Posts Tagged With: writing

Jerrie Alexander

Jerrie Alexander.

Romantic suspense author, Jerrie Alexander, is my guest today and we’re going to switch it up a little. Instead of talking about animals, she’s going to answer some questions, both silly and serious, so we can get to know her better. And she’ll tell us who she’d like to play one of her heroes.

Before we get started I want to remind you of the two promotions I’m part of this month.

The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt. http://tinyurl.com/n85tvtn

Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. http://tinyurl.com/nxyqbxn

Now to get to our questions:

If you were an animal, what kind would you be? (Can’t stay entirely away from animals.)
Hmm, I wanted to say a dog, but only if I could pick my owner. We have a dog somebody threw away…literally. We found him in our back yard, too weak to lift his head. The vet said he’d been traveling and he’d been bitten by a much larger dog, which wouldn’t take much. Buddy weighs ten pounds. So maybe, I’d be a dolphin. They live as a family, seem to be happy, are playful, and protect each other. A bonus is that I love the ocean.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, my family. We’re a tiny group as neither my husband or I came from large families, but we love each other!
They do influence my writing. My husband has always told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Who could go wrong with that kind of support? One of the last John Wayne type of character, a little of him is in every hero I write. Our daughter critiques my work. She’s invaluable.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Can you say sugar? 🙂 If it is sweet, I’m there. To pick one is like asking which one of my books is my favorite. If I have to choose, Tarimisu. Love it!

What books would you take with you to a desert island?
Other than, “How to Survive on a Desert Island?” Anything written by Linda Howard. I’d throw in a few Elizabeth Hoyt historical romances (she’s my go to when I need a break from romantic suspense.)

What prompted you to write your book? Did you want to say something specific?
I’ve always loved to write. Many, many moons ago, I thought I wanted to be a reporter and studied journalism. My desire to embellish quickly changed to fiction.

Specific? Maybe that women are strong, resilient creatures. My heroines, in spite of bad things happening to her or her loved ones, play a vital role in solving the problems.

What’s your favorite room in your house?
Our living room. There’s nothing special about it to describe. Couch, chairs, fireplace, and big screen TV. But at the end of the day, it’s where we put our feet up and relax together. It’s where we talk to each other.

What is your writing process? (How do you develop your stories?)
I’m a solid panster. I do a profile on each character. I have to  understand each personality, then I decide what the base issue is and to whom. But the story unfolds as I write. Sometimes it generates a lot of rewriting, but as hard as I’ve tried, plotting doesn’t work for me.

If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?
Red! It’s always been my favorite color. To tell the truth, I have no idea why, but if there’s something on the rack that’s red, it calls to me. 🙂

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think so. No ritual or lucky yoga pants. My friends and family would tell you differently. I agonize over the beginning of a new book. Searching for something new and fresh, I worry that I’ll never come up with a unique story line. So I’ll pour over FBI profile books and news stories until I find a scenario that I can make mine. I don’t guess that’s a habit…more of a quirk.

Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Sweet or tart?
Coffee in the morning. Hot green tea during the day.
Most of the time it’s neither. I can drink one glass of wine. Drink two and the next morning, I’ll have a hangover. Hate that feeling!
Sweet! Blue Bell ice cream in particular.

If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?bailey chase 1
Along with the character profile, I find a picture for each one. In my first book, The Green-Eyed Doll, Bailey Chase would be perfect. He plays Branch, the deputy on Longmire.

What’s your next project?
No Chance in Hell, book three in the Lost and Found, Inc series. It’s Marcus Ricci’s story and I’ve completed eight chapters so there’s a lot more to be done. Marcus carries a big guilt and hasn’t been happy for a long time. He’ll get there, but I make him earn it. 🙂

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Jerrie’s latest book is Cold Day in Hell, book two in her Lost and Found, Inc series.

Cold-Day-In-HellEbook200x300Ex-Army Ranger Tyrell Castillo’s first mission for Lost and Found, Inc. goes awry when his contact is kidnapped, and he’s left scrambling for weapons and explosives. He’ll have to blow up a drug cartel’s compound, rescue the woman, and keep her safe while they cross the sweltering hot Colombian jungle.

Driven by the need for revenge, Ana Maria Vega Cisneros doesn’t want to be rescued. She wants revenge. She’ll risk her life to ensure the drug lord who killed her family suffers the same fate.

The cartel leaves a trail of blood on their hunt for Ty and Ana. When Ty receives the order to kill the drug lord with extreme prejudice, he and Ana will face the enemy head on. Can Ty protect the woman who’s hell bent on vengeance? The woman he’s grown to love?

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Excerpt:

Ana Cisneros stood close to the window. Craning her neck to see outside, she was unaware he’d entered the room. With no time for introduction, he reached around and clamped his hand over her mouth.

