Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#WWoW: Using Scrivener Part II

Welcome back to Not Enough Time in the Day and this week's edition of Writer's Words of Wisdom. I'm part of a group of authors who share tidbits of advice and experiences in the world of publishing. We've covered topics from creating social media to finding a publisher to how to market yourself and your work. We aren't experts by any means, but we do know what's worked for each of us and what hasn't. Maybe you'll be about to find some of our posts helpful or better yet, share your own experiences with us so all of us can benefit.

Last week I wrote about trying out the organizational program called Scrivener. I was using it to compile my vampire inspired poetry in order to have a file to submit to Smashwords, Amazon, and Createspace to end up with both ebook and print formats of The Courtship of the Vampyre.  This week, I'm here to share how it all turned out.

Now, formatting a book of poetry is a little easier than a novella or novel. First of all, there are no chapters to deal with. Each separate poem was it's own folder or file if you will. With that being said, it was a great way to feel my way through using Scrivener and figure out the features I will use the most. I was the most worried that I wasn't going to have a file that I could could use for Smashwords, but ultimately I was worried for nothing.

I decided to save each file for the publishing outlets as a .doc file. This turned out to be the best thing for me since all of them accept this file type and it is the one most publishers (like Siren Bookstrand) accept as well. Let me show you what some of the screens looked like for my first book file created with Scrivener.

The above is what I call the main screen or continuous screen. It shows all of the folders in continuous flow with lines separating the files/folders. If you look at the list at the left, it shows all the folders I've created including one for the cover photo, the dedication/acknowlegments, a copyright page for Smashwords and Kindle, all the poems and my About the Author section.  Now I made a separate copyright page for each publishing outlet because they each need to be worded just a little differently. At the compilation stage, I can choose which folders are to be included in the final draft.  Let me show you my favorite view...the cork board.

See how the index cards are all laid out? I can actually rearrange them in whatever order I want them to appear in the final draft. I've included the notes on each card reminding me what is still needed in the folder or a brief summary of what the poem is about. This was very helpful when figuring out the order of the poems so they told a story. I didn't want to just toss them in there willy nilly. Next I want to show you what the first compilation screen looked like for this project.

See the check boxes? This is the screen where you pick which file or folder will be compiled into the final manuscript. There are more options in the next steps which are very easy to follow by going through the tutorial. I even kept the tutorial open so I could refer to it when I was at this stage.

How did it all turn out? I'm happy to say The Courtship of the Vampyre was released on February 22 as an ebook on Smashwords and Amazon, and on February 23rd on both Createspace and Amazon for the print version. It will be a few days yet before I find out if it's included in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. If it is, it will go out to Apple (iTunes), Sony, Barnes and Noble and other outlets including colleges and libraries. To celebrate, I've created a coupon for Smashwords so that you can download the ebook format of your choice of my poetry for FREE. It's regularly 99 cents, but until March 10th you can get it for free if you use the code YY27G at checkout.

The next thing I think I'll try with Scrivener is to go ahead and create the EPUB and MOBI files as well as PDF versions. That way I can offer the books on my Sassy Vixen Publishing blog in order to reach even more people. Another idea would be to burn copies of these file types to disk and be able to hand them out at RomCon in June. Who knows? Maybe I'll even have an audio version by then! 

Check out the others participating this week and make sure you let us know what you think.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#WWoW: Trying out Scrivener

Hello new visitors and returning readers!

Today on Not Enough Time in the Day I'm back to participating in the weekly posts for WWoW: Writer's Words of Wisdom. Each week a group of us write about a variety of topics that center around our journey through the world of publishing. From writing, blogging, editing, critique partners, social media and more, we've got takes on everything. Some of us will talk about the same topics but with different perspectives. All of it is done in order to share with you all what has worked...and not worked for us along the way.

