Monday, November 28, 2016

NaNoWriMo failure. Again.

I'm not going to make my word count for NaNoWriMo. I'm disappointed, but this has been visible in the distance for awhile now. I just couldn't keep up. I started out so strong, but I couldn't keep going on a sleep deficit and I got sick, and couldn't kick it - it kept coming back. Still, I know it was doable, I just made a choice not to sacrifice to the level I would have needed to to hit the 50,000. And I'm good with that choice still.
While I don't have as many words as I might like, I'm very happy with the words I have. At month's end (I am going to keep writing until the end even if I can't hit my words) I will switch gears to revising the previous book. I've been doing a lot of exercises on character, and I think I can use what I've learned to help significantly in the revision process.
The plus side of not pushing myself into burnout is that nearing the end of November I'm still excited about writing and my story, and not sick to death of it. I'm calling it a win. Not an official NaNoWriMo type win, but a win in my progress and growth as a writer.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tree Blocks

Tree Quilt Blocks photo by Kara Hartz

These are the trees from the Mystery Quilt I wrote about a little while back. The colors look a little strange to me here, more brown in a few of the fabrics than in real life. I like them. I like trees. 
So I've been trying to decide what I'd like to do with these blocks now, and I think I'm going to go ahead and make up the same settings blocks from the pattern. Mine will end up smaller than the pattern, but that's okay. I think it will be cute. I'm pondering colors for the setting blocks, since I don't love the colors in the pattern, but I'd like to get started soon.
The quilting bug is nipping. Probably because I've been focused on NaNoWriMo and haven't done any sewing. I'm missing it. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I'm Looking for Book Reviewers

I posted a little while back about my single Goodreads rating, and how nice it was to see a stranger enjoyed my stories. Over at Smashwords I also had this nice four star review:

"What a terrific tale. A lovely sense of mystery, awe and a little humour. My only suggestion is to change the title of the story, it gave away a little too much. Thanks for a great read."

I've since removed my books from Smashwords to use other distributors, so I can't link to that one. The wisdom in the self-publishing world seems to be that reviews are important, and these are all I've got so far. To remedy that, I'm asking anyone who has enjoyed my stories to consider posting a review somewhere. (Amazon would be great, but if you like another site, that's great too.)

If you haven't read my stories, but like the sound of them, and would like a free review copy, I'd like to make that happen. Leave a comment with some contact information, and what format you'd prefer your ebook in, and I'll get one to you. For now, this is an open ended offer - if you stumble on this post months (or years?) from now and want to take me up on this. Go for it. 

For the curious here are the books in question:

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 is desperate to acquire superpowers.
A military robot fights to deliver vital information before time runs out.
A translator under pressure makes a fatal mistake.

Love Thy Enemy: In a post-apocalyptic America where various factions are vying for control of what's left, Jose finds himself in love with a girl from the wrong camp. How much can they really trust each other?

The Way Home: Margaret learns a secret about her new husband's past that is difficult to understand. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2016

This is the first year I'm heading into NaNoWriMo with an outline. In the past I usually knew the premise and a few characters from the story I planned to write, but not much more than that. I've been experimenting with outlining recently, and I think it is working for me.

This NaNo novel will be a sequel to the one I finished up a couple months ago and am now revising. The timing worked out well for me, which is unusual. I generally suck at timing.

So, if you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year and need a writing buddy - I'm karabu on the NaNoWriMo site. Let's go!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I Didn't Mean for it to Become a Trend

I'm six weeks post-surgery now, so I'm allowed to start exercising and doing things again. So I've started up my Couch to 5K running training program. Today, I was looking over my outline as I prepare for NaNoWriMo. Then I realized I had linked these two events together yet again.

When I wrote those two previous posts, I'd thought it was sort of a humorous coincidence, and I liked the similarity in the determination and self -discipline I needed for both activities. I didn't mean to forever attach them to each other.

I'd really love to believe this is the last year they will be attached. Not because I don't love them both. I just hope to stay well enough to not need to restart Couch to 5K from the beginning again. The other times, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the program due to health restrictions. Now, however - I hope I remain hale and hearty and running well past the end of the program. If anything, maybe I'll be looking into a program to take me from 5 to 10 K next year. A girl can dream.

