Monthly Archives: May 2014

Guesting on “Stilettos at High Noon”



Today I’m a guest on “Stilettos at High Noon,” a blog devoted to Western romance fiction, and I’m talking about horses in the old West. Rather than have two blogs on the same day, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop by Stilettos and take a look. And hopefully comment.




In a little over two weeks, June 13-16, I’ll be taking part in the Summer Splash Blog Hop. Stay tuned for details on how you can win books and lots of other prizes.


Summer Splash

Categories: Cowboys, Horses, old West, riding, rodeos, romance, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

My Dope-y Cat


Janis WilsonThis week’s  guest is Janis Wilson, who is working on her first novel.  GOULSTON STREET is a story of a woman’s attempt to solve the Jack the Ripper murders. Janis has a great deal of experience with the Ripper. She taught a class at Temple University entitled, “Who Was Jack the Ripper?” and has lectured on the Ripper. Last November, she was one of the delegates to the Jack the Ripper conference in Whitechapel. Go Janis!

Today she’s going to be talking about a much less gruesome topic—her Maine Coon cat, Loki.



I had always wanted a solid black Maine Coon, the fluffy cat with the regal bearing. They are called gentle giants because of their pacific nature and their impressive size. We wanted a black one because I have always had and loved black cats. They seem mysterious and glamorous.

LokiSo it was a pleasant surprise when my husband and I, motoring from Virginia to Canada on vacation, happened to spot a classified ad for just such an animal at a price that people who vacation in their automobiles could afford.

The ad appeared in the Washington Post and, as we were not immediately shopping for a cat, it was just black cat luck that we happened to spot it. We phoned the owner just before we left Washington but did not connect.

In New York, we were able to get through and explained why we could not immediately come and purchase the kitten. We agreed to stay in touch with the owner and to meet up on our return trip.

And so, having seen plays on Broadway and at the Stratford (Toronto) Festival, we turned the car southward and started making calls. The kitty lived in Maryland and we made arrangements to meet the owner in a shopping center near the interstate.

The advertiser described the van she would be driving and we pulled into a spot beside it. I climbed into the van to meet the prospective new member of our family. We wanted a cat that would get along with our other two kitties. The kitten permitted me to pet him. To my astonishment, he sat in my lap as if we were old friends. I knew we had a winner. I climbed down and gave a full report to my husband. He entered the van and also was taken with the sweetness of the little black cat.

As we had not been on the hunt for a cat, we had no supplies. I walked into a discount store and purchased a carrier to ensure the kitten’s safe passage to Virginia. Meanwhile, my husband hit the ATM to get cash for the transaction.

I returned to the van with a fist full of cash and departed with a crate full of cat. It struck me that, with my out-of-state vehicle, and my repeated ingress and egress into a windowless van with a couple of hundred dollars in cash, an onlooker might think a big drug deal was in progress.

In fact, it may have been. For the kitten, whom we named Loki, gave us so much pleasure in the ensuing years, that he acted as a mild sedative.


Here’s an excerpt from Janis’s Work-In-Progress, GOULSTON STREET.


jacktheripper“Lord, she was drunk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody as drunk as she was, sliding down the wall and all. Drunk as she was, she still agreed to come along and have another gin with me and to do whatever I could pay her to do. I didn’t give her the chance to do her filthy business. I made her do the paying – with her worthless life.

I put on my cloth cap and walked to the news agent’s to purchase the Daily News. I smiled as I read the headline that said “More Murders.” The article went on to say two women had been killed in one night. The first one was on Berner Street, but this was a surprise to me. Now they think I’m even quicker than I really am.

They should know the first one wasn’t done by me. I wouldn’t have left her guts inside her. They should know my work by now. I get a whore and cut her throat and pull out her insides and walk off with the other parts. No whore deserves to keep her guts, so I take ’em out. No, sir, I did not kill the Berner Street woman, but I am glad they think I did. I worked on the one found over by the Imperial Club. Wonder what her name was? Doesn’t matter. I got to kill another whore and get my arms into the bloody mess of her belly. I was inside her up to my elbows. Nothing is more thrilling than cutting out the womb. It was lovely and warm when I put it in my sack. I had to take it home. It was too dark out for me to admire it properly. Besides, someone came out of the club and I had to run like a maniac to get away safe.

Why do these whores keep coming out? Because they know they deserve to die and that I am here to help them do it. Whores don’t have the courage they need to throw themselves in the Thames, so I help them to stop being a scourge on the community. Help them with my knife. I help the whole city with my knife.

