Monthly Archives: December 2013
Interesting article on riding sidesaddle and earlier styles of riding. I’ll let this take the place of the blog I had intended to do because the info is really good.
This will be my last blog of the year. I’m going to take time off for the holidays and will resume blogging in the new year. Don’t forget my two Christmas promos.
The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt. http://tinyurl.com/n85tvtn
Win author baskets and discover new books.
Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. http://tinyurl.com/nxyqbxn
Lots of fun authors and books.
The horse was a vital part of everyday Regency life, but few of us today have such an intimate acquaintance with that lovely animal. We all know how to describe someone getting in and out of a car, but what about getting on and off a horse? What does it actually feel like to ride side saddle? How can two people ride a single horse?
The English saddle has changed little in its appearance over the past two hundred years. The major change came at the end of the 19th century when the modern “Forward Seat: was invented and the saddle flap began to be cut “forward” so that it lay over a horse’s shoulder (allowing a shorter stirrup). Prior to this, riders sat very straight in the saddle, leaning back when jumping fences, as seen in hunting prints of the era.
The Side Saddle
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My guest today is Beth Barany, author of a brand new Christmas novella, A Christmas Fling. Based in Oakland, California, Beth writes magical tales of romance and adventure. She’s also a writing coach, helping other writers realize their dreams.
Kate, Thanks for having me on your blog to share about my new romance, A Christmas Fling, a sweet paranormal romance novella. It’s the tale of a Santa’s Elf, a hard-working financial analyst, and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Sally.
Dahlia, a Santa’s Elf, has 21 days left before Christmas to create the best toy in the world without using magic or revealing her true identity. Stuck on how to complete the prototype, and working as a temp in San Francisco’s Financial district with no time for love, will her innocent Christmas fling get her unstuck, or will she turn her back on her beloved career for her heart?
Liam, an up-and-coming financial analyst, swore off women after getting dumped by the love of his life. He just found out his ex is going to the company Christmas party with his rival Michael Hendricks. Up for promotion against Hendricks, Liam has to win the favor of his boss. His best bet is to invite the vivacious secretary Dahlia to the party. Will Dahlia be a welcome distraction, or will she turn his life upside down?
When I was creating my story, I knew I wanted to include a dog and specifically a Bernese Mountain dog. I see these dogs all the time in my Oakland neighborhood. They look so friendly and huggable I thought one would be perfect in my story of workaholic man learning how to have love in his life.
Liam has to take care of Sally for his roommate Josh, who is away at a conference. When Dahlia pets Sally, Liam is surprised to realize he wants Dahlia’s affection, even though he’s sworn off love.
Currently I don’t own a dog. I just have two lovely and rambunctious cats. I did grow up with dogs and cats and a pet rat, and I even had a Hermit crab for a short time. I think pets bring joy and love into our lives. I’ve seen pets diffuse a difficult situation and also bring laughter where there wasn’t any. When I was going through a rough patch in my life, we brought Kitty into our lives. She gave me something to care about other than myself. A few years later, we adopted a rescue cat, Leo, as a companion for Kitty. It’s so much fun to watch them play together and learn from each other.
Readers, Enjoy A Christmas Fling. Here’s an excerpt! Thanks for stopping by!
December 1, Oakland, CA
Dahlia strolled through the small neighborhood park. It was great fun to think about how the children would enjoy her toy once she was done with it, but she had to complete it first. She only had twenty-two days to fix whatever was wrong with it before returning home. She’d gone over her designs and schematics and taken it apart and put it back together a dozen times, but it still wouldn’t work.
Dahlia left the park and headed down the street toward the detached studio she rented on Miles Avenue.
A dog bark had her look up just in time to almost but not quite avoid getting tangled up in a long leash. A man with the warmest brown eyes she’d ever seen gazed down at her, a half smile on his face.
She smiled back startled out of her daydreaming, but not before she noticed his endearing dimple on one side of his mouth.
She said, “Sorry, I didn’t see you. Thank goodness for your dog. Oh, she looks like a Husky.”
Dahlia shifted her bag to one hip, so she could bend down and pet the dog.
The dog wagged her tail.
Dahlia said, “You must feed her really well. Her coat is so soft and luscious.”
“She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. Sally. My roommate’s.”
