Writing and Technology

Technology Chaos and A Mouse

Desk

Before I embark on my tech story, allow me to introduce myself.

I am a retired medical doctor. My specialty was internal medicine and I spent most of my medical career in ERs making rapid diagnoses and interventions. Since retirement eight years ago, I have authored eight books and indie-published six of them. I am up most days before sunrise at my computer, writing.

A few weeks ago, without warning, my desktop computer gasped and turned blue. I immediately recognized it as the blue screen of death. With the speed of an ER doc, I grabbed my laptop, and sought a solution on Amazon. I found what I needed — a new one-terabyte hard-drive. This magical piece of technology that 40 years ago would have filled a room, arrived within two days, sealed in a small bubble-wrap envelope. My ill computer and the new hard-drive took an ambulance ride with me to a Tech ER.

The computer doc greeted us and immediately went into resuscitation mode. He surgically removed the old-hard drive and performed a transplant before my eyes. With a flick of the switch my desk top computer came to life, data saved, with no residual brain damage.

Experiencing personal relief with no residual Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I returned to my passion of writing. Up before dawn, words flowed from my brain through my fingers and onto my screen with the speed of light. My new terabyte transplant operated at Mach speed and showed no signs of rejection. I believed my technology problems were over, but within a week, I experienced another technology catastrophe.

Without warning, my lifeline to the world experienced an energy failure. The battery of my cell phone refused to hold a charge.

When patients complained about old age, low energy, bad joints or a sleep problem, I understood. With age, the body slows down and sometimes needs a boost – a thyroid hormone, a joint replacement, or sometimes, just a good night’s sleep to recharge the body’s biological batteries.

Maybe all my cellphone needed was a good night’s sleep. I turned it off, plugged it in and checked it in the morning. Nothing. A visit to an urgent care battery clinic seemed simple enough. The expert carefully removed a warped battery looking like it had an aneurysm ready to blow. He confirmed it wasn’t low thyroid after all, but a function of old age.

The new battery didn’t charge. Battery-man turned to electronic diagnostics for help, but alas, the phone flat-lined.

My phone was not repairable. At least my phone had died a natural death. My two previous cell phones had experienced terrible drowning deaths. One took a dive in an outhouse, the other glugged to the bottom of a delicious latte, taking my data with it.

My search for a new phone began that same afternoon. Unwilling to pay the price of the latest model, I looked for a refurbished phone — the search took me down a rabbit hole of hundreds of phone options and unfamiliar terminology. I needed a technology specialist’s help.

Using my landline, I called a techie relative and took his advice. I found a refurbished cellphone online. Two days later it arrived in a bubble-wrap envelope. I visited my Straight Talk service provider who transferred my data and sent me on my way feeling connected once again. Back home, I added new apps, including an exercise calculator to remind me to get off my chair and move around more. It’s like having a personal trainer in my pocket.

I returned to my writing, enjoying the new technology. Everything ran smoothly for several days, until another shocking malfunction occurred. It was 6:00 am. I had been working at my computer a little over an hour when my Fitbit reminded me to get up and and start counting steps. I walked to the kitchen, made a fresh pot of coffee and returned with a steamy cup of my favorite brew to continue editing my latest novel when both screens suddenly went black.

I followed a tangle of umbilical wires from monitors to computer. They were braided together with telephone, lamp and microphone wires, cords that had functioned for years. In the end, the main monitor was “undetectable.” Seconds earlier that same monitor was working fine. This looked like sudden death. Had the hard-drive totally failed? After wiggling a lot of cords, both monitor screens flickered and lit up, but without icons, mouse function or anyway to access my computer or the internet.

I went to my trusty laptop again, to troubleshoot the problem. After reading through many forums, I concluded my computer needed a new monitor driver.

After more reading and looking at a couple instructional YouTubes, I changed my diagnosis. The computer needed a new video card. I wasn’t exactly sure what a video card was, but I did find a large selection on Amazon. I had to do more research before placing an order, so watched a few more YouTube tutorials. I had trusted cute guys in bib overhauls to help me through fixing my dishwasher and tiling my laundry room but was not feeling confident they could guide me through a video card transplant.

I decided to continue untangling the rats’ nest of cords from behind and beneath my desk. The cords ran from monitors to computers, to a backup laptop, two external hard-drives, a landline, a video camera, and cell charger. I carefully labeled all the cords at each end and re-checked my connections. It took several hours of sitting on the floor with dust bunnies running by and dead flies surfacing from beneath the tangle of cords.

