Friday, August 16, 2019

VotC final edits

I've found a system that works for me in writing and publishing a series. Over the years, I've learned that writing two books ahead of what's coming up for publishing is actually very beneficial and fun.

There are several aspects to this:

  1. I get several editing rounds broken up so that each time, I edit my mind is fresh and I enjoy the story anew, which is great.
  2. Because my mind is fresh, I see the faults more clearly. With several rounds broken by time and working on other projects, I see different aspects each time I run through a particular story. It's not just editing but also the earlier developmental edits.
  3. I get a refresher for anything that's come since that book that's being edited as the next story to be published. I can then correct anything that I've written since that soon-to-be-published story.
  4. I can still make reasonable adjustments as I've learned from stories written since the next to be published. So far, I've been introducing different characters and situations, still establishing the universe and overall plot, so sometimes I want to change something a story or two later on a rule that was established earlier. By writing two ahead of where I'm publishing, I have been able to go back and make changes to better suit what the overall plot has wanted to become. Often this involves taking small details out or making details more general and less precise so that I have room to play without breaking anything.
Some of these I've mentioned in other posts, but it always amazes me how much I enjoy the stories after some time away, even if I'm still writing in the same series.

I'm currently running swiftly through final edits of VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS. I say swiftly because, after writing IN DARKNESS, LIGHT and most of the untitled #5 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series so far, VotC is fresh again and I can enjoy the ride. I appreciate all the drafting and many rewrites that got it to the point that it fits in the series and flows very well without a dull moment. Often, while writing the first draft, I feel like the story is moving too slowly, but that's mostly because the first draft can take 2-3 months to write. It only feels slow because real life takes place around it. Reading it through when it's nearly perfect is the best part; I can enjoy it like a new reader would.

I'm preparing VotC for its release on September 12, which is coming up faster than I expected. You can pre-order now from various retailers:

(Also available at other various ebook retailers)

Update 8/17/19: The final version of VotC is uploaded. Now, I can let #3 show itself to the world on the appointed date while I finish #5.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Forgotten Worlds update

I've been writing lately when I can on SA:FW #5, which doesn't have a title yet, and I'm keeping my eye out for the right cover image.

It's been difficult, partly because I've had some trouble concentrating this last month and partly because this story is getting more complex and requires more consideration. This story adds a big part to the plot like VotC, so I am being especially careful. (For #6, I'll have to consider something outside the main plot again for a fun break from the seriousness.) As a result, I have not only considerations of what needs to happen but also whose perspective to use for each scene. The latter usually comes instinctually, but this one is a little more complicated because of the plot. Sometimes, I need more character perspectives to properly tell the story, especially with such a diverse cast such as I've built up. I'd like to limit my main cast to the numbers I have now, although there will be one more coming at a later time and another one or two exiting at some point. I'm at a good number now and have enough backstories and personalities to keep straight, but I do like to switch things up to keep it fresh.

IN DARKNESS, LIGHT is in the line-up for editing rounds with VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS in the wings for final edits.

Once I've completed the first draft of #5, I will list IN DARKNESS, LIGHT (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #4) for pre-order. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, and I think I'll list books when I can list for pre-order everywhere (Amazon limits to 90 days out). Since I had some trouble while writing #5, it's looking likely that will release in late December, later than I'd hoped but still in the timeframe I wanted. 

Be sure to check out the first two books in the series and pre-order the third!

#3: VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS (pre-order to read on September 12, 2019)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

my new office

It's summer and I've been trying to enjoy the fresh air and not-too-hot summer we've been having.

Being outside has helped me through some difficult issues. I am an outdoors country person, having grown up on a farm/ranch. City life doesn't suit me. I'm glad I found our lot back when our oldest child was just a baby and snapped it up and built our home on it. We have a terrific view of pastures... and the neighbor's trees.

We added some cheap deck furniture recently, after moving our larger (cheap) set to the front patio. I like to sit in the front shade in the mornings when I can. Usually, however, I end up working then and have to wait for the sun to move so that I get shade on the back deck where I can sit. The sun heats up my computer too much to have it out in anything but shade.

There's something inspiring about the rustle of the leaves in the prairie breeze and fresh, clean air of being outside the city. I could do without the distant traffic sounds, but otherwise, it's quite inspiring for writing. The only other distraction is the occasional bee checking things out or the cats behind the screen door (behind my chair, where I'm standing to take the pic) mewing to get out.

So, for writing, this has become my evening office:

I'll sometimes play new age/instrumental music from my phone to the speaker--on the side of the grill (covered). The right music can help set the mood for a particular scene or character.

By getting out when I can, I've been more productive and creative, and also healthier. Forgotten Worlds #5 is over 16,000 words at this time, getting close to half done on a first draft!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

this blessed day

What a gorgeous day to be alive! It started out with me feeling off, but by the time I reached the farm, I felt alive. That fifty mile drive can work wonders.

