Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Finishing the Draft

As we wind down the year 2014, I thought this would be an appropriate topic - finishing.

When I was a fairly new writer, I made a mistake that I see many writers make (and yes, I'm still guilty of it from time to time myself.) And that is editing, again and again, the beginning of a manuscript, until it's almost perfect - but never actually finishing the darn thing!

Especially for those of us with time constraints - jobs, children, animals, housework, yardwork, exercise, or whatever else takes up your time - it's common to set aside a WIP (work-in-progress) for awhile. But here's what often happens when you jump back in to it: you re-read the entire thing from the very beginning, fixing things along the way. Over and over! Yes, edit, edit, edit: it's a writer's job, right?

Wrong. A writer's first job is to finish! And the best way to do this (I've learned over the years) is to not begin from the beginning. Instead, when you open that manuscript to work on it once again, look over the last few paragraphs where you left off. Just enough to give you the feel of where you were, and where you intended to go (if you can remember.)

Just jog your memory and Keep Going! Keep going towards the end. Resist the urge to edit that thing to perfection every time you open it on your computer.

I've known many writer friends over the years who have fantastic, partially finished manuscripts they've been working on forever, but who never, ever, get to the ending. Don't let this be you!

There are no better words that an author likes to write than "The End."

After that, set it aside for a little while, and then (with fresh eyes) you can start your edits, your polishing, your re-working those words to make them sing.

But first and foremost, you have to finish the thing. So resist the urge to correct every mistake. Resist the urge to polish, polish, polish. Just press on, and keep going  until you actually reach The End.

Well, this is the end of 2014. Soon we will say Hello to 2015.

As for me, I am working on a brand new Cat Tale, which will be called The Newlywed Cat.

Watch for it in early 2015. Happy New Year, Everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kindle Count-Down Special

Just dropping by to announce a sale - but the price is a moving target, so hurry over and check out what it is right now! At the moment (and for the next day and a few hours)
CAT TALES (Books 1-4) is on sale at Amazon, on a Kindle Count Down for only $0.99.

That means you can read all four - The Winter Kitten, The Springtime Cat, The Summer Cat, and The Autumn Kitten - for the price of one.

Then the price goes up a tad, and then back to regular price at midnight, Pacific Time, Dec 7, 2014.

Hope you can take advantage of this great sale, and read the ones you've missed!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Seed of an Idea

As a writer, I've been asked many times "where did you get the idea for that story?"

I normally come up with some common response, like "oh, it just came to me" or "I just sat down to write and this is what happened."

But while writing The Girl Who Remembered Horses, I was quite conscious of a number of questions during the several years it took me to finish, revise, edit, etc. One was my constant wonder about why some girls (not all) become so passionate about horses. Why do some become "Horse Crazy?" This actually led me to build a college research project around this question.

Are horse crazy girls influenced in early life by cultural factors, or television, books, or movies? Or are they (as many of my research subjects attested to) "born with it." And if certain women and girls are actually "born" with a crazy desire for all things horse-related, did they actually inherit this tendency, or was it perhaps passed down from another relative they had contact with? Which leads us to another question - is there a case to be made for "genetic memory?"

Lots of questions, and as my rational mind sought answers, my creative side was dreaming of a future world where horses had largely been forgotten, as well as books, computers, cell phones, automobiles, electricity, and many other things that we take for granted in today's modern society.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses was just re-released with a gorgeous new cover and a new lower price of only $2.99 for the ebook. And it's available on Amazon.

I hope you'll give it a try, and maybe discover some answers for yourself!

Oh, and do you like the new cover??

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Brand New

Hi Everyone - I am pleased to announce that all four of my Cat Tales are now available in one edition. And priced at only $2.99.

Available on Amazon, here is the link:

These heart-warming stories, celebrating the bond we have with our pets, are suitable for the entire family and can be read in any order. Now enjoy the first four of the series in one volume - guaranteed to warm your heart in any season.

