The Pinkertons and the Lady Spy

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carolyn (2)My guest this week is Lynna Banning, author of the recent Harlequin Historical release The Lone Sheriff. Lynna was born in Oregon but has lived in Northern California most of her life. Including her coming October novel, she has published twenty-three books!

An amateur pianist and harpsichordist, Lynna performs on harp and psaltery in a medieval music ensemble, where she also plays cortholt, recorders, and tar (drum). Given that background, you’d expect her to write Medieval historicals. Instead she focuses on the old West for her stories.

The Lone Sheriff features a female Pinkerton agent, so today she’s giving us a little background on the famous detective agency.

 

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Known as the first private eye, Allan Pinkerton set up his North-West Detective Agency in 1850. His motto We Never Sleep proved true during the Civil War, when he aborted an assassination attempt on President Lincoln in Baltimore. Lincoln, on his way to Washington for his inauguration, was so impressed with Pinkerton’s intelligence-gathering that he offered him a job.

In 1856 Pinkerton had created the Female Detective Bureau, and though his sons tried to disband the fledgling organization, the lady detectives proved their worth and thrived, particularly during the Civil War. The first female Pinkerton agents were Kate Warne, an attractive 23-year-old widow, and Hattie Lawton, also a widow. Both women were vital to Pinkerton’s intelligence gathering in the riotously amoral atmosphere of Washington where Confederate agents moved and mingled, and female supporters of Dixie flocked to the center of wartime activity and carried out astonishing feats of spying.

One unforgettable spy was the Washington socialite Rose Greenhow, known as The Wild Rose. She was the aunt of Stephen Douglas, and while his loyalty to Lincoln was never in doubt, Aunt Rose favored the South and ran Pinkerton a merry chase that ended finally in her death.

Rose moved in the very highest circles, acting as hostess for James Buchanan, but she sympathized with the South. When war broke out, she joined a Confederate ring of women spies, and her grandest coup came in July 1861 when she transmitted messages by courier giving details of General Irvin McDowell’s plans. This enabled the South to prepare for the first battle of Bull Run with an ace up its sleeve.

Rose had elegant manners and great beauty; she captivated statesmen, diplomats, legislators, and generals, and within weeks she had established a network of spies and informants extending as far as Texas. When word came to Allan Pinkerton that the society belle was leaking secrets, he put Rose under secret surveillance.

Rose behaved as if she were untouchable. She and her ladies knew they were being watched but treated it as a game. The Confederate spy tried everything she could to throw Pinkerton off her trail, but he managed to break into her mansion. While he missed a note from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, thanking her for the Bull Run information, his agents uncovered much other incriminating evidence, including her diary. He continued to watch the Greenhow mansion around the clock.

In August a civil warrant was issued for Rose’s arrest; Pinkerton and three men, accompanied by female agent Hattie Lawson, found Rose at home. She immediately tried to swallow a coded message, but Pinkerton tore it from her mouth. Rose then sat calmly while the men ransacked her house, unearthing a quantity of incriminating material: ordnance records detailing arms and ammunition, copies of troop orders, even her diary, which incriminated a broad collection of Washington citizenry.

Rose and her youngest daughter, Little Rose, were placed under house arrest. When her Confederate agents continued to pay her visits, they fell straight into Pinkerton’s hands. He then used these men (and women) as double agents, feeding false information to the Confederate capital. The spy ring was huge; scarcely a prominent Washington family remained un-implicated, and Pinkerton had a field day arresting agents.

Even in prison, Rose continued her espionage activities. She was questioned and remained in prison at Pinkerton’s insistence, but over his objections, was offered parole on condition that she sign an oath not to aid the enemy. She refused, but she was released anyway. Rose and two other women accused of spying were then handed over to the Confederacy.

In Richmond, Rose was revered. Her book, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington, published in London, became a bestseller. She went abroad, captivated Napoleon III and dined with Queen Victoria; then became engaged to the Earl Granville, a powerful political figure in England.

On her return to the South, her ship ran aground in a storm off Wilmington, North Carolina. Rose had sewn hundreds of gold sovereigns into her corset and underclothing; and when the lifeboat capsized she sank and was drowned

And Allan Pinkerton went on capture railroad thieves, forgers, counterfeiters, wiretappers, and illegal inside traders, etc. and also to infiltrate and arrest members of the Molly Maguires.

Source: Allan Pinkerton, The First Private Eye, by James MacKay.

 

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9780373297993.inddAs if tracking down train robbers isn’t hard enough, loner Sheriff Jericho Silver’s backup arrives and she’s a beautiful, gun-slinging, back-East proper Pinkerton lady detective who sure spells trouble.  And she won’t take No for an answer.

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“You’re here to help?” Jericho echoed.

“Of course. I am Madison O’Donnell. The Smoke River Bank hired me to help you catch the gang robbing their gold shipments.

Jericho stared at her.

“I believe you were expecting me?”

He snapped his jaw shut. The last thing he’d expected was this frilly-looking female with her ridiculous feather-bedecked hat. In her green-striped dress and twirling her parasol like that she made him think of a dish of cool mint ice cream.

