Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Mongolian Adventure


My guest today is Paula Boer from New South Wales, Australia. My first visitor from Down Under!

Paula at homePaula started her lifelong love of horses at age 7 when she first rode a pony on a ranch in Canada. Two years later in England, she started weekly riding lessons and became hooked. She competed in many horse disciplines, caught and broke in brumbies, and mustered on remote cattle stations in Australia. Her Brumbies children’s series is based on her own experiences with wild horses. Set in the Snowy Mountains of Australia, the first of the series, Brumbies, became an Amazon ‘Best Seller’ in 2012. Her most recent book Brumbies In The Outback has just been released.

But today, instead of talking about those experiences, she’s going to tell us about a fascinating adventure among the horse people of Mongolia. Take it away Paula.


Turning forty is a major milestone. Wanting to escape the possibilities of surprise parties or reminders of creeping age, I jokingly said to my husband I wanted to go to Outer Mongolia. It wasn’t only the remoteness that appealed to me, but the fact that the country has more horses than people. So we went.

Mongolia 2Horses canter around us across the open grasslands. Their hogged manes and lean hides accentuate their movements, muscles taut and necks stretched low. Riders of all sizes wave their arms, flap their legs and twitch the long ends of their reins to gain that extra effort from their mount.

The annual horse races in Mongolia are a splash of colour against a backdrop of rolling green hills. Clothes and tack are made from assorted materials knotted together or tied with rawhide. Our guide tells us that many competitors have ridden for hours to come to this event. The horses will race more than once over a distance of forty kilometres before being ridden home again.

The horses respond instantly to every command – spinning, barging, galloping or sliding to a halt to gain advantage over the other competitors. Riders jostle amidst an equally raucous crowd cheering on their favourites and shouting advice. The race winds over hills, through rivers and down valleys, the riders knowing the route from experience. No specific tracks mark the way. Cheers and jeers announce the invisible finish line where horses are swamped to be cared for in preparation for the next race.

The day after the race I had my chance to ride these tough horses. Despite having competed the day before, the ponies felt keen as we mounted up. I cantered through flowers that grew as high as my horse’s nose. Suddenly there was much shouting. Turning to see what the commotion was, I was signalled to return. Believing the situation urgent, I galloped back to the anxious guides. I pulled up as they leapt from their horses. Grinning, they indicated my girth had come undone and was dragging on the ground!

That event resulted in a comradeship I hadn’t sensed before. We climbed through vast stands of conifers, the smell of pine needles rising from under the horses’ hooves. We crossed grasslands where the horses nibbled seed heads as they walked. Herds of horses dotted amongst the lush feed in every valley.

Mongolia 3We learned that everyone in Mongolia can ride. There are more horses than people. There are statues of horses, horses carved into musical instruments and furniture, even drawings of horses on their banknotes. Horses provide transport, entertainment, food, drink and income.

There are no fences. The herds roam freely, ownership identified by brands. Twice a day the mares come in to feed their foals tied to lines in rows. The mares are milked for human consumption before the foals are permitted to drink. Children nurture the foals that are to be theirs, creating a lifelong bond. I can’t think of a better way to live.


Brumbies in the Outback

Brumbies Outback book 4Ben and Louise discover that life on a remote cattle station is very different to their Snowy Mountains home. Missing her horse, Honey, Louise struggles to adapt to the outback. Ben has a graver concern: he is desperate to prove that Brandy, his stallion, is fit after a serious leg injury, otherwise he may be destroyed. From mustering and working cattle, to tracking and taming desert brumbies, both friends are challenged by their experiences.



As the sun rose higher, more and more cattle thronged in to the mob. Ben had forgotten how slow a muster started. There had been little for him to do with the experienced stockmen chasing back cattle that didn’t want to stop. Although he’d hoped to have a chance to chat to Jacinta, they needed to keep their separate posts. Looking across to where Louise sat on Splash, he thought she seemed relaxed in the shade. The pony appeared to be asleep; an old hand at this game, he knew he’d need his energy for later.