I do plan to keep participating in NaNoWriMo ever year because - why not?

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Wish Meeko Could Learn to Relax

Meeko Hartz. Photo by Kara Hartz

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Working on a Mystery Quilt

Years ago, I found a pattern for a 'Mystery Quilt' online and it sounded fun, so I made it. When you make a mystery quilt, you have instruction for making each block, a step at a time, but you don't know what the whole quilt will look like until you finish. I made that first mystery quilt when I was just learning how to quilt still, and it was a lot of fun. I don't have a photo of it - I gave it to my mom - but I'll try to get one. I really liked how it turned out.

Our local quilt shop closed awhile back, but only their physical store. They have managed to keep an online shop going and they also design and sell patterns. They put out a fun weekly newsletter, and once in awhile they have free patterns or mystery quilts there. So I decided I'd like to do one again while I was recovering from my first surgery.

I was slow, and got way behind, so I had only finished a few weeks worth of blocks when the finial reveal came along in the newsletter. It wasn't what I had hoped for. Thimble Creek Quilts usually just blow me away, but this one was just - okay in my personal quilting tastes. So I didn't really work on it anymore. But now I have a bunch of blocks that I like from that project, so I might as well do something with them. So, while I'm not going to make the whole quilt, I will probably still go ahead and make the tree blocks to add to what I have done, then put them all together in a smaller version of my own.

The pattern isn't available for free anymore, but can be purchased here. Although if you are a quilter, it would be worth your time to get on their email list for future free patters and such.

Here are a few of my favorite blocks from the mystery project that I've finished so far:

photos by Kara Hartz

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ileostomy Free

I've had my ileostomy reversal surgery and am home recovering. Generally, my recovery is going well. Compared to how I was feeling before surgery, I'd say it's going great.
Before my surgery I had hit some more complications with my ostomy - I'd developed pressure wounds next to my stoma from wearing my support belts too tight. Healing those turned out to be not an easy thing. They also interfered with how well my bag attached. So I was back in a bit of a bad place with leaks, and now wounds, etc. to deal with.
Because the surgeon had these wounds to deal with on top of the regular ostomy to close, she decided to leave an open wound that could drain since it would end up being a larger opening than normal. The size of the open wound freaked me out a little when I saw it - much larger than I had expected at about 5 cm square, and about 5 cm deep. Now, at almost 3 weeks post-surgery, it is quite a bit smaller. I have a wound nurse still helping me weekly, but my husband and I manage the daily bandage changes on our own. The huge hole is actually much easier to deal with then the ostomy was.
My strength is slowly returning, and the rest (well into TMI territory) is improving over time as well.
I'm looking forward to putting this behind me.
And probably using it for story inspiration.
A character with an ostomy perhaps. . . ?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Diapering the Bob

Bob the cat photo by Kara Hartz

I've written before about my cat, Bob. For a little background though - Bob has a broken spine that left him with a dead tail (that was amputated) and he has fecal incontinence. This all happened to him when he was about 1 year old. He is now 19, and things in his back end have been slowly deteriorating over the years. 
He has always been prone to urinating in the wrong place, but in the past year or so it has become more clear that this is only sometimes a choice, and sometimes seems to catch him completely off guard. We tried different ways to deal with the urine and still keep Bob around. We've tried just keeping him out of rooms with beds in them, and we haven't owned a sofa in years. For awhile we tried putting him in a portable dog kennel when no one would be home to supervise him. All of these things helped with the accidents, but didn't stop them.
Then I had the idea to diaper him, and I wonder why I didn't do this first. We could have skipped all those years of suffering (for us and for Bob).
Now, he certainly didn't care for the diaper when we started. It bugged him. But I saw at once that it bugged him less than not being allowed to lay on a bed did, or even worse, to be kenneled all the time. After a couple weeks, he no longer seems to even notice it. And - Oh! The freedom! - for us all. 
I originally bought him doggie diapers. Then a helpful review on Amazon suggested that human baby diapers could have a tail hole cut in them, and were a heck of a lot cheaper. So that's what I use now. I ended up picking a size based on the weight range on the package for lack of another idea, and that has worked well. The size 1 diapers fit him great. I've even stopped bothering to cut the tail hole since his remaining stub is so tiny it never stayed in the hole, and since he can't feel his stub it doesn't seem to bother him to just have it covered up. 
I'm sharing this information:
1) because is he not the cutest diapered cat you've ever seen?
2) Hopefully this will help someone else who may be struggling with a partially or fully incontinent older cat. If I can help a cat and person avoid all we went through, and save their relationship - then I want to do so. 
Bob the Cat photo by Kara Hartz