As expected, he’d startled her. She fought, slinging her body back and forth like a wet dog. She kicked at him, so he whirled her around and jerked her body snug against his.

“Quit struggling. I’m here to help you,” he whispered, trying to sound reassuring. No doubt, with the flames outside casting an eerie glow, he looked like an alien. A man wearing night-vision goggles, geared up with a pistol on his hip and another in a holster strapped to his thigh, and a rifle over his shoulder would scare most anybody. Not to mention the machete sheathed on his back and the SOG knife in his hand. “Do you understand?”

He took the slight movement of her head as a yes and relaxed the pressure off her lips. His reward? She bit his finger and pummeled his ribs with her free fist.

What the hell? The lamb had attacked the lion. He reapplied the pressure while keeping one eye on the door.

“Stop that,” he commanded, impressed at her bravado.

Even through the lens on the night-vision goggles, he spotted a bruise on her cheek. Heat sizzled up his spine at the bastard who’d hit her.

He’d expected fear or panic to be oozing from her every pore, but didn’t sense either emotion from her. Waves of anger rolled off her.

He didn’t have time to reason with her. And from what he’d seen so far, sweet-talking her was out. “I’m going to remove my hand. If you fight me, I’ll tie and gag you. Got it?”

This time he got a full nod. The expression behind her eyes made him doubt her honesty.

“I don’t have time to argue, so you’ll have to trust that I’m the contact you were supposed to meet in Bogota.” Cautiously, he lifted two fingers from her lips and waited to see if she complied.

“I know who you are,” she hissed. “And you’ve ruined everything.”

“Me? I think you’ve cornered the market on screw-ups.” He quickly assessed her condition. Other than the bruise, she appeared to be unharmed. Long dark hair fell around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt.

Damn, she was a little thing. Beautiful, bruised, and pissed. Protecting her as they crossed the sweltering jungle wasn’t going to be easy. This woman was going to make the next few days a living hell.

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Buy Links:
Amazon:  http://goo.gl/nXU8QV   Available in print or Ebook
Barnes & Noble:  http://goo.gl/zTOA2i    Available in print

Contact Jerrie at:
Webpage – http://www.jerriealexander.com
Blog – http://www.jerriealexander.com/category/blog/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerrie-Alexander /121521571355959?ref=hl
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jerriealexander
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/jerriealexander
Google+  – https://plus.google.com/u/0/
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/jerriealexander/

Categories: Books, Cowboys and Lawmen, lawmen, Mystery, outdoors, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Top Ten Reasons I’m Thankful To Be A Writer

ElysaHeadShotRFP_4116.

Elysa Hendricks is the author of 14 full-length books, ranging from sweet contemporary to sexy sci-fi, as well as numerous short stories.  Her “real life” motto is: Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated, so she saves the adventure and excitement for the characters in her books.

In keeping with the season, today she is talking about the Top Ten Reasons She’s Thankful to be a Writer.

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With Thanksgiving approaching I thought I’d talk about some of the reasons why I’m thankful I’m a writer rather than a veterinarian or an artist. (Those were my other choices, but I I’m terrible at math and science, and the only thing I can paint with is words.)

10.  I’m thankful for my family and friends, because they give me a ton of bat-shit crazy material to work with. Of course, I always change the names and descriptions to protect the guilty.

9.  My health. Not having the stress of office politics or commuting in traffic keeps my blood pressure close to normal. And since I don’t go out much I’m not exposed to nasty germs. Of course, I do need to stop eating chocolate while I’m writing, and get up and move a bit before I meld to my chair.

8.  I love being able to spend hours online researching stuff without feeling like I’m wasting time. Even the time I “waste” playing Solitaire (the one game I play on my computer) isn’t really wasted. While I’m matching cards I’m also plotting the comeuppance of the villain or figuring out how to get my hero and heroine alone together.

7.  Wealth – cashing large royalty checks from the sales of my books. Well, I can dream, can’t I? A career as a writer might not be the path to monetary riches, but I’m more than compensated for my hard work in personal achievement and satisfaction.

6.  Having a vivid imagination, I can spend time in other places, times, and realities. I can climb mountains, fly planes and space ships, skydive, drive racecars and motorcycles, kill zombies or aliens, chase serial killers or terrorists, and have sex with a bad boy or two without taking any real physical risks or cheating on my loving husband.

5.  Being a writer allows me to work from home or anywhere I want. Under an umbrella on a tropical beach while a cute cabana boy brings me frozen Margaritas is my ultimate goal.

4.  When people annoy me I can write them into a story then torture and kill them without ending up in jail.

3.  I find it wonderful that being a writer I’m never bored or lonely. No matter what’s happening in my “real” life, I can escape into my fictional worlds. I can talk to my numerous imaginary friends and not end up in a padded room. They’re always telling me stories and nagging me to write them down. I often wonder what people who don’t write think about while they’re waiting in the doctor’s office or at the mechanic’s.