My post today is about a writing program called Scrivener. I was reluctant to try this even after all the rave reviews by fellow author friends. I mean, I had a system that seemed to be working for me and I didn't want to mess with it. That is, until I ended up adding more projects to my "To Do" lists for all three of my pen names. The number of paper notebooks I was hauling around with me at any given time was beginning to weigh me down...literally!

The program for Windows (and Mac) was readily available through Amazon for $40. I figured , "What the hell?" I had a credit from Thank You Point left over from another purchase, so I wasn't out any extra money.   So with the click of my mouse I bought the program.  The download was easy and painless as was registering the product with the Scrivener site.

So what now?

With most new "toys" I tend to just open it up and figure it all out as I go, but this looked too damn daunting. To get a bit more help, I went back to Amazon and found a few books that would help me with creating an ebook using the program and of course I had the help that came along with the program itself. Not only did it come with a manual within the program, it also had a tutorial. Hmmmm...this was going to be a first for me, actually watching the tutorial!

Trust me, no one was more shocked than I was that I started up the program to get my initial bearings.  I was so glad I did! It takes you through each section with ease and in language that's easy to understand. Not only do you learn each step, but you learn different routes in the program to achieve the same goals. It's all about tailoring the experience to fit your own needs.

The tutorial explains how each level works from draft, to folders, text files and research files. I can even store the photos that inspire my characters so I can pull them up while writing the scenes. How cool is that?  I found out that I can create multiple levels for each project (chapters and scenes for example) or just keep it straight forward like having each folder/chapter one separate poem. By setting it up that way, I can be sure each poem starts on it's own page like a chapter would.

example of cork board view

My favorite part so far is the cork board view. With my vampire poetry project, I have all the poems/folders laid out on "index" cards. I can then write a short synopsis on each card so I'll be reminded what is covered in that poem without having to open the folder to read it.

The best part? I can shuffle every card in whatever order I want! No more cut, past and then delete like when I worked with just Microsoft Word. If I don't like the order, I can just move the cards around and then flip back to the document view and see all the poems laid out with page breaks. This helps me to visualize what the ebook will look like once it's all finalized. I haven't got to the compiling part yet where I convert all of my "chapters" into an ebook, so I'll leave that discussion for next week.

I'm at the point where I have my cover, nearly all the poems in the order I want them in, my copyright page, dedication and acknowledgement page, table of contents with links to find each poem within the document and my "about the author" section. I've even made separate folders for Kindle, Smashwords and Createspace copyright pages. You see, when it comes to the compiling phase, I only have to choose the appropriate folders/chapters to combine into the final product.

So far, so good! Next is to compile everything and make the different formats needed for Smashwords and Kindle. This is the key reason I purchased this program so that it will be easier to format all the different files for each publishing route. I'll let you all know how it goes next week!

Have you used Scrivener or another program like it? Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.
For more tips and tidbits check out the other authors participating this week by clicking on their links below.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dr. Tammy Talks About Grape and Raisin Toxicity for #FurbabyFridays

The day got away from me and I nearly forgot to continue with the next part in the common pet toxin series. Last week, garlic and onions took center stage. This week it's grapes and their shriveled sweet counterparts, raisins.

For many years people have used raisins for training treats in all species, especially dogs. It wasn't until 1989 that the veterinary community started to notice a trend. Around that time, more cases of acute kidney failure were being reported in dogs who had either eaten grapes or raisins. At that time the Animal Poison Control Center didn't have any idea why these dogs were getting sick from these kinds of fruit, but they continued to collect the data and search for any and all common factors and trends. To this day, there haven't been any breakthroughs. Whether the grapes were fresh from the vine, sold in stores as organic or not, with or without seeds, or different colors, the outcome was still the same. SOME dogs who ingested enough grapes and raisins for their body developed kidney failure. A few never recovered. Most made it after aggressive intervention and therapy.

Anywhere from 24 hours to several days after the dogs eat grapes or raisins, veterinarians can detect abnormalities in blood tests. Consistently they would find hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels), elevated blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and phosphorus. These all point to damage to the kidneys. At this point in time, you can't tell if it's irreversible. The animal must be treated with aggressive fluid therapy to help flush the kidneys and maybe the remaining toxin out of the system.