A shrill whistle alerted Ben. Graeme signaled for them to start walking the cattle out. He had explained earlier how he wanted everyone to work—Ben and Jacinta on the wings, the head stockman and one other in the lead, and Louise with the remainder of the riders on the tail. They planned to keep the cattle close together and move at the pace of the slowest calves.

Ben’s chestnut mare pranced as she closed with a large Brahman bull, his neck hump wobbling with each step. Pushing his horse into the bull’s shoulder, Ben guided the old male back towards the mob. He turned without complaint, lumbering his great bulk with plodding steps. Pleased how his horse responded to his leg aids, Ben patted her neck.

Settling in for a long walk, Ben rode automatically, watching the cattle for any that might try to stray. Every so often, another small group would come running in from the scrub to join the herd, chased from far away by the buzzing helicopter. The heat had returned to the day and dust clung to his sweaty skin. Ben took a long swig from his canteen, letting some of the cool water dribble down his chin. While trying to re-secure his water bottle, the chestnut mare shied.

“Whoa! Steady there!” Ben slipped sideways, almost coming off. Grabbing the mane, he hauled himself back into the saddle. Overhead, a kite flew low with a snake in its claws, the writhing body of its meal casting shadows over the horse. The reptile had been easy prey while slithering away from the thousands of hooves trampling the dust.

“So that’s what spooked you.” Ben shortened up his reins and sat deep, preventing the mare from bolting as she continued to panic. As he brought her back under control, the helicopter appeared from behind a small bluff with a roar.

Too much for the green horse, she snatched at the bit and broke into a gallop.

Categories: adventure, animals, Australia, Brumbies, Horses, Mongolia, riding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Body Language of Horses – Part 2


Last time I focused on the front of the horse—ears, mouth, face. Today I’m going to talk about the other end. The rear is the other important area to be aware of because it’s the most dangerous. The two important indicators are the tail and the legs and feet.

A tail is like a flag, signaling safety or danger. Hanging softly while standing still or waving slightly small_2431865552when moving usually shows the horse is relaxed and comfortable. A tail stuck up straight, combined with a high head, indicates an alert or excited animal. You often see high tails when horses are playing and even ones curled over the backs of exuberant Arabians. A horse will sometimes clamp its tail, just like a dog does, when it is frightened and trying to protect its vulnerable areas. Or it could be clamping to protect against cold water when being bathed. J

In the summer when there are flies about, horses swish their tales to chase away the pests. Usually, this is a fairly lazy motion, but sometimes it can have some force as anyone who has been hit in the face can attest. However this is quite different from a rapidly slapping tail that indicates the horse is angry or upset about something. Be very careful when you see this. A kick may follow if you aren’t careful.

A kick can be quite powerful and damaging. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a frightened or angry blow. On the other hand, often kicks are just warnings and have no power behind them and/or are not intended to connect. Horses often cock their legs as a threat and may medium_132910292even kick out but not actually hurt another horse. Most of the time they kick out of fear and to defend themselves.

This is one reason you don’t want to startle a horse. You always should talk to horse if you come up behind them to let them know you’re there. This goes doubly for touching them unexpectedly. A defensive blow that another horse might barely notice can be much more damaging to a human. One of my horses, after spending most of the day being bathed, shaved, having her mane pulled (which she hated) and braided, and getting thoroughly primped for a show, had simply had enough. Her patience had run out. When my trainer bent down to adjust a rear leg wrap, the horse lightly tapped her on the leg, not trying to hurt, simply telling her to go away. Unfortunately, she hit the trainer’s shin and that did hurt like blazes.

There’s one other thing I’d like to mention about protecting yourself from being kicked. It’s actually much safer to be close to the horse than back a ways. If you’re next to the horse, a kick will be more like a push. If you’re father away, you can get the full force of the blow. You’ll notice most horsemen keep their hands on a horse. This lets the animal know where they are and person can immediately feel any changes in the horse’s body, such as tensing to kick or move.