2.  I’m eternally indebted to my long-suffering husband who supports my writing and me. Otherwise I’d have to go out and get a job that pays money.

1.  And most of all I’m appreciative of the many readers who’ve told me how my stories have touched their lives.

These are just a few of the things I’m grateful for as a writer. What are you thankful for?

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Thomas Cash (TC) Riley is mad, bad and – dead. Killed in a one car-wreck, the twenty-nine-year old playboy is given one last chance to redeem himself for living a selfish, unfulfilled life and to determine his soul’s final destination.

To help his young daughter recover from the loss of her mother, Daniel Bishop, a widower who dislikes the country and is allergic to anything with fur, has moved back to his wife’s rural hometown to be close to her large family.

Katherine Sinclair, the local veterinarian and the single mother of an adventurous ten-year old son, is wary of the handsome newcomer. Once before she’d given her heart to a wealthy, charming man and she’d ended up pregnant and alone.

With the help of a lonely little girl and a brash young boy, can TC find a way to bring these two damaged people together? Can he remember his past and save his soul in the allotted time?

And can he do it all as a cat?

Excerpt:

“Mom, you’re squeezing too hard.”

JT complained, but Kat could feel him trembling and his heart raced in time with hers. She gripped his arms and thrust him out from her.

“That was the most foolish, dangerous stunt. You could have been badly hurt. If it wasn’t for this man. . .” Her voice trailed off as she looked up at the man now standing next to them. Her gaze traveled up his khaki-clad legs, skipped quickly past his slim hips over his broad chest to his face. The crowd of people – ancient, fussy Amelia Muellner with her troop of yapping Chihuahuas, George Baker and his hunting dog, young Timmy Widowski and his mother with his sick rabbit, and Missy Taylor and her cat – clustered around them, chattering and gesturing in excitement, faded away.

With the man’s body in silhouette against the sun, she couldn’t see his features, but like a stately oak tree in the middle of field of brambles, he radiated an aura of calm, of solid strength, someone to cling to when the weather turned mean and ugly.

Something twisted painfully inside Kat. Though her grandfather had always been there for her, in the last few years his health had failed and his mind had drifted to the past. She’d had to become the strong one, physically and emotionally. Then he’d died. Now there was no one in her life she could lean on, depend on, count on to be there for her when things got rough.

Anger at her weakness, her need for what she knew she’d never have sharpened her tone. “Thank you.” She saw the man recoil, but before she could start again, JT, fear forgotten jumped in without reservation.

“Man that was awesome, better than a carnival ride. Thanks. You saved my a -”

“JT,” Kat growled a warning.

“Butt,” JT amended quickly with a grin.

She stood, smiled and held out her hand to the man. “I’m Dr. Clark, Katherine Clark, Kat to my friends.”

A thrill ran up her arm as his strong, warm fingers closed around hers. With a nervous laugh she snatched them away. “Thank you again.”

“Daniel Bishop, and this is my daughter, Alana.” He laid his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Kat recognized the name. He was Hannah Sager’s husband – widower. Try as Kat did, she couldn’t avoid hearing small town gossip. Hannah’s death had hit the close-knit Sager clan hard. Tall, thin, blonde, beautiful, brilliant and driven, Hannah had been the town’s bright, flaming star.

Kat had grown up with Hannah. As children they’d been inseparable, but after high school they’d grown apart. Still, the bond between them had never been broken, so when Hannah asked for advice on what to do about her future, Kat had encouraged her to follow her dream and take the job at a Chicago zoo. It wasn’t true, but the Sagers, especially Hannah’s mother felt Kat had only done so because she didn’t want any competition for her veterinary practice. After considering the Sagers almost a second family, their current enmity hurt. Though the Sagers didn’t have the social standing of the Sinclairs they were wealthy and powerful in the community, so Kat tread lightly around them.

Nor, according to gossip, were they accepting of Daniel. They blamed him not only for keeping Hannah away from them, but also as irrational as it might be, for her death.

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You can buy Must Love Cats at:

Amazon:  is.gd/mlcamazon04

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/366089

See the Video Trailer:  is.gd/mlctrailer01

Contact Elysa:

Web Site:  http://www.elysahendricks.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103

Categories: fantasy, Love, Mystery, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A DREAM COME TRUE

GloriaToday I’d like to welcome Gloria Alden author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels The Blue Rose and Daylilies for Emily’s Garden. Gloria is a former third grade teacher who is spending her retirement writing short stories and novels. Her published short stories include “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest; “Mincemeat is for Murder” which appeared in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. Her latest novel Ladies of the Garden Club will be coming out soon.

