Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coming Soon . . .

Hi Everyone! What have I been doing this Summer? Working.

Besides cutting blackberries, and endlessly watering plants and garden during a very hot summer, I've been writing The Autumn Kitten, which is the fourth in my series of short fiction called Cat Tales.

And I can't wait to share it with you! Pegged for a September release date, I'll post the cover as soon as I can.

But here's a bit of a teaser: the main character is Grace, a widow. Usually happy by herself, she does suffer from loneliness, and unwittingly gets involved in the Internet Dating scene. But then there's that pair of blue eyes staring at her through the screen of her new iPad, which causes her to act impulsively in a life-changing way.

Think these Cat Tales are merely little lightweight animal stories? Think again.

Oh, by the way: this time, the cat is a Siamese mix. Except for the old rescue cat, who . . .

Well, More Later!



Monday, July 14, 2014

Clearing the Land

I've been feeling like my pioneer ancestors lately. Armed with nothing more than a pair of gloves, my trusty pruning shears, and a large wheelbarrow, I've been hacking through the almost impenetrable brush growing on a portion of our property.


Bordered by an irrigation canal on one side and a creek on the other, this piece of our land is my new mission. Not only to open it up so that a person can walk through it, but to uncover the natural beauty that resides there. As a native plant gardener, I love to identify what actually should be growing there (Mock orange, red-twig dogwood, willows, cottonwoods, pine, and alder) with what shouldn't be - non-native, invasive Himalayan Blackberries, with sharp canes almost an inch thick. Many large trees on this piece of land are almost completely obscured by blackberries, like this small grove of lovely native alders.


But see what a little hard work and sweat can uncover?


And as I discover (and uncover) this land, I am casting seeds collected from wild blue Camas Lilies that grow on the upper part of our property. I feel like a regular Johnny Appleseed, but when they all bloom someday in the future, I hope they will look like our upper meadow:


Some people think I am crazy to attempt this all by myself, but actually, I am only a determined woman.

Words to the wise - Never get in the way of a woman on a mission!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Announcing - The Summer Cat

Big News, everyone! The third in my series of short fiction about cats, called
The Summer Cat, was just released.


When Spuds goes missing, Hannah's whole world comes crashing down, and an interloper who shows up only makes things worse. Can a faraway friend help find this special cat, or is it already too late?

Available as an ebook on Amazon for only $0.99, this is the third in a series called Cat Tales, all featuring different cats and their people. The other two are The Winter Kitten and The Springtime Cat (which leaves one season left, she says, fingers burning up the keyboard.)

The Winter Kitten and The Springtime Cat have been selling quite well. In fact, in the UK, they've often been in the top ten in their category, with The Winter Kitten even hitting #1 in Children's Books>Animals>Cats, more than once! (Thank you, Readers and Cat Lovers!)

I'm hoping for repeated success with The Summer Cat. Early readers have told me they loved it, and in fact, it made them choke up a little.  Lovely cover, too, don't you think?

So that's what I've been up to! Writing. (Also feeding cats. And dogs. And raising baby chicks, but that is another story entirely.)

Here's the link to The Summer Cat on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Cat-Tales-ebook/dp/B00KRPZLVQ/

Enjoy!



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Sound of Birds

One of the joys of living close to nature is identifying the sounds of birds. If you know their song or their voice, you become aware of the seasonal comings and goings of different birds in your area.

Even if you don't know which exact bird, surely you can tell baby birds this time of year by their "cheep, tweep, Mom, I'm hungry" sound from high in the treetops. Look up, and you might spot their nest. Be very still, and you might be lucky enough to see Mom or Dad swoop in for a feeding. (Trust me, it's a thrill.)

I blogged once about the joy of hearing the sound of a Swainson's Thrush (my overall favorite bird song.) http://lindabenson.blogspot.com/2010/06/song-of-swainsons-thrush.html

I identified a new bird last year, which has a different song - not as pretty, but I waited for the Yellow-Breasted Chat to show up again this year, and like clock-work, it arrived about May 2. I blogged about that chatterbox right here: http://lindabenson.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-chatterbox.html



And in the last couple of days, I spotted a fleeting swoosh of blue flying between trees. Yes, we have Western Bluebirds this year, and believe it or not, this is the first time I've actually seen this bird. They appear to be nesting here, and I can hardly wait to watch their babies arrive.


Spring brings lots of nature's delights, and I hope you take the time to watch and listen for them. You might be surprised what you'll learn!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Hi Everyone! I'm participating in The Writing Process Blog Hop, where writers answer a few questions about themselves and their writing. Interested? Read on . . .

But first, I give credit to my writer friend Rob Kent (aka Middle-Grade Ninja) for talking me into this. Rob writes excellent scary fiction (I mean, who doesn't love zombies? *shudder*)
http://www.amazon.com/All-Together-Now-Zombie-Story-ebook/dp/B00FIE5YOU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1398708265
Rob also has an awesome informational blog, with tons of book reviews, as well as interviews with agents, editors and writers. You must go there and check it out! http://www.middlegradeninja.com/

But now, a little about me:

Question #1 - What Am I Working On?

Did you want the front burner, or the back burner? Because writers, like many creative people, have lots of projects rolling around in their heads all the time. In fact, sometimes we have so many ideas that it's hard to focus.

But on the front burner, for me right now, is the third story in my series of short fiction called Cat Tales.

Short fiction is a new genre for me. After completing five full-length novels and experiencing a bit of writer burn-out, or maybe its the shorter attention span we all seem to have these days (what? squirrel?) - I find myself enjoying writing short fiction.