IMAG0335I mentioned before that a horse might cock its leg in threat. They also cock their legs when they’re relaxed and comfortable. You can tell the difference by reading the whole body language. Is the body braced and tensed? Be careful. Or is the body slack and loose? He’s probably dozing. If he’s dancing around, he’s excited and maybe fearful. So what it comes down to is you need to be aware of your horse and learn to read his body language. Horses have different personalities and you need to learn to interpret his particular dialect.

Categories: animals, horse body language, horse care, horse personalities, Horses, How horses talk, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Summer Splash Blog Hop!


Summer Splash Blog Hop.

And the Winners Are:


$10 Amazon Gift Card



E-copy of Wyoming Escape or Forewarning

Maggie Steel

Ellis Dream




Thanks to everyone for taking part. Good luck with the other contests!


Welcome to the 2014 Summer Splash Blog Hop!


For four days, June 13-16, you can enter to win Kindle Paperwhites, books (many signed), gift cards, jewelry, copy and line edits, and lots more. 


Click on the Summer Splash image to go to the main page with the list of all the blogs. Visit each one to discover exciting new authors AND maybe win one of the giveaways each is offering! We even have a special prize entry for anyone who hops around to every single site during the hop
I will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and four e-copies of my books. The book winners will have a choice of WYOMING ESCAPE or FOREWARNING.


Simply leave a comment at the bottom of the page to enter my contest. Be sure to include your EMAIL ADDRESS so I can contact you if you’re a winner.


Here are a couple of short excerpts to whet your interest.


Wyoming Cover - 5.3x8Mikela stared at the departing cop. How had he gotten into the Kitchen? No way had she left the door unlocked. Even more important, was he coming back? One thing she knew for sure, this time she would refuse to answer any questions until her lawyer arrived.

Worried about the idea of someone snooping around in her business, she trotted to the entrance and opened the door. A familiar acrid odor hit her nose. What the hell?

She hurried down the short, dimly lit hallway to her office. The smell was stronger there and mixed with another much more unpleasant stench—one she had encountered yesterday. She gasped at the state of the room. Papers littered every surface, her file cabinet drawers gaped open and a dark stain spread across the carpet, emanating from the body of a man lying on the floor.

Sam Braddock, the man from the park, lay huddled on his side, his face slack, his eyes glassy. A gun—the.38 Special her grandfather had given her—lay on the rug near the desk.

Mikela’s vision wavered; she staggered backwards and slid down the wall, staring at the lithograph of Paris behind her desk, a symbol of happy times. Paris was safe, Paris was beautiful. Nothing bad happened in Paris. This can’t be happening.

One glance down told her it was real. She pressed her lips together, struggling not to scream, and scrambled to her feet. No one who had lost that much blood could be alive. Yet she crouched over Braddock and felt for a pulse. There was none.

She stood again and stared at the dead man. Why was he in her office? Even more important, why had he been killed—with her gun?


Forewarning CoverKasey frowned and tilted her head. What the heck had startled her awake and sent her pulse racing? She focused her thoughts and reached out with her mind, briefly touching the energy fields of the animals in her care. The horses in both pastures were dozing in their lean-tos, ignoring the storm. In the barn, her stallion Sundancer was awake but unconcerned. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She lay back, pulled the quilt up around her shoulders, and willed herself to relax. At least tonight it hadn’t been the nightmare about Brian that disturbed her sleep.

Her breathing had almost returned to normal when a flash of lightning lit up the room and a blast of thunder shook the house. With a yelp of terror, Goliath leaped on the bed and clawed at the blankets, trying to burrow under her arm. Kasey cuddled him close and let him stay. She knew how much he hated loud noises, particularly thunder and gunshots.

