Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RESCUING A KITTY, Part 14, Cats and Medications


I'm not an expert on feline medications.  Not by a long shot.  When Ebbie had stomach upset, the veterinarian told us to give her a quarter of a Pepcid ®.  I crushed it and she took it in Reddi Wip®. After she was stung by a wasp, the vet told us to buy children's Benadryl ®. But I decided to go the organic route and use wet mud which worked well. Usually our cats have resisted taking any type of medication.  If it's not their food, they don't want it.  But then Zoie Joy came along.  One night I dropped a Gas X ® on the floor and she gobbled it up.  That's Zoie.  So I called the vet who said to watch her the following day, but she should be fine.  We did and she was.  My experience in a nutshell.  But I've had inquiries as to what meds the vet used when Zoie was spayed since she did so well.  This is the list.

Ketamine for induction of anesthesia in combination with other drugs
Dexdomitor sedative/analgesic
Buprenorphine short time analgesic
Anesthesia (Inhalant)
Onsior® 6mg tab three day pack  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for relief of pain and inflammation


Recently when I was in my vet's office, I picked up a list of top human meds TOXIC TO PETS.  I thought someone else might like to have this info so here they are.

Pain relievers (Advil ®, Aleve ®, Motrin ®, Tylenol ®)

Antidepressants (Zoloft ®, Cymbalta ®, Effexor ®)
ADD/ADHD medications (Ritalin ®, Vyvanse ®)
Sleep aids (Klonopin ®, Ambien ®, Lunesta ®)
Muscle relaxants (Lioresal ®, Flexeril ®)
Heart medications (Cartia ®, Cardizem ®)

How often do we drop a pill and think nothing of it?  Our cat won't eat that, right?  You never know.  So to be safe, keep your meds high and dry as you would with kids and use them where pets don't linger or look for a play toy. 

Zoie's spaying experience (The Spaying Experience blog) was a successful one.  I hope you all have animals who are taken care of with love and respect and come back even more social and affectionate than before.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Sunday, January 27, 2013



I entered into the venture of developing my books for sale as audiobooks, not knowing what to expect.  I had heard about the website, uploading a book's audition pages and info to find a narrator/producer and decided to try it.  The narrator who auditioned for TOYS AND BABY WISHES, Johnny Peppers, nailed my characters and their emotions with such finesse that I decided to buck the trend in romance to utilize female narrators.  I signed an agreement with Johnny.  This was the best first experience for me.  He was an absolute treasure to work with--professional, reliable and upbeat.  Most of all, I couldn't wait to listen to the next chapter of my book and hear it come alive. I was so impressed with what he could do with characters' voices, even when there were several in a scene.  I have since made another agreement with Johnny to narrate WHEN MOM MEETS DAD and I look forward to working on that novel with him.

I'd like to spotlight each of my narrators so you can learn a little about them and how they came to the profession of narrating audiobooks, as well as what's involved in the process. So today I'm pleased to present JOHNNY PEPPERS, the narrator of TOYS AND BABY WISHES, Spotlight on Johnny, Part 1.

Tell us a little about your background (where you're from, schools, training) and experience thus far.

I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee (actually Franklin, a little suburb) with my beautiful wife.  I have many jobs, ranging from owning and operating a property management company to teaching Statistics at the collegiate level.  I have a MBA and am currently writing a dissertation for a Ph.D. in Business Administration.  I also work locally as an actor and director.  I mostly work with community arts programs, but I have been acting professionally since 2008 as well.

Did you read as a kid?  As an adult?

I was not an avid reader as a young child, but found reading as a great way to stimulate my brain with studying for school.  As an adult, I learned that reading books and using the comprehension and imagination of it was very helpful in keeping my brain clear and sharp when reading textbooks, studying for exams, studying lines, and just improving my memory for business and personal use.  I usually have one or two books going at a time, and I read every day for fun, regardless of what else I have going on.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

I was acting in a play in my hometown community theater when when one of the other actors mentioned ACX and that he was auditioning. I had always been told I have a decent voice, so I decided to give it a shot.  I didn't know I would love the process so much when I embarked on this new thing. 

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting up the book for sale?  How long does it take?