THE WINTER KITTEN - Brianna doesn't know how she'll make it through her first winter in Portland. When she finds a kitten trapped in the garage, nothing goes as planned.

THE SPRINGTIME CAT - When Dee finds an injured tabby, she has no idea of the surprises ahead. Can one cat heal an entire family?

THE SUMMER CAT - Spuds is missing, and Hannah's whole world comes crashing down. Did the horseshoer have a hand in the cat's disappearance?

THE AUTUMN KITTEN - Life becomes complicated when Grace falls for a pair of blue eyes she spots online. Will she let a kitten decide who she should date?

I would love to know which one of these is your favorite. Please share!

And very soon, I hope to have some more great news about one of my most popular books.
So stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Everyone needs a little Wild

Wilderness that is, which is good for the soul.

Here are a few pics from a recent camping trip, which refreshed both mind and spirit.

Chetco River in Oregon, where otters and osprey entertained us nightly.
Trail through the northernmost habitat of California Redwoods, near Brookings, Oregon.
Ancient Oregon Myrtle tree (big as an oak) growing along the Chetco River. This plant is called California Bay Laurel in CA, and is mostly a large shrub in that state. One of my favorite plants, these are the largest I've ever seen.
Along the Redwood Trail
Twin Redwoods
Here's wishing that you all find a little spot of wilderness to keep you sane .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I'm proud to announce that the fourth in my series of short fiction, called Cat Tales, is now available on Amazon.

The Autumn Kitten is different in some respects, because it's the first thing I've written where the main character isn't somewhere between ten and fifteen years old.

Yes, I've written some great adult characters in my novels (think Aunt Trudy or Swede from Six Degrees of Lost, or Grandfather from The Girl Who Remembered Horses.) But these were secondary characters. In The Autumn Kitten, the main character is a sixty-four-year-old widow, who takes on not only stray cats, but also internet dating at a moment's whim, with both hilarious and heart-wrenching results.

Can Grace find true love on the internet? Widowed Grace is handling life just fine on her own, except for endless chores and long lonely nights. But when she falls head-over-heels for a pair of blue eyes she spots online, life suddenly becomes complicated. Will she let a kitten decide who she should date?

I'm excited about this short read, because I'm hoping it will bring me some new readers. And it's a good story! One of my readers (okay, my mom) compared it to the wonderful short stories that used to be available in women's magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Redbook. Remember those? The ones you read in the doctor's office, and had to put back in the stack when the nurse called you in, just when you got to the good part!

Well, now you don't have to. The Autumn Kitten is available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook for only $0.99. And you can read it on almost any smart phone, tablet, computer, or other device with the free Kindle App.

So go ahead. Knock yourself out. Try my newest one!

And just in case you're wondering, it's all perfectly suitable for kids 10 and up. Yep. Still rated G.

Hope you enjoy it! Here's the link:

Oh yeah. Don't you think this cover has the most adorable kitten ever?

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:


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.)

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:

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*)
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!

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

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  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:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Privacy for Hens

Ah - Spring! The days are longer, the chickens and ducks are laying like crazy, and some of them appear a bit broody. (No not depressed - in poultry language, this translates into an instinct to set on their eggs and hatch babies.)

So I decided to make my girls some chicken curtains. For privacy.

Since I have multiple hens laying, as well as three duck hens all jostling for a spot, I figured that they might prefer more privacy. (And actually was inspired by a blog post about it over at a great chicken site called The Chicken Chick.)

Privacy? My husband choked on his food. Why do chickens need privacy?

Heh, what do men know?

I bought a remnant of barnyard plaid for only three dollars and stapled it to the wood. Hint: I only went partway across, to let them get used to the idea, and will probably extend the curtain after a couple of days. (Chickens can get a bit hysterical over something new in their surroundings.)