His voice was deep. She had to look up to smile into his deep brown eyes. He was a whole head taller than she was. Almost two meters. She translated into American measurements. Six foot three or something.
“My uncle, well one of my uncles has one—that he uses for work. But I hardly see him because he lives—” She paused. “I’m prattling, aren’t I?”
“Yes, you are, but I like listening to your accent. Scottish?”
“Yes, wow, you guessed correctly. Most people here can’t do that. Yeah, we’re from Scotland, but it’s been a few generations.” She couldn’t very well tell him how Santa’s elves lived a very long time. It had only been her grandparents that had immigrated with Uncle, known as Santa to most, and some neighbors to set up the North Pole.
“So, you’re in school here?” He waved off toward what she knew was the art college a few blocks away.
“No. I’m here on an independent research project for a few more weeks.”
“So you’re from—”
“Alaska. Well, near Alaska, anyway. I—I best be going,” she interrupted and gestured to her bag of goodies. She shifted from foot to foot on the corner of Miles and Clifton Streets, still tangled up in the Bernese’s leash. “Gifts to wrap. For the kids. Big project.” She gulped and held out her hand. “I’m Dahlia, by the way. Dahlia MacMillian.”
With a half-smile, he shook her offered hand. His grip was firm and strong. “Liam. Nice to meet you, Dahlia MacMillian.” He led the dog around her, slowly untangling the leash.
How he moved with grace and power, even in his simple gestures. He was tall, lean and muscular, broad shoulders identifiable even in his sweatshirt with the UC Berkeley name and logo on it.
“There we go, Sally,” Liam said, his voice a rumbling, soothing cascade.
Sally licked Dahlia’s hand, bringing her out of her staring. She gulped and felt the heat of a blush creep up her neck and onto her cheeks. Dahlia stroked the soft fur to cover her embarrassment. It had been a long time since she’d felt attracted to anyone. Everyone she’d dated at the Pole was so familiar to her, and mostly related. She didn’t have time for a distraction.
She looked up when she heard Liam chuckling. He was shaking his head.
“What?” She couldn’t help but ask.
He shrugged. “I guess I should run into girls more often with my roommate’s dog. I didn’t realize it could be such a pleasant experience.”
“You must not walk her very often then.” Oh my, she was flirting. The Elf boys back home never brought that out of her. She felt her pale skin flush. Och, yes, this was a man, she thought. “Thank you, then. For the pleasant experience. And the untangling.”
“You’re welcome.” Liam said to her, smiling, that one dimple showing again. Then he spoke to the dog. “Come on Sally. Let’s finish your walk, so we can go watch the game.”
Dahlia waved good-bye and turned to go down the street and head for her apartment. But first she had to watch Liam walk away. He fit nicely into his jeans. For a moment, a pang of wistfulness washed through her. She shook her. She had other things to focus on, like completing her toy on time so she could get her Master Elf badge, and even win the Grand Prize.
She was sure she’d be able to make progress on her toy tonight. Maybe it was something about meeting a happy dog and tall brown-eyed man that made her feel hopeful. Yes, she would get her toy done in time.
About Beth Barany
In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music), traveling, and watching movies with her husband, bestselling author Ezra Barany, and playing with their two cats, Kitty and Leo.
Where to Find A Christmas Fling
A Christmas Fling on Amazon:http://amzn.to/18ELyiY
A Christmas Fling on Goodreads:http://bit.ly/1bytk64Photo: A Bernese Mountain Dog by Lori Branham – Creative Commons License
Today I’m going to talk about how horses move—their gaits. Contrary to what the movies usually show, horses do more than walk or run flat out. In fact the most commonly used gait of all, the trot, is only seen if they are pulling carriages. So what is the reality?
You’re probably familiar with the horse’s four natural gaits—walk, trot, canter and gallop. But did you know that some horses have six or more gaits? I’ll talk about the basics first.
The walk is a slow four-beat movement. First a rear foot moves, followed by the front foot on the same side, then other rear foot followed by its front. With this pattern three feet are always on the ground providing a smooth, easy ride. Horses vary greatly in size, shape and energy, but an average walk is about four miles per hour. Some have much faster walks, in the six mph range.