A final check suggested the cords were all connected properly until I moved the monitors to dust behind them. The main monitor cord looked like a highly diseased neuron. The sheath over the wire was severely damaged. Tiny missing chunks exposed bare wires. Defects along the wire looked like nibble marks. Hmmm.

Could that adorable mouse that visited me a few months earlier have been chewing on my main monitor cord? I had met him eye to eye when he was sitting on the top of a can of beans in my pantry munching on a trail-mix bar. It was probably tastier than the covering on the monitor cord.

His round pink ears looked far too large for his little head. Black eyes stared back at me looking as though he had to seriously consider whether to drop the delicious trail-mix bar and run away, or not. I couldn’t kill him. He was so adorable.

I told him to stay put but that I was issuing an eviction notice. I turned on the vacuum and sucked him through the hose into the transparent dust catcher. He landed on a cushion of dog hair and looked out at me from his plastic cage. I would have scolded him for chewing my computer cord had I known at that time what he’d been up to, but he was so little and frightened, I took him outside and let him go find a new home.

I decided my desk top computer needed a complete check-up and I wasn’t up to the task. The gnawed cord was not the problem, but I replaced the cord and dug out an old laptop to use as a secondary backup while the desktop went back to the hospital.

I plugged in my old laptop and found out it was just too old to run anymore. The XP operating system was no longer supported by Microsoft or anyone else. Besides, it was locked and required an administrator for access. I am its administrator, but do you think I could remember the password? Not on your life. It was inaccessible in my brain data bank.

I returned to my new laptop to contact the Best Buy Geek Squad to help me figure out how to get the desktop computer and monitors functioning again.  Suddenly, an alert appeared on the laptop screen telling me to immediately change my password. Someone in a nearby town was trying to log onto my computer.

I quickly changed my password and wrote it down in a secure location.

The Geek Squad gave me an appointment time and said to bring my computer and monitors in for a complete diagnostic exam. I unplugged all those cords I had just finished labeling and rearranging. I loaded up my computer and made an ambulance run to the Best Buy ER, staffed by amazing geeks with crazy hairdos, body art, and so many facial piercings I was concerned they might short out. Within a day, they discharged the computer to my care in fine shape.

I diligently save and back-up my work on an external hard drive. I also save my work in a cloud where mice don’t live.

My computers and monitors are up and running. I have returned to writing medical thrillers full-time. My books are available on Amazon. Check them out. All proceeds from the sales of my books will probably go to the repair or purchase of new technology so I can keep writing.

I love technology – when everything works.

Thanks for stopping by.

Author Betty Kuffel, MD

Feather women

Remember, nothing is black and white.

 

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Marketing Indie Books

booksIndie-authors publish their books on Amazon and many other sites without the help of agents. There are advantages such as receiving 70% royalty on the cover price of e-books. The huge disadvantage is many excellent books go unnoticed due to lack of adequate marketing. Writers are writers and often unskilled in selling themselves or their products.

Writing a book from beginning to end requires focus and endurance, often taking years if not decades. Finishing a manuscript is a great accomplishment but reaching the end of the first draft is the beginning of another huge time-consuming step. Numerous edits, rewrites, beta-reads and paying for professional editing finally brings the book to the point of publication. At that time, the author makes the decision to either indie-publish or begin writing query letters to agents if seeking traditional publishing.

First time authors find the years of writing a novel or non-fiction book to The End quickly realize those words really mean –  The Beginning of Marketing. Whether self-published or through a contract with a traditional publisher, advertising and marketing will take the author on a new journey. Unless you are a celebrity, large book tours are a thing of the past.  Marketing takes unexpected time and education unless you are already an expert in this field or can hire a publicist.

Some indie-authors are highly successful marketers, many on their internet sites providing webinars, others on self-designed and orchestrated book tours, or by participating in writer events. If you have a platform for sales, such as writing a self-help book in a field where you are an expert, you already have a following who will purchase your book.

If you have indie-published and are ready to market, there are hundreds of options that20190108_064453 can take a tremendous amount of time. I have watched many webinars, talked with successful marketers and bought a stack of books on the topic. There is no easy way.

Below are a list of URLs as a starting point. I have not found a site that has everything, but I have used theses and found them helpful.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/marketing-your-book/  – Blog with numerous articles of interest

https://www.Authorshout.com – Comprehensive information on publication, book cover design, book trailers and banners to use on Facebook and Twitter, and ads to purchase to feature your books.