Whatever is the matter, Sheriff?  You have gone quite pale. Are you ill?”

He jerked at the question.  Not ill, just gut-shot.  “Uh, yeah.  I mean, no.  I’m not ill.  Just  . . . surprised.”

She lowered her voice. “Most clients are surprised when they meet me. It will pass.”

Hell no, it won’t.

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http://www.amazon.com/Lone-Sheriff-Harlequin-Historical-ebook/dp/B00JIHATO8

Also on Barnes & Noble.

Lynna enjoys hearing from her readers; write her directly at P.O. Box 324, Felton, Ca 95018, USA, or at carowoolston@att.net.

Visit Lynna’s website at www.lynnabanning.net.
Blog: http://montereybayrwa.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lynnabanning

Categories: Civil War, Historicals, lady detectives, Pinkertons, romance, Romantic suspense, Spies, suspense, Western romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Horses at the Olympics

Olympic rings

If you were at like me you probably spent the second and third weeks of last February watching the winter Olympic Games. Ice skating, skiing, luge, bobsled, snowboarding, and a host of other events kept us glued to the TV, reveling in the skill and determination of the competitors. In 2016, we’ll again have the chance to stare in awe and root for favorites when the summer Games are held in Rio de Janeiro. My primary interest, of course, will be in the equestrian events. In years past only small snippets were shown by the networks, but now with wonders of the internet, we’ll be able to see much a larger number of competitors and get a major horse fix.

The earliest Olympics in ancient Greece were tests of skills that warriors needed and since horses were a vital part of battle, they included horse and chariot races. The modern Olympics began in1896 but it wasn’t until 1912 that the equestrian events we’re used to seeing were included. Horses are the stars of three events – dressage, eventing, and show jumping – and play a part in a fourth competition I wasn’t aware of before. The Pentathalon has a show jumping phase where competitors ride horses they’ve never handled before over a challenging jump course.

dressageEquestrian events are among the few where men and women compete against each other. This wasn’t true initially. Up until 1952, only military officers and “gentlemen” were allowed to take part. Starting with the Helsinki Games, all men could participate in all the events and women could ride in Dressage. In 1956 women were permitted to do Show Jumping and finally in 1964, they began to compete in Eventing. Now they contend on equal terms in all the riding disciplines.

Dressage starts with a Grand Prix test that all the teams take part in. The scores of the top three riders on each team are added together to get the team score and placing. Then the top 25 go on to do the Grand Prix Special test to compete for individual medals. The thirteen best then compete in the Freestyles. These are the crowd pleasing performances where the horses “dance” to music. The scores from these two tests determine the individual medalists.

Cross-countryEventing originated as a three day contest to prove the quality and endurance of cavalry horses. Today it still consists of three separate competitions: dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping. On day one, the dressage demonstrates the horses’ suppleness, training and obedience. Because these horses are not specialists, they do somewhat less demanding tests than the dressage stars and their tests are scored by listing the number of faults. So the lower the score, the better. On day two, they show their skill and courage on a demanding cross-country course with difficult and often scary solid fences. The Show Jumping phase on day three demonstrates their fitness and soundness. Again the riders vie for team and individual medals.

medium_515302767The last equestrian event is Show Jumping, the exciting attraction that usually sells out. Everyone likes watching the horses and riders tackle the very challenging and technical jump course. Again, because these horses are specialists, the jumps are bigger and harder. The team and individual medals are well earned.

Have you watched the Olympic equestrian events? Which one do you like best? Have you ever attended an Olympics? I know I’d love to go to Rio in 2016. How about you?

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Olympic rings: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncandy/7267452456/”>joncandy</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Dressage horse: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamulley/3118654629/”>Jessicastjohn</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

Categories: animals, dressage, Horses, Olympics, riding, Show jumping, Three Day Eventing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fat Cats and Dead Bodies

Janet Cantrell

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Ready for some dessert bars combined with mystery? My guest today is Kaye George, AKA Janet Cantrell, Agatha nominated mystery novelist and short story writer. Her cozy Fat Cat mystery series debuted yesterday! with FAT CAT AT LARGE, featuring Quincy, a pudgy, adorable feline. An accomplished escape artist, especially when he’s on a diet and hungry, Quincy leads his human, Chase, co-owner of a Minneapolis dessert bar shop, into serious trouble.

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What prompted you to write Fat Cat?

The basis of this plot was the idea of my editor at Berkley Prime Crime, Danielle Stockley. I took to it right away, since I’ve had many beloved cats, some of them on the chubby side. Also, the series was to take place in Minneapolis, a place where I loved living.

Do you like to bake as much as your heroine does?

I won’t say I bake like Charity Oliver does. Chase bakes a lot! She co-owns a dessert bar shop, after all, so it’s her livelihood. But I do love baking. I’m not adventurous and usually follow recipes, but writing this series has encouraged me to try things I otherwise wouldn’t, since each book includes a dessert bar recipe. (Also a healthy cat treat recipe.) I will say that I prefer baking to cooking. Unfortunately, I like to eat what I bake, and definitely don’t need to eat a lot of dessert bars!