Well, I first went back and listened to a few audiobook clips of different styles and narrations to see what was involved.  I love listening to books at the gym or in the car, but I always listened as a consumer, and I needed to listen as a creator.  It's just a different way to listen.  The more I listened, the more I understood what I wanted my style to be and what I would be the best at narrating.  Then I started auditioning, with the idea that it would take some time to get picked (I'm used to the auditioning process as an actor) and I would continue to practice and hone my skills from the voice perspective.  I just used the Garage Band App on my IPAD in a room in my house.

I started with non-fiction books, since I am a teacher and that style comes easy for me.  I found that maybe I wasn't best suited for that, and that my acting chops could be used as well.  So, I began auditioning with a romance novel.  Well, to my surprise, I was picked and it was time to get serious.  I researched all of the potential editing software platforms out there and settled on Adobe Audition.  Then I took a 6-hour online course through to learn how to use the software.  Once I was comfortable with using the software, I bought Audition, a good condenser microphone, and a fancy set of headphones.  I was on my way in about 2 days, once I decided what I needed.

I had read that narrating and editing a book should take 3-4 times as long as the finished product (for one hour of finished audio, it should take 3-4 hours) and that sounded reasonable.  However, I didn't know how difficult it would be.  You cannot talk for hours at a time (your mouth gets dry, sticky, more noise happens from your mouth, and words become harder to pronounce with enunciation with fatigue), nor can you hunch over the computer and edit for hours on end.  So I broke it up into a little every day (record for a couple of hours one day--edit for a couple of hours the next day) so that I would be fresh speaking and focused on the quality of the finished product.  From the time I was contracted for a my first book to the time it was submitted for the author's approval, it was 29 days for a 6.2 hour book.  And I was pushing to get it done that fast.  Of course, I also own my own business and teach part-time for two different collegiate institutions, so fortunately I am a good time manager.

In Part 2 of SPOTLIGHT on NARRATORS, Johnny discusses the toughest part of narrating and why he chose to narrate a romance novel.  He also discusses what he looks for in an author's history to sway him to audition for their book.

View a Book Trailer for TOYS AND BABY WISHES

Hear a sample of TOYS AND BABY WISHES or buy at:

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Audible 

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Amazon 

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on iTunes

 ©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Monday, January 21, 2013

RESCUING A KITTEN--The Spaying Experience

We knew we'd have to have Zoie Joy spayed.  That was the responsible thing to do.  But I had qualms.  She's an inside cat along with her two sisters.  Was it necessary for her health?

We decided it was necessary after reading more about urinary problems later in female cats' lives as well as higher incidences of mammary cancer. Spaying also eliminates the chances of  a cat contracting pyometra, a  bacteria that attacks the uterus of cats and is a potentially fatal infection.  Still...

Our two older cats had traumatic experiences when they were spayed.  Ebbie's back was never the same afterward.  She would straighten when picked up and not let us touch a particular spot.  After spaying, London shook whenever we put her into her carrier to take her to the vet.  Our son's cat didn't want to be touched for a very long time after her surgery.  So I was worried.

Years ago, Ebbie's holistic vet advised us to wait until after her first heat to have her spayed.  A friend who has several cats advised the same.  Something about that being the best for them with hormones and growth factors and future health.  I spoke with Zoie's vet about it, and she agreed.

It had been a long time since I'd been around a cat in heat.  At seven months, Zoie went into heat, but it only lasted three days and was very mild.  Christmas was coming and we were supposed to travel, so I decided to wait until January to schedule Zoie's surgery.  (The vet needed a month to six weeks notice.) At eight months at the beginning of December, Zoie went into full heat for nine days.  She was in obvious discomfort and just wanted her belly rubbed.  She also wanted to snuggle with Ebbie, though Ebbie wanted no part of that.  At that point she was just tolerating her.  But by the end of a few days, Ebbie would let her sit beside her and share body heat.  It was easy to discern when Zoie went into heat and when it was finished.  Like night and day.

