Posts Tagged With: writing

Alternative Care For Horses


Today I’m talking about some of the changes in how horses are now cared for. In recent years alternative or complementary medicine has become as important in veterinary health care as it has in human care. Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, etc. are now widely accepted treatments for animals and more and more techniques are being developed as we speak. The top equine athletes regularly use complementary treatments. But it wasn’t always this way.

Portia at 29

Portia at 29

When I got my mare Portia over twenty years ago, alternative care for animals was in its infancy and generally frowned on by traditional veterinarians. While I, myself, had tried acupuncture for a chronic bursitis, I wasn’t really that open to alternative techniques. But trying to help my sweet mare cured me of that attitude and introduced me to a new way of looking at life.

Portia was a beautiful, grey Anglo-Arab with wonderful gaits, a very willing attitude and a delightful joy in life. While she could be silly, mostly she was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, after I’d had her for about six months, she developed unusual problems that the vets couldn’t figure out. First, she started having trouble going down hills. Then she began tripping over things if we rode at dusk. Finally she began to stumble and fall to the ground. Now lots of horses stumble, but rarely do they go down. This was weird as well as dangerous. And I had the bruises to prove it.

We went through a variety of diagnoses. Navicular disease—but the x-rays and the lack of response to shoeing changes and medicines seemed to rule that out. Weak stifles—but injections and keeping her on hill didn’t change anything.

This went on for about a year and a half and I was ready to give up on her when a friend suggested trying chiropractic. I hadn’t heard of equine chiro before and resisted the idea for quite a while. Then I heard about a vet who did acupuncture and worked with a chiropractor, and I decided to give it a try. If a vet was supervising, maybe there was some worth to it.

The acupuncture to relax the muscles, followed by chiropractic treatment to correct the misalignments in Portia’s spine and sacrum, produced an amazing and immediate improvement. I was ecstatic! I would have my talented, fun horse back again.

The jubilation only lasted a few weeks, then Portia started having problems again. It turned out that the chiro put things right for a while, but didn’t correct whatever was causing her back to go out in the first place. While I continued to use chiropractic on all my horses, I now began a journey through just about every alternative modality that existed, in an effort to find a solution to Portia’s trouble.

Finally, I encountered a woman who was learning a new-to-the-USA technique called Integrative Manual Therapy. For the first time we got improvements that lasted. She was actually able get to the cause of some of Portia’s problems and many times fix them.

Jacquie’s main work is with people and she only occasionally works on horses. Both my husband and I have gone to her and benefited greatly from her work. Through her I’ve met several other manual therapists, most of whom also work both with humans and animals.

IMT is only one of many alternative techniques that have been more easily accepted in the animal world because the results cannot be simply discounted as a “placebo effect.” When a horse moves off better after being worked on, it’s not a trick of the mind. Something has changed.

Stem cell therapy is another “alternative” veterinary treatment that has led the way to acceptance in human medicine. While still considered experimental by insurance companies, it is used quite commonly on animals. Hopefully, it too will soon be standard in human medicine. (My knees would certainly appreciate that.)

When I began writing fiction seriously a few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to have a protagonist who was a Manual Therapist. The story possibilities were many, and I might also introduce some readers to alternative techniques. The result was my book FOREWARNING.

I’d love to hear your reaction to the heroine, Kasey Martin, and the work she does.


Here’s a small excerpt from FOREWARNING, showing Kasey working on a horse.

Then she puForewarning Covert both hands on the horse and just stood there. After a minute she shifted position and again stood without moving.

“What is she doing?” TJ asked Billy, who had come into the barn too.

Billy glanced at Kasey and gave a shrug. “She’s listening,” he replied.

“What do you mean, listening?” TJ turned to the younger man with a disbelieving frown.

“That’s what she calls it—listening to the body, to figure out what needs to be done. I’m no expert. I just know she does some pretty amazing things. Watch.”

So TJ did watch while Kasey finished her initial assessment and stepped back to make notes on her chart. Then with a determined expression, she placed one hand on the mare’s spine and another low on her left hip. She kept them there for almost ten minutes while talking softly to the horse and Ben. As far as TJ could see, she was doing nothing more than lightly touching the horse.

All of a sudden, Doll let out a big sigh and visibly relaxed, dropping her head low and almost closing her eyes. Kasey stepped away, and tension seemed to flow out of her as well. A few moments later, with a much calmer expression, she moved back to the horse. She continued to hold her hands in different spots for varying amounts of time, changing their position after Doll sighed or yawned. Obviously, something was happening, but TJ had no idea what.