A good rider knows to keep his/her body still and quiet so as not to disturb the horse’s balance. If you allow yourself to move in the saddle, the horse has to constantly deal with a shifting weight that can interfere with his equilibrium. Therefore, it’s important to keep your upper body still—but not rigid. Your pelvis needs to move with the movement of the horse’s body. At the walk, this means allowing each side of your pelvis to move forward and back independently as first one rear leg steps forward and then the other. At a normal, casual walk this is usually no problem. At a speed walk, it’s surprising how tiring that can be.
The trot is a faster two-beat gait where opposite pairs of legs move at the same time. As each pair goes forward, the horse’s back drops a bit, which causes the rider to feel a jar when the feet land and the back rises again. Learning to ride a trot comfortably is a beginner rider’s hardest task. The easiest way is to learn to post, which means rising out of the saddle and sitting back down in rhythm with the gait. Some horses do a slow jog that has very little bounce and is much easier to sit, but it doesn’t cover a lot of ground. If you want to go a long distance fairly fast, you’ll be doing most of it at a trot. This applies whether you are riding or being pulled in a carriage or coach. The trot is the “working” gait for going places. Something to keep in mind if you write about people traveling distances.
The horse’s third gait has a couple of names. If you are riding English style it’s a canter, but it’s a lope when you ride Western. Either way, the canter is a three-beat leaping gait with a moment of suspension, but is much smoother to ride than the trot. Here the rider needs to let her whole pelvis move forward and back with the movement. The canter or lope is a controlled fast pace that allows you to cover ground quickly, for a shorter period of time.
The gallop or full out run is the fourth standard gait and used for racing or fleeing a predator in the wild. It’s a four-beat, stretched out, ground-covering canter that can only be sustained for a relatively brief period of time—one to two miles. Despite what you see in the movies, horses can’t run fast for long periods. Usually the rider stands in the stirrups when galloping.
In addition to these standard gaits, there are a number of additional gaits specific to certain breeds. These horses are unusual and fun and I’ll talk about them next time.
Here’s video about gaits:
***************************************Race photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kubina/185495090/”>Jeff Kubina</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a> Horse walking photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/63942879@N05/10020981376/”>Katherine Mustafa Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a> Horse trotting photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikkis_pikkis/369623604/”>nikki_tate</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a> Horse cantering
Romantic suspense author, Jerrie Alexander, is my guest today and we’re going to switch it up a little. Instead of talking about animals, she’s going to answer some questions, both silly and serious, so we can get to know her better. And she’ll tell us who she’d like to play one of her heroes.
Before we get started I want to remind you of the two promotions I’m part of this month.
The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt. http://tinyurl.com/n85tvtn
Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. http://tinyurl.com/nxyqbxn
Now to get to our questions:
If you were an animal, what kind would you be? (Can’t stay entirely away from animals.)
Hmm, I wanted to say a dog, but only if I could pick my owner. We have a dog somebody threw away…literally. We found him in our back yard, too weak to lift his head. The vet said he’d been traveling and he’d been bitten by a much larger dog, which wouldn’t take much. Buddy weighs ten pounds. So maybe, I’d be a dolphin. They live as a family, seem to be happy, are playful, and protect each other. A bonus is that I love the ocean.
Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, my family. We’re a tiny group as neither my husband or I came from large families, but we love each other!
They do influence my writing. My husband has always told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Who could go wrong with that kind of support? One of the last John Wayne type of character, a little of him is in every hero I write. Our daughter critiques my work. She’s invaluable.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Can you say sugar? 🙂 If it is sweet, I’m there. To pick one is like asking which one of my books is my favorite. If I have to choose, Tarimisu. Love it!
What books would you take with you to a desert island?
Other than, “How to Survive on a Desert Island?” Anything written by Linda Howard. I’d throw in a few Elizabeth Hoyt historical romances (she’s my go to when I need a break from romantic suspense.)
What prompted you to write your book? Did you want to say something specific?
I’ve always loved to write. Many, many moons ago, I thought I wanted to be a reporter and studied journalism. My desire to embellish quickly changed to fiction.
Specific? Maybe that women are strong, resilient creatures. My heroines, in spite of bad things happening to her or her loved ones, play a vital role in solving the problems.
What’s your favorite room in your house?
Our living room. There’s nothing special about it to describe. Couch, chairs, fireplace, and big screen TV. But at the end of the day, it’s where we put our feet up and relax together. It’s where we talk to each other.
What is your writing process? (How do you develop your stories?)