Eventually her pulse calmed and she drifted off. But images of fire and pain wracked her dreams, disturbing her sleep. Her legs began a restless twitching, pulling her awake once again. The earlier heart-pounding anxiety returned, too. Her apprehension increased when she swung out of bed. Then she felt it. Something was wrong with the horses.

She grabbed a flashlight from her nightstand and rushed across the chilly room to the window. Rain blotted out everything beyond the porch. Foreboding tightened her chest and restricted her breathing. Whatever was going on was serious.

She concentrated on the agitated feelings surging toward her and recognized Star’s distinctive energy. Kasey sensed no pain, so the mare wasn’t hurt. However, she was frantic about something.

A sudden wave of pain hit her, sending needles through her hand and stomach and setting her head throbbing. She gasped and braced herself against the windowsill. Someone—a man and a stranger by the unfamiliar feel—was badly hurt. That was why Star woke her. The mare sensed his pain.


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Categories: alternative medicine, blog hops, Books, Dude ranches, energetic healing, Horses, Mystery, Paranormal, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, Wyoming | 38 Comments

Ally Shields


Today I’m interviewing Ally Shields, author of the Guardian Witch series. Her most recent release is Fire Storm, book five in her paranormal urban fantasy set. We’re having fun with some serious and not so serious questions.

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

This is an easy one. I’d love to be a horse, a wild one that ran free in the American West when there were no fences. I think they are the most spectacular animals on earth, and there is nothing more beautiful than to watch them run.
I couldn’t agree more.

What books would you take with you to a desert island?

Tolkien’s Trilogy, a stack of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances, a pile of Agatha Christies, and JD Robb’s Eve Dallas series. I’d still run out quickly, so I hope I would get rescued in the first week or two.

What prompted you to write your book?

I started out to write a traditional mystery, but soon realized my heroine was a witch. I had read several paranormals just before that but couldn’t find any new ones I hadn’t read. So I wrote Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch Book 1) because that’s what I wanted to read. I kept writing the series to find out what happened to Ari and Andreas and their friends. I never know exactly how a story is going to go until I write it.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My office, which is the most creative place.

What is your writing process?

My stories always begin with the characters. Once I know my characters well, I can picture where they’d live and what kind of story they would get involved in; then I start writing and allow each character to tell me their part.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I don’t do anything weird like stand on my head or write in the nude, but I think we all have our quirks. I tend to be a slave-driver until the first draft is finished and maybe the first self-edit, then I begin to dawdle through the next few passes until I’m thoroughly sick of the story. It’s still hard to let it go, and every time I look at it I begin to “tweak,” changing a word here, a sentence there. Eventually I have to just say “enough” and hit the submit button.

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

Coffee, black. Wine, mostly red, but I won’t turn down a good white. I even like white Zin. Sweet definitely, but I also love the combination of sweet and tart.

What’s your next project?

I currently have two books in edit: Wild Fire (Guardian Witch 6) and Cross Keys (an elven urban fantasy), and I have just started the first draft of Circle of Fire, book 7, the final chapter in my Guardian Witch series. I’m already obsessing about saying goodbye to these characters.

What types of books do you like to read?

I read mysteries, urban fantasies, thrillers and romantic suspense. I also have a weakness for regency romances like those of Heyer that are full of humor and wit. Since I was recently in New Orleans, I’ve been indulging in New Orleans’ paranormals, especially those with ghosts!

Thanks for a fun interview! I’m looking forward to your next books.



FireStorm_ByAllyShields-453x680Sometimes you just need to stay alive to fight another day.

Six months ago Ari moved in with the vampire prince Andreas. They defied the vampire elders in Europe, killed their enforcer, and have waited for retaliation that never came.

Until now.

On a trip to Italy, Andreas is captured by the vampire rulers, the notorious O-Seven, and taken in chains to their stronghold in Germany. Ari goes after him, even though it’s against the orders of her Magic Council. She is fired for her actions, losing her special Guardian powers at a time she needs them most.