So two weeks ago, we took Zoie to her vet at 8:30 a.m.  She couldn't have food from 9 p.m. the night before.  She could have water.  It was so difficult to hand her carrier to the vet tech.  I kept busy all day.  The tech had informed us that Zoie would have internal stitches that would eventually disintegrate.  They used skin glue on the outside of the incision.  Most important after she came home--we couldn't let her lick the incision.  If she did, we would have to wrap her in a T-shirt (seriously?) or get a collar that would prevent it.

I had cleaned out the bottom of my bedroom closet because Zoie likes to burrow and nap in a dark place.  We layered a crate mat and towels.  We also barricaded the underside of  the bed and dresser so she wouldn't be able to sneak under there to hide.  With Ebbie and London, I spent three days on the floor with them, petting and visualizing healing.  The vet told us to keep Zoie and her sisters separated for three days to a week.  This all depends on the cat who is being spayed and her siblings' attitudes.

The vet called around 1 p.m. to let us know Zoie had come through surgery and was doing well.  We could pick her up after 3.  I couldn't wait to get her home.  We arrived about 3:30, and when the tech brought us her carrier, she was meowing.  We had received instructions again, including a list of the medications she had been given.  (The cost was $200.) We had pain medication (an anti-inflammatory) and we were to give her a pill that night and one pill the next two days.  We were supposed to apply a warm compress for five minutes twice a day for five days.

As soon as I had Zoie in her carrier on my lap in the car, I reached inside to pet her.  I knew this could be a bit of a test.  If she shied away from my hand, it could take a while to earn back her trust and affection.  But she didn't shy away and I was so relieved.  At home, we opened the carrier and she went into the closet, rooted around a bit and chose her spot.  From the moment we picked her up, we kept talking to her and reassuring her.  As she lay on her bed in the closet, I stroked her and talked to her.  We were supposed to wait about an hour before offering her a teensy bit to eat.  She seemed to want us to stay with her, so my husband and I took turns with her.

Zoie has always been a good eater and when we offered her a bit of her favorite food, she gobbled it up.  But then she rested again and we resumed stroking her.  I'm a huge believer of healing touch.  And if Zoie wanted it and needed it, we were there.  When we offered her food again, we put half a pill in it.  I guessed we'd have a better chance of her eating and swallowing it if it was small.  The vet was okay with that.  When she ate again, we gave her the other half and she gobbled that down, too.  About an hour after that, she came out of the closet and wanted to find her sisters.  The closet was no longer where she wanted to be.


We decided to put her in the room where she usually spends her nights--my office.  This is familiar territory for her.  My husband had put a mattress on the floor with her favorite cover.  He slept on the floor on the mattress (yes, he's a good guy) to watch over her.
The patient -- Zoie Joy--a few days after surgery
Pilling Zoie wasn't quite as easy the next two days.  About half the time she ate it in her food.  The other half, with food on the pill, we put it far back on her tongue and gently held her mouth shut until she swallowed.  She was such a good little patient.  When we applied the warm compresses, she would purr!  We managed to keep her separated from her sisters for four days.  She slept much of the time.  But on the fifth day, it was as if her energy was turned on again.  No way would she stay in my office.

We knew Ebbie wouldn't be a problem interacting with Zoie.  Zoie went to Ebbie and we watched them carefully.  But Ebbie just curled up to sleep and Zoie scampered off exploring.  Usually London and Zoie run up and down the steps and chase each other, but Zoie was restraining herself.  We kept close watch but they all behaved!  Each day Zoie became more active until now, two weeks later, she's back to normal.

I'm grateful for the vet who treated her with respect and compassionate care.  I'm grateful Zoie is still our Zoie--affectionate, social and loving.  I'm grateful for Zoie who somehow found our backyard and who brings us so much joy.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

RESCUING A KITTEN, Part 12 Zoie and Ebbie come to terms

What have Zoie and Ebbie been doing while the holidays came and went?

Let's go back to my bond with Ebbie.  We're as much sisters as a human and pet could be.  Only pet lovers can understand.  I've written about how kitty Zoie Joy and London began finding their way by running up and down the stairs and zipping around the house together.  I've seen London chase Zoie and vice versa.  London always lets Zoie know who's boss with a serious hiss or a swat.  Zoie is still eating kitten food but she'd rather have Ebbie's special mixture that she eats for health reasons or London's Fancy Feast.  She will actually sit and wait until London is finished.  With Ebbie... I protect Ebbie's plate by standing nearby.

