Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Art of Breathing for Two

Imported Photos 00004 Joining us today is Susan Schreyer, the author of the just released Shooting To Kill, the fifth book in the Thea Campbell mystery series. Set in the real-life town of Snohomish, Washington, her books feature amateur dressage rider and solver-of-crimes, Thea Campbell.

For those of you not familiar with dressage, it is a type of very precise, formal riding that you see in the Olympics and in the Disney movie The Miracle of the White Stallions.

When not working diligently on her next book, Susan trains horses in the art of dressage and teaches people how to ride them. Today she talks about one of the exultant moments every rider hopes to have. Take it away Susan!


I was watching a video the other day—Edward Gal and Totilas (European and World Champions, with the highest scores ever achieved) in a freestyle ride that earned the pair a score in excess of 90%—and was struck by something rather profound which, of course, like any truth is not new, but re-experienced.

That truth is: good riding, really good riding, transcends the correct application of the aids and the ability to perform the various movements.

Think about that for a moment.

Do you agree? I’ll bet you do.

Now, tell me this: what is the defining moment—the transcendent point in time where technically proficient grows a soul and becomes art? How do you recognize it when you see it, feel it?

I believe it is that moment when you cease to be the controller of the other creature, and become one—a symbiotic relationship, if you will. You can see it in the relaxation, the fluidity of both parties. There exists a grace that, when I see it (even on video), can reduce me (and likely a couple other of you) to tears. It’s that powerful. You cannot mistake it, you cannot pretend it isn’t there. When witnessed, it hits you in the heart.

When you experience that moment it is like nothing else, no matter how technically wonderful, that has come before. It is an ease that lies at the level of breathing, an effortless balance that requires only intention to shift direction or gait, an open door that allows access to levels of power at once heady and frightening when first encountered.

It’s the Buzz Lightyear moment: to infinity and beyond.

The Holy Grail of dressage.

If you’ve been riding for a while, and trying to improve, there is a good chance you’ve experienced this—even if for a brief moment six months ago. Quite a number of riders are familiar with that transcendent point. Perhaps it was fleeting, something that happened by “mistake.” Or, if you’re very lucky (not to mention diligent) it was something you achieved and can return to at will. Nevertheless, it is that joining of our souls to that of our four-legged companions that keeps us going, keeps us striving, keeps us getting our butts out to the barn when we’d rather be curled up with a glass of wine and a good book.

This possibility to become one, to join with our noble friend, gets us into the saddle when our bones are too old and our bodies hurt. We smile when we remember the times we touched the dream, and we willingly try again for just one more taste.

Happy riding, people.

If you’d like to see the video Susan is talking about:


300x480 72dpi shooting to killWhen Thea Campbell’s veterinarian collapses after accidentally injecting himself with a horse vaccine, Thea rushes to his aid. Despite her best efforts, the much-loved vet dies. In the wake of this tragic fluke, Thea reconsiders her own cautious approach to relationships.

Life, Thea decides, might be shorter than you expect, and procrastination a death-bed regret.

She immediately accepts her best friend’s last-minute wedding invitation and embraces the planning of her own marriage to fiancé Paul Hudson.

However, on return from her friend’s wedding, Thea has little opportunity to pursue her new philosophy. Her veterinarian’s death has been ruled a murder, his young assistant arrested and accused of deliberately substituting euthanasia solution for the West Nile vaccine.

The only person to believe in the assistant’s innocence is Thea’s sister Juliet. She intends to investigate and begs Thea for help. But Thea believes the case is closed and the police have arrest the right person. Besides, she intends to concentrate on planning her wedding.

…However, the chilling fact is Thea was right about life being shorter than expected. Procrastination is not on the killer’s agenda.

. . . . .

Susan can be run to earth at most bookstores and ebook retailers, as well as the following locations;

Susan Schreyer Mysteries website:

Things I Learned From My Horse blog:

Writing Horses blog:

Twitter @susanschreyer

FaceBook: Susan Schreyer Mysteries

Categories: Books, dressage, Horses, Mystery, riding, Romantic suspense, suspense, training horses, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Cues from Mother Nature

Glory #2


Last evening as I was grooming my horse Glory, I was shocked to see she had already started growing a winter coat. It’s the middle of August, was 102 degrees the day before, and her coat is thickening? My immediate thought was “we’re going to have a cold winter.”