I’m a solid panster. I do a profile on each character. I have to understand each personality, then I decide what the base issue is and to whom. But the story unfolds as I write. Sometimes it generates a lot of rewriting, but as hard as I’ve tried, plotting doesn’t work for me.
If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?
Red! It’s always been my favorite color. To tell the truth, I have no idea why, but if there’s something on the rack that’s red, it calls to me. 🙂
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think so. No ritual or lucky yoga pants. My friends and family would tell you differently. I agonize over the beginning of a new book. Searching for something new and fresh, I worry that I’ll never come up with a unique story line. So I’ll pour over FBI profile books and news stories until I find a scenario that I can make mine. I don’t guess that’s a habit…more of a quirk.
Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Sweet or tart?
Coffee in the morning. Hot green tea during the day.
Most of the time it’s neither. I can drink one glass of wine. Drink two and the next morning, I’ll have a hangover. Hate that feeling!
Sweet! Blue Bell ice cream in particular.
If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?
Along with the character profile, I find a picture for each one. In my first book, The Green-Eyed Doll, Bailey Chase would be perfect. He plays Branch, the deputy on Longmire.
What’s your next project?
No Chance in Hell, book three in the Lost and Found, Inc series. It’s Marcus Ricci’s story and I’ve completed eight chapters so there’s a lot more to be done. Marcus carries a big guilt and hasn’t been happy for a long time. He’ll get there, but I make him earn it. 🙂
Jerrie’s latest book is Cold Day in Hell, book two in her Lost and Found, Inc series.
Ex-Army Ranger Tyrell Castillo’s first mission for Lost and Found, Inc. goes awry when his contact is kidnapped, and he’s left scrambling for weapons and explosives. He’ll have to blow up a drug cartel’s compound, rescue the woman, and keep her safe while they cross the sweltering hot Colombian jungle.
Driven by the need for revenge, Ana Maria Vega Cisneros doesn’t want to be rescued. She wants revenge. She’ll risk her life to ensure the drug lord who killed her family suffers the same fate.
The cartel leaves a trail of blood on their hunt for Ty and Ana. When Ty receives the order to kill the drug lord with extreme prejudice, he and Ana will face the enemy head on. Can Ty protect the woman who’s hell bent on vengeance? The woman he’s grown to love?
Ana Cisneros stood close to the window. Craning her neck to see outside, she was unaware he’d entered the room. With no time for introduction, he reached around and clamped his hand over her mouth.
As expected, he’d startled her. She fought, slinging her body back and forth like a wet dog. She kicked at him, so he whirled her around and jerked her body snug against his.
“Quit struggling. I’m here to help you,” he whispered, trying to sound reassuring. No doubt, with the flames outside casting an eerie glow, he looked like an alien. A man wearing night-vision goggles, geared up with a pistol on his hip and another in a holster strapped to his thigh, and a rifle over his shoulder would scare most anybody. Not to mention the machete sheathed on his back and the SOG knife in his hand. “Do you understand?”
He took the slight movement of her head as a yes and relaxed the pressure off her lips. His reward? She bit his finger and pummeled his ribs with her free fist.
What the hell? The lamb had attacked the lion. He reapplied the pressure while keeping one eye on the door.
“Stop that,” he commanded, impressed at her bravado.
Even through the lens on the night-vision goggles, he spotted a bruise on her cheek. Heat sizzled up his spine at the bastard who’d hit her.
He’d expected fear or panic to be oozing from her every pore, but didn’t sense either emotion from her. Waves of anger rolled off her.
He didn’t have time to reason with her. And from what he’d seen so far, sweet-talking her was out. “I’m going to remove my hand. If you fight me, I’ll tie and gag you. Got it?”
This time he got a full nod. The expression behind her eyes made him doubt her honesty.
“I don’t have time to argue, so you’ll have to trust that I’m the contact you were supposed to meet in Bogota.” Cautiously, he lifted two fingers from her lips and waited to see if she complied.
“I know who you are,” she hissed. “And you’ve ruined everything.”
“Me? I think you’ve cornered the market on screw-ups.” He quickly assessed her condition. Other than the bruise, she appeared to be unharmed. Long dark hair fell around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt.
Damn, she was a little thing. Beautiful, bruised, and pissed. Protecting her as they crossed the sweltering jungle wasn’t going to be easy. This woman was going to make the next few days a living hell.