Although my family was all in town for the annual festival that's not the county fair (that comes in two weeks), I enjoyed the day with my horse. Like me, however, he was shocked by my sister's latest addition that's not yet in the herd, a new mini donkey, a little jenny she's calling Jewel. Buddy snorted and wanted to flee when she came across the corral towards us, but then she was more afraid of him by the time she reached us and he seemed to realize she wasn't going to hurt him.

I love those big ears!

I should have taken a picture when Buddy had his neck arched and extended in that way horses do when they're curious but ready to run away if necessary. It's that look you see in Arabian poses. Even stock horses can be just as beautiful.

The dugout pond in the pasture with little grassy "islands"
the ugly wind turbines in the background ruining the scenery
After he settled down from the new addition, I took him into the barn and tacked up for a ride. Today, I remembered the Amigo Fly Rider, which I had bought years ago for a bigger horse. He loooved having that on, because it kept the bugs off! And they are bad. It's that time of the year where fly spray doesn't cut it. He was so much more relaxed with the Fly Rider on than before we tacked up. Plus, with all the rain we've had this year, the mosquitos are atrocious, especially near the dugout pond and the trees and in tall grass. Thank goodness most of the grass is mowed for the first cutting of hay. If this rain keeps up, they'll get a good second cutting too.

I lunged before I rode today. It's been 3-4 weeks since I really rode and I was alone, so I wanted to play it as safe as I could. I tried 2-3 weeks ago but the weather had Buddy nearly flipping out, so I managed only a few walk circles in the yard that day, just enough to get him to settle down and not try to run away.

Today, the equipment was gone from the patch on the east side of the quonset, which has a slight incline, and the tall grass that was cut last weekend was gone (baled up somewhere), so we had a nice place to work right in the yard. Since no one was there except me, I figured I'd play it safe if something happened. Nothing did, except an excellent ride.

Buddy in his Amigo Fly Rider, which he really appreciates.
(facing down gentle slope to the farmyard)
And work he did! Buddy was so awesome. I can't believe how he can go a month without being ridden, then we ride and even advance in our training as if we'd been riding every day in between. It's crazy fun when he does that, although I'd prefer that we had more riding time. Nevertheless, he's gone from being afraid of me on his back at a canter to picking up almost right on cue and carrying himself like a pro.

Part of that is because we started really working with haunches-in this last spring. I started last fall with a little of it, but this spring, he's really picked it up. And it's made a HUGE difference for his balance. Between haunches-in to straighten him and learning to canter by cantering up the hills in the pasture, he's made leaps and bounds into first level work where only a year ago he was just okay for introductory level dressage. That's a big step in training with barely any riding. He can even canter on a slight decline with me now.

He's in a quarter-section pasture with his four pasturemates (soon to be five) with lots of hills and rough terrain, so he does keep himself in relatively good shape when we don't ride. Dressage work, however, is a little more demanding. He's advancing quickly, though, and that pasture life really complements my training well.

Today, I asked for just a couple tiny steps of walk half pass, just to get him to start thinking about it. It was difficult, but so was leg yield when we first asked for that. Now, he can trot leg yield like he's a professional dancer, which is the best analogy of dressage. He's very attentive to the aids too and rides almost right off my seat for most transitions and some movements, which is exactly what we want for any riding discipline. That will only improve, and then there's something magical when horse and rider feel as one mind and one body, but that's the goal of training.

And I noticed some other things about Buddy. He's matured. He stands level or even a little uphill (yay!) and he actually changed in many other ways. His neck is more refined and longer looking. Also, although his head still isn't a "pretty" head, he's grown into it and it doesn't look so blocky ugly anymore. It's almost like he was the ugly duckling that grew into a swan. There's something special about him now that he's hitting full maturity.

And after a ride that left me glowing with pride, I trimmed his hooves. I had three done and the fourth was difficult, because he kept wanting to itch his butt, first on me, then on the manger door near where I tie him in the barn. I figured he must have worked that area of his body extra hard in our ride and finally decided to interrupt the trimming to work over his body with the massaging curry comb and then put some liniment on that area bothering him. That seemed to settle him down so I could finish trimming the last hoof.

He ended as a happy boy and me as a happy horse mom as his friends greeted us at the pasture gate when I turned him out again.

Going out to catch Buddy.
The herd at the far end of the pasture (1/2 mi walk)

Writing progress

I've had some trouble with the latest story, Forgotten Worlds #5 (title TBD), but I've also been dealing with some weird health issues (possibly nutrient deficiencies, since supplements seem to be helping). Now that I've been recovering from the latter, the writing is flowing again. I've recovered my characters too from whatever was blocking them. For some reason, having a temporary crown for two weeks cut me off from my characters, darn near the scariest thing for a writer; but on goes the permanent crown and I can think again. I hate dental work with a passion, especially after this.

With that, I've ended up completely reworking the story that I thought was going to be #5 into something that fits MUCH better with improvements in what it adds to the overarching story of the series. The story was feeling thin, until this morning, when I realized what I could add. Suddenly, I had that extra dimension that was missing.