There are numerous sites to feature free books: Kindle Nation Daily and Digital Book Today – two I have used.

Offering free books is a marketing technique to generate visibility to that title and other books on your sales page on Amazon. Writing reviews on Amazon on the books you read is helpful to the author. Some advertising sites such as BookBub require a certain number of reviews before they will run a book ad.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded my free books on Jan. 5 & 6

Authors of the Flathead will have a panel of authors present a Thursday evening class on this topic in the near future. Check out https://www.authorsoftheflathead.org. for our meeting schedule and topics.

Happy New Year and Happy Writing,

Betty

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2 FREE BOOK OFFERS

On Amazon: Jan. 5 & 6

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 5 & 6

FREE MEDICAL THRILLER

deadly pyre betty kuffel 3d cover mockupDeadly Pyre is the first in my Kelly McKay Medical Thriller Series. Experiences as an ER physician and pilot energize my writing. Search and rescue, sled dog racing in Alaska, and surviving a plane crash in the snowy mountains of Idaho inspire stories including this novel set in Seattle.

Please download a free copy during this weekend sale. Share the free offer with your friends. I’d appreciate a review on the Amazon site.

Review from Amazon:

A Crash Cart Ride through the ER March 27, 2018

Lives saved and lost in waves of trauma, exhaustion, buried emotions, drug addiction, competition, and murder. Deadly is suitably named!

Fascinating medical descriptions transported me into the mind of a talented doctor trying to survive her last months of residency. For anyone who wonders about the courageous souls breaking their backs in the cutthroat medical field, this is for you!

 

ANOTHER FREE E-BOOK

JANUARY 5 & 6

 

 

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. With the current epidemic of obesity, evidence of heart disease is now seen in children. After years of caring for people with these diseases, I felt compelled to write this guide to help people understand the science behind heart health and make informed choices.

 

heart

Your Heart will be available free on Amazon all weekend. I would love to have you share the free offer with your family and friends. Please write a review on Amazon.

 

Review from Amazon:

I plan to purchase books for each of my sons and hope they read every word to learn how important it is to eat healthy, exercise regularly and keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels within normal range. Maybe then, they will be able to offset any bad family genes they may have inherited from me. Dr. Kuffel’s encouragement to try the Five/Two method of eating as a way to reduce weight has been unbelievably easy to follow and effective. Friends of mine have also used the Five/Two plan and dropped several pounds within weeks. It is reassuring to know the information provided in Your Heart is science-based, well researched and written by a very experienced doctor. It is an excellent handbook for anyone wanting to know how to change their lifestyle to improve their health.

Thanks for stopping by.

I hope you enjoy the books.

Betty

 

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Extinction – A Biological Thriller

 

Buck.5One of my current projects nearing completion is a bio-thriller addressing the real threat of spreading prion disease. There have been numerous beginnings and titles, but the ending has never changed – death. After years of research, multiple critiques, two final beta reads and a new title, I have the book nearly ready for agent queries.

Since the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain in the 1990s, awareness of this contagious fatal disease has improved. More people recognize the term prion, (pree – on) but few experience the proper level of alarm at this strange contagious protein found in meat. The abnormal infectious protein acts like an untreatable virus or bacteria targeting the nervous system that inevitably kills.

Scientists have studied prions for decades and are closer to early diagnosis in cattle andAngus bull wildlife. Prevention is key to survival. Spread among animals, and to humans must be stopped. Infection means death. It takes 1-2 years for symptoms in animals to become apparent so early detection to cull infected animals before they enter the food supply is essential. You could be eating contaminated beef, venison, elk, and moose without recognizing it is infected.

Cooking the meat well-done doesn’t damage prion infectivity. The protein is resistant to common methods of sterilization and is stable in the environment, contaminating ground for decades. Do I have your attention?

I’ll be busy sending out queries soon. Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

 

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Free Medical Thriller e-Books

Two New Medical Thrillers FREE on Amazon September 28, 29 and 30

Deadly Pyre – A Kelly McKay Medical Thriller – Book One is set in Seattle

 

 

Dr. Kelly McKay struggles to complete her ER residency at Seattle’s Harbor Medical Center. Ferocious competition, burnout and an unpredictable lover complicate her life. Besides unexplained deaths of patients under her care jeopardizing her career, a sudden increase in stabbing victims points to a serial killer stalking women near the hospital. Will Kelly be next?

