writing - reading - life

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Review: The Accidental Veterinarian by Philipp Schott

I love my cats (as you will see in this post) but I never dreamed (as lots of kids do) of being a veterinarian, and I've never really been interested in the profession (or any medical profession, for that matter). Even so, Philipp Schott's The Accidental Veterinarian hooked me pretty much immediately and kept me laughing throughout. It is a fun, humorous and fascinating peek into the veterinarian profession, told by a thoughtful and quirky veterinarian.

The Accidental Veterinarian is written as a series of short essays of insights into the chaos and reality of the job. It includes entertaining advice on how best to take care of your animals (such as how to "pill the cat"), essays about Schott's personal journey into veterinary medicine, and (the best part) fun, silly stories from his years practicing. Including the time he treated an ostrich, and the time he treated a lionfish.

The Accidental Veterinarian is an incredibly fun, absolutely hilarious read that I think anyone would enjoy, not just animal lovers. I was laughing out loud after the first few pages, and didn't stop until the end. Philipp Schott is a lovable and humorous narrator, and his character shows through in his writing. I mean, I knew I was going to love this book when only a couple of chapters in Schott spends an entire chapter comparing the veterinary medicine building at the University of Saskatchewan to Hogwarts and states that "Manitoba is clearly Hufflepuff."

I also loved that while there are tons of silly, extreme and hilarious stories for your enjoyment, Schott also touches on the realities of being a vet and some of the hardships of the job. Some of his essays touch on having to put down animals on a regular basis and play grief counselor to many, many people, or the impact of the stresses of the job itself and the problem of suicide in the profession. It really demonstrates the thoughtful side of his character when he consistently points out that people are just as important a part of the job as the animals.

In any case, The Accidental Veterinarian is a quick, enjoyable read that gives a tremendously interesting glimpse into the life and trials of a veterinarian that I really think anyone would enjoy.


And bonus quote:

"But all that said, the love of animals is still at the heart of things. I often think of a card we got many years ago from a young child who boldly wrote, 'I want to be a vat!' Yes, I too once aspired to be a large container, but I became an animal doctor instead, and I have never regretted that decision."

The Accidental Veterinarian comes out in April 2019! Click one of the links below to add it to your list or pre-order.

Find it on
ECW Press

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Embarrassing Childhood Writing: Middle School Edition

A good friend of mine recently sent me a short story she wrote in ninth grade for an assignment, because she thought I'd be entertained. It was a story about a baker (specifically the best baker in the world) being kidnapped by aliens in order to make special muffins for them to fatten them up because the aliens' beauty standards were girth rather than being skinny like ours. It was absolutely delightful and weird and hilarious in all the best ways, especially knowing my friend now and seeing a glimpse into her brain as a fourteen year old.

And since I've always loved going through my old childhood writing and sharing it, I thought that's what I'd do today. It's always fun going back and laughing at myself, in addition to seeing how far I've come. And as a bonus, I've included some pictures of myself as a wee pre-teen writer (against my better judgment) so enjoy. 

Some things never change... I still write with a laptop and cats.

Grade 8, Winter John and the Seven Doors

“Who said that?” I asked.

“It is us,” the voice answered.

“Who is ‘us’ exactly?” I questioned.

“Us… ahem, we are the seven doors, andare here to protect you,” the voice rang throughout the room.

 I figured that they were supposed to protectme from my raging stepfather, so I didn’t ask. Still, I was wondering onething.

 “Excuse me, um, doors?” I said, feelingextremely stupid.

 “We listen,” the seven doors answered inunison.

“I’m sure when I crawled into thisroom,” I paused and took a giant sip of soup, scalding my tongue in theprocess, “that it was full of comfortable furniture, but when I woke up I wasin this room, with all hard wooden furniture. Was it just me or somethingelse?”
 “You’re a smartone, yet we have seen more than any mortal eyes. Our rooms never stay the same.Not one exists for longer than a day. I actually thought I got what they weresaying. (I must have been going crazy). 

I know I'm SO CLEVER, right? I'm being totally original if I just switch the characters out of the original Snow White story. I like the voice in this one, but the plotting is kind of lacking (which, incidentally, I am still not very good at plotting).

Grade 8

I think this excerpt might be too embarrassing to share. Be warned.

I was kneeling on the ground, flipping through pages ofan old journal I had found in the attic. I stopped at a random page and readit. The date was marked April 5th, 2007. That was thirty-two years ago.

   "It's not like it is in books. It reallyisn't. There isn't just one cool girl and their posse, and one cool guy andtheir posse. There are groups of cool people. But you have to make sure thatyou aren't confusing the not-cool people who follow trends with the actual coolpeople. And after that, there’s the not-cool people who don’t follow trends atall. I’m not really sure how this all works out, but it does. I know all thestyles, too.