How can you tell if your dog ate grapes or raisins?

Many will have vomiting within a few hours of ingesting them and have bits or whole fruit present in the vomitus. This kind of evidence definitely helps you determine that your pet needs immediate attention by your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility.

If you are in the majority of pet owners, you won't see the initial symptoms but would see anorexia and probably diarrhea. Fast on the heals of that would find the dogs developing lethargy and signs of abdominal pain: stretching out like in a praying or downward dog yoga position. There have been cases where these symptoms have gone on for several days or even weeks.

Why do these dog's become so ill?

No one knows. They've tested for pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins (fungal contaminants)...anything that could be a common link between the cases and still NOTHING. All tests have come up negative. Even grapes that have been privately grown without any insecticides, fertilizers or antifungals used on the plants or fruit have been involved in these toxicities.

Is any amount of grapes or raisins considered below the toxic level?

At this point in time, that is also an unknown. We do know that since raisins are dried grapes and felt to be more concentrated, it would take less raisins to make a dog sick. Researchers have come up with some general guidelines, but again all patients are different. They don't all follow the "rules" so any grape or raisin ingestion is best to be avoided.

It looks like 0.5 OUNCES of grapes per pound of the dog's body weight would be enough to cause symptoms. So it would take 5 ounces of grapes to make a 10 pound dog sick. It would take as little as 2 ounces of raisins or one of those little snack size packages to make the same sized dog ill.

What about other animals? Do they get the same symptoms?

So far it's only seen in dogs, but when I practiced in Michigan and still saw ferrets (before I became highly allergic!) we did start telling those owners to not feed grapes or raisins to them just to be safe. I never had a confirmed case of kidney failure from grapes or raisins in a ferret and haven't seen any in the literature. 

As for cats...well, they make up their own rules about everything. Most cats won't eat a grape or raisin if their life depended on it. Unfortunately so many other things end up being toxic to cats that it's just best to NOT have these fruits out for them to try. The feline doesn't need any other excuse to get kidney failure than it already has! Sure, we can giggle about that, but it's true. Cats are so much more sensitive to toxicities than their canine counterparts. 

So just keep the grapes and raisins for the humans in your family and away from your furbabies. This includes juices, cookies, fruit bars, cakes and breads with these fruits too. Wine is another story altogether and will be covered in alcohol toxicity.  For now, I'll leave you with a way your furry friends CAN enjoy raisins. 

Dr. Tammy

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pet Toxins Part II: Garlic and Onions on #FurbabyFridays

Welcome back to Furbaby Fridays. Today I'm continuing the series on common pet toxins. Last week I talked about marijuana and this week I'm covering my all time faves...garlic and onions.  Many folks know that onions are toxic but these same folks refuse to jump off the supplemental garlic band wagon. Too often I've had to correct that Old Wive's Tale that garlic repels fleas.

It doesn't and it never has. It doesn't repel ticks, lice or any other blood sucking or biting parasite.

Now that's out of the way. Let's get on with the discussion shall we?

Garlic and onions come from the same species of plants. Allium species contain a wide variety of toxins called organosulfioxides. Through chewing or other trauma to the plant, these turn into a mixture of sulfur containing compounds. This is how the plants get their characteristic odors and flavors as well as their pharmacological they can affect the body. They are readily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract and then metabolized into other chemicals that are considered to be highly reactive oxidative agents.  This toxicity is not diminished through cooking or if the plants spoil.  For our discussion, I'll just stick to the "usual suspects" and not discuss the wild onions and garlic plants.

