Saturday, September 12, 2020

A great day to be alive


It's all in our attitude. An attitude of gratitude is the best way to get through the day, every day. It's a great day to be alive!

Even better is a beautiful, perfect Saturday for doing anything, like visiting with my mom and riding my horse. And it was a wonderful ride out in the fields around the farm. Buddy was much better than I expected and actually almost trail horse calm. Jewel was her usual dumb ass self. (She is a mini donkey, so an actual ass.) She'd graze then come running up on us. Buddy got so used to it that, by the end, he didn't bat an eye or an ear at her antics.

At one point, I thought Buddy wanted to itch his head as he was doing throughout our ride, but then he started to put his head down in that way that horses do when intending to roll, and I yanked it up fast and started him moving again. He hasn't done that in a few years.

Jewel being her usual self

Over a thousand miles away in flyover country,
the haze from west coast fires can be seen
along the horizon.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt,
Jewel is an ass.

I doubt I'll get any more days this perfect. I'm glad we had one more great riding day. I'm dreading a long, cold winter from the La Nina effect. I haven't ridden much this summer, but it was too hot for a while or I was too busy or not feeling good from my autoimmune issues. Oh, well. Buddy is doing well all the same, fat boy that he is right now. Nature is preparing him for what's to come.

And on the long drive there and back, I had a lot of time to think about Forgotten Worlds book 9. I know exactly how it will fit the title I had planned. Since it is coming together so well, I can announce that the title is FERIOUS. If you know the characters, you'll recognize that it is not a misspelling but a play on the name of an important species in the series.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Fall is here

While the kids are starting school across the country and getting ready to start in our local school district, the weather is changing. The dog days of summer ended over the last couple of days. Autumn is coming on time, just in time. We finally had rain this past week to make up for six week of drought--everything did come went around us. We live in a town that is a vortex of rain going around. It's just odd... until the wet season comes; then nothing stops it. The inch of rain that we had over the course of a couple different storms this past week soaked right in--the ground is still mostly dry despite the rain. It's needed that badly. It will be nice to see our lawn green up just in time for winter. This is the opposite of last year, which was far too wet.

The daily highs are cooling down from 90's to 70's too. Normally when this happens, the animals get a little friskier. However, Buddy seems to have settled down. I haven't ridden for four weeks, but today was a good ride. We're combining dressage work and reining work now to get him thinking more in tune of balance but also rollbacks to turn a cow. He seemed a little edgy with the cooler day and wind but actually handled himself quite well. We had a good ride without him freaking out from the kids cleaning barn or playing and the small flatbed in the middle of the grassy area where we work.

When we took a little ride around the feedlots, things were a little different. Still, he's come a long ways from a year ago. Getting past the quonset to head to the feedlots was a little challenge, but he didn't freak out like he used to. And going around the feedlots wasn't much of a concern. He never called for his friends the whole time I had him away from his herd. It helped to have the donkey with us, but even when his herd was calling for them, he didn't reply. That's a HUGE improvement in his behavior that has come on this year.

Afterwards, I rewarded him with a little extra feed, which the donkey kept trying to steel. She's figured out how to tip his bucket, even when it's not quite in easy reach.

Jewel follows us all over, even right back to the pasture. She's a little attention whore.

When I turn Buddy back to his herd, I always give him a little rub down. You'd never know he was head-shy when I bought him five years ago. He LOVES having his ears, eyes, and poll rubbed and will yawn, blow/snort, and shake his head with a big sigh of pleasure. If I don't give him that little reward, he gives me a look that I swear is meant to shame me for forgetting. Spoiled but worth it. He'll be starting to get fuzzy soon enough.

Our cats are spoiled too. They're a little more active on cooler days. On hot days, they'd just plop on the deck like they'd melted. On cool days, they're more attentive and watching the activity in the yard. Jack jumped over the gate to get to the stairs and go down today. We caught him in time, but it was startling. He doesn't usually do that. We put him inside, where he cried and cried to go out then. He must have seen something he wanted to check out. Dargo, however, just likes to lay outside in the fresh air and doesn't cause problems. Suki sometimes jumps up on the rail.

It was an interesting day with our animals.

Jack and Dargo snuggle
not today but too cute not to share

Friday, August 21, 2020

writing update 8-21-20

I've been busy with Forgotten Worlds 9. It's being told in a non-linear linear fashion. It begins mid-story and jumps back and forth, starting from a few days earlier to the present activity, eventually to converge. I don't know why I was inspired to write it this way. It has been a challenge, and I hope it's worth it in the end.