Sometimes in writing, we don't know what to expect or we think we know but it's not quite right. This happens with almost every story for me. Then there's an epiphany, an awakening of sorts, and the real story comes through. That's when the magic happens! I love those moments. For me, that's the reward of writing. It kind of is an addiction, but a good addiction, because the pleasure from those moments in writing are what makes it worthwhile and keeps a true writer writing and productive. It is for me what gambling or social media likes are to others; except this is purely constructive not destructive.

So, back on track with Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #5 and actually almost a quarter into writing it with a good start and the best yet to come. This series is something special.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

the dog days of summer

Tuff enjoying a cool dip in the pasture dugout

We had a busy weekend, or at least I did. Saturday, I kicked my family out of the house to clean the garage. The mid-morning started out hot already, which was why, after pulling out as much stuff from the garage as we could and sweeping out all the leaves, dust bunnies, and insect carcasses, my youngest child kept asking me to spray her legs while we hosed and scrubbed the floor. By the time we finished cleaning, the temperature in the garage was almost 90 F and we had a fan going. The kids chickened out on us by then, so my husband and I finished the task of putting everything back. I had to wait for the floor to dry, while he built a quick shelf in front of where I park my truck; but that shelf allows more stuff out of the way and still leaves me room to fit my pickup so I can walk around it. A lot was rearranged. He and I worked in the garage a total of at least five hours. It was a long day.

Today, I started out tired but made the drive out to see my Buddy. I haven't seen him in two weeks because of weather and not feeling quite right. Today was blistering hot again with barely a breeze. I didn't ride, but I did check over my boy and gave him some treats. Afterwards, when I turned him out in his pasture and expected him to hightail it back to his friends, he surprised me. Instead, he followed me back to the gate with a look of "Aren't you forgetting something?"

I wasn't actually forgetting anything. I had just decided that he didn't need any body work, and I was already soaked in sweat just from the walk leading him in from the far side of the pasture and then brushing him off and picking hooves. So, figuring he wanted a quick work of his main problems, I went in and put my hands on his face. As soon as I did, he was yawning. It didn't take much, but I knew when he was done and happy. I said my farewell, and he meandered towards his friends--it was too hot to run.

I learned from my sister that I sometimes have a horse of a different color--apparently, Buddy likes to roll in the mud. I've seen her horses do it too. It's likely as much for natural fly protection as well as to cool off. Pasture horses know how to take care of themselves.

It's also haying season. Lots of cutting, raking, and baling going on right now. We pray for a few days at a stretch without rain so that the hay can be put up properly.

It was a quick trip, but I also delivered some goodies for the younger nephews and niece, toys that my kids no longer wanted or needed, which had been taking up space in the garage. And there were a few other items that my parents and sisters and their families could find useful. Now, if I could just get those old horse blankets and sheets sold, that would mean more space saving.

Monday, July 8, 2019

back to drafting

After some weird health issue bumps in the road last week, I got back to work writing this weekend.

I have a first chapter of the first draft written on Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #5 and an outline written up already to guide me along. It's different. The characters are developing, and the new characters are still new, so the others aren't sure what to make of them, but I know. They can still surprise me, however.

And I have the closing (sort of an "end credit") scene ready for this one. I've been inserting those all along as extras with plans to lead up to bigger things in forthcoming books. It fits perfectly with the reveals in #5.

I wish I could write these faster, but the actual writing takes much more work than the outlining. Outlining is easy--that's just brainstorming. Fleshing out the stories and developing the characters is what requires work, and that is where the bottleneck is, besides real life. Besides, while I'm writing or editing, I end up developing other ideas and adding to the series :)

So, I'm working on #5 of SA:FW and still have ideas for 8+ more already written in synopses, some quite thoroughly; and that's not even getting close to the climax of this whole series. I expect to write a lot in this series, as long as the creativity continues to keep coming. It helps that these are only at that 40,000 word novella/novel borderline. I can actually create MUCH more with shorter books than I can with longer books, and there's still an overall story arc (like Babylon 5). If you're enjoying it, be sure to add me as a favorite author at your chosen ebook retailer to be notified when the next book is available.

The first two books of the series are available for reading now. #3 is pre-order for September. #4 will get set up for pre-order with an expected release date in the end of November 2019. Expect #5 to be available sometime around the end of February 2020. I'll keep working on a 2.5-3 month release schedule on these. Don't plan on seeing anything else from me until this series has run its course. (Unless I get stuck and write something else to get the creative juices flowing again.)





Saturday, June 22, 2019

Another book done

Well, it's done. IN DARKNESS, LIGHT is complete at around 42,000 words, the longest of the Forgotten Worlds series so far. It wasn't intended to be, but that's how it is now, in the second draft. The first draft was actually around 39,000 words, but in the first round of editing, I did some minor rewrites throughout and added a short last chapter. That short last chapter didn't add as much as the rewrites, however.