From the beginning of Zoie's interaction with Ebbie, Zoie wanted to chase her.  I don't know if she thinks she's her mother because they look alike, but Ebbie is having none of it.  At the very beginning, Zoie would jump on Ebbie and with Ebbie's arthritic bone problems, we had to intervene.

I have an alternative therapy practitioner for my own arthritic bone and fibromyalgia muscle conditions.  In the past she knew I'd used Bach flower remedies with my felines, which are flower essences.  Now she suggested I use one called "Vine" for a dominant personality--Zoie.  She also suggested I select some from Green Hope Farm, especially one called "Anxiety" for Ebbie and "Jealousy" for Zoie.  There are several ways you can use these.  I put a drop between my palms, rub them together, then take them lightly over my cats' fur.  They can also be rubbed on ears and paws.  How do they work?  It has to do with energy and essences and personalities.  All I know is that the situation between Zoie and Ebbie began changing little by little, mostly with Zoie..  But Ebbie became more tolerant, too. Zoie maturing? Ebbie giving off different signals? Who can tell for sure but...  Zoie still chased Ebbie but she didn't jump on her.

And then...Zoie went into heat for the first time.

For nine days, Zoie seemed to be miserable.  She wanted to be rubbed and that seemed to help.  But most of all, she wanted to snuggle with Ebbie.  Ebbie seemed to realize Zoie needed her and let her sit near her.  This was the first they napped in the same space.

After Zoie went out of heat, Zoie and Ebbie seemed to have a different relationship than before.  Ebbie still looks on her as a pesky little sister.  But now they nap nearby each other, (though not together like this).  Zoie still chases Ebbie when she takes a tour of the house.  But she doesn't jump on her.  Relationships take time to build for humans and it seems to be the same with cats.  We're progressing.  That's what counts.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Over a year ago I attended a writing conference and the president of my group chapter asked if I'd be interested in volunteering to give lessons on a craft loop.  It lasts a week and participants can ask questions, make comments, etc. on the lessons posted.  Since we were setting up the schedule a year ahead, I knew I had plenty of time to work it out, what subject might be the best to talk about.  A former teacher, I've given a lot of writing workshops, but for this I wanted to do something new.  I asked myself what information I could offer these varied writers that they couldn't find in other places.  I decided the best advice I could give them on any subject didn't necessarily come from creating and crafting the 82 novels I've sold over the past twenty years, but from my experience as a writer.  They could find character charts, synopses templates and plotting structure online.  But maybe not so easy to find is the information to help them pursue a successful career.  To do that, I realized they had to treat writing like a business rather than just an art form or a creative endeavor.

Writers want to write and find readers who enjoy their stories.  But pure writing is something writers can only do for themselves now.  If they want to enter the marketplace in any form, they need to realize writing is a business.  It's not only the business of selling a manuscript or selling books.  It's the business of selling yourself or the persona you choose to make public.  It's about having several projects going at once, looking at every opportunity, promoting day and night...if you want to make a living selling books.

I started a series of blogs about treating writing like a business and realized they could become a handbook for both unpublished and published writers.  We all have questions about so many aspects of writing as a business, and experience can shed a light on some of those questions.  Information is always power.

My book WRITING IS A BUSINESS: Tips for a Lasting Career is now live on Amazon.  It's twenty years of experience in writing and publishing encapsulated into a handbook that I hope will urge you to think about the business of writing as well as the craft.  Because now without the one, it's difficult to have the other.  I'm hoping this book provokes discussion about all aspects of treating writing like a business--from the creative arena to the financial pitfalls.

When I give the workshop this week, maybe questions will generate new blogs and new chapters for the book.  After all, revising and perfecting still takes up much of a writer's working time.  Most of all, I hope I can listen and learn from my participants as we exchange information and become a better writer because of the exchange.

My new year's wish for all the writers out there--may the muse be with you and may your target audience be clamoring for each of your books.  Isn't that what all writers hope for?

A happy new year of writing, marketing, promoting and selling to you all.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website