Monday, June 25, 2012

Mr. Chocolate Sheds His Dreads

Donkeys shed out much later than horses. At least here in the Northwest they do, where it can sometimes be rainy and cold clear through June. Horses, on the other hand, shed their long winter coats in April or May, at the first hint of warm weather, and soon become slick and shiny.

But donkeys, creatures that evolved in the deserts of Africa, keep their long coats for what seems like forever. And when they do shed out, it comes out in patches. They look totally unkempt, like mangy buffalo, until the long hair all finally comes out by about July.

This is my handsome boy Mr. Chocolate. In the winter, he is one hairy donkey, and we affectionally call him Mr. Dreadlocks. His face is partially shed out in this picture (the darker color) and he's starting to look better. That light colored hair at the top? Those are hairs growing from his ears!

This is my other little donkey. We call him Mr. Big. He is not as hairy as Mr. Chocolate, but see how raggedy he looks as he sheds out? I have owned lots and lots of donkeys over the years, and every one of them goes through this mothball look while they're shedding out.

I can't wait for July! We should (hopefully) finally get some warmer weather then, and my donkeys will look slick and shiny again. I'll try to post some more pictures, so you can see what handsome boys they really are. LOL

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roadside Library

Look what we discovered on a lightly-traveled country back road near us.

My husband told me that he'd spotted a free book stand, and I immediately knew what it was. I've heard about these, and was so tickled to find one close by that I had to go see for myself. It's nice to see that someone else loves books also, and wants to share.

We found a great book for my husband, who loves military adventure books:

and then of course, went back and took two more books over to add to the collection.

Now, I know what to do with some of my extra books, and I'll be adding some kids' books to this little roadside library, also.

Isn't it great to spread the love of reading?

Do you have one of these in your neighborhood?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

May The Forest Be With You

For my mom's recent birthday, I got her a sweatshirt with this saying written on it:

Cool, huh? She loves the forest as much as I do.

I'm lucky enough to have a large chunk of forest directly behind our property, and I try and walk there almost daily. Sometimes long walks for exercise - sometimes short walks for serenity.

I go there to clear my head, and find peace. As a writer, I spend a lot of time on the computer, either writing, networking, or promoting. When it all gets a bit stressful, I go outside. Into the woods. And it heals me.

When I was younger, I rode horses almost everywhere. Now, I mostly walk. But it still has the same effect. Because I'm in the woods so often, I know when the salmonberry blooms, and when it ripens. I know where the wild honeysuckle grows, and the shy trillium unfolds its lovely bloom. Where the red huckleberry grows from the stump of an old cedar tree, and when the Swainson's Thrush arrive from the south, calling what? what? through the trees, before they begin their lovely flute-like melody that soothes my heart and makes me shiver with joy.

Do you have a place that brings you peace? Where do you go when you need to escape?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Scene You Missed

Aren't you lucky? You get to read a scene that didn't make it into my newest novel, SIX DEGREES OF LOST.

Actually, I am resurrecting this post from April 2010, when I was still working on this novel. Here's the original post, if you'd like to read it:

I loved this scene because it's about horses (of course!) But it's actually still there. It just starts right after this point in time, and is told from David's point of view. Sometimes it's fun to see how your actual writing process happens - what you keep, what you delete to keep things coherent.

Hey - if you enjoy this scene that didn't make it into the book, you might want to actually read the whole book!

Swede brings an old saddle over from his house along with a saddle pad. He tightens the cinch on old Paintball and I’m suddenly nervous. And it is still raining. But suddenly the clouds part and a brilliant blue sky appears.

“Put your left foot in the stirrup,” he instructs. “Then grab the saddle horn and hoist yourself up there.”

I feel like an IDIOT trying to climb up on the horse. It always looks so easy when you see cowboys do it, but I feel like a total klutz. Swede helps push me up and finally I’m mounted on Paintball’s back. He adjusts the stirrups and starts leading us around.

“Don’t let go of him,” I say.

“I won’t.” Swede holds onto the horse’s lead rope. “I believe this old horse is gentle as a kitten. He didn’t even flinch when we saddled him.”

Maybe, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. It’s fun, though, to be up so high. I can see a long ways. Out across the corrals and the back pasture, and all the way past the clear-cut behind Aunt Trudy’s five acres. I’m holding onto the reins, but Swede is actually the one controlling Paintball. “Look at the rainbow,” I say. “Wow. It’s a double one.”“It’s always a lucky day,” says Swede, “when you see one of those.”

We start down the driveway toward the main road. This is only the second time I’ve ever been on a horse, so it’s not like I actually know how to ride. It’s exciting but scary at the same time, and I feel jittery every time Paintball takes another step.

“Swede,” Aunt Trudy hollers from behind us. “Don’t take her too far. You don’t know what that old horse might do.”

“Just relax, Trudy. We are not going to do anything except walk.” Swede looks up at me and winks. “Your aunt’s a worry-wart, isn’t she?” he whispers.

"I heard that,” calls Aunt Trudy. “And darned tootin’ I’m a worry wart. This girl is my responsibility, and I don’t want anything to happen to her.”

“Trudy, this horse is so old and pathetic he probably couldn’t spook if he tried. If he moves too fast he might fall down.”

FALL DOWN? Great. Paintball lifts his head up and stares at something moving up the road. I grab the horn of the saddle for safety, but he doesn’t spook or skitter sideways. He just keeps on walking calmly.

As the figure in the road gets closer, I can see it’s someone running. It almost looks like that boy I met in the driveway a few weeks ago. DAVID.

My face turns pink when I think about him. I barely knew him, but I remember telling him practically everything about myself. About Pendleton, and about how I got my name. He probably thinks I’m a total DORK. I almost wish Swede would just turn the horse around and head back to the barn, before the boy gets here.

As he jogs closer, I can see David’s t-shirt is soppy and wet. He must have been running right through the rain. It would be awesome if I was riding Paintball all by myself, but instead I’m sitting up here like a little baby being led up and down the driveway. I sort of automatically lift my hand to wave, and then immediately wish I hadn’t.

Maybe he’ll just jog right on by, but David slows to a walk and turns in the gravel driveway. Why did I WAVE at him? I suddenly wish I could just crawl under a bush and HIDE.

“Hey, I didn’t know you knew how to ride,” he says, walking close.

Soo - if you think you might want to read what DID make it into the book - the purchase links are just to your right! Enjoy!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Release Day!

It's out. It's out. It's finally available!
Six Degrees of Lost is now available from Musa Publishing, and I'm very excited. (Can you tell?)

This is a young adult novel that I've worked on for a very long time. It's particularly dear to my heart, because the setting is similar to the rural area where I live in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the story lines (involving helping lost animals get home) was inspired by some dear friends and fellow animal lovers.

But aside from that, it's a story about Olive and David, and how a friendship develops and blossoms into young love. Oh, and then there's the raft trip, and boys behaving badly, and two horses named Shakespeare and Paintball, and also the peacock, and, well I won't give everything away. There are dogs and cats, too. And puppies. Okay, you just have to read it now, don't you?

It's available three places right now:
From the publisher, Musa Publishing:

at Amazon:

and from Barnes & Noble:

It will soon be available at most other online booksellers, including Kobo, Diesel, Ominilit, iTunes, and many others. I'll add those links to the right sidebar as they become live. But for now, all formats of the eBook are available on the Musa Publishing website.

Like to read paper? Stay tuned. We might just have a contest soon to win your choice of paper or eBook of this exciting new novel.

But I hope you get it NOW. Read it and tell me what you think. That's all. I'll quit jumping up and down with excitement now. Time to go Celebrate!!