Monday, November 19, 2018

Starting Buddy on cows

Yesterday, I started Buddy on cows, and I see a lot of promise as a cowhorse.

On my family's farm, he's seen them up close in the last couple of months but has still been hesitant about being close. So, yesterday he got immersed in over a hundred cow/calf pairs. He helped us sort (in-hand with me doing the actual work), splitting them and effectively weaning the calves.

So, I took it easy with Buddy. I was going out to just see him--it was cold but I had bundled up--and saw that my sister, brother-in-law, and stepdad were still sorting when I arrived. I asked my sister if she minded me helping with Buddy in hand. She didn't and took some pics for us to share. (I think she was just glad for an extra hand with the work.)

At first, Buddy was dancing and carrying on, in his listen-to-your-handler way. He's good that way--his ground manners are great after all the natural horsemanship we've done. (You can't tell in the pictures below.) But he didn't like being away from his herdmates and being surrounded by bellowing bovines. After two hours, he was running alongside me to separate the stragglers who refused to cooperate and even started running ahead on the leadrope towards a cow I was heading towards at one point, rather than trying to get back to his herd. If we were standing back, he'd get impatient and paw and whinny, but towards the end, his eyes were more on the cows than his herd. It got to be that he got very focused on chasing cows as he realized they moved away from him and that we were doing a job.

This was a very good introduction to cows for him and very positive. It was also a safe way for me--on the ground with him rather than on his back. He was able to follow my lead and see that I wasn't afraid. I believe he gained a lot of confidence.

I've learned the hard way that horses that aren't introduced to cows in a good way can freak out about them. It's made me appreciate just how good my horses were when I was growing up on the farm. Boarding my horses at facilities closer to where I live as an adult has been a convenience in many ways, but it also limited the experiences of my last few horses.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

western saddles aren't much different than english saddles

When you get down to it, they both need to fit the horse and rider comfortably. This is something I started learning in the english riding world and now am carrying over into getting back to my western riding roots with Buddy.

I'd like to share some valuable information for other riders out there (and so I can reference it all in one place--here). These Schleese videos on Youtube are great and I highly recommend following Schleese Saddlery, whether you ride english or western. I've learned a LOT from these and from attending saddle fittings with Schleese and other saddle fitters, albeit for dressage saddles. And I've learned a lot from my horses, like how much good saddle fit makes a difference to them. Happy horses mean more pleasant rides and fewer problems, especially in their backs and legs.

I'd wish I'd known all this when I was growing up--but the internet wasn't around back then. But I'm glad I know it now so I can buy the best western saddle for Buddy next spring. Then we can do both dressage and western dressage, plus not get laughed at while chasing cows, although my dressage saddle is far better than any western saddle, and I grew up riding western.

After seeing the intro in the first video, I suggest that you skip to the 2:42 mark on each.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

picturing your characters

I know of authors who like to find real-life people who match their characters, mostly as an exercise for fun and to interest readers. I have always had trouble matching how I see my characters to real-life people and don't even try.

However, sometimes I'll see someone who causes a shiver down my spine. I feel like I just saw my imagination pop into real life. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's uncanny.

That happened recently with a Netflix Christmas romance called "The Holiday Calendar". I saw the actress starring in this whimsical little movie and had that feeling. So, I looked her up on, of course, and found that Kat Graham has many acting credits, but none that I had noticed before, because they aren't the types of shows I watch. Of course, I had to watch The Holiday Calendar, because it does appeal to me.

As soon as I saw Kat in the trailer on Netflix, I felt like I saw Lilly from The Luriel Cycle trilogy, although she would need longer hair. Otherwise, she fits the image perfectly at this time, because she's about the right age right now. And her mannerisms are perfect, not just her looks. That's what makes this so haunting for me.

photo hosted by

I don't go around looking for real people who match my characters, but when I see them, it's like those characters could be real rather than just in my imagination. The story takes on a different life when you see with your eyes the people who only lived in your mind.

The cover model on the ebooks is good and was hard to find, because I also needed multiple pictures, but Kat Graham fits my image of Lilly better. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I don't do email lists

I know few people who enjoy receiving email spam, and that's what I consider most lists to be. They're invasive and often oozing with a great deal of "buy my books!"


Not for me, at least not shoving it in your face. If you come here freely, this is my space, my home, if you will, and you expect to see something about me. The door is open here for you to look around into my life and books.

I hope you don't mind that I don't do email lists for readers. I even quit most social media. None of it really suited me, or at least it doesn't suit the present me.

I'm so much more comfortable being able to sit down and "chat" alone, talking to myself and an imagined audience, as I do while writing. Well, okay, while writing that's just having fun seeing where my imagination takes me. There really isn't any consideration of an audience of more than one... me.