At one point Doll swung her head around and touched her ribs, just behind her front legs. Kasey nodded. “I know,” she said, and kept on with what she was doing. A few minutes later Doll twisted around again and touched her side a couple more times. Kasey smiled and responded. “I’ll get to it. I know it hurts. I need to take care of this first.”

TJ widened his eyes in disbelief. The horse is telling her where it hurts? At that point, he almost left in disgust to go back to the house, but hesitated when he saw how seriously Ben and Billy were watching. Pushing down his skepticism, he decided to wait and see how her treatment played out.

A while later Kasey finally switched her attention to the area Doll had touched. The mare bobbed her head up and down a couple of times, then let it hang in total relaxation. After spending a good ten minutes working on the area, Kasey stepped back.



You can buy FOREWARNING on Amazon
Also at Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo and Smashwords

Categories: alternative medicine, animals, energetic healing, Forewarning, healing, Horses, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Onion Domes and New Writers


MaryPat Hyland.

My guest this week is Mary Pat Hyland, an award winning journalist and author of eight books, including a three-book chick lit series, a parody, a suspense novel, and a family saga . Her latest,  In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, is a short story collection inspired by the characters, gossip and local lore of the Triple Cities in upstate New York.  In addition to her writing she enjoys Gaeilge—the Irish language, music, dance, gardening, Finger Lakes wines and cooking. Today she’s giving us some good advice about writing.


Be sure to click the link at the bottom of this post to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


Five Pieces of Advice to a Beginning Author

1) Never tell someone the plot of your novel or story until the first draft is completed. Why? We write for an audience and if you get a response from someone and it’s positive, then why bother to do the hard work of writing it. You got the affirmation you needed. I speak from experience, unfortunately.

2) Always have a small notebook or smart phone nearby so that you can jot down story ideas when they occur. Inspiration is capricious and you must grab it like the string attached to a helium balloon, or else the idea will swiftly drift away.

3) Believe in yourself. It’s much easier to say than to put into practice. You will get one-star reviews and harsh criticism from editors. That’s a given. Listen carefully though, sift through it and discern what the correct advice is and do what needs to be done to improve the work. Sometimes, you should ignore both, though. No one on this earth will write the way you do, for your life experiences and influences are unique. Make sure to maintain your voice in whatever you write.

4) Do not become a writer for the sole purpose of creating a bestseller. That’s pretty shallow when you think about it. Write because there’s a story within that needs to be shared with this world. Write because it’s the drive that makes you get up in the morning and makes you curious about everything in the world around you. Write for the sheer joy of creative expression. Write because you have to empty your mind of the chatter from the characters lurking around in your gray matter. Write to live. Write!

5) Read a lot. Read often. Read varying genres from around the world. Read the classics; read pulp fiction. Read poetry; read plays. It is through this process that you will realize what you enjoy, see how other authors approach similar situations and how they define characters through choices of voice and description, learn to recognize characteristics of good writing and do it because it’s a good workout for your brain.



oniondomes_cover_kindleBy the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers in New York’s Southern Tier lies a verdant valley called the Triple Cities.

The shoe factories that originally drew thousands of immigrants from across Europe have long moved on.

What remains are the distinct ethnic flavors of a gritty community determined to overcome economic woes, adapt to the rapid changes in society and find true meaning in life.

Consider these eighteen stories as pages ripped from a sketchbook. Some are quick studies; others are more detailed portraits inspired by observed characters, whispered gossip, overheard conversations and the local lore of the residents whose neighborhoods are framed by the gilded Orthodox Church domes that span this valley.

You’ll find that each tale has its own tone: some are humorous or poignant, others are surprising and haunting.





The Author’s eStore



Mary Pat is giving away an autographed copy of In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, six copies of her other ebooks and a piece of original art created by the author. Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to display the Rafflecopter entry form, so please go to:



Categories: Books, Giveaway, New York, Onion Domes, Short story, Triple Cities, Uncategorized, writing, writing advice | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Using Animals To Promote Plot and Theme

DJ Adamson.

My guest is D.J. Adamson, an award-winning author who has recently released her noir mystery novel Admit to Mayhem.  Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest where she sets much of her work. She juggles her time between her own desk and teaching others writing at two Los Angeles Colleges. Today she’s going to talk about how to use animals in your stories to reveal character and theme.