Cat Tales are not little light-weight kitty stories, though. The Winter Kitten and The Springtime Cat (the first two in the series) are very real human drama, with fully-realized characters and families working out problems (with the help of adorable four-legged friends, of course *purr*.)

So at the moment I'm working on The Summertime Cat, and (fingers crossed) should have it available by summer. And on the back burner is the sequel to The Girl Who Remembered Horses, and I should have a surprise announcement about that later this year. Also, some other short fiction, as well as a YA novel in verse.

Question #2 - How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think my work is different because it's cross-over fiction. While perfectly suited to middle-grade readers and up, many of my readers are adults who happen to love animals. And even if you aren't an ardent animal person, there is enough excitement and drama in these stories to grab other readers, also.

For that reason, I've branded myself as a writer of Fiction for Animal Lovers of All Ages. And I love the fact that I now have readers and fans all over the world. In fact, The Winter Kitten and The Springtime Cat are very often in the Top Ten Animals/Cat Fiction in the UK. (Thanks, readers!)

Question #3 - Why do I write what I do?

After a lifetime shared with animals, I've realized how important they are to the emotional and physical health of humans. At first, when I began writing, animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc.) just seemed to automatically sneak in to any storyline I was working on. Later, I realized it was because animals have played a very big part in my life, since I was a small child. So it was only natural they would surface in my writing.

Presently, I see many humans living further and further from nature, trapped in houses and apartments with only cell phones, computers and television for companionship. And I recognize how animals (as pets, companions, or helpmates) can teach us kindness, compassion, and how the natural world really works. Show me a boy who loves his dog, and I'll show you a boy who'll grow up to be a kind man.

Question #4 - How does my writing process work?

Oh, good question. As if there was an actual process I could tap into and/or show you. I don't follow any "rules" - like writing every day, for X amount of minutes. I do know that if too many days go by without writing, I start to get twitchy fingers and I become restless. I have the "need" to write, and that is what it feels like to be a writer.

As for both novels and short fiction, I usually start with a character in my head. A character who wants their story told. Sometimes I will just jot down an opening paragraph, and let the story flow from there. Very often, the characters grow and develop before my eyes on the page, and as they tell their own story, I get to know them, just as you might by reading.

Do I work out a synopsis beforehand? Very rarely. On my most recent story, I do have a vague plotline. But whether or not I stick to it, is still very much up in the air.

Okay, enough about me.

I now pass the torch of this writing process blog over to two other great writers, who also happen to write about animals. In fact - horses! They'll be blogging about their writing process next week.

Natalie Keller Reinert writes contemporary racehorse fiction. Check out her Facebook page, which she titled Horse Books for Grownups and her books on Amazon as well as her blog http://www.nataliekreinert.com/



Lisa Wysocky is an author and motivational speaker who writes, trains horses, and consults with therapeutic riding programs. She not only writes horse mysteries, but also a wide variety of other things. Please check out her work here http://www.lisawysocky.com/  and here .

That's it for now, everyone! Hope you are all enjoying Spring, and finding great things to read, also! Be sure and check out the other writers in this blog as they talk about their writing processes and what they are working on!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The First Easter Egg Hunt

Since many of you will be trekking out with your kiddos to search for hidden eggs soon, you might be pondering who came up with the original Easter Egg Hunt anyway?

Ask any farmer's wife.

She knows.

Because there's always that one hen . . .


who doesn't lay her eggs in the hen house, or in the nesting box, like she's supposed to.

No, this errant hen always leads the farmer's wife (or the farmer's kids) on a wild-goose chase all over the farm - into the bushes, underneath piles of wood, back behind the barn, into the darndest places where she's hidden her eggs safely away.

Why do they do this!!??!!

Well, their self-preservation instinct tells them to hide their eggs from predators, and also, they are trying to gather enough eggs in a nest so that they can set on them for three weeks, and hatch baby chickies!

After pulling my hair out searching for our hen Dory's eggs (pictured above) and cutting back blackberries to get to the nest, crawling on hands and knees trying to find them (they won't hatch, we don't have a rooster) I finally resort to watching the sneaky little thing, while she skedaddles off to her hidden nest to lay. She is very smart, though, and hard to catch. *sigh*

Then there are the good hens . . .


who lay their eggs in the nest box. And who want to raise babies so bad that they set on one or two of the eggs immediately, and set there, and set. And since the farmer's wife (that's me) took pity on her, and knew the eggs would never hatch, she went to the feed store and bought four tiny, just hatched baby chicks, and snuck them underneath Elizabeth in the dead of night (removing the infertile eggs.) Lo and behold, by morning we had a new family, with the good hen Elizabeth clucking away to her newly adopted children. Meet Elizabeth's new children: Josephine, Henrietta, Cindy, and Sally (on mama hen's back.)

Now, I'm off on my own Easter egg hunt, searching for my renegade hen's eggs.

Where did Dory lay them this time??

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chasing California Condors

On a recent trip to Arizona, I was intrigued to be "somewhat" close to the site where endangered California Condors are released. So after a day at the Grand Canyon and a detour through the Navajo reservation, we decided to try and find it. Wouldn't it be awesome to actually see one of these magnificent birds soaring the skies?

But because of a highway closure, we had to travel thirty miles over a washed-out dirt road with many warning signs (shhh - do not tell the rental car company.)


But we finally found the release site!


But alas, no California Condors. Only a murder of crows.



I did just find this cool Condor Cam, though, which right now is showing condors being released into the wild near Big Sur, California: http://www.ventanaws.org/condor_cam/

Enjoy!