How do you develop your stories?

I’ve settled on my own method for my last several books, based on a combination of several classes I’ve taken from Kris Neri, Mary Buckham, and Margie Lawson. These aid in developing the main characters and the story of the crime. When I start writing, I use a spreadsheet I’ve developed that works for me. I keep track of my characters, hair and eye color, what car they drive, mannerisms, etc. on one sheet. I put the timeline with major plot events on another, then fill in details as I’m writing them. I like to color code themes and suspects. I can tell at a glance which subplots or characters I’m leaving out for too long—or dwelling on for too long.

If you were a color, which one would you be?

I hate to say blue, because that sounds sad. But I think blue is very nice, the color of the sky and water. Because my eyes are blue-ish, I like to wear blue to make them look more so. Otherwise they just look muddy gray. But blue is soothing and smooth and I’d like to be smooth and calm all the time!

What’s your next project?

I’ve finished up book two, Fat Cat Spreads Out, and am awaiting the edits on it while I start in on book three, as yet untitled. I’m also polishing Requiem for Red, which is the sequel to the Cressa Carraway book, Eine Kleine Murder. On the short story front, I’ll have stories in Murder on Wheels (being published by Wildside Press) and Memphis Noir (pubbed by Akashic Noir) in 2015. Choke, my first Imogene Duckworthy book, is now being offered as part of a boxed set of humorous mysteries, so that’s not a new project, but a new packaging. The audio recordings of the next two, Smoke and Broke, will be done by the end of the year.

Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Sweet or tart?

Tea and wine (although Scotch would be better). And definitely sweet!

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FAT CAT AT LARGE coverWhen she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?

The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.

INCLUDES RECIPES FOR PEOPLE AND CATS!

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The wooden floor planks creaked as she tiptoed across the living room. Chase flinched with each footfall, her nape hairs prickling. No one appeared at the top of the stairs to her right, yelling at her to get out, so she kept going. She hoped Quincy was in the kitchen, where the food was. If not, she would have to think about exploring further. Quincy could be crouched inside an empty room, scared. For all his fierce bravado, he was a small animal, and vulnerable in so many ways. What if this household owned a pit bull? Or a mastiff? She almost whimpered aloud thinking about it.

Chase braced herself with a deep breath, inhaling another whiff of the delicious aroma, and peeked around the corner into the kitchen. Sure enough, Quincy sat on the counter, devouring the meatloaf. But what caught Chase’s attention was the man, lying on his side on the floor beside some scraps of paper, his back to her. She knew him.

She breathed his name. “Gabe? Gabe?”

Quincy turned his head toward her and blinked his gorgeous amber eyes, then returned to his task. Gabe must be injured, she thought. She knelt and shook his stiff shoulder. No response. She rolled him onto his back. Gasped. A steak knife was stuck in his chest. That couldn’t be good! She reached toward the handle to pull out the knife, touched it, then hesitated, and started to draw her hand back.

A soft voice from the doorway said, “What have you done?”

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You can find FAT CAT AT LARGE at:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fat-cat-at-large-janet-cantrell/1118663280?ean=9780425267424
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Cat-At-Large-Mystery/dp/0425267423/

Learn more about Kaye/Janet by joining her:

website: http://janetcantrell01.wix.com/fat-cat-mysteries
blog: http://janetcantrell.blogspot.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janet.cantrell.167
goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7855179.Janet_Cantrell

 

Categories: animals, anthologies, Books, Cats, cozy mysteries, Mystery, Short story, writing | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Introvert or Extrovert?

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Horses have different personalities, just as humans do. And the personality dictates how you handle and train if you want to have a successful collaboration with your horse. Today I’m partially recycling a post from two years ago when I first started blogging. I assume most of my current readers haven’t seen it before. 

Extrovert enjoying showing off

Extrovert enjoying showing off

You can classify horses as having one of four basic personalities. (Of course, there are other ways to categorize them, but this one works for me.) Just like with people, they can be Extroverts or Introverts. They also can be Thinkers or Reactors (emotional). So you can have an extroverted thinker, an extroverted reactor, an introverted thinker and an introverted reactor. Then you add their gender and their experience into the equation and you have a complicated being that requires some thought to train effectively. Each personality type has its pluses and minuses and is good for different things and different riders. And each type needs to be dealt with in different ways.

Star, the little Morgan mare I grew up with, was an extroverted thinker. She was friendly, self-confident, rarely afraid of anything and willing to try whatever I asked her. She was also strong-willed and could be difficult. Once we started communicating properly she was easy to teach. Correct, fair treatment was key with her. She couldn’t be forced, but would give her all when asked. She loved to learn new skills, do different things and explore new trails. She really enjoyed life.

Horses are prey animals and, as such, are basically “scaredy cats.” In the wild they stay alive by being hyper-aware of their environment and ready to run on an instant. Domestication hasn’t done away with that basic instinct. A horse whose emotions dominate sees threats everywhere and can react without thinking. My Portia was a prime example. When I first got her, she would whirl and try to bolt at the slightest provocation. Typical extroverted reactor. She needed very calm, relaxed handling. If she got upset I loosened the reins. Trying to fight with her would have brought on an explosion.