The timing on finishing first round edits on #4 was perfect, right about the same time that #2 was released. THE RULE OF YONDER was released two days ago. Now, you can read #1 and #2. And if you can't wait for September for #3, there are plenty of books in the Starfire Angels series as a whole to keep you busy until then:

Dark Angel Chronicles (young adult SF):
Starfire Angels (the book that started the whole series)
Broken Wings
Crystal Tomb
Origins of Dark Angel
Forever Dark

When Angels Cry (SF novella)

Revelations (SF, transition to using pen name M.A. Nilles):
Deception (novelette)
Shards (novella)

Beyond Starfire Angels (SF):
The Lereni Trade (novella)

Forgotten Worlds (space opera SF):
A New Beginning
The Rule of Yonder
Vault of the Celestials (coming September 12, 2019)
In Darkness, Light (coming winter 2019)
(much more to come!)

I've come to realize that half of my stories--or maybe even more than half already--fall under the Starfire Angels umbrella series. I enjoy it and keep finding new directions to take it. Forgotten Worlds is just the latest and so much fun! It's all been fun, though, which is why I keep coming back to my Starfire-verse.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Amazon ebook giveaway - limited time!

One more post today, then I'm done, probably for the week:

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: A New Beginning (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 1) (Kindle Edition). 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jun 22, 2019 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

Vault of the Celestials now available for pre-order

Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #3 is now available for pre-order everywhere that it is available.

Returning to Ethal wasn't what Nik wanted. His leaving wasn't on the best of terms—he defied his family and abandoned his responsibilities. But he has sworn to help Nya complete her mission. Unfortunately, confronting his past is only the beginning of their troubles; Nya's life may be in danger on Ethal.

To make matters worse, when Nya disappears in the Vault of the Celestials, Nik and Vel get trapped trying to rescue her. The temple contains mysteries never revealed, until Nya's presence provides the key. They must solve the puzzles of an ancient past to learn the secrets of the Vault and expose the shadow threat to their mission.

Only $2.99 at these and other retailers:
Barnes & Noble

Friday, June 14, 2019

Forgotten Worlds #4 - cover reveal

It is done. The first draft is done of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #4. As promised, here is the cover of IN DARKNESS, LIGHT...

Now, the editing rounds begin to refine the story. Look for this around late November-early December 2019.

In the meantime, #1 - A NEW BEGINNING is available. #2 - THE RULE OF YONDER will be available in one week (June 20). #3 - VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS will be available September 12.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Achievement unlocked - cowhorse level 2

Saddled and almost ready, waiting to start the day's adventure.

Buddy finally did it--he officially worked cows. And I mean, we worked all afternoon. First, we rounded up the smaller group (about 100 cow-calf pairs) from the closest pasture. Then, we helped sort cow-calf pairs into small groups to go to different pastures.

There was a point when driving the herd through the gate that they didn't see it open and switched and started back into the pasture. That is one of many aggravations working cows. But with four riders, a pickup, and a ranger, they were caught in time and driven through the gate. I had to keep Buddy back. He got a bit riled at that point as his herdmates did the work with their riders. The energy level was high and this was his first time. He got a bit excited, so I had my hands full trying to keep him calm enough to stop them from darting another direction.

In the herding excitement, we had a couple of difficult moments of him acting up. However, Buddy really likes working cows. It's like he was split between wanting to play with friends and wanting to do a job. I had to correct him a few times after starting to herd the cows, and then he behaved, until we got to the gate where they were trouble.

After following the cows through the aisle to the first lot to get to the other lot where we would sort, he was very riled up. I got off briefly and led him through that lot to the one where the next stage would take place. It was only a few minutes, but it was enough for him to calm down.

I mounted again, and, although he was a bit hyped up throughout everything, he was settled enough from where he had been too difficult to where I felt confident being on his back again. He doesn't usually get that bad, but there's a first time for everything.

In the lot getting ready to start sorting
cow-calf pairs into new groups for new pastures.
Next was a different test for him. Sorting cow-calf pairs is tricky. Getting a single bovine sorted isn't hard, but when you have a pair to keep together, that can be all sorts of headaches. The cows settled into pairs from the move while my sister decided what she wanted sorted, but once a rider goes in, that can change very quickly.

Buddy kept whinnying for his friends who were also in the lot helping sort with their riders, but he mostly kept his head in the game. He started out not sure what was going on but didn't take long to figure out what we were doing. I've said before he's a smart horse. He'd make a great cutting horse. With my legs and seat and our dressage training, I told him how to move his body around to block a cow and move into her to make her go where we wanted. He gained some confidence and just got better and better. He even reached the point where some rough footing didn't bother him as long as he got his cow. Normally, he wouldn't attempt certain footing, but he learned that some things are more important/interesting, and he's pretty surefooted.

And then a storm was building in the west and heading our way. He's sensitive to the weather changes and started getting a bit antsy for his friends again, but we worked as much as we could. When that wind and rain hit, however, he didn't like it. At that point, we quit.

It was time for me to head home, but my sister and her helpers decided to head back to sort one more group. I would have liked to have stayed, but by then, I had his saddle off and he had worked enough. My little Buddy will be sore tomorrow, but he earned an extra helping of grain tonight. He definitely has cow sense. It didn't take long for that to emerge. Now, he just needs to calm down, focus on his work, and not worry about where his herdmates are. Officially, though, I'd say he unlocked a new achievement, as the gaming world would note. He is a cowhorse graduated to the next level. He even nosed a calf lying on the ground without fear.