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Last Chance for Eye of the Beholder, and other stories Ebook for Free

From July 9th thru the 11th, my ebook, Eye of the Beholder and other stories will be free on Amazon. I'm using my last 3 free Kindle Select days as I will be leaving Select to go wide in August. So now is your last chance to grab it for free.
(And if you enjoy it, please consider leaving a review!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Learning Spanish

I took 6 years of Spanish in Junior High and High School. I remember almost none of it because I never used it. Now I have a little Junior High schooler of my own and we are starting up the language lessons. I still feel that Spanish is a useful second language for Californians despite my own history.
From the recommendation of a friend, we are trying out Duolingo. I'm moving along fairly quickly through the basics levels so far, so maybe all those past lessons haven't completely vanished from my brain. What I like is: that it's free, that the kids and I can all have it on our own devices to work at our own level and pace, but I can create a 'classroom' to see what they're doing and how often they are working on it, it's simple to use and fun enough they are doing lessons without my nagging.
The plan was to just try it out over the summer, but I already like it enough that I'm sure this is what we'll use for the school year as well.
Duolingo tells me I'm 4% fluent in Spanish so far and offers to post this info to LinkedIn for me. Do you think anyone would find that impressive?

Monday, June 13, 2016

I don't understand

The massacre in Orlando is so awful, I don't really know how to write about it. Yet, I don't want to ignore it and babble on about other things today.
To all the hundreds or probably thousands of grieving family and friends of those killed, my heart goes out to you. I wish I could do something to ease your suffering.
Like many others, I'm angry and sad and feeling helpless about how frequently events like this - where someone has decided that they are justified, or even righteous in slaughtering those that they disagree with - happen.
So today, I will do what I can to add love to the world. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Microchips for Pets Work

This pretty girl joined me on my jog a couple nights ago. I'd just passed her and a man who was petting her in his front lawn. I shooed her back to him and kept running. As I crossed the street, she was running with me again. I stopped to shoo her more firmly back to her person, but he was gone. I walked back (and she came with me) and found him on his porch. It wasn't his dog. She had come up to him and he had been looking for a collar and tags when I ran by and she decided it would be fun to come along with me. 

So I took her home, stopping to ask other folks who were out walking if they knew her. No one did.
I work as an RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician) by day, so the next morning she came into work with me to check for a microchip. She had one, and I was on the phone with her person a few minutes later arranging how to get her home again. They didn't want to wait until I came back to our neighborhood after work - they came out to get her.

Microchips work. Dogs are onery sometimes. They run off in a happy friendly frenzy, then find themselves lost. It doesn't mean they have horrible families. In fact, this doggie's family was out looking for her last night as I was looking for them. They said they met some of the people I stopped as I was walking home, and were told I was looking for them. We met the same people but never managed to meet each other as we searched for one another. 

Thanks to the chip though, she was home less than 24 hours later. Yea!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Couch to 5k and NaNoWriMo Again, and Again. . . and again. . .and. . .

This is basically a repeat of my previous post "Couch to 5K is My Fitness NaNoWriMo", except I think this will be attempt 5 now? Maybe? I've lost count, but it doesn't really matter.

