Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eye of the Beholder Short Story Collection Free for 2 days

I have 2 days of free promotion left in this Kindle select enrollment period. So Eye of the Beholder and other stories, is free on Kindle today and tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2016

TMI Post - Intestinal Surgery

This is maybe not the best topic for a blog post, but I am fortunate to have a large cheering squad of friends and acquaintances who have been supporting me through all this. Some of them I may not get to see in person for awhile, yet I know they are interested in an update.

There isn't a great, non-gross way to discuss colon surgery, so that's what you're getting into if you keep reading. Also, I'll say upfront that I'm not looking for sympathy here. I'm going to be okay. This post is to help me have this story in one place for folks who ask, and so I don't have to type it over and over.

Historical summery: In November 2015 I thought I had a stomach flu, but after several days of the pain seeming too strong and the fevers too high I went to the doctor and through a series of tests discovered I had diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is fairly common, but I'd passed that into what they call 'complicated diverticulitis' wherein the diverticuli had perforated and abscessed in my abdomen. I was hospitalized for several days and the abscess was drained.
I had a surgical consult because apparently once the colon is severely damaged by complicated diverticulitis it usually does not heal well, and further complication are very likely. Surgery was set for 2 to 3 months later to allow as much healing as possible. I got a second infection so surgery was postponed.

Well, at last my surgery came a couple weeks ago. The plan was to have robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery to remove the damaged portion of the colon, and reconnect the rest of the colon. Surgery was estimated to take 3 to 4 hours and I'd be in the hospital 4 or so day, and recovering over the next several weeks.

Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan. I was in surgery for over 7 hours because when the robot attempted to place staples to hold the remaining ends of colon together, they would rip apart. After a couple tries the surgeon had to open me further to stitch the intestines and test them by hand, and that help up. However, because of how fragile they seemed from tearing so easily she decided it was not safe to let that repaired area try to function right away.

She created an iliostomy, an opening in the ilium to the outside of my abdomen to let waste exit there into a ostomy bag so the colon can spend some time healing better. In 6 to 8 weeks, I will get a second surgery to close the stoma and let waste once again through to the colon which will hopefully be healed and ready.

I was naturally alarmed to wake up with a bag. However, my surgeon did an excellent job of preparing me for that possibility, so I wasn't as blindsided as I might have been. At every appointment she would explain plan A, but every time, she also warned that things can always go wrong, and I should be ready. I think that went a long way to keeping me from panic as I woke up. I'm fortunately not a squeamish person, so dealing with the bag hasn't been too awful.

So - onto recovery. The first few days (or so, I don't have a clear memory of time passing as was was on a lot of drugs) went fine. Then I starting feeling sick. I was running a fever. I was nauseous and didn't want to eat. None of these are expected or positive signs.

They put me back into the CT scanner to make sure the intestines were not coming apart again. They were fine, but there was a fluid pocket forming below the drain I had already, so it was too low to drain properly. They hoped the fluid would eventually make it into the drain, but started me on antibiotics and kept a close eye on me. Over the next few days I just got more sick. I was constantly nauseous. I started throwing up. The sweet, and caring nursing staff kept searching for other anti-nausea medication to try on me because nothing helped. 

They sent me for yet another CT scan. hoping they could place a second drain and wouldn't have to open me back up to clean me out. The fluid pocket had turned into a full blown abscess. The new drain worked though. After about a day, my nausea was gone and I was able to eat small amounts.

It was a pretty miserable experience, and I was in the hospital a week longer than expected, but my doctors were great and things could have been worse. I'm full of drains, but I'm home at last today and ready to start serious recovery. Until the next surgery. Ug.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Disappointing #Amazon Giveaway


I didn't know what to expect with my Amazon Giveaway experiment. I read a few blogs on the topic and most recommended setting tougher odds to gain a lot of Twitter or Amazon followers. While that might be nice and all, I just wanted to give some books away to new readers, so I picked what the experts seemed to think was easy odds of 1 in 100 to win. I got about 200 entries, which is exciting to think of 200 people interested in my book, but it also means only 2 copies were won. So I have 3 copies left.

There are a couple options for what to do with these last 3 copies - I've already purchased them, so it's just a matter of giving them away. I can run a new Amazon Giveaway for them and choose the option to just give them to the first 3 people who enter, or I can give them away on my own and send people a gift code to use on Amazon.

I'm going to try that second method. This blog does not get many readers, so maybe this won't work either but here's what I'm going to try:
To get a free copy of Eye of the Beholder and other stories leave a comment asking for one. The first three get a Amazon code for a free ebook. (If more people want one, I'll probably go ahead and give outmore) Ta Da! If, after a few days I still have copies left, I'll run another Amazon Giveaway to find homes for them. That's my plan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Couch to 5k is my Fitness NaNoWriMo

I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the theoretical person out there who doesn't know) every year, even when I know I don't have the time or the energy to win. I just like to play. Mostly, I don't hit my word goal.

Couch to 5K (or C25K since we all like to use the lingo, right?) is a running program that takes someone from not being a runner, to being able to run a 5K. I completed the program years ago and was so proud of myself. Then I hurt my foot and stopped running. Last year, when I was fed up with feeling crappy all the time I decided to start up again.