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A DREAM COME TRUE

When I was a young girl, I galloped everywhere hitting my thigh to go faster on my imaginary horse. I galloped through fields and woods leaping logs, galloped across the road to my cousin’s house or to my grandparents farm and sometimes further down the road to another cousin’s house. Sometimes I rode Wildfire, and sometimes it was Thunderhead or Flicka or another horse in my stable of horses. I dreamed of someday having a ranch in the west with hundreds of horses.

I think my love of horses came from the story my dad told of a pony he rode one summer in the mining town in Pennsylvania where he grew up. My grandfather was foreman of the mining stable. The superintendent of the mine bought a beautiful black pony for his son, and it was kept in the mining stable. The pony tossed the boy the first time he tried to ride it so the superintendent asked my father, about the same age as his son, to ride and gentle it. All summer my father rode that pony, but the superintendent’s son never got over his fear of it so the pony was eventually sold.

During my galloping period, I read every horse book in my small rural library numerous times, and at Christmas I usually got a horse book, too. I dreamed of horses and drew pictures of horses, but I was thirty-eight years old before I finally got my first horse. My husband heard of a horse for sale and took me to see it. Of course, I fell in love with that strawberry roan paint. I thought he was beautiful. A few days later he was delivered. We had no barn, no saddle or bridle or even a lead rope. We did have hay, grain and a water bucket.

We put him in a shed and a few days later my husband and young teenage sons started building a barn – a large barn with five stalls. A week after my horse arrived, I now had a saddle and bridle.  I was ready for my first ride on my very own horse. Now, mind you, my riding had been very limited over the years. Mostly it was while we were on vacation and found a riding stable where you paid for an hour ride with a group on trails following a guide. Seldom did we move out of a walk, but maybe we’d trot a little and once in a great while gallop for a few minutes. Neither my husband nor I had ever saddled a horse, but we’d watched while these trail horses were saddled so we knew how to do it. Or so we thought.

As soon as the horse was saddled, I mounted and headed down a trail into the woods beside our home. He was a high stepper and both of us were eager to be out and on the trail. I was euphoric. His ears were perked forward interested and curious as we went along. And then I turned him around to head back. Maybe I should have thought twice about buying a horse named Rebel because as soon as we were heading back, he took the bit in his mouth, and I couldn’t slow him down. He was heading home, and just where that home was in his mind, I didn’t know. It was then I felt the saddle slip. I learned from that experience, you always tighten the girth, wait a bit for the horse to relax and then tighten it more. Anyway the saddle slipped and ended up under Rebel. Fortunately, I was able to kick my feet free from the stirrups and landed on the ground still holding onto his reins so he didn’t end up in some other county. He jumped about trying to get rid of that thing, but fortunately, I was able to unbuckle the saddle and not get kicked or stepped on.

So at the end of my first ride on my very own horse, I walked home with a saddle on my back now leading a docile horse. It wasn’t exactly the way I had envisioned that first ride. Eventually, Rebel was sold. He was a rebel. Over the years there were other horses and ponies. Once we had five at one time, one we boarded for a friend. My four kids joined 4H, and I became proficient at saddling and caring for horses. I learned to pull a horse trailer to take them to shows and for riding lessons and even took riding lessons, too.ponies2

Then there came a day when I had to move. I had to sell my last two horses because I didn’t have the money to put new fencing around the pasture of the small farm I bought. The house needed too many repairs and the barn needed a new roof. But my love of horses never went away. However, I down sized the dream. Now I have two totally useless small ponies – sisters – that I rationalize keeping as being compost makers for my gardens, but it’s really because I love them.

What dream did you have when you were young? Did it ever come true?

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blueRose_flatIn The Blue Rose Catherine Jewell enjoys the small quiet town she’s recently moved to where she’s a botanist at Elmwood Gardens and also has a small garden center, Roses in Thyme. At least she does until she discovers a body with a garden fork in his back at Elmwood Gardens. John MacDougal, the police chief of Portage Falls, has never had to deal with a murder in his ten years as police chief. As he questions the suspects, many who are Catherine’s co-workers and friends, she works to divert his suspicions elsewhere since she’s sure none of them could be the murderer. When another body is discovered, they start working together, and in spite of their inexperience and several close calls with death, they solve the murders and restore calm to the little town of Portage Falls.

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In Daylilies for Emily’s Garden Catherine Jewell is excited about restoring the gardens at the estate ofdaylilies_frontPreview1 the reclusive Emily Llewellyn. Everything for this project is arranged through Charles McKee, her secretary and companion. Catherine’s curiosity of this eccentric recluse is piqued when her only contact with Emily is through brief glimpses of her through a window before she quickly disappears. Catherine’s excitement dims a little when she discovers a dead body. Meanwhile other unsettling events are going on in Portage Falls. A bypass coming closer to town threatens wet lands and the residents are divided on the next phase of the construction.  When environmental activist Bruce Twohill comes to save the wetlands some consider him a savior while others like Police Chief John MacDougal are suspicious of this stranger. Another dead body is discovered and the buzz around town thinks it’s connected with the first body.  Returning characters from The Blue Rose plus new and interesting or quirky characters add color to the small town of Portage Falls in this second book in The Catherine Jewell Mystery Series.