Glory, on the other hand, is a super-sensitive Thoroughbred who requires somewhat different handling because of her introverted reactor personality. She was basically timid, afraid of the world, and over-reacted to stimuli when I first got her.

Thinker, working hard

Thinker, working hard

Due to inappropriate handling she learned to shut down under saddle and would only respond if she was cued in exactly the way she had been trained. She was afraid to try. At the same time she was a panic attack waiting to happen on the ground. The slightest thing would provoke a frantic pull-back. My job was to convince her she was safe.

My husband’s horse, Koko, could have been the poster child for the introverted thinker type. Strong-willed and stubborn, she often had to be convinced to do what we wanted. Thank goodness she was also laid-back, sensible and good-natured. Her busy mind was evidenced by her quirky sense of humor and love of playing. She delighted in doing things like untying ropes (just to show she could) and flipping the barn light switches on and off.

What kind of equine personalities have you dealt with? What kind do you enjoy?

Categories: animals, horse care, horse personalities, Horses, nature, riding, Thoroughbreds, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cathy Perkins

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Cathy Perkins.

My guest this week is the award-winning author Cathy Perkins. Using her background in the financial industry, she writes predominately financial-based mysteries, while also exploring her characters’ relationships. Her most recent book, CYPHER, released this month and is currently on sale for .99 on Amazon.

When not writing, Cathy can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. A native of South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

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So Cathy, if you were an animal, what kind would you be?

Oh, I’d definitely want to be one of our dogs.  We aren’t sure if our dogs are part of the family or if we’re part of their pack, but the result is the same—one big happy unit. The Lab and the Puppy hang out in my office during the day, snoozing on giant beds, gnawing on marrow-packed bones, and placing their heads on my thigh to claim pats and back scratches. (If ignored because I’m paying too much attention to that small box, aka the computer, they’ll lift my hand off the keyboard with their nose.) On weekends, we’re all in the mountains at our place on the river, which our kids and their friends—along with all the family animals—have dubbed Best Dog Park Ever.

Can I join your pack. Sounds wonderful.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Ice cream is my weakness, with Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie way up there in the deliciousness register. I will venture out of the strictly chocolate category for Cherry Garcia.

I knew we were kindred spirits. Cherry Garcia is my downfall too.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room is actually the main room of our small weekend place in the mountains. The cabin has wonderful views of the river and surrounding mountains. It’s cozy with a fireplace for the winter and windows all around to let in delightful breezes and the sound of the river and songbirds the rest of the year. Heavenly! It’s compact, but filled with carefully chosen furnishings. We really hate leaving on Monday mornings.

Sounds delightful. Can I visit?

How do you develop your stories?

Most of my stories start with a “what if?” Without giving away the plot and all the twists, my most recent release, CYPHER, starts with, What if a hitman killed the wrong person?

The “whys” line up from there—why was the killer sent to murder the heroine? Why wasn’t she home? Why was her friend there and mistaken for her? The characters grow and become three-dimensional as I think through the implications and how that character will react to events unfolding around him or her. In CYPHER, both Cara and David have to fight for what they really want, and each has to trust the other, something that doesn’t come easily for them.

Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details that my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.

Can’t wait to read it.

What’s your next project?

I’m working on a lighter story right now, set in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state instead of South Carolina (where my other stories are set). The starting point for my WIP occurred while cutting up with a friend. We riffed off the opening—there’s a body in the beaver pond. Oh, dam(n).

Oh my, watch out for those beaver ponds!

What types of books do you like to read?

I’m a voracious reader. Mysteries, thrillers and suspense are my ‘go-to’ stories, but I also enjoy literary, fantasy… I’ve been on a women’s fiction binge lately. So many of those stories delve deeply into relationships.

My stories are predominately mystery/suspense, but I tend to make them more character-driven than strictly action-oriented. I enjoy the way the characters’ internal conflicts play into the external plot, raising the tension and the stakes when it’s personal.

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Cypher

Cara Wainwright thinks life can’t get tougher when her mother’s cancer becomes terminal—until she returns home from the hospital and finds a courtyard full of police officers and her houseguests dead.

Greenville, SC Detective David Morris, is unsure if Cara is the suspect or the intended murder victim. Searching for insight into her family, their mounting secrets, and the conflicting evidence from multiple crimes, his attraction to Cara complicates his investigation. Is the lure need, manipulation—or real?

While David pursues forensic evidence, Cara pushes for answers about her father’s possible involvement, for at the center of the mystery stands Cypher—the company her father built and will take any measures to defend.

When the assassin strikes at the heart of the family, Cara and David have to trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he eliminates the entire Wainwright dynasty.

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“This took place in your home. Is someone trying to hurt you?”

She met his eyes. “I don’t know.”

He waited for more.

Her hands rose and fell in a frustrated gesture. “Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that a thousand times? Ever since it happened, I’ve asked why? Was it random? Were they after me? One of them?” A flush climbed her cheeks, but her eyes didn’t waver. “Natalie looks a lot like me. She was in my bed.”

