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!"

Monday, April 13, 2020

Forgotten Worlds Q and A - Part 2

The following is the continuation of the Forgotten Worlds Questions and Answers started on April 11, 2020:

Q: How did you come up with so many different creatures?
A: I love science fiction and fantasy and let my imagination fly. I think in terms of "what would I like to see with this book?", and then I go ahead and create. Forgotten Worlds lets me let loose. The difficult part is that, once I create a species/organization/planet, they're a part of the canon and I need to be careful for the next time I use that particular piece. I keep track of everything in a growing wiki file that started with my base ideas and evolved from there. I refer back to it periodically for reference.

Q: Who are the main bad guys of the Forgotten Worlds?
A: The Issan are religious zealots who worship the creature of death that they call Issa. The name is based on the sound the creature makes when it is able to connect with those in the vicinity of a weak dimensional barrier, a sort of a hissing sound like "issssaaahh". Obviously that would be hard to write every time, so it just gets written as Issa, or Issan for their worshippers. (However, shortly after releasing the first book, I found out about a statesman with the last name Issa. This has nothing to do with any politician but was purely onomatopoeia.) These Issan have no value of life, so they will enslave, torture, mutilate, and kill without hesitation or shame. Their god is death, so their whole culture revolves around the concepts of honor in death and dishonor to their enemies. It is a rigid, cold culture, which is in stark contrast to the Inari.

Q: You have several subplots going throughout the series so far. Do you ever plan to resolve any of them soon?
A: I have an outline of how I want the series to go, with room for adjustments. I do plan to resolve the subplots when they are each ready. Every book in the series will build on multiple subplots, although not all of them in every book. I know exactly how the series will end, so I already know how I want those subplots to play out, although I leave room for them to surprise me, such as in REMNANTS. I'm exploring more deeply the idea that the Inari were in that galaxy previously. I can't say any more than that it is revealing some connections. I feel like I'm juggling with too many balls and afraid of dropping them all, which is why I like the shorter length of these novels, which are barely qualified as novels at just over the minimum 40,000 words. It's just long enough to get in an episode but to also play with those subplots without being overwhelmed.

Short answer: yes, I will resolve them, just not necessarily as soon as readers may want.

Q: How many books do you plan to write? Why should readers start now if this is going to take awhile? Will you ever finish?
A: As I mentioned, I do have it outlined and know the ending of the whole series. Readers who start now have a chance to influence the plots of upcoming books with their input. I leave room in my outlines for other ideas. That's how the Dark Angel Chronicles went on into five books plus a novella, WHEN ANGELS CRY, and also into the Revelations series with SHARDS (the story of Leksel and Korali). Those were because of enthusiastic readers requesting more. Readers could have the same influence now on future books in the Forgotten Worlds series. I will finish, but only after I've satisfied myself and exhausted all the fun variations of stories I want to tell in this series. As for the number, I'm thinking a couple dozen in the Forgotten Worlds series should cover it, although a better range is 20-30 books.

Q: Some writers get out a book a month at that length. Why don't you?
A: Every writer is different. I write at my pace because I have a day job, a family, and my own set of health issues, namely autoimmunity, to manage on top of writing. Some days I sit down and can't stop writing and other days I can barely get out a few sentences. Every story is different also. I can usually write a first draft of the Forgotten Worlds books in about two months, but then I need time for several rounds of rewriting and editing. And then there's REMNANTS, which has gone onto 3 1/2 months to write a first draft. I had some health issues get in the way but also the story itself didn't know what it wanted to be initially. Once it got going, it really started to pick up speed to a normal pace for me. So, for me to write a good book, I need time. My goal is to publish a book every three months, but I'm a little behind because of REMNANTS being such a challenge.

Q: Can you provide any teasers or hints of what's to come in Forgotten Worlds?
A: I won't give away anything, but I will say that there's far more to the Inari-Feri issue than anyone, except maybe me, can imagine. There is so much more to come with the Paxons and Issan and Inari that I can't give away. I also have some side stories, like the upcoming RACING THE ORAST BELT. I anticipate that being a lot of fun. I have ideas for a lot of explorations of the galaxy's history and cultures that have developed. You have to keep reading each adventure with the multi-species cast racing to help Nya find the Starfire crystals before the Issan can complete their mission to free their god. There will be pain and joy in the lives of all the characters, space battles, exploring other planets, and everything that is fun about science fiction, particularly space opera. There will even be some romance.

That's it for now.

THANKS FOR READING!

*****

If you have questions you would like answered, please use the contact form at http://melanienilles.com/home/contact/ or comment on this post and I will share those in a future post.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Forgotten Worlds Q and A - Part 1

I imagine some of the readers of the Forgotten Worlds might have some questions, so I thought I'd try to answer what might be the most pressing of those:

Q: How did you come up with the idea of the Starfire?
A: That particular word has been used in other science fiction, but I wanted it as a name for the particular crystal that gives Inari their special abilities. I needed a way to make them not only look like angels but also have the powers of angels when I wrote the first book, Starfire Angels. At that time, I had them frequently visiting Earth and influencing the history of our world, so I had to explain how they might fit the images, virtues, and powers of the angels of the Bible. So, I conceived of the Starfire crystal, the form of the energy entities from another dimension in our universe. They had to be a part of the Inari in some way and give them the abilities that came to be known of Keepers. The Inari also needed the culture around the virtues in the Bible. It had to fit as near perfect as I could while still being explained by science rather than religion. I had the most marvelous brainstorm of how it all connected, right down to how they evolved to have wings--on their homeworld, they needed to fly to survive.