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Both books are available on Amazon and Smashwords

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You can contact Gloria at:
Website: www.gloriaalden.com
http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com

Categories: Horses, Mystery, nature, outdoors, ponies, riding, Romantic suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Personalities and Horses

Last week I posted about how sex or gender influences how horses interact with the world and you, as a rider or trainer.  But that isn’t the only thing you need to be aware when handling these wonderful animals. Just like people, horses have very different and distinctive personalities. Some of these are easy to live with and others are quite challenging.

(I still haven’t quite caught up from being gone most of last month, so I am again reusing parts of an early post which ties in with last week’s.)

My first instructor in this area was my horse, Star, who I’ve talked about before. small_4888162686I became pretty successful in teaching her to do a lot of different things. Then her second son, Junior, came along and I discovered I needed a different set of tools to work with him. And this has been true with each horse I’ve dealt with.

You can classify horses as having four basic personalities. They can be Extroverts or Introverts. They also can be Thinkers or Reactors (emotional). This means you can have an extroverted-thinker, an extroverted-reactor, an introverted-thinker and an introverted-reactor. Then you add their gender and their experience into the equation and you have a complicated being that requires some thought to train effectively. Each personality type has its pluses and minuses and is good for different things and different riders.

Star was an extroverted-thinker. She was friendly, self-confident, rarely afraid of anything and willing to try whatever I asked her. She was also strong-willed and could be difficult. Horses are prey animals and, as such, are basically “scaredy cats.” In the wild they stay alive by being hyper-aware of their environment and ready to run on an instant. Domestication hasn’t done away with that basic instinct. A horse whose emotions dominate sees threats everywhere and can react without thinking. My Portia was a prime example. When I first got her, she would whirl and try to bolt at the slightest provocation. Typical extroverted-reactor.

Star, on the other hand, rarely reacted to anything. Her version of a spook was to stop, study the offending object for a minute and then go up and sniff it. She had grown up along a railroad track and had experienced earth moving equipment moving around her space, so she learned early thatsmall_4125411682 loud noises and big things weren’t usually dangerous. Given her basic self-confidence, she extended this attitude to the rest of her world. You could surprise her, of course. She wasn’t bothered by the fire engine racing down the street, but nearly jumped onto our neighbor’s porch when it suddenly blasted its siren right alongside her. Scared the dickens out of me too!

Because of her personality, Star was easy to teach, once we started communicating properly. She enjoyed learning, experiencing new things and exploring new trails. Portia liked to learn too but got upset easily, which shut down her brain. On the other hand, Glory, an introverted-reactor, is harder to teach because she’s afraid to try new things. And my husband’s horse, Koko, an introverted- thinker, could be down right stubborn about trying anything new. So I have had to adjust my methods for each personality.

Being aware of these personalities also helps you when you pick out a horse to own or work with. Some people do better with one type, and others do better with a quite different one. Since I’m more of an introverted-thinker, dealing with a horse of the same style would drive me bonkers in the long run. We’d probably both fall asleep. I do much better with the reactors who need to be calmed down. This wouldn’t be true of someone who had an emotional nature. They would be better at energizing a thinker.

What personality type are you?  What types do you like best?

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pictureclara/4888162686/”>Clara S.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
 
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/abejorro34/4125411682/”>abejorro34</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
Categories: horse personalities, Horses, nature, outdoors, riding, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cats In my Stories

Welcome Andrew McRae today as he talks about how cats slip into his stories.

Andy-PG-Small

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Andrew  is a misplaced Midwesterner who rolled downhill to the San Francisco Bay a quarter-century ago. He is the author of Murder Misdirected (2012) from Mainly Murder Press and “The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories” (2013) a collection of whimsical murder mysteries. He has had numerous short stories published in the past few years; notably “Felony at Farquhar Farms” in the collection “The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping” (2012) and “Frankenstein and The Spanish Nun” in the collection “Moon Shot” (2013), both published by Untreed Reads.

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Cats have a way of slipping into my stories, the way cats do. I usually don’t plan on a cat appearing in a story when I first set out to write it, but cats are good at sneaking into places not intended for them, as anyone who has ever lived with a cat knows.

There is a bookstore cat in my novel, Murder Misdirected. His name is Junior and he is handsome, as all male cats are. He sees it as his duty to greet customers and welcome them to his store. Junior also enjoys sunning himself in the bookstore windows and lying on the upper bookshelves of the store where he can keep a close eye on things.