Then I mused about how someone living in 2013, just outside a major city, still looked to the old farmer’s indicators for clues to the weather. Almost everyone else I know listens to or reads the weather reports. With satellite photos, graphs and charts, the meteorologists predict our climate—with about fifty percent accuracy. Those of who deal with animals probably have a slightly better record.

Early this summer the people at the barn where I board Glory were all commenting on how their horses weren’t losing their winter coats. Normally by June, they are sleek and shining, with all the long hair gone. This year they took much longer to shed and some of the older horses never did sleek out.

Turns out the horses knew something even the meteorologists didn’t. It was going to be a cool summer. In fact, in spite of a few high temps, this has been one of the coolest on record for our area. Since thirty degree drops in temperature overnight are common here, those older horses that had lost their muscle and bulk really did need the extra warmth their shaggy coats72 dpi - Lightning storm provided.

Now it appears they are preparing for a early, cold winter. Shorter days, with less light, provide a physiological signal for animals to shed their short summer hair and replace it with a longer, denser coat. Because of this many show barns leave their lights on at night in an attempt to keep their horses sleek. (The lights also affect the reproductive cycle, but that’s a topic for another time.) The rest of us just live with the heavy coats, and maybe use blankets to try to keep them from getting too dense.

But what causes animals to grow heavy coats one year and much lighter ones the next? How did they know to hang onto their extra hair this summer? How does Nature know what the climate will be? I’d really love to know the answer to those questions.

Until then, I’ll continue to monitor my animals and prepare for a cold winter this year. I’ll be curious, come Spring, as to how accurate their predictions are.

How about you? Are there any unusual happenings that you pay attention to? Any cues from Mother Nature?


Weather plays an important part in my novel Forewarning. Take a look at an excerpt to see how.

Categories: Horses, Mother Nature, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Weekend Snippets #12


It’s Weekend Snippets time again and I’m  continuing with a bit from  FOREWARNING, the first book of my Horses and Healing Mysteries series.


I’m also giving a larger excerpt on the Virtual EBook Fair Event on Facebook.  Come take a look at all the great books being featured.


Kasey Martin, an energetic healer who has renounced her skills, awakens in the middle of a storm. When a sudden wave of pain hits her, she realizes that someone–a man–is injured and she goes to investigate.
The three-sided shed gave partial protection from the storm, but the rain had turned the saturated ground to muck. The man rolled toward her with a groan. Definitely a stranger—in his thirties, with dark hair and a muscular build. He was soaked to the skin, clad in a light jacket and slacks that provided no protection from the downpour. Blood from a head wound covered his face. He looked much too pale and his dark eyes were glazing. The beginnings of shock.
Forewarning Cover
Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.  Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.


Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets Snippet Sunday, on Facebook
and also. on the Weekend Writing Warriors website
Happy reading!
Categories: alternative medicine, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Welcome Marsha West

I’d like to welcome Marsha West, author of the newly released VERMONT ESCAPE.  (Yes, I know, a very similar title to my Wyoming Escape. We met online long after both novels had been titled.) Vermont Escape is the story of Jill Barlow, a widow  whose father is murdered two years after her husband was killed. She decides to leave her home and moves to a lovely Vermont town to start a new life. But her worst fears are proven true when the killers pursue her, convinced she has evidence that could destroy their game.

Before revealing an excerpt from her exciting novel, Marsha has agreed to answer my sometimes pertinent and oft times impertinent questions about life, writing and nonsense. Thanks so much for visiting Marsha!


Marsha West.

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

The first people who come to mind are my mother and father. Both of them wrote. My father not as much as my mother, but one of his stories was printed in an Air Force magazine. He was always inventing things. Nothing ever got patented, but the device he created to open canned cream was great. Mom had stories printed in her Women’s Club writing group’s annual booklet. She also self-published a public speaking booklet and two devotional books:  Prayers and Inspirations for Parents of Teenagers and Prayers and Inspirations for Senior Citizens.

Of course, none of this writing business would have been possible without the support of my dear husband, affectionately referred to as DH.

 What’s your favorite dessert?