In that last post I said I hoped this try would be the one to hit the finish line, but I'm not sure it will be. My colon hasn't finished being persnickety even though the trouble making part is gone. It's taking its sweet time to heal, so my ileostomy reversal won't happen until August at the earliest.  There is nothing particularly tragic about this. It's only relevant in that I have a second abdominal surgery to look forward to with a second recovery and therefore a second (fifth? sixth?) interruption to my 5k training program.

Still, in the meanwhile, I'm running the program. I ran week 2, day 1 tonight and it went well. Maybe I'll have time to finish the whole program before surgery, maybe I won't. It doesn't matter though. I'll probably need to restart after recovery anyway. Maybe I'm not a 5k runner. Maybe I'm someone to just tries. A lot.

And connecting these two events for me again - I just learned there is another camp NaNoWriMo in July. I'm outlining right now - something new to me so it's slow going. I also have some other writing projects I want to move forward right now, but July will be a perfect goal time for getting the novel going. So far I think the outlining process will help me. Some complain that outlining takes the fun and spontaneity out of their writing but that doesn't seem to be happening to me. Instead it's making me excited about the story. It has a purpose - a meaning. It isn't lost and meandering the way it felt. I think I've been an outliner trapped in a pantser all this time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


This whole business about the child and the gorilla in Cincinnati is very upsetting. All I see is blame being thrown in all directions. It's understandable. That's what we do when we are upset and feel helpless. I have no great insight. What I do have is a deep and long love of gorillas, and I want to share a little with you today.

We read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate at our homeschool book club awhile ago. The preteens loved it, the littles loved it, and even the moms loved it, and each group enjoyed different layers of this great story based on the life of a real gorilla, Ivan.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be Diane Fossey when I grew up. There are lots of books about her and the gorillas she studied, but here's a fun one, and it includes sections on Jane Goodal and the chimps, and Biruté Galdikas and the orangutans.

And then we can't forget about the beautiful Koko. I couldn't pick just one book to feature for her, so I encourage you to visit her website to see what she has been up to lately. If you're moved to do something for gorilla-kind in the wake of this tragedy, that site is a good place to donate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Five Stars - an Uplifting Surprise

I'm new to the ebook selling game, but I understand that getting reviews can be tough. I've heard of many shady practices, buying reviews, sock puppet accounts, etc. that desperate authors have used to try to get around this problem. Maybe I will never be a bestseller, but my ethics are important to me, so I decided early on, that I wouldn't worry too much about chasing reviews. For my own sanity and peace of mind mainly.

Still, my one nice review on Smashwords from a stranger made me very happy. (Eye of the Beholder is no longer available there, so I won't link). And just the other day, I logged into Goodreads to mark 'Revisionary' by Jim Hines as finished. (A great series - start at the beginning though with 'Libromancer' - you won't regret it) To my happy surprise, someone had given my 'Eye of the Beholder' short story collection five stars.

I know this isn't world shaking news, but for a little insecure writer who second guesses all her stories, and all her decisions about when to send those stories out into the world, even tiny encouragements mean a lot. Someone out there, not related to me read my work, and found enjoyment in it. It's huge to me.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Equal Time for Meeko

Because he doesn't have as dramatic a backstory as Bob, (that we know of) he doesn't get mentioned as much. He is still a pretty great cat to have a round. To prove it, here he is rolling in a bag of bras like they're catnip.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What About Bob?

photo by Kara Hartz 2016
I haven't written about Bob in awhile. He is trucking along just fine. We adopted Bob in October of 1998, and at the time his doctor thought he was about a year old, which would give him a birthday in 1997. I think it is probably more likely he was a spring kitten, and closer to only 7 or 8 month old when we adopted him since he did grow a little after we got him. Still that would make him 'only' 18 years old instead of 19 right now. He's an old dude - no getting around that.

His bathroom habits have deteriorated over the past year or so, and I am now manually helping him empty his bladder 1 to 2 times a day. I'd noticed him going from one litter box to another but not producing much, and seeming restless. At first he didn't appreciate my help, but now he will go to my bathroom (I use the toilet when I empty him instead of a cat box) and meow at me. I take that as his request to be emptied.

