or to try for fame? Isn't that their decision?

But I (emphasize the I ) write because I have something inside of me that must come out.

Well, isn't that just SPESHUL. See it's not the reason I have issue with, it's the tone. My way is more valid, you shameless, greedy, hack. Etc.

And as it happens, the correct reason is in fact not so lofty, is it? Technically, it is exactly the same reason you poop. Yup. I went there. Exactly the same reason. Not so fancypants in that light, is it?

Perspective does wonderful things. As it happens, I like "the reason" much better in this light. Some days, in fact, that is exactly an appropriate comparison.
I think if we all imagined our art in that way, we'd stay a lot more grounded...

And possibly more regular.
~ Frances

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Adrienne!

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the evil, evil Adrienne Jones, our Diabolical Behavior Dictator. 

One of our first members, Adrienne has been through thick and thin with us and we with her. She's also served as an example of someone who kicks back when the universe tries to knock her down (and try it certainly has), reminding others to keep moving forward no mater what life throws at you. Further, she writes books in which characters' heads explode--literally--and I can't think of anything much more evil than that.

We at the ELEW extend our sincerest best birthday wishes to Adrienne and have officially declared its her turn with Dean for the day.

Use him wisely, Adrienne, and I hope you had a fabulous birthday.

Series Post: Ask Dr. Dina - Cuts and Punctures

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I do not hold a current medical license or certification (I let them lapse because I no longer work in the medical field and don't intend to ever again). What I do have is an extensive medical background in various fields. Everything you read here is the result of either education, training, research and interpretation, or personal experience. The information in this post is not to be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice or examination. Seriously, if you're having an immediate medical problem and you're reading this blog for help, get off the damned computer and call an ambulance! 

Hello Evil Readers! I have returned!

Welcome back to the Ask Dr. Dina series of posts covering medical issues in your writing.

For those just joining us for this series, so far we've covered:

Loss of Consciousness

Altered Levels of Consciousness

Broken bones

Sprains and strains



Today we're going to talk about more types of soft tissue injuries – lacerations and puncture wounds.

To clarify, a "laceration" is fancy medical speak for "cut." Cuts are open wounds (as opposed to closed wounds like contusions – "bruises"), and their depth is extremely important. They can be as shallow as a minor scrape (called an "abrasion," which can bleed or not depending on severity) to a wound that involves every layer of the skin and organs beneath it, like a gunshot.

Now, a laceration is different from an incision. Lacerations have jagged edges and are made by tearing/ripping rather than slicing. Razors, scalpels and even glass shards all make incisions – clean-edged cuts rather than torn. The difference is crucial when it comes to repairing/cleaning these wounds. Surgical cuts (incisions, NOT lacerations) are vastly different from cuts made by injury. Yes, they're damaging, but not nearly as much as traumatic ones. The clean edges of incisions are neater, leave less scarring and heal much faster than ragged ones. For the purposes of this post, we're going to talk about the former type of cut – lacerations.

Gunshot wounds (abbreviated in medical charting as "GSWs"), stabbings, car accidents, falls, trauma of any kind…all can involve lacerations. As I said above, the depth is the important thing. A cat scratch or a paper cut isn't likely to need stitches (though there are exceptions, I know), but then again, some gunshot wounds don't, either. It just depends on where the wound is and how it was made. (We'll talk about infection and wound care in another post.)

The injury itself is bad enough, but the repercussions of that wound is just as important to consider in your writing. If you have your hero shot, you'll need to take that into account. Where was he shot? In the abdomen? Well, there are lots of organs and some huge arteries and veins running through there. Depending on location, he could bleed out in a matter of minutes, or die from sepsis a week later if he doesn't get treatment for the bowel that got nicked. You have to take these things into consideration (I'm looking at you, Hollywood) when you injure your hero.

By the same token, shooting someone doesn't necessarily take them out. Again, it depends on where the wound is and how severe it is. There are things called "in and out" gunshot wounds, in which the bullet goes completely through the body. No bullet to extract (and for the record, you're not going to die from lead poisoning if you don't get the bullet out immediately). Just a hole and anything else it might have damaged passing through. Some bullets do serious damage, others just make the ER doc roll their eyes. (Trust me on this; I've been there.)

Another note about bullet extraction – sometimes it's best to leave the bullet where it is until you can get professional help. It's the same principle as a stab/puncture wound – LEAVE THE OBJECT WHERE IT IS. Why? Because it could be holding back hemorrhaging. Remember we talked about hemorrhage? Yeah, that's fancy medical speak for "bleeding," and if you pull that bullet or stake or piece of glass or metal or stabby object OUT of the wound, you could bleed out before help comes. LEAVE THE OBJECT. I know it's all macho and shit to have the hero pull the knife out of his stabbed wherever and use it on his assailant, but medically? Yeah, bad idea. Looks cool, though, so you're free to take a little creative license on this one. (See, this is why I write paranormal – I don't have to take this crap into account with immortals.)

Which leads us into puncture wounds. Here, have a graphic that shows you the difference between laceration and punctures.

Punctures are the worst possible wounds to deal with. They're messy, usually deeper than they look, nick things under them and are SERIOUSLY prone to infection. They're hard to repair, hard to heal…everything about puncture wounds sucks.

Punctures are caused by pointy objects – splinters, nails, knives, teeth, knitting needles…what have you. Sometimes they bleed, but sometimes (deceptively) don't, leading the person to believe they're not seriously injured when yeah, they really are.

Here's a trick about puncture wounds – if it's more than ¼" in depth, GO GET HELP. Home first aid isn't enough in these circumstances, because most home first aid is only superficial. That wound needs professional cleaning and possibly packing with antibiotic gauze or other type of repair. Just because you can't see any dirt or debris doesn't mean it's clean. This is especially true for facial/scalp wounds (which bleed a hell of a lot even when they're shallow).

Sometimes puncture wounds don't even hurt, because they're so fast and deep you don't know you're hurt until you realize you can't feel anything around the area. Also, just because you can't feel it hurting doesn't mean the puncture hasn't hit the bone.

Punctures are nasty, nasty things, especially stepping on a nail, hooking yourself with a fishhook or getting bitten by an animal (this includes humans, by the way). If you have your hero getting savaged by a wild beastie, there's going to be problems with those wounds later (besides the obvious lycanthropy, zombification, and whatnot), and you need to take that into account as a writer.

While regular tetanus shots have cut down on reported cases of tetanus by 95% (and cut deaths from tetanus down to almost zero), punctures remain the number one source of tetanus infections. (Or as the CDC puts it, "inadequate wound prophylaxis.")

Now, I'm not saying you have to give your hero's vaccination history in your writing. I'm just saying it's something to think about. If you have your hero in the ER with a puncture wound, they're going to ask if he has a current (in the last 10 years) tetanus shot, and if he doesn't, they'll give him one there.

Because that's adequate wound prophylaxis.

Also, if you, the writer, haven't updated your tetanus injection in the last 10 years, it wouldn't hurt you to do that. Because you never know when someone is going to stab you with a knitting needle. Or if you'll get bitten by a domestic or wild animal out on your run tomorrow.

That's it for this edition of Ask Dr. Dina. Next time we'll talk about burns. Or maybe wound care/infection prevention. We'll see. I'm open to suggestion.

Stay tuned!

Questions about medical issues with your writing? Leave them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. (THESE MUST APPLY TO FICTIONAL SITUATIONS ONLY. I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR, NOR A SUBSTITUTE FOR ONE.)

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