Contact Jerrie at:
Webpage – http://www.jerriealexander.com
Blog – http://www.jerriealexander.com/category/blog/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerrie-Alexander /121521571355959?ref=hl
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jerriealexander
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/jerriealexander
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/jerriealexander/
I’m down with a miserable cold this week, so I’m going to refer you to an interesting program on the history of the horse–The Horse Power Revolution. I think you will enjoy it. I should be back to regular posts next week.
Don’t forget I’m involved with two great promotions this month. The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt gives you the chance to win gift baskets while discovering new authors and books. Check out all the intriguing offerings.
My book FOREWARNING is being featured on the Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. Come take a look for more great new authors and books.
My guest today is Mitzi Flyte. Mitzi enjoys saying that she got her first writing rejection more than fifty years ago at the age of 12. (Now you know how old she is) That rejection didn’t stop her from writing. Even being a Registered Nurse didn’t stop her. Mitzi’s been published in short story and poetry anthologies and in the local newspaper. She also had an erotic novella published under a pen name (she was still employed at the time). Retired from nursing, Mitzi spends her time online and writing. And, oh, yeah, she’s returned to school to get a BA in Professional Writing. Mitzi lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter who are also writers, an assortment of cats (not enough to be called “crazy”) and a dopey hound dog.
Before we get to Mitzi’s post, I’d like to put in a small promo for the Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt put on by Night Owl Reviews. A group of authors, including me, are offering gift baskets to lucky winners. Prizes include gift cards, signed books, eBooks, jewelry, swag and even a Kindle. This is your chance to find great authors and books and win something too. Visit their site and sign up. http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Pages/Articles/Winter-Wonderland-2013
“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have…”
“All the better to eat you with…”
We grew up with these tales of wolves.
But are wolves really bad-actors?
Throughout history humans have feared the wolf because it is a large predator. At 100 pounds for a male and slightly less for a female, a wolf is about the size German Shepherd. They are usually a mottled gray in color but can be black, reddish brown and even white. They are pack predators that can and do target domestic herd animals such as goats and sheep. However, since records started being kept in the 1800s there has been no documented case of a healthy wolf attacking a human—any recorded attacks were by a rabid wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid. Wolves are naturally afraid of humans and tend to “disappear” into their surroundings when humans are nearby.
Throughout American history wolves have been feared by the farmer and rancher. Over the years that fear decimated the wolf population in North America, which is slowly returning. In parts of Europe wolves were hunted to extinction.
The wolf is a pack animal; the pack consists of an adult pair and their offspring. It takes a pack to raise the pups. The alpha pair may even “adopt” offspring of other wolves.
They have a wide area for hunting prey, are very territorial and will defend that territory to the death.
Humans have taught the wolf survival skills. During the 1800s when the bison were being exterminated by hunters, wolves learned to listen for the gunshots, wait until the bison was skinned and then they would go in to feed on the carcass. In more modern times when wolves were hunted from the air, they learned to avoid wide-open spaces when there was the sound of an airplane.
Once on the endangered lists, their numbers are growing; however, there continues to be a backlash against these animals. To learn more and to help in the preservation of wolves in the wild, go to:
Inescapably, the realization was being borne in upon my preconditioned mind that the centuries-old and universally accepted human concept of wolf character was a palpable lie… From this hour onward, I would go open-minded into the lupine world and learn to see and know the wolves, not for what they were supposed to be, but for what they actually were.
-Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf
If everything we were told about wolves is false, then what about what we were told about werewolves.
Zoologist Kate Riley has spent several days testifying before Congress about the effects of climate change on North American animals and returns home to help an investigation of an unusual death, possibly done by a wolf. Kate owns a wolf preserve in the Pennsylvania mountains and can account for each one in the preserve. Patrick Brendan, another specialist, is brought onto the case and believes that the killer may be more than just an animal.
As the death toll mounts, Kate finds herself being stalked by memories of a distant past and a chilling evil. She begins to doubt Brendan and her own scientific knowledge. Is the killer more than an animal? Is Brendan more than who he says he is? And why is she drawn to a man who could be a murderer?
You can contact Mitzi at:
.photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/5425196221/”>Tambako the Jaguar</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/2475444361/”>ucumari</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>