She stopped, her lips pressed tightly together. He was intently aware of her—how she held her head, her hands. The way she stood and sat. He didn’t want to be aware of her on that level, knew it couldn’t go anywhere. He also recognized the sensation wasn’t going to go away.

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Your can get CYPHER at the following sites:

Amazon               http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MMLX1ZQ
B&N                    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cypher-cathy-perkins/1120110911
Kobo                    http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/cypher-1

You can contact Cathy at:

Facebook            https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCathyPerkins
Twitter                 @cperkinswrites
website              http://cperkinswrites.com
Goodreads         http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5367341.Cathy_Perkins
G+                     https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CathyPerkins/

Categories: adventure, animals, Books, dogs, Mystery, nature, outdoors, romance, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Paints, Palominos, and Other Pretty Horses, Part 2

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As I mentioned last time, horses come in an amazing variety of colors. I told you about the basic solid colors before; today I’m going to talk about some of the rainbow of other hues and combinations that can appear.

Almost everyone is familiar with the spotted horses the Indians rode in the old Westerns, and the golden palominos that Roy Rodgers and a plethora of cowgirl heroines raced across movie screens, so let’s start with these.

Horses with large patches of brown and white or black and white are pintos. (The term Paint is often used too, but that actually refers to a specific breed of pinto.) While there are several variations of pintos, the most common are the tobiano and the overo. A tobiano is has large rounded markings with smooth edges on a white coat. An overo has irregular splotches with ragged edges and usually are more dark than white. The horse in the movie Hildalgo was an overo.overo

Pinto foal

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palomino

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Trigger is the most famous movie horse of all time and he was a golden palomino. Palominos can range from very a light, cream color to dark bronze or chocolate, but they always have a white mane and tale.

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Similar in color are buckskins and duns. A bbuckskinuckskin is actually a faded (color-diluted) bay and has the same black mane, tail and legs. A dun has the tan color and black points, but also has a black stripe down its spine and occasionally zebra-like stripes on its legs. An interesting variant of the dun is the Gulla or Blue Dun. As the name implies it has a bluish cast to its coat.

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RoanAnother “blue” horse is the Blue Roan. Roans have white hairs evenly mixed throughout their coat. The Blue has a black base coat but the intermixture of white hairs give it a blue tinge. Strawberry Roans have a chestnut base, while Bay Roans keep the black points of a true bay.

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The other spotted horse associated with the Indians of the American West is the Appaloosa. Appys come in a variety of patterns. The most commonly seen are the blanket and the leopard. A blanket Appy is a solid color over all its body except the rump, which is white and dotted with spots that match the solid color. The leopard is white and dotted with large and small spots all over its body. The Knabstrupper is a European breed that also has leopard markings.

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leopard

blanket appy

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As I said before, horses come in a amazing variety of colors. I’ve only touched on a few. Here’s a Pinterest site that has pictures of some really unusual colors.

http://www.pinterest.com/ilovehorsesnet/interesting-horse-colors/

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Overo: photo credit: dog.happy.art via photopin cc
Palomino: photo credit: Just chaos via photopin cc
Buckskin: photo credit: Derrick Coetzee via photopin cc
Roan: photo credit: Just chaos via photopin cc
Leopard: photo credit: StarWatcher307 via photopin cc

Blanket: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/luagh45/6423046297/”>luagh45</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Categories: animals, horse colors, Horses, nature, riding | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Judy Alter

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Judy AMy guest this week is Judy Alter, author of the Kelly O’Connell mysteries and the Blue Plate Cafe mysteries. She has authored over sixty! books for adults and children, many of them about women in the American West. Today she answers questions and tells a little about her life and writing.

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If you were an animal, what kind would you be?

If I was an animal, I’d like to be a dog—well cared for, of course, not homeless or in the fight pit. Dogs embody so many qualities that humans sometimes need more of—loyalty, unconditional love, protectiveness. I’ve had dogs—sometimes three or four at a time—all my life, and I don’t think I could live without one. It surprises me that they don’t play a major role in my fiction.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?

The important people in my life are my four grown children, their spouses, and my seven grandchildren. Over the years they have been my cheer team, leading me always to try to do better. Also, their antics have supplied me with material. My oldest daughter said of one of my books, “It’s highly autobiographical.” And of course they’re a big part of my cookbook/memoir: Cooking My Way Through life With Kids and Books.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room in my house is my office. I hate to admit to being a computer addict, but I am—it’s the first place I go in the morning and the last place at night. If I’m doing chores around the house, after an hour or so I think I better check my computer. When I eat alone (and I often do), I eat at my computer. My dog has her favorite (filthy) chair in there and keeps me company.

What is your writing process?

My writing process is haphazard at best. When I finish a novel, I go through a brief period of agony wondering what to do next. Then an idea begins to rattle around in my head, and after a week or so I make rough notes. It may be another week or two before I type those first words—they have to come to me as inspiration—but then I’m off and writing, with a goal of 1,000 words a day. My notes are rough enough that you’d definitely call me a pantser. I also don’t have a regular writing time but mornings mostly go to errands and busy work—at my desk or around the house—and I do my best writing after supper. During the school year I keep one of my grandsons after school, and we do homework.