Wouldn’t my boss be surprised if he knew I am the one they call “Jack the Ripper.” Shows they think I am English, naming me Jack. Like the Union Jack. But if I were English I would have been better treated. No tolerance for foreigners in this country. Probably some newspaperman made up that name, but it is all right. Now I have a title and people will remember me better. They will never find me for I am quick and nimble. They should call me “Jack be nimble”, for I can pull bellies apart in the blink of an eye and get my work done quicker than they can say “Jack Robinson.”

With Scotland Yard thinking I fixed two in one night, the peelers will be everywhere. I will have to lie low until people’s blood cools down. I’ll wait until no one expects me anymore. The papers say somebody who goes by the name “Leather Apron” has done my deeds. That was good for a laugh. Let them arrest him and I’ll go to the hanging. I will keep an eye on the newspaper to see if they get any better ideas about who I am.



Death Knell V

Catch Janis’s short story The Devil’s Triangle in the Death Knell V anthology put out by the Delaware Valley Mystery Authors.

Ripper Newspaper photo credit: <a href=””>Bradford Timeline</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Categories: anthologies, Cats, fear, history, Jack the Ripper, Maine Coon cats, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Horses’ Body Language


Sorry for being a little late today. The computer gods were being difficult.

horse headLast time I talked about how horses communicate with sounds. While humans are naturally most focused on vocalizations, the horse’s most important form of communication is by body language. The variety and complexity is actually quite astounding.

If you see a horse with its ears back and pinned to its head, eyes slitted, nose tight, and head snaked forward in an aggressive manner, I hope you would realize that the animal is upset or angry about something. And that you would have enough sense to stay away. On the other hand, a horse with its ears forward, eyes open, nose relaxed, and head slightly extended is interested in something and possibly looking for a treat. That’s a horse you can approach (with the owner’s permission). Between these two extremes are a wealth of expressions that indicate what is going on with a horse. And this is just looking at the head.

The ears are like miniature radar cones and they tell you where the horse is focused. Ears rigidly forward with the head high, eyes wide and nostrils flared says he’s on high alert and looking at something exciting or scary and debating about departing the scene. Since horses are prey animals, their first response to something frightening is to flee. That plastic bag may be a horse-eating monster!

A slightly modified version of this, with the head down and a curious expression, indicates something interesting to explore. Again, as prey animals, it’s important for them to investigate their environment to determine if something is a threat, so they have a strong sense of curiosity. And an even stronger desire to play. My Portia was initially scared of the pink unbarrel racericorn piñata hanging from a tree near the pasture and high-tailed it back to the barn. When a crowd of kids gathered around it and began playing with it, she couldn’t contain her curiosity and crept back up to the fence. Each time someone whacked at the toy and sent it swinging, she’d run away, then stop and turn to watch. In a few minutes, she was back at the fence again. I think she was quite disappointed when it finally broke.

Ears that are swiveled backwards are quite different from angry, pinned ones. These mean the horse is focused on something behind him, hopefully the rider. You see this quite often in training sessions and in the show ring. The horse is paying close attention to the rider’s commands. You’ll also see one ear turned back and the other forward or sideways. This indicates a divided attention, with something that the horse needs to keep an eye and ear on.

horses on beachSometimes you’ll see the ears flopped sideways, with the head down and eyes half closed, indicating a totally relaxed, unconcerned attitude. This is great when lazing around in the pasture. However, on the trail a spaced-out horse could be suddenly startled and react in a way that may unseat its rider. Personally I prefer a horse that’s paying some attention to its surroundings.

Learning to read horse body language is a skill that takes time to develop. Also, not all horses are alike, so you need to be aware of the individual. But if you’re going to be around them (or write about them), it’s a vital knack to develop. This post focused on the head. Next time I’ll talk more about the rest of the body.



Horses on beach: photo credit: <a href=””>nick see</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Horse head: photo credit: <a href=””>Tambako the Jaguar</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Barrel racer: photo credit: <a href=””>Al_HikesAZ</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Categories: animals, horse care, horse power, Horses, How horses talk, nature, riding, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Writer Victory!—Identify Problem Areas

Great post on what it takes to succeed as a writer.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Last post we talked about the first letter in our acrostic for VICTORY—voluntarily submit. I feel those of us in Western societies have a hard time with the word submit because we’ve redefined the word in a negative way. If we submit, we’re weak. Untrue! There is tremendous power in the act of submitting.