Junior is based totally and completely on the real Junior, a cat who helped me with the writing of that novel. He did this by insisting on keeping my lap from being empty and cleverly batting the keyboard and mouse to see what improvements to my writing might result. Naturally, I in turn attribute any and all typos to Junior, not that that bothers him.

I have to admit that I received more comments about Junior from early readers of the manuscript than most of the other secondary characters. This was especially true during a particularly harrowing chapter in which all the main characters, including Junior, are in deadly danger. “No, not the cat!” was a typical comment.

In my recently completed sequel to that novel, so new as not to have a title settled on, Junior is back, furry as ever and even more pleased with himself.

In my collection of whimsical short mysteries, “The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories” another cat makes an appearance. Her name is Precious. She has one eye, sharp claws, and she is based on a cat who lived with the pleasantly wacky mother of a friend of mine, and is the basis of a character, herself, in the story.

However, it is another cat who shows up most often in my stories, one that is not based on any cat with whom I have ever been acquainted in what passes for my real life.

She is a black and white cat of indeterminate age and origin. She is pretty, as all female cats are, but she has no set name. In a series of children’s stories about a toy poodle named Spot, she is simply called “Kitty Cat” and she has a way of disappearing, as all cats do, as she walks away with her tail straight up in the air. She also has a habit annoying Spot by slowly winking one eye at him. Woof!

In a series of stories in the slip-stream genre I have written, The Black and White Cat is sometimes seen strolling in the story’s background, while other times she is perhaps, but only perhaps, a mysterious entity who serves as the catalyst for the story’s action.

In a middle grade novel that I am finishing this month, The Black and White Cat is the cause of two children going back in time (and returning safely, of course.) That cat certainly gets around!

In one of her most tenuous appearances, she shows up in a science fiction mystery story titled, “Frankenstein and The Spanish Nun”. This story will be in the soon to be released “Moon Shot” anthology of short stories from Untreed Reads. There is a young woman in my story with the first name of Katrina, or ‘Kat’ for short. She makes her entrance in the story wearing a black and white headscarf. Cats can be so sneaky at times!

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MD-BookCoverMurder Misdirected is the story of a pickpocket who one day picks the wrong pocket and finds himself on the run from the police, the FBI, and a killer.

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MurderousMermaidPosterThe Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories is a collection of three whimsical stories of mystery and murder.

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The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories
Murder Misdirected
Available now in paperback and ebook from Mainly Murder Press,
Amazon and Untreed Reads.

Categories: Bookstores, Cats, Dogs and cats, Mystery, Short story, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Apples, Apricots and Appetites

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small_3808887607Like most people you probably know that horses love apples as treats. Did you know they also love lots of other fruits and even some people food you’d never expect? Although horses have delicate digestive systems and can colic easily, they will eat a surprising variety of things.

I discovered these unusual horse appetites when I was a kid. One house we lived in had two mini-orchards. One contained citrus trees—three orange, a lemon, grapefruit, tangelo and tangerine. The other had apricot, plum, apple and peach trees. We planted pasture grass under the traditional fruit trees, but for some reason, the area under the citrus trees was left bare—except for after the winter rains when the weeds popped up. Then we’d let our three horses into the area to enjoy the fresh greenery.

However, we soon found that they liked the oranges and tangelos almost as much as the weeds. They’d search for fallen fruit we hadn’t picked up yet and eat them, rind and all, making a slobbery mess. The one exception was the grapefruit. For some reason they were horribly bitter and totally inedible. One day my horse Star discovered this fact, to her regret. She bit into a downed grapefruit, quickly spit it out and spent the next few minutes with her head in the air and her upper lip curled up, telling the world how bad it tasted.

The fruit in the pasture area proved just as much of an attraction. We always enjoyed watching them deal with the pitted fruits. They’d pick up an apricot or plum, carefully roll it around in their mouths until they’d gotten all the soft flesh removed and then spit out perfectly clean pits. (We made sure they only got a few. Didn’t need sick horses.)

I’ve been told horses often like watermelon, bananas and other tropical fruits, but I couldn’t prove it by any of my horses. But I can testify that they like sodas and beer. I would frequently share an orange soda with Star. She’d raise her head up while I poured some in her mouth. (This only worked for sugar sweetened soda. I haven’t encountered any horse that will touch diet drinks.) My brother would occasionally give his horse some beer, just for the fun of it. This affinity for beer was well known. They even featured a drunk horse in the old, silly movie Cat Ballou.

Of course, the favorite treat of all time is any form of sugar. Sugar cubes, lifesavers, peppermints are all to be found in horsemen’s pockets. I used to take handfuls of sugar cubes from restaurants when I was a kid. The famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna even has sugar pockets in their formal riding coats!