I know some of you are shaking your head right now. You want to argue with me that if garlic is so toxic, why is it in some pet foods, recommended by some veterinarians as helpful to pets? Let me start off with this statement:

"ALL ingested garlic/onion will cause some degree of hemolysis in dogs and cats—it's only when sufficient red blood cells have been damaged to alter the overall oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and/or to cause hemoglobinuria (dark red-brown urine) that the toxicosis becomes clinically evident."  Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD  Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Toxicology

 What the good doctor above is saying is that even the very small amounts used in making these pet foods and maybe in your left over beef stew will cause damage to the animals red blood cells. If the animal is otherwise healthy, it's body will end up destroying the affected cells and creating new ones every three usual.  Unfortunately, if there is any other medical condition that has already caused problems, the body may not be able to keep up with the repair. So even in these patients, the very small amounts are a big NO NO.

Garlic is FIVE TIMES more toxic than it's family member the onion. The toxic does of onions is 5 grams of onions per kg in weight of the animal. Garlic is 1gram per kg of body weight. That seems like a lot until you find out that 1 TEASPOON equals 5 grams. So 1 teaspoon of raw onions or raw/fresh garlic each weigh five grams.  Another thing to note here is that  garlic POWDER is 2 to 2.5x more potent than fresh garlic. So  if you cook with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder you are using the equivalent to 12.5 grams of fresh garlic.  Hang onto your hats folks: cooked onions are far more toxic on a per weight basis than raw for the simple fact that as you cook them, they condense. So 1 teaspoon of raw onions does NOT equal 1 teaspoon in cooked onions when you compare toxicity. Once cooked, you are condensing more toxin in a smaller volume.

Garlic can also be a potent cardiac and smooth muscle relaxant, dilate blood vessels and lead to hypotension. Both onions and garlic can be potent anti-thrombic agents: they prevent clot formation. So it really wouldn't be a great idea for you to give your big Labrador 3 or 4 cloves of garlic to boost his immune system on the morning he's going in for a fracture repair. This actually happened to one of my colleagues. They found out that there was a problem when they were shaving the dog for surgery and the skin started to ooze blood. That is NOT NORMAL! If they would have continued with the surgery, there could have been fatal consequences.

Baby food used to have onion powder in it and believe it or not it was one of the most toxic concentrations for animals if they were fed that long term. Lucky for us, most of the baby food companies have stopped putting it in there and veterinary hospitals can continue to use these foods to help entice finicky patients to get back to eating.  Why doesn't it affect humans the same way as it does animals? Our red blood cells are a heck of a lot more resilient than the dogs and even more so than the cat.  Cats if you haven't already figured out are just a whole other story all together! Every thing affects them to the nth degree more than any other species and in fact can kill them all that much faster too.

Jaundiced gums and lips of a cat
What signs would you see if your pet has ingested enough garlic or onions to make them clinically sick? Weakness, increased respiratory rate, increased heart rate, and very dark urine. You may even see jaundice or a yellow color to the gums, inside of the ears, all of the skin, and the whites of the eyes. Laboratory abnormalities that would show up would be very low PCV (red blood count), hemoglobinuria (why the urine has the dark color), hemoglobinemia (large amounts of hemoglobin free in the blood stream and not inside the red blood cells), red blood cell abnormality called Heinz Body anemia. What that last part is describing is a small accumulation of hemoglobin that had been denatured and it sticks to other red blood cells. These cells are recognized by the body as foreign and then marked for destruction by the spleen. If enough of these cells are destroyed, you get the low red cell count...anemia.

Take Home Message

While the small amount of garlic in pet foods made commercially and those in veterinary approved home cooked recipes can stimulate some of the changes biological changes listed above, it usually will NOT cause the hemolytic disorders in an otherwise healthy pet. It's when people start supplementing themselves using more than recommended by their veterinarians. This can be done by using additional raw garlic bulbs, but more so using the powders and dehydrated forms of onions.  More in these cases is definitely not better!

Toxicity can be cumulative in these over-supplemented cases because the body doesn't have enough time to destroy the affected cells and also produce new red blood cells before even more are destroyed.  