I have a good friend who makes a dynamite chocolate sheet cake with pecans on top that is truly to die for. It’s just the best. Now, I also like apple pie, but eons ago, I had a friend who made it from scratch. Perfect seasoning, flaky crust, just amazing. But if it doesn’t taste like that, I don’t want it. Since I can’t be sure, I seldom order it. A little weird? Yeah, probably. So now, I’m happy to stick with Julie’s chocolate cake. J

What prompted you to write Vermont Escape? Did you want to say something specific?

The idea is based on a time in my life when the kids were in elementary  and middle school. The whole family had gone on a lovely vacation to Red River, New Mexico. Up in the mountains. Gorgeous views. Moderate temperatures. Great shopping. Fishing for my husband. Can you say paradise? I’m from Texas where in August it can easily be 109 cooling only to the 80s or 90 at night. Stressful stuff awaited us back home, and I didn’t want to leave the lovely mountain top retreat. We half-joked that we could buy one of the little stores for sale, and my husband could practice law. We’d just not return.

Well, only in fiction, do you really get to escape, and we returned to Texas. Ultimately, life settled back into that level of stress we can all manage to handle. But that feeling of really wanting to leave everything (not my family) behind stuck with me and was the basis for VERMONT ESCAPE. When I first started writing the book, it began with Jill Barlow leaving her home in Fort Worth after a bunch of bad stuff happened. Various re-writes cut those scenes from the book, but the feeling of escape still drives her. Pretty much, I’m always trying to show that second chances are possible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, love is out there to be found. That more important than anything is family. All of my books have a generational aspect.

What is your writing process? How do you develop your stories?

I’m a plotter, so before I try to write the story, there are a number of things I have to have in place first.

1)      I need a location. I know most people start with the characters, but I start with the location. Where do the people live and work?

2)      Then I ask myself who lives in that house? Why are they there? What do they do in town? At that point I drag out all my charts and start developing the characters. Not just what they look like, though I’ve frequently got pictures of people who represent the characters as I see them in my mind. What were their growing up years like? Who are their friends, mentors, supporters? I do charts for all but the very smallest of roles.

3)      Then I ask what do they want and why can’t they have it? That leads right into the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart. (Judges of the first book I entered in contests, said I should really study GMC. LOL I didn’t know what they were talking about. That book remains under my bed serving as a holder for dust bunnies. LOL)

4)      Next chart is one for internal and external conflict and it’s from this that the action pieces happen.

5)      Then I put together a tag line and a short paragraph about what’s going to happen.

6)      Then it’s time to write. I let myself write some of the backstory. I know it will go away and only pieces of it will get layered into the story, but I have to write 2-3 chapters of this. It’s kind of how I get into my characters’ minds.

7)      Then I write full speed. Every morning, I read over the last chapter or last pages I wrote to get back into the groove. I’ll edit as I go—typos, grammar stuff that jumps out. Then I write as long as I can without editing. I keep a small stuffed puppy (Scruffy) on my computer to remind me to let the creative juices flow. My internal editor can be a real pill to deal with. Scruffy helps me keep up and creative.  I move the puppy, re-read, edit a bit. Then Scruffy comes back out and away we go. (If I’m editing another manuscript while I’m also creating, I’ll take a day and edit with the pup gone. Then stop and with the pup in place, write for a few days.

8)      If I get stumped, I reference my charts to see who are these people, what is it they want, what’s keeping them from getting it? What’s on the action chart? What’s next? Sometimes you just have to let the fingers go and see what comes up. If it’s on the paper, you can fix it.

9)      When I finish, I put the manuscript away, focus on another project. I usually don’t look at the finished book for 4-6 weeks. Then pull it back out and start major rewrites and edits. Those can take up to 3 months.

10)   This is what I’ve done in the past. It will be interesting to see if this is the same pattern now that I have a published book. There are many things that tug on an author after they’ve got one book published. We’ll have to see.

If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?

No question, I’d be blue-green, otherwise known as turquoise, aqua, aquamarine, teal. I’ve always loved that color, even when I was a kid. Back in the day, I had my colors “done.” Turns out my eyes are a shade of aqua, and I always feel good when I wear the color.

What writers or books have influenced you?