And we worked all afternoon in our western saddle and I'm very glad we did. However, I was sore. For most of our riding, I'm sticking to our dressage saddle, but for cow work, it definitely pays to be in a western saddle.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

MORE Forgotten Worlds coming soon!

I've been trying to keep myself on a regular schedule, at least once a week, with my blog. It's not always about writing, because that is only one part of my life. I enjoy sharing other parts without getting too personal, such as my furbabies--4 cats and a horse--and their antics and lives. I've always been an animal lover and always will be. I prefer animals to people, for reasons that should be obvious.

Okay, before I go off on a tangent, I'll get back to this post. I wanted to share some updates on the writing projects.

I'm especially excited because THE RULE OF YONDER (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #2) is coming soon! And I mean VERY SOON--JUNE 20th! Less than two weeks from now! I'm actually excited and frightened. It's the second book of the Forgotten Worlds series. I worry that it's really ready, yet I enjoyed the last round of edits so much that I'm sure people will enjoy the adventure through a station called Yonder in the nowhere of interstellar space. It should feel a bit like a Star Wars/Farscape-flavored adventure with countless new aliens and crime organizations. Anything goes, which made it fun to write and read, at least for me. I hope it is for you, too.

You can judge for yourself if this series is one that holds up. I do best when writing at my own pace instead of rushing.

In September, VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS (SA:FW #3) will be available. I have a couple more rounds of edits to complete on that before it's ready. This will be going up for preorder on Amazon in the upcoming week. (Amazon only allows 90 days lead on preorders, unlike the distributors I go through.)

I really love how the cover turned out on #3. However, I learned from it not to get too excited for a cover and title before I actually write the book. It was too distracting for me, partly because I adore the cover and can't take my eyes off it. The other part is because it really put my feet to the fire to write the book to fit that title. From now on, I don't settle on a title or cover until the book is well into being written.

That's worked out great for the current writing project, SA:FW #4. I was about halfway into this draft when I found the perfect cover image, no alterations needed. I just haven't been able to decide on a title, but it looks like my original idea will fit, now that I'm very close to being done (34K words out of a planned 40K word book). Tentatively, #4's title is IN DARKNESS, LIGHT. I'm planning a December release for this, probably early December, maybe late November, depending on how writing on #5 goes. (Publishing every 2 1/2-3 months seems to work well for me to have the time I need to not feel rushed while turning out books on a reasonable schedule. Also, drafting two books ahead of publication is helpful for me too.)

I am nearly done with the first draft of #4. When that happens, I will share the cover I have for it. Only when it's done will I know for sure if the title will stick. I'm so anxious to share it, but I know I'm better off holding back until I'm absolutely certain. I hope to finish it in the upcoming week.

And while you're waiting in between each book, check out some of my other works on the series pages on this blog or at my website. Starfire Angels itself goes back to the young adult book by that title that started the Dark Angel Chronicles (also available as a boxed set). That then transformed into the Revelations portion of the series. And now I'm writing Forgotten Worlds. The Luriel Cycle is a contemporary epic fantasy trilogy (also available as a boxed set). If you want something similar to but not as complicated or as graphic as Game of Thrones, I'd recommend Legend of the White Dragon, which is complete at five books (also available as a boxed set). And my personal favorites of my fantasy stories are the Demon Age novels--Tiger Born and Spirit Blade. I could reread those until the end of my days and would love an excuse to return to that world, but--alas--it hasn't been a good seller... yet.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

my Buddy and me

I think I overdid things yesterday. After a pretty good ride on Buddy, I trimmed his hooves. Today, I'm sore and extremely tired. Getting older sucks. I can't bounce back like I did in my younger years.

But I had fun getting to this. I've discovered more about Buddy, and he's learning more out on the farm than I ever could have done with him at a boarding barn with limited riding places. I've regained some confidence, even in the face of his getting a bit wild at times. He wants to play when I ask for a canter, but he's been a bit cooped up yet. Until the cattle get moved, the horses are in a paddock. Once the cattle are moved to summer pastures, the horses will get their pasture back.

But who am I fooling? I know Buddy. He'll still be mister wild child when he feels like it. Fortunately for me, he's also easy to control in those moments. But just to be cautious, I'm switching out his normal loose ring snaffle for a pelham with two sets of reins. I used to do that with my warmblood, who was far FAR more athletic than Buddy could ever be and dangerous when he had too much energy. The pelham bit gives me a little extra control when I need it. I learned to use two sets of reins before I ever started my warmblood in a double bridle. With Buddy, I'll have that shank rein for leverage when I need it but will usually only use the snaffle rein. Yes, he's been feeling like he could get out of control at times when we're riding. So far, I've been able to bring him back, but I'm too old to deal with a runaway. It's only when we're cantering or trotting that he gets a bit headstrong.