The hardest part is trying to put the pieces together in a manner so that the intended focus of the story is cohesive throughout. I know where the series is going and what I intend to take place later, so that is affecting the characters now. And then I have to balance it with where the characters should be now, because there are hints now of what's to come in the subtleties of their growth and changes as characters. Keeping them who they are while doing that within the context of the series and of the individual story is a big challenge.

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, I'll let you go back and read the first six books and pre-order the seventh to see how this series is anything but ordinary space opera.

Available now:

Pre-order (Available October 29, 2020):

Coming Winter 2021:

More to Come!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

truth and science fiction

Classical science fiction is my first love of reading. Anything from its early days, especially the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. They told stories of adventure in settings that were not possible, at least not at the times in which they lived. I also have enjoyed Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Michael Crichton, and many others, for their imaginative and fantastic stories. I've also grown up with much in terms of visual storytelling (tv and movies) with Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Stargate, etc.

However, the fantastic worlds and beings are not the full picture of why science fiction is my first love. The real appeal is in stories that present a view of the human condition using the science fiction settings, especially alien worlds and cultures.

Whether it involves humans or aliens, science fiction (and also fantasy) allows us to explore ideas that we can't in our real world. It provides a means of exploring other governments, cultures, and environmental settings that interact to create an alien race or alter the human race. The many sub-genres provide infinite possibilities, like the theory of alternate realities, where every decision branches off into a new reality. Whether time-travel, space opera, cyberpunk, thriller, monsters, and on and on, the broad scope of the science fiction genre offers us the opportunity to say "what if..." It is these explorations that add depth to our human consciousness and allow us to look at alternatives or a mirror into our present circumstances.

A writer sees through the lens of their experience and opinions. A good writer goes outside of themselves and creates situations, worlds, characters they don't necessarily like or agree with. It provides the opportunity to see a different perspective, but always it is filtered through the writer's own view. It can be difficult to set aside oneself to write from a different viewpoint, but in really getting outside of one's own perspectives, that character/culture/species can offer the writer and reader a contrast from which other characters/cultures/species can stand out. Depending on the purpose of the writer's vision, this can offer insights that one might not have otherwise considered. It's a matter of keeping an open mind on both the part of the writer and the reader.

And then there is the reader's perspective. A writer tries to portray a certain view, sometimes even changing theirs. (Stories that start out with well-thought and well-developed characters/cultures/etc. fall apart when a writer tries to force their hand into it and not let it develop more naturally from what was established up front.) A reader brings to a story their experience and opinions that color how they view a story and what they believe it should be. This may agree with or contradict the way the writer develops the story. But this is just a side note to where I'm going.

I love science fiction for its ability to explore anything, but I also love the science behind it. I love the logic and I love the ability to explore things that I couldn't in my life. I also love that science fiction can sometimes be more believable than real life.

One thing that has come to mind lately, which prompted this post, is an episode of Babylon 5 called "Infection". The episode is about an alien artifact that attaches to a man and transforms him into a killing machine intent on eliminating any being that wasn't "pure" of the species that created it. In the end, it was revealed that this symbiote destroyed the whole civilization, because no one was "pure". It seems almost prophetic to what we are seeing with cancel culture. Nothing is pure enough for them and as one set of opinions is wiped out, they go after the next, until there would be nothing left, because nothing is "pure" anything. It's all based on the individual's perspective, seen through the lens of their lives.

The episode is over 26 years old and had applied well to Hitler's vision for a "perfect" race, which I might assume to have influenced the idea. Here we are, decades later, and this episode is still relevant in our current cultural climate. It serves as a warning that if we don't change, our society is doomed to destroy itself. There has to be compromise and acceptance that nothing is perfect, nor will it be.

This is what I enjoy about science fiction--exploring the human condition by looking from outside out present circumstances to explore the many alternative possibilities of what may be. And in that, it speaks truth to our present condition.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Forgotten Worlds adventures continue

RACING THE ORAST BELT is complete. The first draft sits at 46,700 words before the next round of editing. Since I have already done some major rewrites on it, that shouldn't involve too much. I think the rewrites that I put into it between final edits on DISPOSITION OF DREAM and writing the final chapters of RtOB should have fixed most of the issues that I felt might be a problem.

I can also share a cover now:

I will update my website and series page of this blog with the new details soon.

