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:







MORE TO COME!

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.

Monday, June 29, 2020

T-10 days

In only ten days, DISPOSITION OF DREAMS will be available for download from all the major ebook retailers. Starfire Angels: Forgotten worlds Book 6 will be released on July 9th. Don't wait. Pre-order now!


When she wakes up at Starfire Tower, life is almost perfect for Nya, even if she is late for a class and her parents have planned a surprise visit. Being a Keeper in training isn’t easy; and being the child of a Crystal Keeper is awkward, but it has its benefits. When her father is called to a first-contact situation with a new race, Nya is included in the meeting, but there is something sinister about the emissary. She doesn’t know how she knows about the Feri. She only knows that the dreams of another life are so real that she can’t ignore the warning about the visitors to Inar’Ahben who want to know about the powers of the Crystal Keepers.

And if you haven't started this series yet, what's stopping you? Book 1, A NEW BEGINNING, is now free!

There will be much more to come. Start reading today!

Learn more about this and the other books of the series at melanienilles.com.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

kitty cuteness

Dargo and Jack are BFFFs (best feline friends forever). These two are play buddies and sleep buddies. They LOVE to wrestle and rough-house. It's nice to get some pictures of them in these moments. Usually it's late at night at the foot of our bed when they're cuddled like this. As it is, I've been sitting in the chair with my feet next to them on their ottoman to get some editing done. They were so cute that I had to take a break to share what it's like when I'm working:





Not a cuddly kitties pic, but too cute not to share--Dargo looooves clean towels:

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Awakening... The Luriel Cycle

When I originally wrote AWAKENING, it was a different time in the real world, before the 2016 U.S. elections. Already, there were divisions in our culture. I initially knew that I wanted to write a story about good versus evil and a bad boy who would be changed. Originally, the series was to be called the Shadow Realm Saga.

Around the time that I published the book (the first time), I had my health fall apart. I didn't know if I could finish the series I had in mind. At that time, I had planned four books. Apparently, that was not meant to be. It wasn't out long before I pulled the book off publication and put it aside. I didn't want to have a book available that was promising more but which I couldn't follow through.

A couple years later, as I started recovering my health, I re-imagined the series into a trilogy and renamed it The Luriel Cycle. I had a clearer idea of what needed to happen in the series, which wasn't as big as I originally expected, but it still surprised me. I knew I only had enough ideas for two more books, and ENLIGHTENMENT and ETERNAL fit. The series was to be about a healing. I knew that the daemons and luriel originally were single beings but that something split them into their dark and light sides, not just visually but in personalities.

I knew that I couldn't write the Luriel Cycle as described in the books to become the book titles -- Awakening, Enlightenment, Ascension, (and Eternal as a fourth book originally) -- but had to skip Ascension. The series was about breaking that cycle. There was no Ascension, because it had to be stopped there. That realization became a sort of revelation event and jumped to Eternal, which was not a stage in the described Luriel Cycle in the series but was the end, representative of breaking the cycle.

So, I started digging deeper into the root of the series. I also had to make it work in the way I wanted, so I made some tweaks to AWAKENING, small adjustments to fit with the new vision of the series, and re-released it. It didn't take much and anyone who read both version probably missed those details because they were so small; but I had to make the series make sense for what I knew was to come.

In writing ENLIGHTENMENT, I realized that the real purpose of the series was to use Lilly and Darrac to reunite those who had been split. At the time, our culture was being split along ideological lines and that worked its way into the series. The characters became a tool for healing the Eternals who had been victims of their own hubris. They had been split into the evil and good sides, represented by the cliche light and dark. Lilly's world was still whole, gray (the combination of light and dark), hence the reason that the daemons and luriel referred to it as the Gray Realm. Through the second book, I explored the idea of the cause of the split.

Lilly also had to grow. She is reluctant to accept the truth in the first book and is a bit selfish in her own little world, but she begins to accept her fate as she learns the truth throughout ENLIGHTENMENT about Darrac and his connection to the source of the cataclysm. She learns about her power to heal the people from the Shadow Realm. She goes through the Luriel Cycle enlightenment but she also enlightens Mychel to the truth about the daemons. It doesn't make them any less evil, but it does reveal to him that they are as much victims as the luriel. Through one which he comes to care about, he accepts the responsibility that leads to his healing in ETERNAL.

In the final book, all the pieces come together, literally. It doesn't come easy. The healing isn't only applied to the daemons and luriel but also to the characters who had to face their own prejudices and reconcile with the new reality.