I remember Stephen King once saying that if you were writing horror, you need to put a dog or child into the plot because the vulnerability of someone innocent creates horror without a need for a lot of words or description. In his novella Secret Window, the protagonist finds his dog on his doorstep, killed. Horrible! Immediately the reader feels the protagonist is threatened by someone evil. And the reader is waiting for the next horrible act. Blake Synder’s book Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need picks up on another animal use. Synder states that if the character does something nice, like saving a cat, then the character is immediately endeared to the reader. By the way, I think the Cohen Brother’s offered a giggle to Synder’s book by having their character in Inside Llewyn Davis literally save a cat and carry it around most of the movie. A joke the audience may not have gotten, but those of us who write immediately understood.

I use a cat in my novel Admit to Mayhem, a Lillian Dove Mystery series to do both what King and Synder suggest. I want the use of Bacardi to say something about my protagonist:

Cat Bacardi’s my cat, named for his brown and yellow coloring and my first drinking preference of rum and Coke. At the age of twelve, if you add enough cola, you forget all about the sweet tang of rum. Plus, Bacardi’s hair frizzed out from his body as if he’d stuck his claw in a light socket. When my hair was shorter, I’d woken up many a morning with that same look.

My protagonist Lillian Dove is a recovered alcoholic with a 5 year sobriety; however, sobriety is not a dominate theme in the book. This is not another novel about a protagonist that cannot keep sober (be it alcohol or drugs). Instead, Lillian’s objective in the novel and series is to take on life anew, with all its emotional, behavioral, and mystery challenges. With the description and affinity to her pet, I wanted the reader to get a feel for Lillian’s troubling past without doing a lot of backstory.

The overall plot of the novel begins when Lillian discovers a house fire and she becomes the only eyewitness to criminal arson. She is in jeopardy from someone who wants to stop her from identifying them. The plot is paced with events to create Lillian’s angst, but again, I wanted to offer my reader the vicarious ability to feel her anxiety and fear. So, I put Bacardi in jeopardy:

        It came to me then what was missing.

       “Where’s Bacardi? Bacardi’s missing.”


        “My cat.” I got down on my hands and knees and looked under the couch. Dust bunnies but no Bacardi. “Bacardi, where are you?” …I got in my car and drove one block after another, up one street and then the next, calling his name out into the night… “Bacardi?” I followed behind them, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

        When I did get back to the condo, I couldn’t stay still. I searched each and every cranny I could think where he might possibly have crawled. Then I went back outside.

        I went without the Mustang this time. I walked and walked and walked the night away, calling.

        Several cats answered my calls. They patted quietly up to me purring as they rubbed against my legs. Others merely meowed back a hello. None were Bacardi. I know Bacardi’s yowl. It wasn’t until I came dragging back to the condo, exhausted, with a voice hoarse and feelings of failure that I allowed myself to truly take in the idea, “What if he never comes back? What if something bad happened to him?”


Pike is the major antagonist, and while Lillian may be threatened by Pike, and her mother may be threatened, having him possibly taken Bacardi is almost more than she can emotionally handle.

My novel is an amateur-sleuth novel which I classify as a soft-edged Midwest Noir. But no matter whether a writer is developing a conventional mystery, cozy, thriller or horror novel, the use of animals can help offer themes and provide movement of plot.




With a contrary attitude to life and an addiction for independence, Lillian Dove admits she has not been a success in life. In fact, she considers failing as one of her addictions. Yet, when she comes across a suspicious house fire with a history of arson and murder, she instinctively attempts to help someone trapped. Lillian becomes the only possible eyewitness to criminal arson, and her life begins to spiral out of control.



You can get Admit To Mayhem at:


To learn more DJ and her books, go to:




Categories: animals, Cats, Mystery, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Cathy Perkins


Cathy Perkins.

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

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


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

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

Can I join your pack. Sounds wonderful.

What’s your favorite dessert?

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

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

What’s your favorite room in your house?

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

Sounds delightful. Can I visit?

How do you develop your stories?

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

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

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

Can’t wait to read it.

What’s your next project?

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

Oh my, watch out for those beaver ponds!

What types of books do you like to read?

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

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




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

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

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

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



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

She met his eyes. “I don’t know.”

He waited for more.

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

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



Your can get CYPHER at the following sites:


You can contact Cathy at:

Twitter                 @cperkinswrites

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

Judy Alter


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



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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite room in your house?

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

What is your writing process?

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

What’s your next project?

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

What prompted you to write your books?

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




Deception in Strange Places

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


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




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

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

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

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


Find Judy’s books at:



Turquoise Morning Press:


Learn more about Judy at:

Web page:
Twitter: @judyalter


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

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

Another Snippet


I’m back again with another small piece. Be sure to catch all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.