We're cantering more and more now too. We hardly did any canter until this spring, but the hills have been helping him learn to collect to carry a rider at a canter. Yesterday, we cantered circles on flat (although rough) terrain. He's learned from all of our lateral work how to listen to my body to pick up the lead that I want, which is pretty amazing; but he's always been very smart.

Also, I've been having to learn how to sit on him. Sitting the gaits is different on each horse, depending on their build and the saddle structure and fit. I'm figuring that out on him the more I get him to canter, and he's gaining confidence and roundness very quickly, but I suspect part of that is because he's depending on me holding him up in front. That will change in time. It's so much fun experiencing his development.

Last of all, this spring has been a cold one, but he's finally slicking out. Just a little winter hair left on his nose and ears. My little dressage/trail/cattle horse.

ps--It was too muddy and he was too ornery for me to feel safe riding him at the branding last weekend. But we observed from the ground. He settled in to the commotion quite nicely, even if he really wanted to run and play when given the chance; but he couldn't because he kept slipping on the wet grass.

pps--Although the western saddle fits him with the special shim pad and cinching system, he doesn't like it. He doesn't get sore, but he doesn't like it. He prefers our dressage saddle...and so do I.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

Thank you to all who have fought and died to guarantee our freedoms... One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Writing updates

Another week has gone by and the writing has gone well.

Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #4 is about 2/3 completed at around 26K words with a target of 40K. I've been cruising along pretty well on the first draft. There are some revelations with the new character but not too much. I've written plenty but also have had to rewrite and delete sections after realizing a couple of holes in the story that didn't make sense. The realization came after a little break to edit #2 (The Rule of Yonder). The problem became apparent but was also easy to fix. I just didn't get to keep some of the good parts I had written. I had to write new parts, hopefully just as good; but if not, that's what editing is for.

And, as I mentioned, I'm going into final edits on THE RULE OF YONDER. Getting that ready for its June 20 debut is a big task. Since I had set it aside for a couple of months, it's fresh to me again and so much fun!

I confess that I get tired of the stories after reading and rereading and rereading ad nauseam. But after putting them aside, I don't mind that next reread. I write first and foremost for myself. When the story works, it's so much fun! And that's exactly why I keep writing.

That's what I've been up to this last week with writing. Everything else has been on hold because of all the rain. I'm sick of rain! We need a break, about a week of no or little rain; then we can have some heavy rain again. These last couple of weeks have been awful--cold, wet, and endless. I don't want summer's high heat, but I am anxious for better weather than this to return, so I can get back to riding and so we can get our garden planted.

Perhaps the rain had a purpose though--keeping me inside to write and edit!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Reminiscing and writing

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's post. Baxter Black was a rare treat when I was growing up. Where I live, we had Rodney Nelson as our local cowboy poet. I recommend anyone looking for a good story and a laugh look up more on Youtube.

So, what else have I been up to, besides reminiscing? Working at my day job for one.

Buddy with his new saddle after a long trail ride.
And training Buddy. It's that time of year when ranchers in my area brand, vaccinate, and castrate calves. (Don't want a bunch of little bulls running around.) Buddy is ready to help round up cattle now. He's becoming a real cowhorse, as I posted a couple of weeks ago. The big test is coming up. All the commotion and comraderie of neighbors gathering to help each other becomes a working party. It's a simple life well lived. But for a horse, it can be a bit frightening initially. We'll see how he handles his first branding roundup this spring.

And I'm excited that my brother and his family will be home for the branding also. Farm families are some of the closest knit families you'll ever meet. We rely on each other. Granted, like my brother and his family, who live in another state, I don't actually live on the farm/ranch anymore, but it's still in our blood. My sisters still live and work on the farm with their families, and my brother and I both wish we could too. Alas, our lives have taken different routes, but home is home. There's a peace about the open country where the closest neighbor is a mile or two away. There's real freedom in that, and it's a balm to the soul. Getting back to my roots has provided the greatest healing for me.

It's that peace that lets me regain my writing focus. The long drive to and from the farm of my youth gives me lots of time to think and clear my head. I've been using that to work out details of whatever story I'm working on. Because of that, the writing has been going well on #4 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. Yes, #4 already! I like being two books ahead of the one I plan to release. And the shorter lengths keep me from getting bored.

I am really enjoying the way this series is going so far. The first draft of #4 (title TBD) is halfway done already. As I mentioned last week, I met a new character in this one who really intrigued me. He was exactly what the series needed, and I plan to keep him as a regular character from this point forward. I have a working title and a cover image, but I'm not sure if the title will fit by the end of the story. If I was as sure as I was with Vault of the Celestials, I would announce it here, but it looks like that announcement will have to wait until the end of June. Ironically, VotC (SA:FW #3) was an easy title and cover but a hard book to write; now, #4 is pretty easy to write but difficult to title. That's writing.

Speaking of June, THE RULE OF YONDER will be available June 20th. I'm going into final edits on that this week to have it ready in time to go out to all the retailers. I hope you're as excited as I am!

Despite their narrow escape from the Issan, Zaer's starship, the Da'Nelgur, was severely damaged. Vel and Shen have tried to fix the hyperdrive, and Nya is sound asleep. Their only chance to repair the ship to continue their journey to Ethal is a crime-syndicate-run remote city in interstellar space.