Calling the crystalline form of the entities "Starfire" just fit. Those beings explored our universe, but in Forgotten Worlds, they also are revealed to know about other dimensions and one in which a monster exists that would destroy everything. Thus, the entities of the Starfire crystal consider themselves to be Guardians, not only of the universe but also of the life within it. It fit with turning the Inari into guardian angels, a very old and peaceful species (mostly) who earned the reputation of being the mediators of the universe.

Q: Why didn't you continue with Elis and Raea?
A: I have to address this because I had received SO many requests when I wrote the first part of the Starfire Angels series, the Dark Angel Chronicles. that first book, STARFIRE ANGELS, came out at a time when young adult books and also ebooks in general, were at their highest popularity. Readers loved Elis and Raea, but I didn't want to ruin my characters, so I wrote what ended up being five books that I felt completed their story and saved their world (and Earth as a result, or so I thought). I didn't want to write them into the ground, so to speak. I wanted to end with them on a high note, and I believe FOREVER DARK was a good end for their story. However, I touch on them in Revelations and will briefly revisit them in Forgotten Worlds, but Forgotten Worlds is Nyalin's story.

Q: How many Starfire shards are there?
A: More than I expected. Originally, I wrote about four that were known, then that grew with the discovery of another shard on Earth and another whole crystal cluster on Earth, and then with Kaira being granted a whole new shard from entities directly from their dimension. And finally, we discover in Forgotten Worlds, that they have sort of been seeding the universe, particularly one galaxy, ready to defend against a monster that seeks to destroy everything.

Q: How are you able to expand on these stories and keep going in this Starfire Angels universe?
A: I had always imagined that Starfire Angels could be so much more than Raea and Elis's stories. I had always thought "If only a studio would pick up the idea for a series, they could put together a group of explorers with the Starfire who could go on adventures anywhere." I was big into Stargate, among many older shows, and still am. I saw a big possibility of a science fiction adventure series but didn't have the interest or the time to write out such a series.

Then, the time came and I was ready. The right basis for the series came, along with the right blend of characters for a well-rounded cast. As I wrote in the introduction to A NEW BEGINNING, I was inspired by the 90's and early 2000's science fiction series that I liked--episodic but also with an overarching plot. I even cut the stories shorter than most novels so that I could get in all the various adventures I had in mind without getting bored or having plots too big and complicated. I wanted to keep it simple so it would be easier to manage, or to feel like one was reading an hour-long episode with each book. The length is perfect and I'm having fun with each book.

Watch for the second part of this Q and A session on Monday, April 13th.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

animals don't know there's a pandemic

My horse needs his exercise. I do what I can when I can. Today, I took advantage of the weather and he took advantage of half decent footing on the lunge-line. Corrals are muddy after our snowstorm last week and rain since then, but I found an area of grass where he could stretch his legs. (There is no indoor arena available.) I didn't have to do anything but keep him from going too fast.

Afterwards, he enjoyed some of the green grass starting to sprout for the spring.

In case you didn't notice, I've been feeling good lately and making the most of life with the changes we've had to make. We will all eventually get this disease, like the flu or a cold, but the point is to keep the spread slow enough for medical facilities to provide appropriate care to those afflicted.

So, I'll do what I can to provide something positive for anyone reading this blog. I hope it brightens your day.






Still a lot of winter hair, but I brushed out a LOT prior to lunging. I'll admit he is looking less shaggy than a month ago. Also, I have not touched up any of the pics, and he is that chunky (not terrible but not in shape) after standing around a bale all spring, which is another reason he needs exercise.

It'll be interesting to see him change as spring greens up the land and we get more riding done. Then I can compare later pictures to these. He's seven this year--a mature adult horse.

ps--I remember when equine herpes virus became particularly troublesome many years ago with horses dying from neurological issues due to EHV-1. It was a difficult time for the horse industry because of the ease of transmission on that. It's become a risk of owning horses, and they can still die even when they've been vaccinated. It's a scary world for humans and horses, but we'll get through it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

counting blessings



Good things about the pandemic and some things you can do to make the most of it:
  1. Most of the world gets an extended staycation!
  2. Time with family really is a blessing but requires some creativity with kids:
    • play board games, card games, hide and seek, video games, etc.
    • dance
    • sing
    • tell jokes or watch comedy... just LAUGH. Laugh as much as you can.
  3. Time to learn to juggle--I mean literally juggle. Juggling balls are cheap and you can find any number of how-to videos online.
  4. Write that book you always wanted to write.
  5. Along the lines of the above, READ. Catch up on your to-be-read (TBR) pile. Ebooks are great--instant downloads and no chance of contagion, unless you download from torrent or pirate sites. Stick to legitimate, respected retailers.
  6. Connect remotely with family and friends you always intended to contact or didn't contact enough.
  7. Get to know your neighbors (from a distance). How many of us really visit with those in our closest vicinity?
  8. Pray or at least read the Bible. If you have any inkling that God exists, this will uplift you. If you are not a believer, then you'll get some history lessons; the Bible is based on actual history, although whether you believe in the divinity of Jesus or not is up to you. If nothing else, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have some great lessons, which is why the apostles called Jesus "teacher".
  9. Learn to slow down and enjoy every moment of life instead of rushing through. Take this time to "smell the roses".
  10. Eat right--cut out the sugar and inflammatory foods. This will help your immune system and overall health, and it may also help you keep off the weight.

We will get through this. Find something that helps you stay positive and remember that, no matter what you think, you are not alone in any suffering but only you can decide whether you're going to let it get the best of you or whether you are going to rise up and overcome it. I've been there; I know. I've prevailed over those demons many times, which is why I'm still here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

we've all become housecats

One thing I love to do at times when the cats are being cute is take pictures. So, for a Saturday in our third week of staying home, I am sharing pictures of two of our cats, the two boys enjoying the sun near the deck doors. Nobody exemplifies the stay-at-home rules like housecats. We have all become housecats: