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Showing posts from November, 2013

When the Human is Scared...

Imagine you are a little bunny rabbit.  Yes, I know this is a weird way to start a post, but work with me, okay?

So you are a bunny rabbit.  Let's pretend (while we are pretending) that the biggest, scariest, hungriest animal you can think of is a lion.

Are you with me so far?

Now let's pretend that we are out in a meadow with our other rabbit friends and suddenly a ferocious-looking lion appears.

Yikes!  Worst day ever!  you say.

To your dismay, all of your friends disappear and the ferocious lion corners you.

What do you do?

You panick, try to escape, kick for all you are worth, and throw your whole heart into trying to survive.  This is life and death now.  This is serious.

The lion begins making scary-sounding lion noises.  Of course, you don't speak lion (you only speak rabbit and a few phrases in hare).  So you don't know what the lion is saying.

You don't know that the lion is really saying, "Aww, look!  It is a cute little rabbit!  I always wanted a pe…

Please Comment

Greetings, readers!  I invite all of you to comment on my blog.  I would love to hear from you.  It is helpful for me to hear feedback as well as to connect with other writers.
     Comments are sent to me for moderation before they are posted.  So if you would like to contact me privately, you can do so by leaving a comment (just include a note in your comment that you don't want it posted).  That way I can read your private comment, but I won't post it for anyone else to see.
      If you don't specify "private," then I will publish (or not) as I see fit.
      I look forward to hearing from you!

Pen Names - A Good Choice or No?

Someone recently introduced me to a website for Author House Self-Publishing.  The website is full of articles with tips for writers.  I sat down earlier this week and read several of the the articles.
     One of the articles was on whether or not to choose a pen name.  There are many reasons to choose a pen name and, for several authors, the idea is appealing.  Many of the ideas I hear expressed from wanna-be writers were listed in this bad reasons.
     Hiding your identity, according to Author House, is a bad reason.  While it is appealing to think that you could write something and no one would know that you wrote it, it's a little immature.  You should be willing to stand behind your work.
     Picking a cool name, according to Author House, is also a bad reason.  Unless you really know what your are doing, the name that sounds awesome to you may not sound awesome to the general population or it may not sound awesome for very long.  So, again, if you are go…

Rider Meets Dirt

I wanted to learn how to trot.  That seemed to be a natural progression from walking.  My instructor helped me figure out how to ask WhiteStar to go faster and so I tried to practice it a little bit each week.  WhiteStar and I were both a little rough: I because I was nervous and she because she dislikes anything that requires that much effort.  Nevertheless, I was determined to trot.       I was still using the bareback pad instead of the saddle.  I liked the feeling of using as little equipment as possible and entertained dreams of being as talented of a bareback rider as an Indian brave.      This particular day, I rode WhiteStar around for a little while at a walk.  Then I asked for a trot.  It started out bouncy and got even bouncier.  Those of you who are riders know exactly what I am talking about.  As I stiffened, I bounced more, and then WhiteStar bounced more as she tried to cope with the jabs in her back from her unstable rider.      There was air between my horse an…

Auxiliary Projects

As promised yesterday, I will share with you one tiny trick that I use to keep me from becoming bored with my current project.  My secret is that I have a set of auxiliary projects.  I only work on them when I am bored with my current project.  Each of the auxiliary projects has the potential to become my main project (once I finish the current one).  These auxiliary projects are varied enough to suit whatever mood I am in.  So if I can't focus on Bella and Gerard, I scroll through the others to see which one feels the most inspiration at the moment.  I work on it until I am satisfied, and then go back to Bella and Gerard.  It keeps me from being bored and at the same time it keeps from starting yet another new project.

     Here are some of my auxiliary projects:

Reagan's Island:  A boy is shipwrecked on an island.  He is discovered by a band of men guarding the island.  Who are they?  What are they hiding?  And who is this boy?

Alexander: This story has three parts.  I do…

Distracting New Plots -- A Form of Writer's Block

I was complaining to my mother the other day of a problem I was having with my current book project.
     "Writer's block?" she guessed.
     "No," I disagreed.  "Writers' block occurs when you can't think of what to write next -- you are 'stumped.'  My problem is that I am suddenly disatisfied and bored with my current project and my mind has been ambushed with 3 or 4 new project ideas."
     As I thought about it, however, I suppose it could be a form of writers' block.  While lack of inspiration is not the cause of the block, it is still a block.  I am still staring at my computer screen with my fingers poised motionless above my keyboard.
     It is amazing how dazzlingly clever my new ideas for new books appear.  They look so much more interesting than my current project.  How can I combat this form of block?
     First of all, I remember that I was perfectly satisfied and happy with my current project only a month ago. …

Games with Horses, Hints of Philosophy

So, by the end of the summer, WhiteStar and I were making fairly good progress.  We had learned a number of "games."  These games were ways that the horse and I learned to move together as a team, with me as the leader.  They were ways to build trust between us.      I had pretty good success with the various ways that we could turn in a circle together or back up.  There was one of them that was a little slow, but we got it.      There's another game called yo-yo.  I ask my horse to back away from me in a straight line and then return to me in a straight line.  Straight lines can be hard for horses, especially shy, submissive horses.  Think about how different it feels to square off at something verses sliding in beside it.  Squaring off at something is more commanding and confrontational -- a very uncomfortable position for someone who is shy.  So WhiteStar had to work on being straight.      When I first started this game, my instructor told me that I had to let…

