Saturday, July 29, 2017

Non-writing life: Includes dogs

Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash
I mentioned in a previous post that my dogs have been keeping me rather busy. I thought I would post about that now because when I learn something new that brings about positive results in my life and those I care about I want to share it with others.

I have two Labradors, great girls who add joy to my life. One of my girls, Cagney has always suffered from skin allergies. We've managed to keep the allergies at a low itch and she's been very positive about the whole experience. Each night I say, "Time for medicine," and she trots over and sits down knowing I'm going to put a nasty tasting Claritin tablet in her mouth. Yuck! She takes it then runs for the water bowl to get the taste out of her mouth.

Some years ago (25+) I had another Labrador that used to suffer from colds on a regular basis. I started giving her a nightly chewable vitamin C. She thought it was a treat and loved them. But the best part was she stopped getting colds. Jump forward again and earlier this year I think, okay why not give Cagney Vitamin C as well. So I started that regimen (follows the Claritin tablet and much tastier). Result: less ear infections and less need to respond to indications of an ear infection starting. Allergies in low itch mode. (For those wondering about eliminating the allergy altogether: non-allergy food provided and out-door activity limited to no more than ten minutes as needed is already in the mix.)

Months pass, and suddenly Cagney is overwhelmed with allergies. She can't walk two steps without one leg or the other trying to scratch and itch. Her belly is a mass of pink dots and redness. We can barely touch her without causing legs to go into itch mode. Her hair is falling out and she has black crusty stuff oozing out her flanks. I add Benadryl to the mix (used to work well as a morning allergy pill before the vitamin C was added). No results. She is miserable. We take both girls in to the vet for yearly shots and discuss this new development.

Result: allergy shot, allergy pills to control the issue until more long-term means take affect. Long-term means: a chewable gelcap of Omega-3 fatty acid, and apple cider vinegar. It's been three weeks: hair is nearly all grown back, pink spots are gone, redness is gone, itching is gone, most of the crusty sebum (black ooze) is gone, and Cagney is comfortable again.

You might wonder what the apple cider vinegar was for. I put it in a spray bottle and I spray all the little skin irritations and such. This includes spaying her feet which have had a purple cast to them since she licks them due to the inching which causes a yeast infection which turns the fur around the feet purple. The color of her feet is now nearly normal, no more licking. The only downside to this is my house smells like I'm pickling something. I am. I pickle my dogs regularly.

Bonus: Lacey's dandruff is nearly gone. She's had dandruff all her life. Otherwise, she never has an issue, and both dogs are shedding far less.

Final allergy regimen for Cagney: one gel cap Omega-3 fatty acid, one Claritin, one chewable 500MG vitamin C, daily sprays of apple cider vinegar where needed and lots of love.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Stab at a Self-interview: Question 10 ~ Newsletter news

What have you been doing that's writing related but not actually writing one of your books?

I'm glad you asked because I have taken the plunge and am busy putting together a newsletter subscriber system.

I'm a newbie at this particular process, so I am learning as I go. My plans include having a subscribe button on my blog, nothing overly demanding, just an option for my readers who visit my blog and read my books. Of course, anybody who accidentally drops by and would like to subscribe will be welcomed as well.

What's going to be in the newsletter?
  • Upcoming books in my series
    • Standing Stone (fantasy magic)
    • Students of Jump (time-travel scifi) 
  • Upcoming sales for my books
  • Publication of those new books
  • New series plans and publications
  • A tidbit about me and my activities in my non-writing life

I also intend to add the option to subscribe in my books, and if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I will figure out how to add the option to my Facebook page. I hope I can type with crossed fingers.

You can assume I'll also be writing these newsletters soon. Just not today. And I will not be sending them out more often than once a month as I pretty much give family, work and novel writing priority in my life. Lately, my dogs have been nabbing most of my free time (but we'll save discussion of that for another interview day, or maybe a newsletter ;)) Blogging and newsletters will run second on the must-do-soon list. But they will occur, just not more often than monthly.

And that is what I am doing writing-related but not actually writing.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Stab at a Self-interview: Question 9 ~ Social media and me

Do you spend a lot of time on social media?

Hmm. Not like I used to. In the past I gave a lot of time to Twitter and Google+ (made a lovely friend and joined a wonderful group). I have an account with Pinterest and Goodreads as well, but I visit rarely. I've since narrowed my activity to Facebook and keeping up this blog. I just can't be split all over the place keeping an internet presence, writing and publishing, and working the day job.

Even my efforts at keeping those two sites up are cranked down quite a bit. I visit Facebook once a day and read the two groups I like, post a comment or two and maybe visit my books page and make a post there. As for this blog, I am trying to post once a week on Saturdays. Even so, I've missed a few days here and there.

But my writing is a daily effort. I am working on the third book in the Standing Stone fantasy series and am meeting the goals I set for myself to ensure a publication in September. When I'm not writing and putting in my brief social media visits, then I'm spending time with my husband and learning to play a musical instrument.

I posted awhile back about keeping the mind sharp. One of the points I made is how much learning to play an instrument it related to maintaining memory. So I've taken the plunge and I'm learning to play the twelve hole ocarina. I won't be posting any songs online anytime in the near, and probably distant, future. I am about as novice a musician as they come. I am learning about notes and rests and treble clef, etc. It's another language to say the least.

So no time for a big social media presence. But I do have author pages at Smashwords and on Amazon for those interested in knowing me better than just what I post here.

I am working up the courage to start a newsletter. It was one of my summer goals. Summer is not over yet, but I won't promise anything. I'll have to learn how to create an email base, a newsletter, setup signup pages and add them to my books as well as this site. But it will have to wait for the completed draft of book 3 and the weeks it will be with my beta readers when I can take a short writing break.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Stab at a Self-interview: Question 8 ~ losing a draft to electronic failure

Have you ever lost a manuscript or partial draft to electronic failure?

Happily, I can say no. But there is more to my answer than that. I can say no because I have several different automated backups that I use because I have had computers throw up their hands and go black screen on me. And I do panic for a couple minutes. But then I remember I have two external drives (manual system), one Dropbox (automated), one network drive (automated) and emailed copies.

When my daughter was in her senior year in high school, we went downtown and I took pictures of her. They came out amazing and I worked on them all evening. The next day my computer went black. My automated backup system was for all my writing, not for pictures or other work. I had a manual backup system with a external hard drive I used for those since they changed less frequently. I put off backing those lovely pictures up for the next day. Heartbreak.

My daughter and I went out to recreate those pictures. We ended up with other nice ones, but not the ones my memory was certain were the best I'd ever taken.

The Geek Squad came to my rescue and retrieved all the pictures and other documents. Since then I've bought a hard drive reader and when the same computer went black again, I retrieved my recent documents myself.

However, even though I had not lost any work in progress, I had feared that I lost my folder on future novel ideas. It was in a section of my drive I did not bother to back up more than once a year. Thankfully, the Geek Squad retrieved it along with my daughters pictures (which were a great as I remembered them), which in retrospect makes me quite happy as I am currently writing book three of the fantasy series that was inspired by two-pages of notes I kept in that infrequently saved folder and it would have been gone had my luck not held out.

One doesn't have to lose everything to learn a lesson: save everything!