When I first started reading romance again after a twenty-year hiatus, I picked up Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell. Loved the combination of mystery and romance. Boy was I surprised by how much the romance had changed. The door was no longer closed! I also read Carla Neggars. I loved her descriptions of New England. She writes romantic suspense about a couple of families and all their friends. The intertwining is amazing. Don’t know how she keeps up.  I also really love Kay Hooper’s books. She’s a bit more into the paranormal suspense area with less romance, but the romance is still there. If I were going to branch out from what I write that’s probably the direction I’d go. Oh, not with shape-shifters, but more involving the mind or spirits.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few people I’ve taken classes from who influenced my writing: Shannon Donnally, Lori Wilde, Linda Styles, and B. A Binns. The person who made the biggest impact and I believe led to me being published is Margie Lawson.

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

Hot coffee (or iced in the summer) first thing in the morning, but the rest of the day it’s iced tea. I get a loose tea from an Antique Mall tea room. I follow the directions exactly and enjoy the best apricot/mango tea right in my home. Wine for sure. I love the taste of beer (drink it poured over a glass of ice—I know kind of odd, but it’s the way I like it.) But wine is semi healthy for you, and I love the glasses. J Sweet wins hands down up against tart.

If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?

John Corbet?? Maybe, but he needs a beard and longer hair. I’m so bad at this. Should’ve skipped. LOL

What’s your next project?

Just sent off book 5 to MuseItUp with fingers crossed they’ll want to publish it, too. So now I’m splitting my time between edits/rewrites of the 6th book. In Second Chances (the hero is a supporting character in VERMONT ESCAPE and demanded to be the hero. I had to speak firmly to him that he was not the hero of that book, and if he’d back off a bit, I’d give him his own book. That’s what Second Chances is.

But I’m very excited to have started looking at the 7th one. When I initially sat down to write # 6 (It went by the number for a year and a half! I’m dreadful with titles.), the plan was for it to be the first of four books. Four women who met as kids at summer camp and now are dealing with a multitude of issues in their own lives. They get together a couple of times a year. Two live in Fort Worth. One in Dallas and one in Wichita Falls. Not a series where you have all of the same people, and the end doesn’t come at the end. But it will be a series with several characters who overlap and show up in each of the books and each book is complete in itself.


Vermont Escape 200x300

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders, but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. In an effort to protect her grown children, she doesn’t tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices, even the hope of a second chance at love?



Jill Barlow reached for her make-up kit and brushed against the one thing she’d been doing her damnedest to avoid. Her heart rate tripped into overtime.

The package she received days after her dad was murdered. One month ago, but she couldn’t face opening a reminder of the nightmare.

Pictures of her vigorous father mixed with recent images of his closed casket. Nausea hit. Again. Damn. Why would someone blow off her father’s head? She didn’t stay to find out. She ran.

She’d pushed herself on a four-day trip from Texas to Vermont. Emotionally and physically exhausted, all she wanted to do was unpack her pajamas and climb into bed. Habit required she clean and moisturize her face. Habit provided comfort when life was chaotic. Habit could get her through the worst. Or not.

In the Woodstock Inn suite, her hand trembled when she removed the package and dropped it onto the bed where it lay on the white coverlet like a scorpion.

Hands propped on her knees, she leaned over, drew in needed oxygen. A minute passed, and then she straightened.


VERMONT ESCAPE is available at:

MuseItUp                 B & N                      Amazon


You can contact Marsha West at: for Thoughts on Thursday and Tuesday Author Chats!/marsha.r.west  @marsha.r.west  @Marsharwest

Categories: fear, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | 19 Comments


Today I’m posting an excerpt from my short story IMAGES – A LOVE STORY. Unlike my novels, there are no horses but there is a touch of paranormal, another of my favorite themes.

Before I do that, I’d like to mention that I’ll be guest blogging twice this weekend. Friday through Sunday, I’ll have an excerpt from FOREWARNING on The Ruthin Trilogy, a romance book blog.

Then on Saturday, I’ll be interviewed on Sallie’s Book Reviews and will offer a free copy of WYOMING ESCAPE to a lucky visitor.


Cover - Images - 2


Lauren Carmody has a most uncomfortable and unwanted gift. She sees the images in other people’s minds. As a result, she hides from the world and only ventures out when necessary. When she encounters a very appealing man who doesn’t bombard her with unasked for pictures, she doesn’t know what to make of him. Does she dare let him get close or should she continue to hide?





“Can’t get much frumpier than this,” Lauren Carmody muttered, gazing into the restroom mirror. The reflection revealed a brown wig with hair falling forward that partially concealed her make-up free face, while a figure-hiding, too-large blazer, a long, loose skirt and tinted glasses completed the picture. Perfect.