Writing is an Art

I recently talked to a high school girl about writing.  She said she hated writing.  This did not surprise me too much.  After all, God made us all different.  Just because a blank sheet of paper thrills me doesn't mean that everyone has to feel the same way about it.  I know some people who sincerely dislike writing.
    But then I had the opportunity to read some pieces that this high school girl had written.  I expected something boring and awkward since this was just something she had to do to pass her English class.  Instead, it was quite the opposite.
     Writing is an art.  Art is an expression of the artist.  Look at a painting and see how much you can tell about the painter.  Does he make big, bold strokes or tiny, careful ones?  Does he choose bright colors or somber tones?  How did he feel about the subject he was painting?  How does he feel about painting as an expression?  What things does he like to paint?
     In the same way, you can see the author through he…

Harry from Bella and Gerard

I haven't gotten the chance to "sit down and talk to" Harry yet.  He is one of the characters in Bella and Gerard.  I know that he works down by the docks in New York, and that his name is Harry.  He is a widower, and he lost his daughter a couple years ago.  It is hard to build a full impression of someone's character on such a short acquaintance, but I have a sense that he is a pretty good man.  And I will try to set aside some time in the near future to sit down and explore this character.  He hasn't been introduced in the book yet, but he will be very soon.
     In my defense (as an explanation of why I have not fully figured out Harry's history and character yet), I have spent some time over the last week-and-a-half studying Gerard again.  I have to make sure I understand his character and am not misrepresenting him as I write.  That is one of the responsibilities of authors, after all.

Horse Personality Types

My instructor explained 4 basic personality types of horses.  I view personality tests with a bit of skepticism, whether they are applied to people or animals.  Nobody fits exactly into the assigned boxes.
However, sometimes the boxes help you understand at least a little bit of why your horse may be acting the way he is.  With that in mind, here is information about horse personalities from Pat Parelli's website (

Horse can be classified as "left-brained" or "right-brained."
     Left-brained horses tend to be: dominant, brave, confident, calm, and tolerant.
     Right-brained horses tend to be: submissive, fearful, not confident, nervous, and reactive.

Horses can also be classifed as introvert or extrovert.
     Introverted horses tend to be: low energy, have more "whoa" (i.e., a lack of forward momentum), have a tendency to be slow, and have a tendency to stop often.
     Extroverted horses tend to: have hig…

Learning My Basic Horsey Equipment

Jump forward to the end of the summer.  By this time, I am working largely on my own, with my instructor working on small projects nearby (ready at a moment's notice to help me if I needed it).  I still felt pretty awkward using the equipment, but I had a general idea of what I was doing.
     My equipment consisted of a halter, a lead rope, and a stick with a string.

      Here is an image showing what my horse's halter looked like.  Do you see the blue halter on this horse's head (over his nose, along his cheek, and behind his ears)?  That is a halter.
You can also see the lead rope in this picture.  It attaches to the halter under the horse's chin, and the person (not shown in this picture) holds the other end.
     Your lead rope is kind of like your "hose of communication" with your horse.  You might be surprised how much you communicate just by how tightly you hold your rope.  Try holding the rope in your hands with your eyes shut and have somebod…

James from Bella and Gerard

I don't have a picture for this character yet.  Maybe it is because he is such an important character.  I probably won't ever give you pictures of my main characters unless I sketch them myself. 
     Main characters take on a form of their own in the imagination of the reader.  Rarely, as a reader, do I pay any attention to the photos or sketches of the main characters.  The pictures just don't look quite right.  I know what the character really looks like.  Apparently, as a writer, I have the same narrow view.
     All of this was simply to apologize for the lack of a photo.  And perhaps I can make up for that lack with a description.
     James is a young man in his early 20s.  He is tall and slender, with long limbs.  He has brown hair.  He's got a bit of an Irish accent.
     He is probably Gerard's best friend.  They have teamed up on some adventures and jobs in the past, before Bella came into the picture, and apparently Gerard used to room with him.  …

Scooter and Katy Warm-up in the Arena - V4

Here is a video of Scooter and Katy warming up in an indoor arena.  Scooter was not accustomed to playing inside so he was a little hesitant.  Even so, it is so much fun to watch the two of them.
     Katy uses a wind-dancer in her hand.  I don't know if you can tell that from this video clip, but it is basically a pole with ribbons streaming from one end.  Scooter loves to take her wind-dancer in his mouth and wave it around.  ;)  He likes to show off for Katy.
     He also loves to stand on a platform.  If she left him in a field with a platform, you would look out there and just see him in the middle of the pasture, standing on a platform.
     Enjoy the video!

A Change of Heart

WhiteStar and I continued to work together.  The funny thing about horses is that, whatever your issues are, those issues are magnified when you are working with horses.  You either have to quit altogether or you have to deal with those issues.
     For example, if you have a habit of only sort of listening to people (i.e. not focusing your full attention on them), you usually can get away with it.  In your day to day life, you can think about half a dozen things at once.  Maybe your acquaintances are a little disappointed in their conversations with you, but it doesn't really affect your life.  Maybe you don't even realize you are doing it.  Then you go to work with horses and find out that they know exactly how focused you are.  And if you are not focused, they will not be focused.
     {Note: My friends who have children assure me that children are the same glaring reflection of your own equally good test as horses are.}
     So, as WhiteStar and I went th…