Here’s a following bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.


Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.


Hiding her shaking hands under the table, Mikela offered a tentative smile. “I’m fine–just not good with loud noises.” Damn, when would she get over jumping at the slightest racket? How long before the memories of dead men stopped haunting her? She took a deep breath and willed her trembling to quiet.

Once she was sure she wouldn’t spill anything, she sipped at her cup and glanced around the small coffee shop. Not much to look at. Whoever was manning the stove knew their stuff, though. The scrambled eggs passing her table were fragrant with herbs and the coffee was the best she’d tasted in a week.

Categories: Cowboys, Dude ranches, Mystery, nature, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, writing, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Falling For You Again


kate curranToday I’m welcoming another Kate–Kate Curran, author of the recently released Falling For You…Again. Kate started her creative journey writing fiction, but got sidetracked to a career in photojournalism, specializing in agriculture. Fifteen years later, she went back to her first love and published three children’s books. Now she has switched her talents to romance. Falling For You is her second romance novel.

Here’s Kate Curran:


Watson Falls

Watson Falls

Waterfalls intrigue me. Always have always will. Their beauty and mystery draw me both as a photographer and a writer. Some of my very favorite waterfalls are in Oregon.  Highway 138 from Diamond Lake to Roseburg is referred to as the Highway of Waterfalls. ( Watson Falls is spectacular. Toketee Falls is on my must see list. And further north, east of Portland is Multnomah Falls. Spectacular. Someday I picture a waterfall in one of my books to add intrigue and color.

My early romance reading days consisted of Kathleen Woodiwiss, LaVyrle Spencer, Joan Johnston, Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Heather Graham. These are the ladies who inspired me to write my own book

What prompted me to write a book of my own?  I’ve always got something to say J.  I would call my stories deeply emotional. I talk about family relationships, and I look for ways to resolve issues. They won’t be perfect, but my characters will learn to communicate and find better ways to resolve their issues.

My current book, Falling For You…Again is about a couple, Clare and Ethan Burke who have basically had a fairytale marriage until their 14 year-old daughter, Grace, dies in a boating accident.  Ethan almost dies in the same accident.  As the story begins two years later, Clare and Ethan are on the verge of divorce until Clare goes missing on a photo shoot.  A blizzard is eminent and they both discover their love is stronger than either of them realized.

To me this isn’t a story about death and dying, but a story of survival and that there can be happiness, and love and an engaged life after losing a child. A fan whose daughter died in her early twenties told me she wasn’t sure she could the read book, but she did. She said it didn’t bring her down, but uplifted her. And that’s what I want to give my readers. A few tears, some laughs, romance and an ending that warms their heart.




They vowed to love each other forever, then grief tore them apart.

Clare and Ethan Burke carved out a life in Paradise Falls, Idaho. While Clare built a career as an outdoor photographer, Ethan taught eighth-grade science. They raised three children and had a happily-ever-after life until tragedy struck and their daughter was killed in a boating accident.

Two years later Clare and Ethan still love each other, but their grief has pushed them to the brink of divorce. Their problems become insignificant when Clare leaves for a photo shoot into the mountains and doesn’t return. With a blizzard looming, Ethan must move heaven and earth to find her.

Will they get a second chance or lose each other forever?


Available on:
Barnes & Noble:


Present day, Paradise Falls, Idaho…

Clare Burke bolted upright in bed.

The hazy light of dawn filtered through the French doors and sent a halo of light over the shimmering image at the foot of the bed.

“Grace.” Two years and two days since her death, and her daughter still came to her, comforted her.

Questions overrode logical thought, but rather than sort through them she blurted out the one that continually weighed on her. “Are you happy?”

Grace smiled that smile that would drive a hermit in search of companionship, then vanished.

Had she been real or imaginary? The lines were as blurred as Grace’s image.

Tears welled in Clare’s eyes, and her heart absorbed a wave of grief. Why had Grace been taken from her? Why her child? All she had left of the daughter she loved were memories. Memories of pursed lips hiding braces, purple-streaked blonde hair and the snort of teenage sarcasm.

The faint light illuminated the sky blue walls. The room should have made her think of wide open spaces, but instead it had become her prison.

She stared at the stack of self-help books on her nightstand. She knew the titles as intimately as she did herself. Learn to Grieve, Living Without Your Loved One and her more recent pick,  The Top Three Reasons Marriages Fail: Finances, Communication, and Emotional Detachment.