 

Alaska Flight – Romantic Medical Thriller

Flight nurse Liz Elliot vows never to fly again.

Liz quits her job after a medical helicopter piloted by her lover crashes in the desert, killing him and two close friends.

Alone in Alaska and no longer flying, she feels safe and ready to begin a new journey. During her interview at the Alaska Native Hospital, a male nurse burst in and quits, leaving flying bush doctor Paul Lasher without a nurse. He needs Liz’s help for an emergency preterm deliver in the bush. He must leave immediately to reach the woman in a remote village in time.

Not knowing her past is about to catch up to her, Liz accepts the challenge, flying to the wilderness emergency with an attractive stranger. She wonders if she’s lost her mind, as she is about to lose her heart and her life.

 

I hope you enjoy them. Please share the offer with your friends and write a review on Amazon.

Thanks.

Betty

 

 

 

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Fatal Feast – a biological thriller

Prion Disease

  Chronic Wasting Disease = Mad Cow Disease = Human Disease

If you are a meat eater, is it time to worry? Maybe.

Eating meat can kill you. Remember the Mad Cow disease outbreak in Great Britain in the 1990s? Eating beef from mad cows caused the disease in man. The same disease is spreading through wildlife across the United States and Canada.

When diseased beef is consumed by humans they develop the always fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) and die within months. This disease is spreading through wildlife in the United States and elsewhere. In wildlife, it is called chronic wasting disease. There have been no verified cases of transmission to humans from eating infected deer and elk meat, but based on transmissibility of mad cow disease to humans, it is possible.

When prions enter the body the infectious protein spreads in fluids, organs and muscles, accumulating in the nervous system causing progressive disability and death within months.

Prion disease has been around for decades, maybe longer. My first real interest in this strange contagious disease began with studying the neurologic disease in the Fore people of Papua New Guinea who developed Kuru spread by death ritual cannibalism. Few people worry about prion disease because they are not cannibals. But the meat you eat may be contaminated.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

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YOUR HEART

Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children

 MAKE CHANGES AND LIVE LONGER

FREE E-BOOK         FEBRUARY 13, 14 & 15

 Heart Disease – Then and Now

The United States designated February 1964 as the first American Heart Month to raise awareness of the number one killer. More than fifty years later, in spite of increased awareness resulting in lifestyle changes, reduction in smoking, and increased exercise, all modifications that reduce risk, it remains number one killer in men and women around the world.

In addition, an obesity epidemic has pushed millions of people into Type 2 diabetes, that markedly raises heart disease risks. Early heart disease changes are now seen in elementary age obese children.

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke. It kills more people than any other health problem.

In 1960 when my father died of his second heart attack at age 52 (his first occurred at age 46), we knew a positive family history for heart disease, eating fatty meat, and smoking were bad. Heart attack treatment back then consisted of bedrest and oxygen. There were no medications to lower cholesterol, and heart medications were few.

Science has given us the biology behind this devastating disease. We know what happens at the molecular level and how to modify contributing factors. We know high blood fats, low activity levels, obesity, and tobacco use all contribute to early death from heart disease.

You ask, what about heart disease that runs in families?  You can counteract “good genes” by making bad life choices: overeat, use tobacco, and don’t exercise. Or, you can offset “bad genes” by making healthy choices.

Dramatic interventions to dilate and stent diseased heart arteries, or surgically bypass vessels that are too diseased to stent, have saved lives. But there are many options for people to take control and make healthy changes to lower risk before something happens.

With the right knowledge and actions, the number one cause of death in women and men is preventable. If you are healthy and want to stay that way, or if you are overweight, have diabetes or cardiovascular disease, you can live longer by modifying your risks.

After taking care of hundreds of people in crisis from heart disease over years of work in emergency rooms, I wrote a heart health handbook. In just two-hundred pages, Your Heart will give you the science behind the disease, some actions to improve your health and common interventions that could save your life or the life of a loved one. Many dietary options are available including the Mediterranean 5/2 diet that can help you lose weight for life.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Take care of your heart.

Betty Kuffel

For more information: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/

 

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Three New Books

Once in a Blue Moon news!

Once in a blue moon means it’s a rare occurrence. How about once in a blue blood moon? January 31, 2018 not only brought us a lunar eclipse during a blue moon, it was during a blood moon when the moon is closest to the earth. As of Jan 31, my three new e-books became available on Amazon.