So instead of perpetuating the Old Wive's Tales, please, please PLEASE have these discussions with your own veterinarians to help you develop the best health care routine for your pets. Trust me, we would want to be proactive in your pet's health than have to see you on an emergency at 3am and have to tell you what you've been feeding your pet caused it's current illness. 

Some links you'll want to bookmark

Click here to go to the site


See you next week for another segment on common toxicities in pets.
~Dr. Tammy

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#WWoW: I Need A Vacation!

Well, I've finally gone and done it. I don't know whether I'm coming or going nor which "me" is in control at any given time. Besides my "evil day job" as veterinarian Dr. Tammy and her weekly Furbaby Friday feature here, there is poet and erotic romance author Tammy Dennings Maggy (aka The Vixen), erotic romance author Lia Michaels and mainstream fiction and sweet romance author Stephanie Ryan. Between all of us there are four adults only blogs, two all age group blogs, one review site/blog, three..oh wait, four twitter accounts, four Google + accounts with four additional fan pages each, one personal Facebook account, five Facebook Fan pages, three Triberr accounts, one Linkedin, one Pinterest, Goodreads, multiple Facebook groups, yahoo groups, Amazon author pages, and Siren Bookstrand author and book pages.

Did I mention "one" real-life, sleep deprived, barely breathing human to take care of it all AND still find time to work on the various WIPs for three pen names?

I'm not complaining about having the three pen names. I think it's necessary for what genres I wish to write in, but even with setting up all the time-saving techniques I've learned from other authors, I'm still running on empty and wearing myself down. Having had to go through some medical issues over the last few months for myself and my husband, I've found all three of us further and further behind in what "we" wanted to have done at this time.

So what is an exhausted author and veterinarian to do?  Go on VACATION!!!

Okay, let's not get too excited. My hubby came up with the brilliant idea that I have two of my alter egos go on "vacation" for a couple of weeks. During that time, they would be away from their blogs, and all social media. Basically I put them on a sabbatical while one of us gets caught up. Then at the end of the two weeks, I would get to take a break while one of them takes over. This way I could concentrate on one or two projects at a time and have something to publish within the next month.

Did I say it was a brilliant idea? When the hubster suggested it over lunch the other day I just stared at him.   There it was right there in front of me, plain as day. Send two of "me" on vacation! 

I know what many of you are thinking right now. Why bother to have multiple pen names in the first place? Didn't I make all this extra work for myself by creating these alter egos?  I already answered the first question earlier. To me it's extremely important that I keep my non-erotica/erotic romance pen names separate from the two who write the adults only stuff. The extra work comes into play because I learned last year that I wanted to have my pen name known BEFORE a book was released. It took such a long time to build up Tammy Dennings Maggy and  I wanted to give the same attention to Lia and Stephanie.  It's hard enough trying to find your fan base as a new author. If I'm known, and my names are recognized, then more sales will hopefully follow.

Hell, Lia Michaels has built up a huge following already and she has yet to officially publish a single novel. She runs a hell of a fun blog though! The House of Taboo is in demand for guest spots for the Saturday Spotlight Interview feature. Oh and don't get me started on how fast my project with three other fabulous authors has literally exploded overnight.  Four Seduced Muses is run by myself, Maya DeLeina, Nicole Morgan and May Water. All of us write the HAWT erotic romances and have weekly features that discuss anything and everything. Besides ourselves, we've opened the remaining three days of the week to guests. We've been up and running for less than four months now and we are completely booked through April...maybe May by the time this post goes live!

I'm damn proud of all of these accomplishments, but they have come at a price. It's time to circle the wagons and regroup here. I can do it all, but I have to redefine my limits. I also have to remember my "me" time and take time away from writing, blogging, tweeting, networking, reviewing, editing, and publishing. I want to be around to enjoy the success of all three of my pen names and be able to celebrate with friends, family and of course my wonderfully supportive husband, Liam.  Who knows where I would be by the end of next week if he didn't make one simple suggestion.   Here we go!