But newsletters I've never been good at, at least not about myself. I put out a quarterly newsletter at work, but that's about other topics. I've never been good at self-promotion. I'd rather just write my stories and pay advertisers to send out the emails, tweets, and posts. Life is easier that way.

I enjoy interaction, but I've learned that I really prefer quiet time and letting people come to me. I don't like to be intrusive. It just feels rude, and that goes against everything I was taught about being polite.

I appreciate that you've visited and hope you find something interesting here. Thanks for stopping by, neighbor ;)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

horsing around at home

My view from the saddle is

I've been enjoying having Buddy at my family's farm. He's enjoying it too, maybe a little too much. He's so enamored of my sister's little herd of horses that he doesn't like me taking him away!

Last week, we rode out in one of the pastures that had cows in during the summer, but they were moved, so the pasture is empty for us. (This is one of my favorite pastures to ride in, but I rode all over growing up and they're all fun, really.) We had company last week, my brother-in-law on one of my sister's horses. And that's not the sister he's married to, just to confuse you. (I have two sisters, one with no horses--that's the one he's married to. The other sister has the horses.) Buddy was anxious about being in unfamiliar territory, but with one of his friends along, he wasn't too bad.

This week, I didn't have any choice but to ride alone. I had to "cowgirl up" with riding like I did when I was growing up there. It was like riding a young colt all over again. We had a lot of issues and him screaming for his herd every five minutes. But he didn't act up too badly; as soon as he tried anything, I corrected him. The acting up decreased throughout our ride.
Tuff likes to go out with riders

We rode up and down hills, through washouts along the dried creek path, and even rode some trot circles and serpentines on the way back in which he remembered his dressage training. We did everything today. And we had a wet saddle pad at the end, and a sweaty horse. I didn't think he worked that hard walking and a little trotting, but apparently he did.

He needed that. He needs a LOT of that--he's gotten fat besides, so he can stand to lose some weight as well. And he's going to get that training, and more, over the next eight to nine months. He's already been introduced to cattle in his pasture and that had him freaked out initially but he got used to seeing them. Only the bull scares me, because he's not afraid of me. I don't like bulls. They get ornery and mean. We'll start riding with the cows when there's no bull.

Otherwise, we did have one companion--Tuff, the BIL's and no-horse sister's dog. Buddy didn't mind him this time like he did last week, just like he wasn't afraid of the washouts this week. He's a fast learner.

Lastly, wind energy seems like a great thing, but the turbines are eye-sores and loud. I grew up not seeing them and now they ruin the horizon with their ugliness.

Buddy's herdmates aka sister's horses
selfie time!
I'm not sure how he scraped his face, but the hair will grow back.

Friday, October 26, 2018

New series coming in 2019!

I have just finished the first draft of book 1 of a new series and feel like making an announcement. I'm so excited for this. It's something that I wanted to do for years but kept getting distracted--ooh, shiny!--by other ideas or by health problems (now managed).

Now, my idea has come to fruition, or at least the first book has. The cover and title are all ready with a series logo that I designed myself.

I will draft book 2 before releasing the first, perhaps even a third book before the first book is released. However, they don't take long to write. These are long novellas/short novels. The first draft of book 1 ended at  36,000 words and feels exactly as it should, like the pilot episode of a new science fiction series.

That's how I'm treating this--not like a book series but like a 90's science fiction series. Fast-paced, streamlined plot with lots of eye (imagination) candy.

If you're still with me, that's good. You'll learn the name of this new series soon enough, and there will be many books in it, especially since I plan to keep them at the shorter length. I already have five books outlined and plan on much more, as I will be treating this like a series with a composite cast and all the multi-faceted aspects that brings to the possible situations in a different galaxy.

I'm giddy just thinking about it!

So, here it is. The name of the series will be Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. Book 1 is titled A New Beginning. The title was meant to be a place-marker but ended up being one of the themes of what the main character goes through and because this is a new beginning to the Starfire Angels series that I began almost ten years ago. In fact, this will released in the 10th anniversary year of the book that became the series namesake--Starfire Angels. However, this series is for serious science fiction lovers; A New Beginning is not romantic. It is as its title describes, a new beginning to the franchise, and an exciting one at that!

I am thinking that initially, this will be in KDP Select, so only available to Amazon Kindle customers, at least for the first three months. I'm not sure when I will release it elsewhere, but be sure to watch my website and this blog. I'll post purchase links as they become available.

I'll also post when the pre-release is available on Amazon.

Watch for a full cover release sometime after the first of the year.