She bowed her head, hunched her shoulders and opened the door. The sound of voices infiltrated the hall outside the Jorrow Publishing meeting room. Pausing, she visualized a golden ball of light that surrounded her and created a mental barrier. When a man opened the door and brushed by her, she gritted her teeth in frustration as a brief image of a woman’s breasts flashed in her head.

Damn. She strengthened her golden light, took a deep breath and entered the room. If only she didn’t have to attend these meetings. Why couldn’t she stay home, where she didn’t have to deal with other people’s thoughts or, more accurately, thought pictures? That was the reason she worked as a freelance artist after all.

She opened her portfolio case and laid a set of sketches on the table in front of Tom, the senior editor. “Here are my ideas for the fairy books.”

Pivoting, she spied Bailey at the other end of the large conference room. The modishly dressed children’s editor gave a small wave and motioned her near.

“What’s going on?” Lauren took the chair her friend had saved her. The room was unusually full for the quarterly editorial meeting.

“The new marketing director is being introduced today. We all want to see him first-hand.”

So that’s why everyone seemed so keyed up and why the images she was encountering—faces, clothes, someone’s tush—were so intense. She really had to work at her boundaries to keep all the overlapping pictures at bay.

“So who is he? Anyone I know?”

“Adam Traynor.”

“Really? How did Jarrow manage to land him? He’s got a tremendous reputation for someone so young. I hear he’s only about thirty.”

Bailey laughed. “Thirty-two, according to his bio. And you should like this. Apparently, he thinks your stuff is pretty awesome. I’m told he wants you to do more books for us.”

“Only if I still work with you.”

Lauren made it a rule to deal strictly with women. Men were more difficult for her to ignore, their thoughts more intrusive. Given that a normal man thought about sex several times an hour, the images they projected could be downright embarrassing. And, depending on the content, could change her perception of the person.

All conversation stopped when the door opened and a tall, blond man in a custom-tailored suit entered.

Lauren didn’t need to see Bailey’s mouthed “Wow” to pick up the reaction of all the women in the room. Eye candy in spades.

Tom, the editor, motioned the latecomer forward. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet the newest member of our team, Adam Traynor. Most of you already know about him. If you don’t, you soon will.”

He then asked everyone at the table to introduce themselves briefly. When it was Lauren’s turn, Traynor nodded and said. “I’ve seen your work. Very nice.”

Keeping her voice quiet and diffident, Lauren thanked him and gave a sigh of relief. He’d looked right at her, his blue eyes alive and knowing, but she’d felt no pressure, no intrusion. Her dowdy look was successful.

The meeting began and soon everyone was down to business. Lauren tried to tune out the discussion as she usually did until it was her turn. Today, however, Adam’s deep voice caught her attention and brought her back time after time. Something about his way of speaking, his whole persona affected her, grabbed her and wouldn’t let go.


If you’d like to read the rest of Lauren and Adam’s story, you can get a FREE copy from:

Barnes & Noble           Kobo                        Smashwords

IMAGES is also available on Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price I could set. If other customers notify Amazon of the price difference, they might price match and set it to Free also.

Happy reading everyone.

Categories: Artist, Love, Paranormal, romance, Short story, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Weekend Snippets #11


I’m back and continuing with a snippet from  FOREWARNING, the first book of my Horses and Healing Mysteries series.


Kasey Martin, an energetic healer who has renounced her skills, awakens in the middle of a storm. When a sudden wave of pain hits her, she realizes that someone–a man–is injured and she goes to investigate. She finds the man lying under a horse shelter, but his pain and her fear make her hesitate and decide to go for help.


The pickup surged backward then jerked to a stop. Kasey dropped her forehead to the steering wheel. He can’t wait for anyone else. She lifted her head and took a deep shuddering breath. Then she visualized a golden ball of energy surrounding her, creating a protective barrier against the stranger’s agony, while a shaft of white light filled her with calm and strength.

Shaken and unsure, she grabbed the first aid kit and a waterproof horse blanket from the backseat. The ground sucked at her boots as she hurried to the injured man, knelt and spread the blanket over him.


Forewarning Cover
 Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.  Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.


Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets on the  Weekend Writing Warriors website
and also Snippet Sunday, on Facebook.
Happy reading!
Categories: alternative medicine, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | 28 Comments

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