Our world is split in such a way, each side thinking the other is oppressive, but both have been wronged and are mistaken; like the struggle between the luriel and daemons in this series, neither is completely right. There is true evil, but it exists primarily at the individual level. Also, when one side of an ideal is destroyed, it destroys the other. There must be balance, a moderation. Both must perish for one to survive.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Western lite

I cannot comfortably spend any length of time or hard riding in a western saddle. I don't know why, but my right leg starts to kill me, especially my ankle. However, I can sit in my dressage saddle all day, which I did on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for some hard riding. I'm calling it my western lite saddle.

What western riders may find unbelievable but dressage riders will not (or they might if they've never chased cows before) is that I can stay with my horse turning a cow better in my dressage saddle than I ever did in a western saddle, and I grew up in a western saddle. I feel closer and more "plugged in" to my horse in my dressage saddle than in a western saddle. And, as I pointed out to my BIL, the knee rolls on my dressage saddle are just as good for stabilization as any swells on a western saddle.

I was on the ranch Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this past week helping my family sort cow-calf pairs for different pastures. Buddy had some moves! And I was right with him in my dressage saddle... all day (5-6 hours each day) three days in a row. We didn't work as hard as my sister and brother-in-law, but we had our moments. Besides, I'm older, and I also find that not getting the cows or calves excited the way they do usually results in less escape attempts and, as a result, less trouble.

The only trouble I really had, since Buddy LOVES working cattle, is that he got his tongue over the jointed mouthpiece of his pelham bit a few times and I had to get off to drop the bridle to fix it. If you've never had it happen, the joint will poke up under the tongue and bother the horse when that happens. Buddy tossed his head, until I fixed it. But he didn't stop doing it. So, I came prepared on the last day. When he did it again, I switched to a western bridle from a past horse I had, a low port sweet iron curb with a copper roller. It took him a while to accept it, but once he did, he quieted his mouth and didn't once get his tongue over that bit. Given this, we're going to try a double bridle, using the curb as a means to keep his tongue down while I ride primarily with the bradoon (a snaffle that is the primary tool of riding with a double; the curb being there only for refinement). I learned to use it on my last horse, a powerful and big warmblood who had an exuberance that could take him away from me in just a snaffle. With both horses, I had used pelham bits for some control when I could, but now with Buddy developing this new tongue talent and the curb having stopped it, I don't have much of a choice if I want to train him properly. I may not be able to go back to just a snaffle, but time will tell.

Buddy just had to make things difficult.

Thanks to my sister, I have some pictures of us at work.

Getting a pair sorted. We need to keep this kind of
forward in our dressage work!

Taking a group down the alley to the loading chute
to be hauled to one of the pastures Tuesday.

Ponying my sister's horse back to the corral after
a long day of work Tuesday. She took the pic
while driving the Ranger and leading her donkey.

In the corral at the end of the day Wednesday,
Buddy waits in his western bridle to move
cow-calf pairs to the pasture down the road

It's been a long time coming for Buddy to get to this point in his training, but it's a process. Dressage work has prepared him well for doing this. He had his good and bad moments, but those good moments made the moments of being ornery excusable. A few times, he sat down like a cutting horse to turn a cow, and I stayed right with him in my dressage saddle. However, he still gets intimidated by them looking at him and especially when they approach him. A few cows were chargey and needed caution near them. Those cows behaved with two riders coming at them. He's gaining confidence, but that can be unraveled quickly with a bad experience.

Buddy absolutely loves moving cows. He does NOT like being held back, which is funny considering he can be such a chicken. For example, he will snort at and try to get away from strange footing, but when it comes to cows, he doesn't think twice about muck or piles of dirt; he wants to chase a cow! He likes having a job and once he learns the routine, such as with sorting cows, he really gets into it. It's a lot of fun working with him.

In looking at the pictures, I see myself sitting crooked and don't know if it's the ground angle, the stride point, or me. I plan to get together with my instructor for a lesson this summer to fix things. It's been too long.

ps--Because I was so exhausted after these long days, I haven't gotten as much writing done as I wanted, but it was worth it. The writing will catch up, hopefully this weekend.

pps (6/7/20)--This is 100 miles round trip each day for me, which is one reason why I only see my horse (and family) on average 1-2 times a week besides weather factors and timing (no indoor arena like boarding stables, only the wide outdoors). And for anyone who thinks this looks romantic, I can only say NO! There's nothing romantic about farm/ranch life; it's the hardest work you'll ever do. (It takes a special person to work this hard (and harder!); family farmers/ranchers do it for the love of their independence and providing essential products for life, and they love the land and are the best stewards of those resources because their livelihoods depend on it.) Horses, humans, and dogs alike were beat at the end of each day. Thank goodness for sunscreen, or we would have been beet red and swollen of sunburn besides.