But the vampire rulers are not through with her or with those who attempt to help her. They launch attacks in Europe and at home in Riverdale. Ari is forced to fight them on several fronts, and victory grows increasingly uncertain.

Her last chance to rescue Andreas is a daring plan that places her in the hands of the O-Seven and relies on untested witch magic, the final hope for their survival.


“The scent stops here,” Ramon said. “They followed it to some kind of circle drawn on the ground, where it ended. To be certain, they’ve searched a half mile radius.”

Samuel and Ramon pulled back the brush, and the group entered the clearing. Ari drew back a step. An oppressive black aura, a dark thundercloud of haze, hung over the immediate area. She didn’t say anything, because the others couldn’t see it, but other remnants of the sorcery circle were obvious to all. The scent of sulfur, the ring of ashes. She moved forward to examine the ash used to draw the circle and recoiled in disgust. Human ashes. Not unexpected because the ability to teleport was produced by a dark arts spell. The most complex spells required a level of power typically achieved through human sacrifice or at least the use of human remains.

She stood and walked the circle. Sophistrina’s coven used black magic to teleport, but this wasn’t big enough to hold thirteen witches. This ring held no more than five or six creatures, and some of them had been werebears. And Sophistrina didn’t use human remains. At least not when Ari knew her.

The air at the edge of the circle shimmered. “Intruders,” she shouted. “Get out of here.” She leaped forward to protect her companions, throwing up a temporary barrier with the magic powder she always carried in her pockets. Lilith pulled both her guns; Samuel began to morph into tiger form, and the foxes snarled a warning, but backed away, ready to run.

Energy crackled, and as if Ari’s earlier thoughts had pulled them in, Sophistrina and her coven materialized outside the prior circle.

“Hold everything. It’s Sophistrina.” Ari thrust out a restraining hand to keep her companions from attacking, but she kept her eyes on the witches, waiting to see the coven’s mood. The last leader of this group had indeed tried to kill her. It paid to be cautious. Especially when they showed up at this particular spot.

“Why do you seem so surprised?” The high priestess smiled at her from the other side of the barrier and cocked her head to one side. “Didn’t you call me?”


You can find Ally’s books at the following online sites:



Contact Ally at:


Amazon Author Page:
Trailer link (Youtube): Fire Storm book trailer:

Categories: fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, suspense, Uncategorized, Werewolves, witches | 7 Comments

Snakes and Alligators and Frogs, Oh My!


Ever had an alligator for a pet? How about a boa constrictor? My guest Susan Muller has had both and today she’s going to relate some of her adventures with exotic animals. Where do frogs fit into the picture? You’ll just have to read on to find out.


Susan Miuller.

Susan C. Muller is a fourth generation Texan who started her first novel at age eleven, but life got in the way and it wasn’t until many years later that she returned to that first love, writing.  Her novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, has won several awards. The Witch on Twisted Oak was released in August, 2013, Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte in January, 2014, and Circle of Redemption in May, 2014.

She enjoys speaking to book clubs and writer’s groups and serves as president of her local RWA chapter.

Take it away Susan.



Sorry, Kate, I’ve never owned a horse. But being from Texas I have been around them from time to time. I’ve even ridden a few. Of course, I always wanted one, but the expense, not to mention the time and effort, prevented me.

I have owned pets, though. And I’m not just talking dogs or cats, although I’ve had plenty of those. I don’t know what it is about boys–my daughter only had hamsters, gerbils, and kitties—but my son had a turtle named Mr. Turtle Green and a gold fish called Chicken Leg. I only realized last year that the poor fish got that name because he resembled, you guessed it, a chicken leg. Don’t know why it took me forty years to figure that out.

Later, my son got a baby alligator. Of course, alligators only eat live food. During the summer, my son held the flashlight while I caught teeny, tiny frogs and Al, the alligator, snapped them up. As the weather got cooler, the frogs grew too big and I had to improvise. I took a small cube of ground meet, tied a string around it, and jiggled it up and down in front of Al. After he clamped down on it, I had to get scissors and snip off the string hanging from the side of his mouth.