What’s your next project?

My next project is to continue working on my marketing plan for The Perfect Coed, which launches mid October as my first indie published work. I’ve made a good start on advance buzz but have to keep it up. Ideas for the sequel are at the rattling around in my head stage.

What prompted you to write your books?

The reason I write cozy mysteries is because I enjoy reading them. They make up the bulk of my pleasure reading, though, often when a review is assigned, I read women’s fiction and memoir and historical fiction and nonfiction.

 

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Deception in Strange Places

DECEPTION-JALTER-mdA Kelly O’Connell Mystery, Book 5

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A woman desperately seeking her biological mother, a televangelist determined to thwart that search, a hired hit man, and in the midst of it all, a reclusive diva who wears Chinese silk gowns and collects antique Chinese porcelain. No one is telling the whole truth, and Kelly doesn’t know who to trust. She has gotten herself involved in a dangerous emotional tangle, and Mike doesn’t tell her to back off this time, even when events take them from Fort Worth to San Antonio.

 

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“Someone’s trying to kill Ms. Lorna,” Keisha said calmly, never lifting her eyes from the keyboard.

It was not yet nine o’clock on an early September morning, and I had just delivered my two daughters to school—Maggie is now in middle school, but Em is still at the local elementary school. I was not in the mood to talk about killing and possible murders. The idea that someone was trying to kill our neighborhood diva/recluse seemed impossible, and I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted coffee. “Did you say the coffee’s ready?”

“Kelly O’Connell! You know darn good and well what I said. Someone’s trying to kill Ms. Lorna.” Now she had raised her eyes and was staring at me, a bit defiantly.

I sighed. “And you know this how? Your sixth sense?” Keisha really does have the sixth sense—it’s saved my life a couple of times. But I get a bit weary of her parading that sixth sense for everything. I like to tell myself I’m grounded in reality. My husband, Mike, would scoff at that but I don’t tell him.

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Find Judy’s books at:

http://www.amazon.com/Deception-Strange-Places-OConnell-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00M74AV6A

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Alter/e/B001H6NMU6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1377217817&sr=1-2-ent

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/462168

Turquoise Morning Press: http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/search?q=Judy+Alter

 

Learn more about Judy at:

Web page: http://www.judyalter.com
Blogs: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com; http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857
Twitter: @judyalter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5446.Judy_Alter

 

Categories: Books, cozy mysteries, dogs, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Paints, Palominos and Other Pretty Horses, Part 1

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Horses come in an amazing variety of colors, most of which have been created by man. Genuinely wild (not feral) horses, like the Przewalski’s horse, are a tan or dun color. All the color combinations we see today including wildly colored spots are a result of controlled breeding. One site I looked up listed over fifty different color names.

We’re all familiar with the basic white, black, brown, and grey. Did you know there are variations in these base colors? A true white horse has pink skin, but most of the “whites” we see are actually light greys and have black skin. The Lippizans of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna are an example. They are born a dark color, usually black, and gradually lighten as they mature. They go through various stages of grey until most of them turn a snowy white. However, they keep the dark skin they started with.

 

Grey mare gone white with dark foal that will grey out

Grey mare gone white with dark foal that will grey out

Flea-bitten grey

Flea-bitten grey

Most grey horses follow the same pattern. They start dark and gradually lighten. Many will also turn a snowy white and can look quite unusual when you give them a bath. If they originally had white markings—a blaze or stockings—those areas will look pink, while their dark skin will show through on the rest of the body. Greys have different color variations. There are dark, steel greys that have an even mixture of white and black hair. Dapple greys have their dark coat covered with white circles or dapples. Rose greys have a pinkish tinge because their base color is brown instead of black. Flea-bitten greys are those that have tiny black or brown spots flecked through their coats that make them look freckled. Some start flea-bitten and lighten with age. Others start darker and turn flea-bitten.

 

The most common color is brown, either chestnut or bay. There are very dark browns that often look black but their muzzles and eye areas are brown. Going down the brown color scale there are liver chestnuts with quite dark coats, chestnuts—reddish brown, sorrels—light red-brown, often with flaxen (blond) manes and tails, and light chestnuts that look almost tan.

Liver chestnut

Liver chestnut

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Sorrel

Sorrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bays also come in a variety of color tones but always have black manes, tails and legs. The black on the legs usually extends to the knees and may be partly or mostly covered by white makings. Mahogoney bays can be so dark you can’t easily see the black points, but they still are bays. Blood bays have a rich, dark red color, while copper bays have more of an orangey color. The lightest is the golden bay.

Bays with white covering their black points

Bays with white covering their black points

Bright Bay

Bright Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The least common of the base colors is black. True blacks have no lighter colors other than white markingsblack horse. Most blacks will fade (turn rusty colored) when out in the sun. Some have a blue-black coat that doesn’t fade. Even if sunburned the area around the muzzle or eyes is still black. Many blacks start out grey or dun and don’t turn dark until they shed out their foal coat.

Next time I’ll talk about the wonderful color combinations that are so popular in the horse world.