Things were much tougher for me then. I was very overweight and out of shape. After the first couple weeks of the program I had difficulty progressing, so I did each week twice before I felt strong enough to move one. I ran super slow. Most people could probably walk at the pace I was 'running'. But I was still proud of myself.

Then I got lazy, and we went on vacation, and I generally neglected my running. Still, I wanted to do it, so I started over. That time I did better and got really close to finishing the program. . . and then I thought I had the flu, but actually had a perforated colon and got to spend some time in the hospital. It took longer than I expected to gain any strength back, but when I did, I started C25K all over again. My colon responded by acting back up again. Stupid colon.

Now I'm on the week 3 runs - for the fourth time in the past year, even though this time I knew going in that I would not be able to finish the program. That trouble-making colon is coming out in a couple weeks so I won't be running for a bit as I recover.

So why bother restarting the training? The same reason I can't not do NaNoWriMo. It makes me feel good. I'm proud of myself when I do it. Even though my efforts and results are not exciting compared to what I see others doing, they are pretty great for me. So after surgery, when my doctor says it's safe - I'll be starting my fifth attempt to get through the Couch to 5K program. Hopefully that will be the one I finish.

Oh - and, I'm signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 in April. I'm 'karabu' over there. Camp NaNoWriMo is similar to the November event, except you set your own word goal, and it doesn't have to be all on one novel; any project is fine. Stop by and say Hi if you're writing too!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"Eye of the Beholder" eBook Giveaway

I'm playing/ experimenting with all the promotion thingamabobers over on Amazon as I learn about this whole ebook publishing gig.

So, I've made an Amazon giveaway for my ebook, "Eye of the Beholder and other stories". This is a little different than the free book promotion I ran when I first published the collection. In that case, Amazon let me set the price to free for a limited period, and anyone who wanted it could download it without cost.

The giveaway has a limited number of copies available. Five copies in this case, and I paid for them. Anyone who wants one enters and has a 1 in 100 chance to win. So, more of a lottery situation. Sounds fun, and worth a go, so here we are. If it goes well, I'll run another giveaway next week for "Love Thy Enemy/ The Way Home".

Here is the link to enter the giveaway for "Eye of the Beholder and other stories".

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Zito the Rat 2013 - 2016

Is this not the most adorable rat you have ever seen?  

He is our rat, Zito, who passed away today just a month or two short of his third birthday. He came to us when his owners dumped him off at the sister veterinary hospital to the one I work at. My friends there knew we had a rat, so they called and asked if we wanted this little guy too. 

Often, I've noticed, rescued pets, or those that you find yourself with unexpectedly turn out to be the best pets ever.  That was true of Zito anyway. I've had lots of pet rats over the years. At least ten that I can think of off the top of my head. But Zito was special. He, more than most of the other rats I've known, seemed to really love human company. He was snugly. Loved his ears rubbed. He was just plain fun to be with.

Our other rat at the time Zito came to us was named Frito. We thought we would give the new guy a matching name. I suggested Cheeto, but the kids didn't like that. They argued he wasn't orange, so it didn't work. They came up with Zito. Since then he has been the subject of many stories and poems and other school writing assignments. In fact, I just realized today that I have never given a character a pet rat, and that needs to be remedied. 

Thank you Michelle for taking such good care of him at the end for us. 

He will be greatly missed. Small lives can still  have a big impact on our hearts.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Daily Exercise with Books!

I have been making a very strong effort to do some type of exercise for at least 30 min every single day. I've been doing this for long enough now to really feel the difference between when I'm on it, and when I've slacked off for a few days. My go-to exercise is walking. I love walking, and it isn't too strenuous so I won't try to avoid doing it.

One other habit I've developed, sort of accidentally, but it's working so I'm going with it, is that I save my audiobook listening time for my walks. Now I've made it a rule. I can only listen to my book when I'm walking. Now I enjoy walking enough that this rule has never gotten me out walking when I otherwise would have shirked. It has, however, encouraged me to take a longer route, or keep going around the block one more time if I'm at an exciting spot in the story and don't want to stop yet.

I'm currently on book three of the first Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. These are big books so even with hour long walks these have lasted me a nice long while. The narrator, Michael Kramer, is amazing. There's a large group of characters and they all have a distinct voice that adds to their personality. I highly recommend the book, or the audiobook if you want to try the walking thing.

Now my only problem is that now I'm doing the Couch to 5K running program three days a week, and I've learned I don't listen well while trying to run. So I really miss my story on running days. I'm debating about changing my rule to compensate for this somehow. Still thinking.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Short Story Collection - Get it for Free!

Eye of the Beholder and other stories by Kara Hartz

I have put together some of my favorite short stories as a short ebook. These are Science Fiction and Fantasy stories:

An astrobiology team discovers a planet with disturbingly familiar aliens.
A middle manager finds out who has been stealing office supplies but knows no one will believe him.
A cleaning robot is much too efficient.
A little boy id desperate to acquire superpowers.
A military robot fights to deliver vital information before time runs out.
A translator under pressure makes a fatal mistake.

This collection qualifies for the KDP Select program, so I'm giving that a try as an experiment. So for now it is only available at Amazon but it also allows me to offer a limited time FREE! promotion.

You can get the collection for free for three days at the link above beginning tomorrow, Friday February 5th thru Sunday the 7th.