Friday, May 29, 2020

getting my cowgirl on

So, I realized that I was going to have to cowgirl up on Buddy. I don't like to do that, because it means getting gritty, but he does need to get over his anxieties. Some horses get more excited the harder you get on them when they act up, until they do something completely dangerous, especially for the rider. I'm not as young and daring as I once was and have been through enough bad situations to have become a bit cautious, perhaps overly cautious... or not.

I know better than to get on an excited horse whose head is lost. It's insanely dangerous. Buddy can be that way sometimes, but I've come to realize there are two things that will do that two him--1) too much excitement, such as other horses running around, like when we're trying to help round up cows and the other horses are doing all the work flying back and forth while he's dancing out of his mind not sure what to make of their activities, and 2) when I put the western saddle on him. For some reason, this always precipitates difficult behavior. I don't know if it's because it doesn't fit right (it seems to it just fine) or if it's because I've always put it on him when we are in the situations of rounding up cows, and a few trail riding sessions. Even our spring trail riding before we tried to do any cattle work had him a little uneasy in the western saddle.

Part of that could be me, because I'm not comfortable in it. I don't like feeling like I'm sitting high above my horse instead of on my horse. My dressage saddle gives me a "plugged in" feeling on his back and I'm more at ease. Western saddles are bulky and heavy and don't allow for any close contact feeling like a dressage saddle does. I also think Buddy has come to like feeling me more closely and relies on the communication of my relaxation through my seat to help him know that he shouldn't worry, since he can't read my body language visually as when I'm on the ground with him. He's a very smart boy and I wouldn't put that past him.

And that all is the long-winded way of saying that I'm working cows in dressage tack and it's going much better with Buddy. However--there is a caveat here--he still gets too worked up when there's a lot of excitement going on around us. Today was quiet and we had a fantastic ride in the pasture and exercised some cows for practice ;) Chasing cows is amazing when you feel close to your horse. He only got worried when the dumb ass, Jewel, started running towards the gate instead of joining us--I let her tag along most of the time we head out on a ride, since the two are best buds and don't like to be apart. That's when I had to "cowgirl up" and deal with his naughtiness from worrying about his friends. I managed to get his mind on the cows, but he still can be difficult when I want him to canter to get ahead--he wants to take control the faster we go and not listen to me, but he's better in our dressage tack. So, we have some work to do this summer, and I'm finally up for the challenge.

He was a very good boy today and seemed to enjoy the workout. I've found that giving him Smart Digest Ultra before we ride does seem to help calm him about an hour after I give it, so part of his anxieties may be due to ulcers, and that's also why I feed it to him before we ride. And afterwards, he earned an extra handful of grain, and then some grass.

He's shed out nearly every last winter hair.

I never have to worry about him stepping on his rope--
he doesn't get upset and just steps off.

A family of Canada geese has been growing up in the pasture dugout pond.

Lastly, I am making good progress on RACING THE ORAST BELT. I've written nearly 27,000 words of it, or around 2/3 done with the first draft. I am aiming to have it done in two weeks, but we'll see. I better get back to it. The day was eaten up by my trip out to work with Buddy after work.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

writing progress update

available for purchase
I've been making great progress on RACING THE ORAST BELT. This is an episode of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten World series that features the space racing mentioned in THE RULE OF YONDER. Ever since I thought of that and inserted it as popular entertainment in that second book of the series, I knew that I wanted to write a story featuring the racing.

Now, I am 1/3 done with RTOB, book #8 of this series, and have expanded the details of this aspect of the galaxy in which Nya is carrying out her mission. I probably won't get into it again, but it is fun to give it so much focus. Nya has to have some fun once in a while, and so do readers, but it's not all fun and games for the characters.

pre-order today!
(available July 9, 2020)
I am hoping to finish the first draft in June, hopefully with plenty of time to finish final edits on DISPOSITION OF DREAMS. That would allow me to get back on track with my publishing schedule without cutting away in the midst of writing RTOB.

As a note to my readers, I generally publish a book about six to seven months after I finish the first draft. I'm trying to stick to that, but sometimes a book takes more work to write or ends up being longer than the 40,000-42,000 word first draft that I aim for with each of the Forgotten Worlds series books. In either case, it delays my schedule. DISPOSITION OF DREAMS and REMNANTS broke my pattern, both of them being closer to 50K words and REMNANTS being a difficult book to get started but one that turned out fabulous (imho), making all that trouble worthwhile. However, that book 7 did set back my publishing schedule a little bit. So, it does happen, but I try to get back on track.
Coming Fall 2020

On another note, I do my best to be sure the next book in the series is set up for pre-order as the preceding book is released.

Be sure to follow my author profile on whatever ebook retailer you prefer to be notified of new releases, such as my Amazon profile.