A couple months ago I thought we might be near the end because he was eating very poorly and getting thinner and thinner. Then suddenly, he was eating great for about a week and just as my hopes were up, he stopped eating again. Belatedly, I put it together that the week he ate well, I had run out of his regular food and was feeding Fancy Feast, or whatever was on sale at the grocery store. As an experiment, I picked up some Fancy Feast, and sure enough, he are every bite. Since this revelation, he has been slowly putting weight back on and isn't looking so frail.

There no stopping the Bob.
Not yet.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Ileostomy Life

While I've only had my ileostomy for about six weeks now, so am far from being an expert, it really hasn't been as bad as I imagined. Originally, the ostomy was presented to me as a worst-case scenario if my surgery went poorly. So when surgical complications piled up and I did need the ileostomy after all, that's how I saw it. Worst-case. Clearly, there could have been many worse surgical outcomes than this. My intestines could have been beyond saving at all and I may have needed a permanent ostomy. I could have died. That would be worse. All in all, having this bag isn't all that bad.

Admittedly, the first week home was rough. I was changing the bag just like I was taught in the hospital, but I was getting leaks in the middle of the night. So while moving around was still painful and difficult I'd be up but groggy in the middle of the night trying to put on a new bag and cleaning up all the poop that I leaked out in the bed and the floor on the way to the bathroom. I'll be honest - there were many tears.

In retrospect I should have called the ostomy nurse when I started having problems, but I had a recheck appointment scheduled later in the week, so I just suffered until then. My advice if you are a new ostomate - don't just suffer. These nurses who specialize in ostomy care are great. They have solutions. Go get their help.

After my surgical recheck I explained my leaking problems and they got me in to see an ostomy nurse right then. She didn't have enough of a schedule opening to do a lot of teaching with me, but she looked at my bag (the seal of which was just on the border of leaking right then despite it being a new bag I'd put on the night before) so she could see my problem clearly. She got me a different kind of bag the had a more rigid and curved area where it attaches. I apologize that I don't have all the terminology and lingo down yet. It might be what I've seen referred to as a convex bag? She also wiped on some sort of sticky skin protecting liquid and added an additional sort of jelly barrier ring and sent me home with supplies to do the same. I haven't had a leak since. Even though it's been more than four weeks leak-free, I still have some paranoia about it and still sleep on a towel - just in case.

A week later, I got even more refined help with my scheduled ostomy checkup - including a support belt/corset thing that holds the bag tight against me and makes longer walks much more comfortable. Walks have helped me start to regain my strength so this has been wonderful. And I wouldn't have known about any of these options without those great nurses.

While I certainly won't miss my ileostomy bag after I have my reversal surgery, after that rough first week home, it hasn't been bad. Some things have been interesting - seeing how my innards work in a new way.

Somewhat off topic - I have thought to myself, as all these crazy bathroom laws show up around the country, how happy I am to live in California. Sometimes, if a toilet isn't very big, I have difficulty emptying the bag sitting down and I have to stand up. I wonder what would happen to me if someone saw my feet under a stall pointed the wrong way as I emptied my bag (it's mainly liquid and sounds that way). There are so many reasons not to judge or make assumptions about others.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No More Elephants at Ringling Bros. Circus

The news yesterday about Ringling Bros. phasing out the use of elephants in their shows has made me very happy. There may be animals that can enjoy the traveling show lifestyle, but I think over the years it has become clear that elephants are not one of those. I hope this is a move toward other similar shows rejecting elephant performers as well. Then maybe we can hope they will give the same respect to the big cats and other animals who are mentally and physically damaged in these shows.
A gal can hope, right?

I've not yet found so far in my reading thought, what they plan to do with all the elephants they have. Elephants love a long time. If anyone knows, fill me in please!

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.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

This Year's Christmas Pokemon

It has become a bit of a tradition over the past few years for me to crochet Pokemon for my girls. This year is Pachirisu and Oshawott. I think they turned out cute and the girls seem to love them.

I always get the Pokemon crochet patterns I use from WolfDreamer 
Someday I'd like to try to create my own pattern, but that day is not today.