Writing this post made me realize that I haven’t included any treat fiends in my books as yet. I’ll have to remedy that. I lost more than one jean pocket to a horse looking for a treat. That definitely belongs in a story.

Do you have any animals with unusual appetites or behaviors? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen an animal eat?

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/italintheheart/3808887607/”>leoncillo sabino</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Categories: Horses, nature, outdoors, riding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

The Art of Breathing for Two

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

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

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

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

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

Think about that for a moment.

Do you agree? I’ll bet you do.

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

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

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

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

The Holy Grail of dressage.

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

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

Happy riding, people.

If you’d like to see the video Susan is talking about:
http://www.horseandcountry.tv/episode/edward-gal-moorlands-totilas-record-breaking-wdm-kur

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://tinyurl.com/qauup5a

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

Susan Schreyer Mysteries website: http://www.susanschreyer.com

Things I Learned From My Horse blog: http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com

Writing Horses blog: http://writinghorses.blogspot.com

Twitter @susanschreyer

FaceBook: Susan Schreyer Mysteries

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Schreyer-Mysteries/161359303906634

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

Interviewing Myself

Forewarning CoverWelcome back.

Today I’m taking part in an Author round-robin blog, where I talk about various aspects of my writing process and my new book coming out next week. I was invited to the party by Marsha West, author of the soon-to-be-published VERMONT ESCAPE. You can visit her and learn about her fabulous new book at: http://www.marsharwest.com/vermont-escape/

Here goes:

What are you working on right now?

I’m getting ready to publish my next book, FOREWARNING. I have my cover, it’s been edited and gone through beta readers, and now I’m in the process of formatting it for the Kindle. I plan on releasing it July 1.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

It’s a cross-genre romantic suspense about an energetic healer who lives on a horse ranch. FOREWARNING is the first book of my Horses and Healing series. It tells the story of Kasey Edwards, an alternative healer, who rescues an injured man and gets drawn into an unexpected web of danger.

What experiences have influenced you?

I’ve had horses most of my life—started riding when I was three. Caring for, raising and training them has molded my approach to life. Animals ground you in a way that’s often lost in city living. They also led me into alternative approaches to medical care. When traditional veterinary methods couldn’t help one of my horses, complementary techniques did. So I’m a firm believer in both.

Why do you write what you do?

I like happy endings and I like mysteries that engage my mind, so romantic suspense is the perfect blend. My books tend more to suspense with romantic elements than traditional romance. In my Horses and Healing mysteries, of which FOREWARNING is the first, I also get to talk about complementary therapies.

How does your writing process work?

I’m a “puzzler.” I can’t just sit down and write, like a pantser, nor can I write to an outline, like a plotter. Usually, I come up with an initial idea, figure out where I’d like to story to go—the ending—then start fleshing out the characters, using character sheets and personality profiles. My characters may change while I’m writing, but I do need to know who they are to make them real. I’m always surprised and delighted by the serendipitous things that pop out as I go along. Maybe a comment by a character ends up setting up a later scene. Or I encounter someone or something that inspires an idea for my story.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Two things: turning off my internal editor and figuring out the turning points in the story. After I know my characters, I then have to figure out how to get them from point A to point B. By determining three or four turning points, I have an idea of where to go. But getting those points can really be a bear.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

Historical fiction—suspense, of course. There already are several excellent writers, such as Suzanne Adair, doing early American mysteries, but I’d still like to try my hand at it.

Who are the authors you most admire?

There are so many, it’s hard to single them out. Some who come to mind are Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, Kay Hooper, Elizabeth Lowell, Cait London, Robin Carr, Suzanne Brockman, Linda Lael Miller and Allison Brennan.

Who are new authors to watch out for?

Marsha West—can’t wait for her VERMONT ESCAPE. Susan Schreyer, Polly Iyer, Jerrie Alexander, Donnell Bell, and Susan Boyer to name just a few. All romantic suspense writers.

What scares you?

What if no one likes my book? Not what if it doesn’t sell, but what if they don’t like it? I want it to be a success, of course. (And make lots of money. J) Even more important, I want readers to enjoy my stories and to come back for more.

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And now I’m going to introduce you to the next link in this Author’s Chain—Susan Scheyer, author of the Thea Campbell Mystery series. Her next book, SHOOTING TO KILL, is due out soon. If you like humorous mysteries featuring horses, be sure to visit her blog “Writing Horses” http://writinghorses.blogspot.com.

Categories: blog hops, Books, dressage, healing, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Fear and How You See the World

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A few posts ago I talked about Horses and Victims–about fear distorting how an animal or human deals with the world. Sometimes the reaction is a result of an over-sensitive individual having to put up with unaware or uncaring people, such as with my horse Glory. Sometimes it is a result of direct abuse. Recently I encountered an unexpected reaction which came from the latter source.