The best way you can show your support for any author is to leave reviews and to tell others on social media.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

my dressage cowhorse

I'm more comfortable in my dressage saddle, and it's easier to carry to and from storage, than my western saddle. Granted, both are basically custom fitted, but my right ankle kills me when I ride in my western saddle. Otherwise, either one is fine for Buddy, but I prefer my dressage saddle, even if we're riding out among cows. I train Buddy in dressage, which has helped him make the adjustment to being a cowhorse, which is why I call him my dressage cowhorse.

I don't know if Buddy finally hit the age of maturity mentally as he has physically or if the farm has changed him, but this spring, he's been showing me a calmer side (at last! It's only taken 4 1/2 years /sarc). He's seven this year, officially a fully mature horse. And he's finally decided that we can go out on a loose rein and not have to fight each other because he's freaking out being too far away from his herdmates.

Granted, a lot of the change is simply consistency and patience in training him, but he's even walking through mud or uneven footing for me without much fuss. He used to freak about that and try to avoid it, even as recently as last fall. This spring, he's marching right through mud to move cows.

And he loves cows! I swear that moving cows gives horses the confidence for anything, or nearly anything. Having an animal as large as them move out of their way... Whoa! Mind-blown (for the horse). When they finally accept that those cows don't challenge them, something changes. Buddy just took a year and a half to reach that conclusion, but at least he's gotten there. It's a huge confidence boost, but so is learning to trust a rider, which he can only feel and not see.

Buddy is a reader--he likes to see his leader (handler) to read body language as indicators of how he should feel. He's only slowly come to trust in my feel on his back to determine how he should feel. In other words, he's generally not a very confident horse, so anything I can do to help him gain that has been the key to training him. First, they learn that in ground work. Then, the harder challenge is to carry that over to under saddle, where the leader is riding and out of their site. Because of Buddy's nervous personality, it has taken him longer to get to that higher stage. A ridden horse feels more alone, and a horse like Buddy who is a middle-heirarchy herd personality would rather have a leader he can watch for cues about how to behave.

It just takes patience, time, and consistency. Buddy is getting there, finally. I'm so proud of him for how he's blossoming into the horse I always knew he could be. Today, I lunged him in side reins, and, although we haven't done that in a couple of years, it really helped him rediscover his balance and lift his back. Then, the wind decreased, so I rode in the same uneven, grassy area where I had lunged (where he's grazing in the pics below), and he was just as good. In fact, he was better than he's ever been, even cantering on both leads without any fuss. I was going to quit there after such a superb ride (for him) but the wind was so low and he was so good that I decided on a little trail ride out checking cows. After a little fuss to leave the gate, he went out on a loose rein, although he leaned towards home.

We'll be doing more with the cows this spring and he's definitely ready for the work. He's shed a lot in the last few weeks--not a shaggy yeti anymore--but still has a lot to shed out. Today, his mane got a trim so it doesn't tangle so much. He needs a lot more work to lose the winter belly. As a reward for being such a great boy today, he got an extra helping of grain and the chance to graze on the green grass growing after a smidgeon of rain the other day. (We really need much more rain, just not like last summer.)



Definitely less winter hair on his face than a few weeks ago.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dr. Erickson COVID-19 Briefing -- TRUTH CENSORED BY YOUTUBE!!

Update 4/28/2020: Youtube is censoring the truth about coronavirus!! Big tech is controlling what you can see and not letting you judge for yourself. They have taken down a very revealing video of MDs who have explained why the lockdowns should be lifted.

The first video is available on Bitchute at https://www.bitchute.com/video/NkiM9fo1Ba0h/.

My original post:

Some sanity in an insane world too afraid of infections to live. These two explain how to keep your immune system strong, what the real fatality numbers of coronavirus are, and the truth that is being suppressed by the political elites.




Part 2:

Saturday, April 18, 2020

REMNANTS update


Good news! I finished the first draft of REMNANTS yesterday. It came in at just under 50,000 words, the longest of the Forgotten Worlds series so far (and hopefully ever). I'm now doing my first read and rewrite for consistency from beginning to end. Later edits will be sure of consistency in other things, although, as I mentioned in a previous post, that's why I build up a wiki file with all my world-building notes.

I really like how it came together, although I think that it needs one more scene to fully wrap it up. I just have to get through this read to see how it flows for plot and character development. After this, I'll get to start RACING THE ORAST BELT. I'm so anxious for that one! I'm eager to write so many other ideas I have for this series, but ever since I came up with the Orast Belt racing in THE RULE OF YONDER, I've wanted to get my characters in that race, although not as readers probably expect.

I also have to prepare DISPOSITION OF DREAMS for its July release.

Busy! Busy!

And for fun, some pics of the cats.

Can you find two cats?

"Here, I am!" - Suki

"The throne is all mine!"

"I am your master! Bow to me, human slave."

"Bird!"