Monday, January 7, 2013

Smart As a Fox

Except from A Life With Horses, Chapter 19:
"The fourteen hundred pound grulla gelding of Morgan breeding came with a history all right. He was not cranky or mean but liked outsmarting his handlers. He was good at it."

I didn't have a photo when I wrote A Life With Horses but I have one now. Fox has just turned 32 and he looks fabulous!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Staying in Touch

It's been months since I posted on the blog! I think it's time... Actually, I was reminded by two things. First, I received an order for a copy of A Life With Horses from a cousin I have not seen in years. Then, when I was cleaning up my desk, I came upon a letter from a friend I don't see that much either, a letter she wrote to me after she read A Life With Horses.

"I felt I was 'there' in your narratives," she writes. "Mind - that also meant there were moments when I was reduced to quiet weeping... a testimony of the love we have for our dearest friend, the horse."

Yes, indeed, that's what A Life With Horses is about - the connection I have, and that my readers feel, to horses as they emerse themselves in tales of both joy and sorrow. My friend already knows that. She, like I, cares for her horses better than she cares for herself and always first. I think of that now as I carry water to my stallion five times a day because the water bowl has frozen and it's -30. I think of that as I take my senior mare to the barn so she does not have to face the elements. And then I think back to that part of the book where I wrote about riding to school in this kind of weather. It was more than love I felt for my horse then - it was respect and deep, deep gratitude for without those tough little horses, I may well have perished.

Dressed for winter riding 1959 Saskatchewan

A Life With Horses helps me keep in touch - in touch with friends and family and in touch with the kind of people who value the courage, heart and soul of their horses. That alone makes writing the book worth while.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

'A Life With Horses' Book Trailer

Finally, I got this done - a trailer (just like the movies!) for my book!


Enjoy and please leave comments.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What happened to...?

One reader of A Life With Horses told me she would like to have the answers to a few questions after she read the book. That surprised me at first, but then I thought about it. Kudos to you, discerning reader, for immersing yourself so much in the stories that you wanted to know more. Although we never discussed what questions she needed answers to (I told her I wanted to sometime!), I have guessed at some. Here are a couple:

1. What happened to Dark Mo, (Chapter 13) the little Arabian gelding I competed on at my first reining show? I showed Mo the following year, then he went home to Bob and Janet, his owners, who eventually sold him. The new owner did a bit of everything with him, but never reined him. When he was 14 or 15, someone contacted me and asked me to critique him. They wanted to buy him but needed to know if he could still rein. I had not seen him for many years and didn't know what I would find, but when I stepped up on him, he immediately responded. We put sliding plates on him and, after a fifteen minute refresher course, he slid! They bought him and went on to rein him for a few years. I lost track of him after that, but I strongly suspect they had him until he died...

2. Where is Wildwood Kokanee (on the cover, Chapters 23, 25, 26) now? The lady I sold Kokanee to rode her for a couple of years and sold her to a beginner reiner. This woman loved Kokanee with a passion and I'm sure she would have had a permanent home with her, but on December 22, 2006 (the same day I moved to the Chilcotin), Kokanee broke a leg in a freak accident at the barn she boarded at and had to be euthanized. It broke Vikki's heart. Last summer, when she bought the book, she emailed me to say she could not read about Kokanee yet. "It's still too soon."

If you have a question, please post and I will answer.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's A Small World . . . After All

I just returned from a trail ride south of Tatla Lake, BC. On the way home, I stopped at a little general store there. I had been there once before and loved the store, the owners and the quiet peace and contentment I felt when I walked around the aisles. I knew they carried many non-fiction books and I had already phoned ahead before I left home to ask if they were interested in carrying A Life With Horses. With a copy under my arm, I climbed the wood steps, noting the overflowing flowerboxes and remembering how I had admired them on my last stop the year before.

"Nothing has changed," I thought. "I like that."