SeptemberStyles 2007




Zip-upsweaters with one drawing multiplied to make a pattern.

Tank tops with the lacy bottom butunderneath everything.

Bangsclipped straight back

Icould write more, but I won’t."

Istopped reading. What was this? A journal, obviously but the simple entry haduncovered multiple questions from the dirt of my mind. What was a ‘book’ backin 2007? Now, a book was a long list of typed pages on the computer that youcould read yourself or have an automatic voice read aloud to you. But what wasit like in books, if not how this person suggested? And the not-cool people andthe cool-people and the trend-followers- what were those?

Oh dear, I was such a pretentious fourteen year old. Also, as you can tell, I was VERY on top of all the 2007 trends (ha).


Grade 7, All the Neopets Fanfiction

You may not know this, but when I was a kid I was obsessed with Neopets. Some kids got deep into Harry Potter fandom. I got deep into Neopets, to the point that I learned HTML... and wrote first-person little bios of each of my Neopets. 

Ugh. My brothers and sister are such BABIES!!!! Well, okay,not really. Marmoke is just really shy, paranoid and scared of everywhere andeverything. Why should I tell you about HIM? I just got painted from yellow toblue. Why couldn't I have gotten painted from yellow to ELECTRIC??? Marmoke isa scaredy-yurble, as I am an Adventrurer!!!! My favorite place to be is MysteryIsland. I love all the excitement that goes on there. I also like Krawk Island.Even though I'm outgoing, I still hate The Haunted Woods. What kind of neopetwould be daring enough to enter THAT forest? HA! Not me, thats for sure. I lovewrestling. I also used to play with 17abchak2. He was the BEST!! And then hewas put up for adoption, and I haven't seen him since. I wish I was green.

Yeah, I don't know what half those words mean either.  Also, the things I have found in my "Neopets Nostalgia" folder... wow. There's an entire folder of screenshots of things on Neopets making fun of new users for using "chatspeak" as I called it?? Why, fourteen year old Alyssa, why??

And a bonus excerpt from one of my many "Neopets Stories": 

 Inthe depths of Maraqua  lies the onlycreature dare swim among the corals of the darkest waters.

  TheMaraquan Krawk.

 Butthere is only one of these marvels slithering among the kelp. His name is Newt.

 Newthad always wanted to make his way further to the sunlight of the surface, buthe was scared, and something always kept him from wandering past his littlecave of a home.

 “Todays your day, the adventure will overpoweryour frightened soul,” whispered the kelp. Down in the depths of the Neopian sea,kelp could be real talking neopets. Newt didn’t feel like listening to weedstoday, so he stayed in his little sea volcano, away from all the other life.

Yep, some days I don't feel like listening to the weeds either. 

I haven't really changed much at all, have I?
Grade 6, Words

 This was apparently a writing exercise, since I had five words at the top that I'm guessing I was supposed to incorporate into the excerpt. Um... just read it.

I’d never expect anything so… meaningful from my workaholic dad. Maybe,there was something that wasn’t there when my dad worked. It could be like acoat of paint that could seem realistic, but peeled off to reveal his trueself. As my kite soared, I remembered the humiliation of my mom calling afterme not to forget my lunch. Dad never did that, but then again, Mom did thatbecause she cared. I dug hard in my memory to reach something where my dadshowed that he did really, truly care. I came up empty. Maybe there wassomething, I just didn’t dig deep enough. To this day, I am still digging, andfinally, I’m starting to dig up diamonds.

That is the story of my young daughter,Joliet. She always liked attention. Yet, her mother always praised foreverything, really anything she did. “Oh, that’s wonderful, dear,” her motherwould say. And, of course, as all mothers do, she would humiliate Joliet withlittle reminders that weren’t worth mentioning. And I, unfortunately, only hadtime- or patience to praise Joliet when she did the hardest of her work. I wishI could’ve noticed other things. And that day, when we were flying her kitetogether, I realized how great she really was, and I’d never know anyone elsequite like I knew her. After all, She’s my daughter.

Funnily enough, my dad is not and has never been a workaholic. I have no idea where this came from. 

Actually, I do. It's from reading. It's interesting how much of my old writing was pretty much solely inspired by my crazy imagination/desire for escapism or books I'd read. My childhood writing constantly seems way too close to other famous works (see above). Now that I've lived life a bit, I can write more about my own experiences and let that inform me. It really is true what they say: in order to write, you have to get out and live. And, hopefully with that added life experience to my writing, I will be less embarrassed about my past work in the future. ;)

Further reading:
Even More Embarrassing Childhood Writing // More of My Embarrassing Childhood Writing // Early Works Blogfest: My Awesome Childhood in Writing


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