Yonder Station is not a place where anyone with sense wants to stay long, but it has its advantages. A home to salvagers, dealers, hustlers, and assassins, it is also a valuable trading post for the fringe of the galaxy, especially for information. The latest news is the Da'Nelgur's involvement with the Issan and the mysterious portals.

When Zaer is taken by one of the crimelords seeking what she knows about the portals, it's up to Nik and Nya to rescue her. But that same crimelord wants them too. To rescue Zaer, they'll need to avoid being captured while tracking where she might have been taken. What they discover could get them killed, or it could gain them powerful new allies. What could go wrong?

Pre-order your ebook copy today from major retailers:

Barnes and Noble
and many others

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A laugh for today

ps--makes me hungry!

pps--I remember watching Johnny Carson late at night, back when we could laugh about anything. Ah, the good old days!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Forgotten Worlds #4 progress

I'm currently working on the fourth installment of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series. After massive edits on Vault of the Celestials, it was difficult to get my focus back on the writing side of things, but I eventually got there. And I needed that time to figure out the story.

Then I realized where else could I pick up except where the final scene of VotC left off? I don't yet have a title for #4 of this series, but I do have a cover design based on the world where Zaer has a connection with a special delivery. Once I got going, the story picked up speed to where I had written over 4,000+ words this past weekend. It slowed down since but only because I need a breather--that was quite the pace for me. Part of that strong pace was the inspiration of a new character mysteriously appearing and gaining development.

I love new characters, but this one took over my imagination. He's interesting is all I can say at this early stage, but I already have big plans for him.

I'm only 10K words into this, or about a quarter of the expected length. I generally plan around 40K words on each of these, give or take a couple thousand. It's actually an awkward length but so much easier than aiming for 100K novels. And I have more fun because I can switch up adventures more frequently. That keeps me going.

I hope it keeps you going too. I have a cover mostly ready for #4. I just need the title, which will come at some point.

For now, you can start this exciting new science fiction series with the first book, A NEW BEGINNING. The second book, THE RULE OF YONDER, will be available on June 20. The third, VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS, will be available in September. This fourth book you can expect sometime soon after Thanksgiving (U.S.).

Friday, May 3, 2019

I have a cowhorse

Yay, Buddy! He's finally getting there. This winter changed him. Well, it wasn't just winter, but how he lived this winter and my care through the winter. The experience changed him for the better. The farm has been exactly what he needed to get over his nerves. He was always a smart boy and clearly has some foundation Quarter Horse, based on his conformation, even if he doesn't have registration papers. That should equate to a calm boy. Unfortunately, he hadn't had the experiences that he needed to start accepting new things and getting over his fears.

Buddy has come so far since I took him out to my family's farm. Being around cattle and all the big tractors, Rangers, pickups, trailers, stacks of round bales etc. has taught him not to be afraid of every little thing. And my regular handling has taught him that he's okay without his herd nearby. He's FINALLY carrying that through under saddle now, not just when I'm on the ground with him.

Last fall, we helped sort calves for weaning with him in-hand for that first experience. He started out nervous, but by the end was excited to go after the cows. Today, we rode with the cows for the first time and, except for a moment when he wanted to buck and play instead of canter (easily corrected, because he's not mean-spirited at all), he enjoyed it! He was even walking on a loose rein. I like to do some dressage work, but I've been trying to let him go off the contact and encouraging him to relax. The only time he started to get anxious for his friends was coming over the hill back to the farmstead. That was the first time he whinnied during our whole ride, which means he was pretty occupied with our ride up to that point and not worried.

The lead is free and he's completely at ease as long as he has yummy green
We didn't focus on dressage today, except to correct him from dropping his shoulder, but focused on western riding in our new saddle. (A special pad with back shims and using the special Circle Y 7/8 cinch position were the answers to freeing his shoulders) He'll be ready to join the big boys rounding up cattle for working calves in three weeks.

And after our ride, I took him to the grass for a treat. I was able to drop the lead rope and let him graze while I played with the dogs. He didn't look around anxiously for his friends like he used to do. I could barely get him to enjoy the grass last fall--he was always worried about where his friends were. He's never worried about stepping on his lead, which doesn't phase him in the least. He just moves his hoof until his head is free. I have an awesome horse who just gets better and better with time and training.

Tuff wanting me to throw the rock
Gunner taking it easy...finally

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I am not on social media

You will not find me on Facebook (quit a year ago) or Twitter. I have also closed my Instagram account. Google+ is closed. MySpace is dead, as is LiveJournal. I haven't had any other accounts that I can recall, except blogs. Social media is the virtual wild west, too abusive, and too time sucking. I'm done with it. I am only hanging out online in private groups.

If you see someone masquerading as me on the primary social media hangouts, it is NOT me. Please let the platforms know if you find anything like that. I can be found here, on my blog. (I don't consider groups like Goodreads to be social media since it's more like a forum; although, depending on your definition of social media, a forum could fall under that heading. I just don't group it in with social media because it isn't quite the same.)