What’s your favorite color?

Categories: animals, horse colors, Horses, nature, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

Stubborn as a Mule

Mule.

Most of the time on this blog, I talk about things related to horses. Today I’m going to discuss another type of equine – mules.

We’ve all heard expressions such as “stubborn as a mule” and “mule-headed,” implying that mules are uncooperative and unpleasant. If they actually are that bad, why were they developed in the first place and why are some people so devoted to them?

Mules are a hybrid cross between a donkey and a horse. Usually a donkey stallion (jack) and a horse mare because the mother has the most influence on the size of the offspring. A hinney is produced by breeding a horse stallion to a donkey and is usually smaller. (Both are referred to as mules.) Almost all mules are two mulessterile due to having an odd number of chromosomes (63). VERY rarely a mare mule may reproduce, but there is no record of a fertile mule stallion.

Mules come in all shapes and sizes from minis (36”) to drafts (17 hands). The average size is slightly smaller than a horse. However they have the hardiness and endurance of a donkey, which made them invaluable for farming and carrying cargo. President George Washington was convinced that they were superior to horses for agricultural work and devoted a lot effort to developing a useful breed of mules. He’s considered the “father of American mules.”

 

While tractors and mechanization reduced the mules’ role on the farm, they are still valued for their ability to carry weight. All over the world they still serve as pack animals, transporting cargo in areas where vehicles can’t go. Due to their sure-footedness, they are invaluable in mountainous areas. They are used for packing trips, carry riders down into the Grand Canyon, and even pack muletransport military supplies in the Afghanistan.

Today, at least in the Western world, they are mostly used for pleasure. Mules can do anything a horse can and are now being shown in every type of class from English and Western Pleasure to Dressage and Reining. They even have their own exclusive event, known as the Coon Hunter’s Jump. In the South, farmers would hunt raccoons that were raiding their farms and during the chase would often encounter wire fences which were hard to see. So they’d put a coat or blanket over the wire and ask their mules to jump over from a standing start. The mules are so good at this type of jumping it evolved into a contest. Instead of running up to a jump as horses do, the mules clear up to six feet from a stand still!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO-ULQOzV6s

What about the reputed stubbornness? It depends on who you ask. Mules are extremely intelligent – some say smarter than horses due to the hybrid vigor that also makes them stronger. They tend to have strong opinions about things. While horses can be literally worked to death, a mule will stop and say “no more.” They also will not accept harsh handling. So someone who tries to force a mule will encounter stiff resistance. But if you “ask” you can get a very willing, loyal partner. Many people dearly love their mules and prefer them to horses.

I once went on a day long trail ride on a Tennessee Walking Horse mule. While she didn’t gait, she did have a wonderful, ground-covering walk that was very comfortable to ride. How about you? Have you had any experiences with a mule? Gone into the Grand Canyon or packed into the mountains?

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Mule photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/oh37tl5
Pack mule: http://tinyurl.com/nzezt8s
Two mules photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/m8lvtde

 

Categories: animals, Coon Hunter's Jump, Horses, Jumping, Mules, nature, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Living With Animals

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Jennifer Skully author photoMy guest today is the wonderful Jasmine Haynes, AKA Jennifer Skully. She does such a great job introducing herself, I’m just going to let her take it away.

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Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Kate! It’s a pleasure!

Just to let all you of you know who I am, I write humorous romantic mysteries as Jennifer Skully and classy, sexy romances as Jasmine Haynes. I love to include animals in my stories. My latest book, Can’t Forget You (by Jennifer Skully), features a lovable dog named Samson. He grew on me to the point that I had to give him his own voice in the story! In Somebody’s Ex (by Jasmine Haynes), Randi Andersen has a Norwegian Elkhound just like my very own dog, Star. And in another of my Jennifer Skully books, It Must Be Magic, my heroine talks to animals, with a special affinity for cats.

I could go on and on, but I really wanted to talk to you about living with animals, the great joy as well as the trials and tribulations. I have always lived with animals, from dogs and cats, hamsters, gerbils, birds, rabbits, fish, and a husband. Oh wait! He doesn’t count as a pet, does he! For the last 18 years, we’ve lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains, so we’ve had lots of feral cats adopt us, too.

For the most part, we’ve had cats. Over the years we’ve been home to many (not all at the same time, of course!): Buddy, Gort (so named because my husband and I love the old movie The Day the Earth Stood Still and Gort was the robot), Louis (she was named for Louis Leakey because she liked to sleep in what we called the Olduvai Gorge between my husband and I at night), Boneyard (because she was starved and all skin and bones when she came to us), Eddie (who was named for Eddie Munster because he truly terrorized his sisters Louis and Boneyard), CT (short for Crooked Tail because she had a big bend in her tail), and Whitey (because he’s black and we had to differentiate him from CT who was also black). And of course, there was wonderful Star, our Norwegian Elkhound.CT Sun Cat 1