Last month I self-published a short story titled IMAGES – A LOVE STORY. Before I put it up I had several people critique and edit it. Everyone thought it was a sweet tale and seemed to enjoy it. Except for the last person who saw it. Her reaction totally astonished me.

My friend was extremely upset by the story. She thought the hero was manipulative, had ulterior motives and was not to be trusted. Going through it page by page, she pointed out all the suspect things he was doing. I was blown away by her interpretation of his actions. I would never have thought that about someone without a compelling reason. And frankly, she was amazed at the intensity of her reaction too. I’d really hit a hot button for her.

It seems she had been molested as a child and, even though she has been happily married for many years, that has skewed her view of men. Also, she has a daughter who has been in an abusive relationship, and she has worked with a battered women’s group. Talk about a different background from my nice, safe, sheltered life!  While I understood where her response was coming from, I didn’t think most people would feel the same and didn’t change my story.

But the incident pointed out again how differently people can react to the same stimulus. I’ve entered my stories in contests and received both perfect scores along with quite low scores in the same contest. Some people seem to really like my writing and others don’t. I’ve only gotten a few reviews for my novel, WYOMING ESCAPE, and mostly they’ve been quite good. But I did get one person who didn’t like the heroine at all–thought she was wimpy. Other people have admired her guts. As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”

All writers go through the same thing and have similar stories. But it’s interesting to speculate on what provokes such opposing opinions. What happened in the reader’s life to cause this reaction? Hmm, fodder for a new tale?

Have youCover - Images - 2 encountered a really off-the-wall reaction to anything you’ve done? Were you able to discover the reason for the response?

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If you’d like to read IMAGES and compare your reaction to my friend’s, you can find it for Free on Smashwords.

You can also find WYOMING ESCAPE on most online bookstores.

Categories: abuse, battered women, Books, fear, horse personalities, Horses, romance, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Horses and Victims

Glory #2Lacy cowered in the closet, her arms wrapped tight around her legs and listened to the footsteps coming closer and closer. The door swung open and she tried to scream but she couldn’t make a sound as the knife descended.

We’ve all read and seen variations on this scene, a victim, usually a woman or child, too frightened to do anything to help themselves. You’ve probably felt that way a time or two in less dire situations. I know I have. Interestingly, people aren’t the only beings that react this way. Horses and other animals often do too.

Today I’m going to finish my series on horse personalities and how they connect with writing novels. Since it’s been a while, I’ll do a short recap. Horses can be generally classified as four personality types. The extrovert-thinker compares to the typical alpha hero—confident, outgoing and brave. The extrovert-reactor is similar to the smart-ass heroines—emotional, reacting before thinking and taking chances. The introvert-thinker is more like a stalker villain—quiet, careful and determined.

The fourth type is the introvert-reactor—horses who are easily overwhelmed by their emotions. My horse Glory is a typical example. An extremely sensitive Thoroughbred, intended for racing, she was apparently handled inappropriately for her personality and was too timid to fight back. Instead, she shut down and stopped reacting to anything at all. She was very well-trained and my instructor had recommended I get her as a school master for learning dressage. (For learning an intricate skill such as dressage it’s best to have a horse that already knows what to do and can teach you to do it right.)

She seemed very sweet and obviously knew her stuff, so I decided to take a chance on her. And she ended up teaching me much more than I ever expected. It soon became apparent that she was very different from any horse I had handled before. Not only was she so sensitive that she hated being brushed, she was unexpectedly uptight, but expressed it in an unusual way. While most horses act out in some way if they’re upset, she shut down and turned it inside. During one of our first rides, we weren’t communicating well and suddenly she got a nose-bleed. When this happened again in different situations, I realized this was a stress reaction.

The thing that I found oddest was how afraid she was of making a mistake. I was used to horses trying to do what I asked and if it wasn’t quite right, we’d just do it again. Not Glory. If she thought she’d made a mistake, she’d either get a nose-bleed or stop and start shaking, obviously expecting to be punished. This fear carried over to the trail. Another horse could spook big time at something unexpected and she wouldn’t move a muscle. It was eerie.

I almost gave up on her the first year, she wasn’t much fun. But gradually she started being less uptight and we began to communicate better. It took a lot of years for her to really trust that she’d found a safe place and it was okay to express opinions on things. Now she will boss around the other two horses and she doesn’t worry about miscues. Now she really is MY horse and I am her person.

I’m so glad that girls and young women are being taught to stand up for themselves nowadays. We’ll always need helpless victims for our stories, but hopefully they’ll be less common in real life.

Have you encountered a situation where you froze and were unable to react? Do you use helpless victims in your stories?

Categories: Books, dressage, horse personalities, Horses, suspense, Trail riding, training horses, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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