When we submit, we’re able to let go of what we can’t control. We’re more maneuverable when we encounter resistance, setbacks or criticism. Instead of breaking, we can bend and move and use negative energy in our favor.

Nature clearly demonstrates the strength and resilience submission offers. This is why palm trees thrive in coastal areas hit by hurricanes. They bend in high winds and submit. When the storm passes, they spring back.

Here in North Texas we have a lot of Live Oaks. Though oaks are tough trees, if one looks closer and…

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A Horse by Any Other Name


Robin WeaverMy guest this week is Robin Weaver and she’ll be talking about a most unusual sort of horse. She’s a professional computer geek who started writing extensively when she traded in her ski boots for flip-flops and moved to North Carolina. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her toes in the sand or appreciating nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her novels, Blue Ridge Fear, and Artifact of Death, are currently available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Wild Rose Press.

She also writes paranormal romance under the alias Genia Avers and her novel FORBIDDEN MAGIC was a 2013 PRISM finalist. A Golden Heart finalist and winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier contest, she has one constant: a HEA.


Carousel horseOriginally, Forbidden Magic was a story about vampires—vampires living on a planet without homeotherms (warm-blooded creatures). I wrote the manuscript when vamps were hot, thinking I’d given the old Dracula story a unique twist. Not so much. By the time my manuscript made it to an interested publisher, all the life had been sucked out of vampire books.

Still, the editor liked my concept and asked if I could change my characters to another life form. “Sure. No problem,” I said, making the sign of the cross.

Stop laughing. J

I needed a dozen or so crosses and even more wooden stakes (and lots of wine), but I managed to convert the vamps into álfar and Dökkálfar (light and dark elves) without sacrificing my characters or plot. What I didn’t have to change were my equestors.

“E-what?” you ask. The original (and final) version of Forbidden Magic had a medieval feel. You can’t write that period without including a non-mechanical form of transportation, i.e., horse-drawn carriages. Unfortunately, with no warm-blooded animals on the planet, I had a problem.

So I did what Houston would do—I built a horse. I envisioned a cross between a flexible carousel horse and R2-D2. In the book, I purposely left descriptions of my hybrid horses vague. I wanted readers to create their own unique images of the magnificent beasts.

Naturally I couldn’t call these non-horses horses. My first pass at naming the animals was Equinators—but that sounded too much like something involving a roto-rooter, so I kept the root of the word, “Eq” and combined it with adventurers. With a little tweaking, the EQUESTOR was born.

I try to make my heroines very different from the author (me), i.e., not “younger and improved” versions of myself. However, in Forbidden Magic, Subena shares my love of horses.

He’d heard she was an excellent rider but doubted the poor creatures he’d seen in the Mydrian stables could even manage a trot. Maybe if he let her ride a real equestor, Subena would thaw a bit. Hell, he’d give her his steed if she’d smile at him like that.

And once I created the beast, I had a lot of fun with the word:

“You…you…equestor’s ass.”

Still, I tried to keep the hybrid as close to the real animal as possible, even hinting the equestor might be descended from a “real horse.”

Arkton grinned. “There’ve been animals here as long as I can remember. Legend has it Rothart’s grandfather bred one of the local mares with a real horse, brought from earth to this planet.”

Subena suppressed a smile. Gatslians had a legend for everything—there was no such thing as a horse.

Creating the equestor was one of the most enjoyable parts of my novel-completion process. Writing is hard work, so if you have the opportunity, have some fun and create your own equestor. J

Happy writing!

Robin Weaver (a.k.a. Genia Avers)


Forbidden MaagicFORBIDDEN MAGIC is the first novel in a series of romantic adventures chronicling the intercultural challenges as Mydrias and Gastle attempt to resolve their differences and return to earth.

Subena’s people are dying. To obtain the crystals the álfar need to survive, she agrees to a treaty with the hated Gatslians. King Rothart has but one demand—she must wed his son, Prince Kamber. Subena vows the marriage will be in name only, but she is ill prepared for an attraction stronger than the ancient magic lying dormant in the land. Add to the chaotic mix a former suitor, a phantom lover, attempted murder, and an invasion by hostile troops, and Subena’s world isn’t what it used to be. Ancient skills might shield her body, but she possesses no power to protect her heart. Can she fight his former paramour and keep the seductress from laying claim to the man who’s made his imprint on Subena’s soul? Or is love as much of an illusion as a return to the planet Earth?



Forbidden Flame




Forbidden Twice

Categories: Books, elves, fantasy, Horses, Paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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