I love my animals to sleep with me and stay in my office beside me while I do my work. And when I’m outside on the deck or in the atrium writing on my word processor, I love to have them out there with me, too. There’s just something so calming about a furry friend right near you. Of course, they can be a nuisance, too. Eddie Munster was such a cool cat to human beings, but he terrorized Louis and Boneyard. We have very high ceilings with rafters, and Boneyard sat up on a rafter so that Eddie couldn’t get her. Or she’d climb up my clothes in the closet and sit on the highest shelf. Louis couldn’t take it unfortunately and she ran away. Eddie and Star tolerated each other, except the time Star was sleeping with me on the couch, and Eddie walked right over her as if she were part of the sofa. That didn’t go over well, let me tell you. But no matter the nuisance they are, they always give you so much love. Star was such a sweet dog. She loved to walk with me in the redwood park, and she was always with me wherever I was in the house. And of course she slept on the bed along with the cats. Sometimes, I’d have a cat at my back, one at my knees, and Star in the middle between my husband and I (she liked the Olduvai Gorge, too).

The unfortunate thing about living in the mountains is that we have a lot of predators. We tried to keep them inside, but the cats wanted to be outside during the day, sleeping on the deck in the sunshine, even visiting the neighbors. My neighbor built a pass-through in the fence so the cats could sleep on her deck, too. Of course we always brought them in at night. But eventually we lost Buddy and Gort to the wild creatures. Louis came to live with us, but Eddie drove her out. I wonder if there’s a moral there, maybe 3 cats are too many. Or maybe you shouldn’t mix male and female. Boneyard wouldn’t come in one night when I called her, and we lost her, too. Eddie died 3 years later of stomach cancer. On a cold winter’s night shortly after Eddie passed on, CT moved inside. She was a smart little thing and knew how to steer clear of predators. She was a stray, but not feral, and was always very friendly to us. We have a flat roof and she slept up there so the coyotes couldn’t find her. Once she moved inside, she and Star were very companionable, sleeping on the bed together. She was a dream cat. I didn’t even need a cat box because she was like a dog and I let her out to go to the bathroom.

Jan 09 download 053Then tragedy struck and our Star died very suddenly. She had a brain tumor which literally took her in 4 days. We had no clue. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. Although later the vet said that she’d been walking on her toes, which was a symptom. But it was a terrible shock. I don’t think I would have gotten through it if CT hadn’t been living with us and given us all her love and healing powers. She gave us another wonderful year and a half after that, but then she succumbed to intestinal cancer. My husband and I gave her subcutaneous fluids and put her on steroids, but alas, there was nothing we could do to save her.

After losing CT a year and a half ago, my husband and I decided we could no longer have animals. It’s too painful to lose them. Six cats and a dog was too much for us to take. We decided we’d have our little feral cat Whitey and that was it. Whitey loves our food and our deck, but he doesn’t love us. He won’t get within more than about 10 feet. And that’s after 5 years of coming 2 to 3 times a day for food. A year and a half with no loving animals in the house! Oh wait, we babysit my sister’s dog Elvis. He’s the cutest poodle. But still, he wasn’t ours. Still, we kept saying we just couldn’t stand the heartbreak again.

WrigleySo who do you think caved first? My husband! He’s such a softie. He dragged me to the SPCA. And there we found Wrigley (so named because she likes to wriggle around on the carpet, rolling all over and begging us to scratch her tummy). She was 7 months old when we got her, and 5 months later, she’s the darling of our lives. She sleeps with us, she lays on my desk while I’m working, and sits under my chair in the atrium. I do wish we could teach her to go outside to use the bathroom like CT, but so far, we’re keeping the cat box. The atrium is an enclosed area where no predators can get to her, but she still gets the sun. Gort used to be able to climb out of the atrium, but I’m hoping Wrigley won’t figure that out. Besides, to her, the atrium is huge after having lived in a tiny box for the first 7 months of her life. She’s adorable.

So the message of this long story is that despite the inevitable loss of our beloved pets, they bring so much joy and love into our lives. Despite the fact that I’ll have to go through the pain again, it’s still worth everything to have them here with us right now, bringing the sunshine into our lives. In fact, my husband has a summer cold, and Wrigley’s right next to him on the bed giving him comfort.

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And here’s a look at Jennifer Skully’s latest, Can’t Forget You.

cantforgetyou_300There’s something very special about the house Maggie grew up in. It’s sort of…alive. With a mind of its own.

And it has plans for the people living there now.

All Maggie Halliday has left after the divorce is the family dog and the home her grandmother left to her when she passed away two months ago. Maggie’s got no other choice but to run back to her hometown of Cottonmouth, California, only to discover her high school sweetheart, Cooper Trubek, is living in the house, along with four other boarders for whom Maggie is now responsible. And according to Nana’s will, Maggie can’t kick any of them out.

Unless one of them commits murder.

Still grieving for her grandmother and trying fix up the house that seems to be falling down around her, Maggie’s got more trouble than she can handle. Then things go from bad to worse when Samson the dog starts digging in the basement…

 

Jasmine Haynes’s erotic romance Take Your Pleasure is free until the end of July on Kindle and most other retailers.

http://amzn.to/1kZ9es1

 

 

Categories: animals, Books, Cats, dogs, Dogs and cats, humorous mystery, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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