Now, back to your reading enjoyment.

edit 5/4/19: There is still one account that I mostly ignore. I get bothered by the company so much I may close that down too.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

cover art

I love showing off covers just as much as I love creating them. I've been wanting to put together a boxed set for the Luriel Cycle but could not grasp a concept for a cover. If I can't come up with a concept, there would be no way an artist could.

It may take a while, but eventually, I get there... I got there. The same thing can happen in writing. Sometimes you just have to push through the creative block.

At last, I have a cover for the boxed set of The Luriel Cycle: the Complete Trilogy, which will be available soon...

Edit 4/28/19: I started looking at the previous cover and saw a Disney movie. Not good. This is not a Disney-audience friendly book. Loved the cover model, but she looked too young. I went with a modification that took the model out.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Cat pic spam

We have four cats in our house. They keep us smiling, and you'll see why.

The three musketeers - (left to right)
Suki, Jack, Dargo

The boys are BFFs

little miss tortitude cleaning her belly

Dargo is a big baby and a goofball

"My towels!"

Our geriatric Siamese, Padme.

The two Siamese and oldest of our kitties - Dargo and Padme

Saturday, April 20, 2019

A wonderful day with my Buddy

I don't get many days like this, so I really enjoy them as fully as I can.

It's Easter weekend and I felt the blessings I have, despite middle-age health issues and having my horse fifty miles away. Today could only have been better if my sisters had been home to visit. But it was a great day, nevertheless.

I drove out to my family's farm to see Buddy and my parents and all the new baby calves. (It's that time of year.) I brought him in from the pen with his friends and trimmed his hooves, then had a great ride. It didn't start out great, but it ended that way. He started out being mister fussy-britches-somewhat-naughty boy, so we worked through it to get him focused. He even gave me some trot leg-yield. Seeing that he could do that, I asked from some walking haunches-in. Bending like that was a little difficult, but it kept him focused on me instead of worrying about not being with his friends. We had gone over the hill from the farm and back.

Then we rode around the yard a little and to the other side of the farmyard. He was trotting nicely, suppling in his jaw, and even letting me let the reins out while walking without him hurrying to go where he wanted to go. We had a puddle in our path that he took some convincing to walk through but not much. Seeing how he didn't need much more than to see that there wasn't any way around, I was pretty proud of him for that. But he got even better.

Saying "Hi" to Babe and Freckles on our
way back to the barn.
We continued around the first-calf heifer lot, then continued out to where his friends were in their pen. By then, he was walking on a nice loose rein with his head level with his withers. We walked by his friends with them following us and out through a steep, dry ditch and out by the south pasture, where he got a little nervous about a huge rock and a little calf, but otherwise continued with a moderately loose rein. We rode back over the culvert rode of that ditch we had ridden through to get out to the pasture, then came back riding on the buckle along the pen with his friends. I was very proud of him by this point.

Coming back brought on some anxiety for him, as we rode between the yearling and bull lots to return to the barn and untack. He earned a double helping of grain with his supplement. For once, he wasn't super sweaty, despite the 76 F temperatures and his winter coat, which you can see in the pictures. I think his mostly relaxed state today made a big difference, since he normally is a nervous nelly (and sweats a lot to go with it). Buddy seemed so much more confident than normal today, but not yet ready to ride among the cattle. Around them with a fence between him and them, okay. With them... We're working on it. This trail riding is what he's needed for a long time. It's building his confidence tremendously.

Nom Nom Nom!
After our ride, I gave him his spring 5-way shot including West Nile Virus while he enjoyed his treat. Then, I gave him more of a treat by letting him enjoy some of the spring grass coming up--he more than earned it! He even ate along the yearling lot on our walk back to his paddock with the yearlings crowding around him. (Yearling cattle are always curious. My horses growing up who were used to working cattle would occasionally get spooked when the yearlings would run to the fence to check us out.)

I didn't get many pics, but I managed a few.

Curious yearlings couldn't ruin his treat

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Forgotten Worlds -- more to come!

The third book of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series is going up for pre-orders already. Amazon's listing will be up in June. VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS (book 3) will be released on September 12, 2019.

Before then, THE RULE OF YONDER (Book 2) will be released on June 20, 2019.

Currently, A NEW BEGINNING (Book 1) is available for purchase.

Those are the first three books of this series to date that are written. However, there are many more to come!

I will be busy writing this series throughout the next two years at least.

I have now outlined Book 4 and it will be a fun one. It will be a return to the overall feel of the series. Book 3 is a bit different, more fully establishing the history of this universe, or at least the galaxy in which the series takes place in this fiction universe, so it became a puzzle to solve, both in writing and for my characters. I feel that after all the action of Book 2, it was a good time to have a change of pace and lay down some more foundation, including with the Starfire for those who might be new to the Starfire Angels universe. Book 4 goes back to being more action like I want for this series.

Get ready. This will be a fun series with many twists and turns.

I hope to have Book 4 out around Christmas of 2019.

This is only the beginning...