Later, as my son got older and Al had gone into hibernation for the last time, he talked his grandfather into buying him a boa constrictor. We named the snake Hercules because he was so strong. Snakes also only eat live food; generally white mice

Not all pet stores carry white mice or, even if they do, don’t necessarily have them when needed. So we got a large aquarium, put a cover on it, and bought two or three mice at a time.

Do you know what happens when you put two or three mice together? You get six or seven mice, and then twelve or fifteen. Many more mice than Hercules could eat in a month.

Hercules may have been strong, but he wasn’t the smartest snake in the world. The first time he tried to catch a mouse, he missed, injuring the roof of his mouth. Have you ever tried to find a vet who treats snakes? For a week, we had to swab the inside of his mouth with some stinky concoction. This was a two person job. My son held Herc, as we called him, and I swabbed with a Q-tip.

There have been many other pets over the years: a Great Dane and a Shih Tzu who were best friends, an Irish Setter who stole golf clubs and brought them home, a Weimaraner who got on the counter and ate only my regular cookies, forgoing my husband’s sugar-free ones, and a cat who roamed the neighborhood on garbage day, knocking the lids off cans until we had to buy several neighbors new cans with locking lids.

As I think about it, I might have saved money with a horse.

But, of all animals, I love dogs the best. When I needed someone to discover a body in my novel, The Witch on Twisted Oak, I picked a Border Collie. I even put the opening scene in her point of view. I thought I had come up with a brilliant new idea. Later I read Robert Crais’s best seller, Suspect, and realized there’s nothing new in the world.

Molly was only supposed to be in the first scene, but I fell in love with her and she became a major character in the story. Here’s an excerpt from The Witch on Twisted Oak featuring Molly and a cat named Bob who may or may not be a witch’s familiar.

Do you have a dog, or a cat, or a horse, or any other fur baby you love?



WitchonTwistedOak_850 (1)A powerful psychic is brutally murdered.  Secrets are revealed.  An old enemy is out for revenge.

Detective Ruben Marquez is thrust back into his childhood memories when he investigates a gruesome murder that occurs only feet from his mother’s home.  Is the killer somehow connected to his own past?  Is the beautiful, mysterious daughter of the victim, someone he can trust?  Or is her revelation that she’s a witch a sign he should stay clear.  But how can he, when it appears she’s next on the murderer’s to-do list.

In the ultimate test of courage, he uses himself as bait to protect all he holds dear . . . his career, his family, and the Witch on Twisted Oak.



Molly had spent fifteen minutes searching for Bob (a cat) and never figured out he was hiding behind a curtain. She had finally given up and made do with checking out the litter box. She watched Ruben with innocent eyes, but a pyramid of kitty litter sat on top of her nose.

Mamacita stuck her head out of the bedroom door. “I’m going to bed now. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Tessa stepped out of the bathroom, her face damp and shiny clean, the last traces of make-up removed. Although why she bothered to wear any with that skin he wasn’t sure.

“Could you wait a few minutes?” she asked Mamacita. “I’d like to feed Bob in there where he won’t be worried about the dog. And he won’t eat if there’s anyone around.”

Ruben almost cheered. He couldn’t have arranged things any better. It was almost worth having the cat around. Almost.

It took ten minutes and the efforts of both he and Tessa to convince Bob to stay in the bedroom and Molly to stay out of it. The dog lay with her litter covered nose pressed against the one inch gap at the bottom of the door, occasionally letting out a pathetic wine.

Mamacita scooted as far down the sofa, away from Tessa, as she could get. The only difference in her actions and the cat’s was that her claws hadn’t come out. He looked again. Well, maybe they had.


Amazon:  The Witch on Twisted Oak:

Amazon author page:


Twitter:  @SusanCMuller

Facebook: Susan C. Muller, Author





Categories: alligators, animals, boa constrictors, Dogs and cats, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 21 Comments

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