It’s my once in a blue blood moon event.

The books were brought to completion with the help of my dedicated critique group and a wonderful professional editor, Kathy McKay. Her last name is the same as the protagonist, Kelly McKay, who lives in my medical thriller series. It must have been destiny to meet her.

Two books in the Kelly McKay Medical Thriller series and Alaska Flight, a romantic medical thriller are now available. A fourth book, Fatal Feast, a biological thriller, will be published soon.

Thanks to all of you who voted for Deadly Pyre in the Scout contest. It didn’t win, but I enjoyed the opportunity to enter and appreciated your support. With your input regarding title and cover design, I made some changes to the appearance for the Kindle publication. Book content is unchanged. Deadly Pyre is now just plain….Deadly.

Book One in the Kelly McKay Medical Thriller Series is set in Seattle

Book Two in the series is set in Alaska

For more details click on Book News on the menu bar at the top of this page. If you’d like to be notified of book news and blogs please follow by leaving your email.

Thanks for  stopping by.

 

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A New Year, A New Beginning

Reflections on 2017 and Activism

Landing upside down in the wreckage of our airplane in the snowy mountains of Idaho with bones sticking through my favorite jeans a few years ago was easier than coping with the first year of Trump’s presidency. I’m not kidding!

The risk of death and year of chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer was nothing compared to facing the political chaos of 2017. I thought retirement from medicine would leave me with a feeling of accomplishment and time be creative, instead I have a new job, it’s activism. As another activist said, “It’s cheaper than psychotherapy.”

I feel fortunate living in the United States and appreciate my wonderful group of new progressive friends who are also Indivisible activists. Although American values have been eroded by this Administration, we have the opportunity to make our voices heard.

Most of us have never been activists, but now we rally, and meet with members of congress and their staff,  recognizing this political environment requires our voices & intervention.

 

The Freedoms delineated in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to Assemble Peaceably, and Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.

Freedom of religion does not mean imposing your religious views on others. It means, freedom to practice your religion, and it means freedom from religion.

Free speech and freedom of the press are essential to a democracy, but President Trump has suppressed Freedom of the Press through his lies and acts of calling out journalists who report the truth. Our own Montana Representative, Greg Gianforte, assaulted a journalist and then lied about it, yet people in Montana elected him.

Individual rights are being suppressed through the Supreme Court 5-4 decisions upholding Citizens United and giving corporate stock holders like Hobby Lobby the ability to impose religious and political views on others. Money buys elections, and religious imposition on others was sanctioned by the Supreme Court. Dark money and voter suppression have been a key to Republican success.

We the People, citizens of the United States, are being harmed by this Administration. If you are not happy with the path this President and his GOP followers are taking by selecting Cabinet members to deconstruct the stability of important government programs – to name a few: the EPA, Education, Department of the Interior (Secretary Ryan Zinke of MT, opening monuments and squandering taxpayer money on private/unnecessary flights), and Health & Human Services, (repealing ACA) then, it’s time to become an activist.

You can write letters to your members of congress, letters to the editors of newspapers, run for office and vote. The Indivisible Guide (written by former congressional staffers) is helpful in providing information on advocacy, local organizing, and how to make your voice heard.  https://www.indivisible.org/guide/

Please join me in taking action, and making 2018 a better year for everyone, not just the top 1%. Help get out the vote. Contact me, or just show up if you want to join our weekly rallies. We meet every Tuesday for Resist Trump Tuesdays from 12-1 at Second and Main in Kalispell. Be strong and make change with the help of friends.

RESIST!

Betty

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Medical Thriller

Amazon Scout Publishing Contest

Hi to all,

After years of writing, finishing ten books, three of them nonfiction (indie-published and available on Amazon), I finally completed editing the first book in a medical thriller series.  I am hoping to win the Amazon Scout publishing contest with Deadly Pyre. The second book, Deadly Spin, is also ready to publish.

Amazon uses reader interest as one of their factors in determining which books to choose for publication. Your nomination would help my book be noticed by Amazon. Vote for Deadly Pyre

If Deadly Pyre is selected, you’ll receive a free E-book copy. Please share this request with friends.

Thanks!

Betty Kuffel – Amazon author page: Bio and other books

Below is a 30 second trailer made by Author Shout. If you are an author and unfamiliar with Author Shout, I’d recommend you check out the site. It contains forums and information for writers including advertising help. https://authorshout

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