The knot wedged in her stomach wound tighter as she stared through a blur of tears at her husband, Ethan, sound asleep, twisted around the down comforter like a deranged pretzel.

When was the last time she’d felt truly connected to him?

Two years and two days.

They’d embraced life back then, now they tolerated it. They were shells of their former selves—colorless imitations of the vibrant couple they’d once been. Back then she would have told him about Grace’s visits. Now they were barely civil to each other. Ethan was here physically. Emotionally, he had become as untouchable as Grace.

The faint shriek of their oldest son, Jack’s, alarm filtered through the adjoining wall.

Tousled brown hair poked above the covers. A pair of matching brown eyes slowly opened and stared back at Clare.

“What time is it?”

Once upon a time that raspy voice had been her idea of a mating call. Now she felt a desperate ache that nothing filled. “Six.”

His knuckles grazed her cheek. “Still a while until we have to get up.”

Clare knew that tone, the darkening of his eyes, the wisp of a smile that had once held the promise of bliss. It would be impossibly easy to say yes, to curl into him and ignore the fact that sex for her had become as tempting as unflavored gelatin.

She pressed his hand to her cheek. “Could we just hold each other and talk instead?” Her words stripped the smile from his face.

He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. “Honestly, Clare, I’m all talked out.”

“I’m not.” She desperately wanted to recapture the closeness they’d shared, and the only way she knew how to do it was by talking.

He turned his head to look at her. “You never are.”

Three simple words and their bedroom became a war zone.


You can contact Kate Curran at:

Categories: Books, dealing with death, death of a child, Love, nature, outdoors, romance, survival, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Sheep and Writing Stories


borrowed chickens.

Please welcome my guest KB Inglee. KB writes historical short stories which have appeared in several print anthologies.  Her story “Weavers Trade” placed second in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Many of her story ideas come from her job as historical interpreter at two living history museums near her Delaware home. And sheep are often her inspiration.


When I was 7 my sister was given riding lessons as a Christmas present. How can that be fair when I was the one who devoured every horse book in the library and turned our back yard apple tree into a whole stable of horses? The first story I wrote was about a horse named Star.

Imagine my surprise when I realized my first novel had not one single animal in it. It was set in a time when horses were common forms of transportation. I didn’t have so much as a cat in the kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are going to write historicals, you need to do the things your characters do. I visited a living history museum near my home and discovered a flock of heritage sheep. I learned to give tours, tell the story of the family that lived there. My first published work (Farmer’s Daughter, Miller’s Son) is a kid’s look at the time period. I hand stitched a set of appropriate clothing. All the while I was longing to get my hands on the sheep. I wanted to do any animal type work my characters might have done: drive oxen, plow with horses, and raise chickens. I don’t remember when I was first invited to work with the sheep, probably I got to feed them when the regular shepherds were out of town. In ten years I worked myself up to head shepherd.

I was of an age where I was happy to move from 1200 pound animals with heavy feet with iron shoes to something smaller which didn’t break bones when it stood on my toes. I have been present at the birth of lambs, had had to put down old and sick animals that have been my friends for years. I can tell you how the industrial revolution changed agriculture and how the market value of sheep has changed over the years. I can process wool from the back of the sheep to the back of the person. I even butchered a sheep.

author vs sheepIf I have a muse at all, it is these animals. Like my protagonist they appear gentle but they will happily knock you down and walk over you if you are in the way. Like my protagonist they are patient and can stand around for hours waiting. If you have food, then they will push and shove to get to it, just as my protagonist will to find the answer to a problem.

If I am stuck for an idea or the way out of a plot problem, all I have to do is stand among the sheep. I can dig my fingers deep into the wool, listen to them breathe, watch them interact with each other and with me and the visitors. It may be a form of meditation.

There are still no animals in my narratives, but I have a whole flock involved in the writing.


Here are some of KB’s stories, available on Amazon.

Joseph's captivity.

“Joseph’s Captivity”, Untreed Reads, 2012
A grumpy Joseph finds himself exiled, not to Egypt, but to an island
off the coast of Maine in the early colonial period.

Fish Nets.

“Netted”, Fish Nets, Wildside Press, 2013
A pile of string helps uncover a murderer

Magic Bullet.

“The Magic Bullet“, Death Knell V, Infinity Press, 2013
An article in French and an old gun provide the clues to solve a series of armed robberies.

Categories: animals, anthologies, history, living history, Mystery, outdoors, sheep, Short story, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

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