Also, pre-orders of Remnants are going live now. Look for that from major retailers. And be sure to sign up on Amazon or Bookbub to receive alerts when new books are available.

After leaving the Iludrin at Trsken Station, Nya's friends discover a beacon transmitting from the Cartegos. Although Nik suspects who might have placed it, Zaer is determined to find answers. Her solution is to seek out an info jockey, but nothing ever goes as planned.

They are led to an artifact that reveals a clue about the presence of Nya's people in that galaxy. However, they're not the only ones who seek the secrets of the angels from a time long forgotten. No one is ready for the revelation it unlocks.

REMNANTS will be available October 29, 2020!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Forgotten Worlds update

If you haven't already picked it up, the latest Forgotten Worlds book is now available (as of last Thursday). DISPOSITION OF DREAMS is book 6 in this ongoing series.

Next up is REMNANTS (book 7). That will go up for pre-order sometime this month. The description needs to be finalized on that first. I will reveal that and the cover when it's ready. Since the writing on this one started off so difficult, it's put my publishing schedule behind where I wanted to be. My schedule of new releases is delayed, and I expect this release date to be sometime around the end of October or early November.

Right now, I'm finishing up the first draft of RACING THE ORAST BELT (book 8). I had some issues with the writing before I broke from it to edit DoD. The gap to edit, however, has allowed me a chance to get away from the story and gain a fresh perspective. Now, I see where I went wrong and rewrote some scenes and am doing better with writing from where I left off. Sometimes a break is all that's needed for the head to clear. This was supposed to be an easy book to write, but that didn't work out as I expected. It developed a different plot, which is better than the original idea I had, so it became more complicated to write.

Once that's done, I'll be on to writing book 9.

For now, you can catch up on the first six books:


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

horsing around - midsummer edition

Today was a good day to see my boy. I haven't had many good days like this--either the weather has been crappy or I've been dealing with chronic fatigue issues. I haven't been out to ride in two weeks, but I started a new medication that has given me back my focus and energy. And in the two times I've been out to him since we helped sort cattle, I did manage to resolve some issues with Buddy.

I've confirmed that the reason he's always been so difficult is because he has tummy issues. I suspected it, but after seeing a small but noticeable difference in his behavior after giving him Smart Digest Ultra before I work with him, I tried adding a couple of other supplements. The best combination seems to be the Smart Digest Ultra and Aloe Vera pellets (also from Smartpak). So far, the two times I added aloe vera, he turned into mister mellow, as a horse of his type should be.

And after he put his tongue over the bit when we were sorting cattle early in June, I tried a couple of different bits. The advice I found online was to allow room for the horse's tongue. The bit I was using (which he put his tongue over) allowed that, so that didn't seem right, especially when I put a curb in his mouth with a roller, which doesn't allow any room for the tongue, and that quieted his mouth. So, with my instructor's advice, I tried a double bridle. He didn't like that, but he did go nicely with the bradoon of that combination. Today, I put just the bradoon on his regular bridle headstall. He was fantastic! The bradoon is a loose ring, narrower snaffle than my other snaffle mouthpieces, and it's a special alloy and straight, not curved for tongue room. He was much quieter with his mouth than I've ever experienced (except in the sweet iron curb with the roller, which quieted his mouth a lot also). I think that, in Buddy's case, He needs the bit to be as flat and still as possible, and the special metals of each of the bits that quieted his mouth probably played a part also.

I'll stick to the bradoon for this summer, along with the two supplements before we ride, and see if I finally found what works to turn him into the trailriding horse I've been trying to train him to be for nearly five years, and turn him into a true cowhorse, complemented by our dressage training, which we will continue. My only worry is that if he gets excited, the bradoon won't be strong enough to stop him. We'll see.

I also started taking out the fly sheet I bought last year but never used. I decided to put it to use this year. I can't leave it on him when I'm not there because of the danger that he could get tangled and get hurt (not to mention the trashing of the sheet and my money down the drain), but I can let him wear it and have some relief from the flies by taking it with me when I go to catch him in the pasture and let him wear it on the walk to the barn or, like today, after we ride and I let him graze a while just to spend more time with him. It's a closed front sheet, so I have to put it on over his head, but he's so smart, he loves having it on after just the first time, which wasn't bad either. He already knows it means relief! Buddy is super smart though. I wonder how long until he's sticking his head through the neck opening on his own when I hold it up ;)

Later this month, he'll finally get his annual dental work done. That was postponed due to coronavirus.