Inside, I exchanged greetings with the owner. "Do you remember me?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. " I do remember you. I didn't remember your outfit when you drove in, but I remember you." (Dodge truck with four-horse Sooner trailer with living quarters!! Who doesn't remember that!)

"Good," I thought. "She's a 'people person'." I showed her my book and asked her if she and her husband would look at it and tell me if they would like me to leave a few for their store. Then I started browsing the aisles. I already knew I wanted some pottery crafted by a local artisan, but there was much more...

The lady's husband, Dave, was now back in the store and asked me if I would like a cup of coffee. I gladly accepted the steaming brew and continued to shop. After I made my selections, I came back to the table conveniently set up in the middle of the store for those who stopped for coffee and conversation. Dave had just put my book down on the table.

"When were you in the Coteau Hills?" he asked.

My hearing is not what it used to be, but I think it was more about my surprise at his question than not hearing. I asked to repeat what he had said.

"I was born there," I said.

"Where?"

"Beechy. You know where that is?"

Turns out Dave not only knew where Beechy is, he had been there and had many connections through family. I can't remember if he actually lived there, but he knew many, many people that I knew. We kept throwing out names back and forth and filling in a few blanks.

"I think we need an evening sitting down and reminiscing," I said, but he had a store to run.

I couldn't get over it - A Life With Horses connects the Chilcotin (BC) with Beechy, Saskatchewan!

It's a small world after all!

(...and West Chilcotin Trading Ltd in Tatla Lake, BC now carries A Life With Horses!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Connecting with A Life With Horses

As A Life With Horses gets around, I appreciate more and more the phone calls and emails from people who have read the book. Many times I know the caller/reviewer well, but sometimes I do not and sometimes I have not talked with the person for many years. Then it is an unexpected bonus to my day. These calls come mostly from southern Saskatchewan, where I grew up. Since I left the area in 1971, I lost touch with all but a few. It works both ways - I have "found" past friends and they have re-connected with me.

"I know it is you," said one reader who knows me well. "Not like some memoirs I read where I know the person but cannot recognize him or her in the book!"

"You have lived in the present," said another.

"I laughed and I cried," several readers told me.

But the most common comment is, "I am there with you in every chapter." If that is true, then I have fulfilled one of my goals - to take my readers on my journey with me.

I am travelling a little too - vicariously, I admit - with book sales. The one to Germany may have got lost in the volcano ash, but I have gained a "friend" on Facebook; one book landed in Alaska; my reiner friend bought two to take back to Austria; I have almost tracked down a school friend living in New York (her brother is sending her the book) and Thelma, the lady below holding A Life With Horses, lives in Wales! She sent not only this photo, but several of her yard and gardens. A Life With Horses has touched another country and given something back. How cool is that?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Punctuation Matters

I learned a lot writing my book, A Life With Horses. I learned how to express myself on paper; I learned a few things about myself (another blog story by itself); I learned about formating; and I learned more about the English language.

Although I have a good grounding in grammar, I questioned many things. I checked my book of grammar usage many times and searched the internet for solutions. The book is written in an informal, conversational tone (like I am across the table from the reader telling the story) and I found myself using ellipses and dashes - a lot! (Just used a dash, didn't I?) I questioned the correctness of my usage of both forms of puncuation. I even asked a teacher what she thought.

"I don't think they ever should be used," she said. Well, that deflated me!

I went over my manuscript and tried to take them out. I did substitute other punctuation in several places before I decided it was impossible to say what I meant in the tone I wanted without using ellipses or dashes. Then I looked through my bookshelf. I would check out what other writers did . . . and found out James Michener uses both. If ellipses and dashes are good enough for James Michener, they would stay in my manuscipt.

Then there was the form of ellipses and dashes. There's an "en dash" and an "em dash". Ellipses - three dots, but how close together? And with what other punctuation? More decisions... In the end, I had to choose and use the same form throughout the manuscript. Is it correct? Not sure, but it is consistant . . . and just like the ellipses and dashes in the James Michener novel!