Make sure you stop in and check out what the other participating authors are talking about this week!

WWoW: Writer's Words of Wisdom is a Smart & Savvy Group of Authors who write a weekly feature for their blog -Writer's Words of Wisdom- each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

And of course we do find humor in all of it along the way...especially when we laugh at ourselves! Come on and join us on our Facebook Page, or if you would like to do a guest spot with me for one of these Wednesdays, just let me now!

Friday, February 1, 2013

#FurbabyFridays Presents: Toxins for Pets

Working in a very busy veterinary hospital in an area between Oakland and Berkeley California, I see more than my fair share of "poisoned" patients. The reason I put that in quotations is that while there are many things outside and indoors that are toxic to pets, the most common one above all in our practice is marijuana ingestion. Since this is the first in the series of posts I have planned about common toxins for pets, I thought marijuana should kick it off. The following is a repost of a blog I did in October 2011. It's a light-hearted attempt to get through my frustration of seeing so many of these dogs show up at our hospital. 

Let me know what you think of this post and make sure you come back next week for more toxins to keep out of reach of your fur babies.

~Dr. Tammy

Pass the Koochie to Your Poochie

Wouldn't you know it, I had two more dogs strung out on weed today.  I'm telling you instead of Occupy Oakland, we need to Occupy Pupland.  Just say no, Sparky!  It's time we take back the off leash parks and tell those foo foo French Poodles we don't want them pushing their dime bags on our poor helpless Pit Bulls!  And don't get me started on those bouncy Jack Russel Terriers.  They have dipped one too many times in their stashes if you know what I mean.

We can laugh about dogs getting high all we want, but it is a serious problem. Just like children, they get into everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING!  Medications whether they are prescription or otherwise, need to be locked up and not stored in little plastic baggies in purses or back packs.  Sure it's easy to put a couple of days worth of your meds in a ziploc and put them in your purse, but it's just as easy for your beloved pet to eat some or all of it when you back is turned for "just a few minutes."

Colorado Stoners Put Dogs At Risk
When a dog presents dribbling urine, jumping near out of it's skin with loud noises or sudden movements, pupils dilated to the point that their eyes appear black saucers, and they nearly drop asleep when they are sitting still, I am going to assume the canine has been exposed to marijuana.  These symptoms can occur with ingestion of the stuff or in some cases inhaling the smoke.  I have written about this before, but it needs to be repeated over and over again until the word gets out there.

It's NOT funny when your pet is high from weed.  If they have ingested enough of it they can become quite ill from the secondary effects.  The anxiety can be severe in these animals and some can get snappy.  People or other animals could be bitten or scratched.  Some of these patients suffer from vomiting and diarrhea and can become severely dehydrated.  Yes it is rare that there are deaths from marijuana toxicity, but these animals need to be supported with fluids to help get through it quickly and safely.

One of my patients today ingested a marijuana chocolate brownie.  In this case, the dog ingested TWO toxins.  The marijuana and the chocolate.  Of the two, the chocolate is the most toxic and could induce seizures.  If left untreated, and the seizures continued out of control, the animal could die.  This is serious stuff people!  Keep all chocolate with or without marijuana in it, locked up and out of reach of your pets.

Another thing, it's very important that you tell your veterinarian if there is any chance your fur baby ingested any kind of substance, illegal or not.  We are not out to turn you into the police.  We just want to give your pet the correct medical treatment as quickly as possible.  The longer you take to admit that your pet ingested or was exposed to drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, Xanax, Valium, Ecstacy, crystal meth, heroine, oxycodone, nicotine, or alcohol, the longer it takes for us to make the correct diagnosis and administer the proper treatment.

So please, save yourselves the headache, heartache and the emptying of your pocketbook.  Keep any and all medications, whether prescription, over the counter, legal or otherwise safely out of reach of your pets.  Okay, now I will get off my soapbox...for now.

Wildfire Romance Series