Roxy vs. The Rattler – There are Story Ideas in Everything

IMAG0040Roxy the retriever/hound mix loves snakes.  Specifically, she loves to grab them and whip them around in a frenzy of figure eights, beating them on the ground until pieces start flying off.  Of the snake, that is.

Hopefully she’s now decided this is a bad idea.  She tangled with one Friday night and got bit in the process, and she was none too happy about it.

Checking the swollen mouth of a 75 pound dog who loves you but is in pain is an adventure in itself.  Knowing that waiting until morning isn’t an option as the swelling continues to expand, the adrenaline rush of driving an hour to the ER Vet only carries you for so long.  The rural dark seems darker, the road more crowded but lonely, the cops setting speed traps the epitome of evil.

But as Roxy will tell you, I tend to squeeze the lemonade from all available lemons.  As she watched me in misery when I marshaled forces to get everyone loaded up and on the road, her look said, “Yeah, Mom, I know you’re going to get some story ideas out of this.”

And I did…

I now have a new appreciation for the phrase ‘time stood still’.  It did while I was driving – probably the longest hour of any in my recent memory.

An adrenalin dump leaves you exhausted.  Coming instantly awake and on alert was only more jarring when, after only three hours of sleep, my husband and I hit the floor running again, smelling intense smoke which signaled a forest fire a short distance away.

Profound joy came into play when I picked my girl up the next day at the ER Vet.  Despite having a jaw that was now bigger than a bowling ball, her elation was palpable even if her smile was hidden.  She wagged hard – I did too.

Someplace in the future, I am reminded that there will be a character who will be a veterinarian.  Between Roxy and previous dogs who have allowed me to share their home, I’m more than halfway to my own vet tech degree.

RattlesnakeAnd then there’s the rush of new adrenalin when a loud hissing sound brings me to my feet from a catch-up snooze.  A rattler – probably the same one – crawls across the patio less than 6 feet away and hides in the plants.  Hubby grabs knee-high boots and a shovel and dispatches it, along with a few plants that are a small price to pay for peace.  At least four feet long and with eight rings on the rattle, this was no baby, and I have no qualms about putting the ecosystem out of balance with its demise.

Finally, there’s resilience.  Roxy’s much better today, though the skin around the puncture marks might still require surgery.  But she’s barking, chasing around, and generally acting like her normal self again.

Whatever life throws your way, there’s always a sensation, emotion, or experience that we can learn from as writers.  Sometimes, though, I just wish the lessons weren’t so painful for all concerned!

Have you had a life-shocking experience that taught you something you could use in your writing?  How do you hold on to the feeling so that you can use it effectively in the future?


About The Author

Yvonne Kohano

Award winner and storycatcher Yvonne Kohano writes contemporary romantic suspense in her Flynn's Crossing series. She is also working on a psychological thriller trilogy, and producing nonfiction books with tips for creative types. In addition to running an indie press, Yvonne loves to cook (dedicated foodie), garden (plantaholic), travel (anywhere), and read and learn (anything). She, her husband and their dogs love their home in the Pacific Northwest. Follow her at and on Facebook and Twitter to learn what tickles her about being a writer.


  • Patricia

    August 5, 2013

    I am so glad to hear that Roxy is going to have an almost full recovery. Hopefully she won’t need surgery, but if she does, sounds like she’ll be a trooper and come out of it okay.

    And good for you for ridding the world of one more pest. I know people say that snakes “are more afraid of you than you are of them,” but I don’t release poisonous venom into people either so I don’t think that’s an entirely true statement. Now my laser beam dagger eyes are a whole nuther story, but we’re not going there.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Yvonne Kohano

      August 5, 2013

      Thanks Patricia! Laser beam dagger eyes, eh? Remind me to bring my plutonium shield to the next chapter meeting, just in case! Yvonne

  • Suzanne Whitfield Vince

    August 6, 2013

    I think if you look hard enough you find a story in almost anything. But some life events provide better fodder for great stories. I haven’t yet decided whether my current situation will become story material (but certainly blog material).

    I’m so glad your baby Roxy is on the mend. How scary that must’ve been. For all of you.

    Hugs, Suzanne

    • Yvonne Kohano

      August 6, 2013

      Thanks Suzanne! I think that sometimes distance from the ‘event’ gives us the hindsight to find material. I know that there have been situations in my life that, in the moment, I would never think of using for a story. But as time passed and I had space to process it, I could channel the emotions, maybe not in exactly the same way, but somehow. Hugs back for your speedy recovery! Yvonne

  • Deborah Knowles

    August 9, 2013

    Writing is a great way to process when life puts us in overload. Your question about life-shocking experience as fodder for future stories and how to effectively hold on to it has me pondering. I think the life-shocking experiences are seared in place and are recalled (whether or not you want them). Have you noticed when time stands still, the details are heightened? For me, there are many moments. Flashes of scenes from each vision broken by the blink of my eyes, frozen. A ceiling fan, wall paper trim, a tray of sterilized medical instruments, an airplane air vent dripping water slowly, locking eyes with your newborn (or a lover or an attacker). The story plays out, scene by scene, blink by blink. Mostly in silence with moments of movement that are punctuated with sound or smell or some other sense. These searings are forever there. Effective use of them comes best when instead of sensationism, normal life happenings are woven into the story. Touchstones of connection to something that brings us to the abyss and again back to… Safeness? Those details in-between are the elements that keep the raw feeling alive. Capture those and your storytelling will captivate.

    • Yvonne Kohano

      August 9, 2013

      Deborah, your point about time standing still and heightening awareness caught me! Yes, those moments have become deeply ingrained in my memory. You’ve captured the concept beautifully! Are you SURE you don’t want to be working on some fiction too?!? Happy Friday! Yvonne