So this morning - SUCCESS! I had three duck eggs in these nests before the sun came up (ducks lay early.) And here is my hen Daisy, who seems to like the idea, don't you think?

I hope to raise some baby ducks soon (although I'm not sure if a chicken or a duck will set on the eggs.) But that will be a topic for a further blog post. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Springtime Cat

Announcing - my newest release, and the second in a series of short reads called Cat Tales:


Eleven-year-old Dee Chase finds an injured tabby cat hiding in a blackberry patch. As the animal regains health and sneaks its way into Dee's heart, it helps Dee handle a rough patch going on with her family. But the cat keeps coming up with surprises, and ultimately will heal Dee's family in unexpected ways.

This short story from Linda Benson, award-winning author of books about the human-animal bond, will surely touch your heart in any season.

The first in this series is called THE WINTER KITTEN, and this newest story has different characters, different plot, and a different cat. And to paraphrase one of my reviews from the first book: "it's not (just) about the cat."

Hope you enjoy THE SPRINGTIME CAT. Once again, it's priced at only $0.99. Here's the link:

And for those of you still stuck in snow, rain, or ice, I hope Spring comes soon for you!

Friday, January 31, 2014

114 Books this year? Probably not

Yes, I am an avid reader. I love to read, and in fact it's one of my favorite things to do!

Because I am active on the Goodreads site (where members can post books they've read, want to read, and reviews, as well as find new books that interest them) I have happily accepted their reading challenges for the last three years.

How many books will you read this year? I was asked, each January. For 2011, since I was living in a rainy state which kept me inside for days at a time, I read a LOT. So I decided I could read 111 books.

And I did!

For 2012 - I similarly read 112 books, and for 2013, I chose 113 books!

Completed, and completed.

But I have to admit, last year I struggled. We had moved to an area with better weather, and I was outside hiking and gardening a lot, not to mention starting a new series of my own writing. So, instead of 113 actual novels, I filled in with lots of picture books from the library. (No this is not cheating, I decided. A book is a book.)

So this year, when Goodreads put the challenge up there for me to again accept, my first reaction was to go for 114 books.

But then, I decided I didn't really want the pressure (even though I was only competing with myself - lol.) I wanted to feel like I could dawdle over a book, cherishing it or reading slowly. Maybe I'd even take an entire month to finish something.

And I'm also busy writing more this year. My story The Winter Kitten is doing well on Amazon, and I am putting the finishing touches on a brand new one in the series, called The Springtime Cat.

So, no reading challenges for me this year. If I read 114 books, then so be it. But I hope to enjoy every single book that I do finish! And garden more. And hike more. And write more!

If you want to see what I'm reading on Goodreads, feel free to friend me there:

And stay tuned for details about my upcoming title: The Springtime Cat.

How Many Books do you usually read in a year?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rebranding Myself

Eeek, that sounds a little scary. But actually, that's what I'm doing right now.

For most of my career, I've thought of myself as a MG (middle-grade) and YA (young adult) author.

But things are changing rapidly in the publishing world, as well as in the reading world. My last three books (and my latest short story) have come out as eBooks first. (I do have some paper copies available of some - email me if you'd like one!)

But my readership has changed also. Although it's true that most of my novels are entirely suitable for ages 9-10 and up - many, if not most, of my readers are adults. Especially adults who love animals. Because (no surprise here) animals (dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even yes, peacocks) have not only snuck in, but are a big part of the storyline of all of my books.

People that love animals tend to love my books! It's true!

So I am hereby rebranding, or remarketing myself, as an author for people who love animals (no matter the age.) I think I have a good chance of attracting my actual readership this way. So you may see some changes on my blog and on my website as I go through this process. Such as the new tag line in the header above: FICTION FOR ANIMAL LOVERS.

I'm still writing, and in fact I hope to have a second eBook out soon, to follow The Winter Kitten, in my series about cats and kittens. And my fiction is still good human drama, with realistic characters, many of whom just happen to be animals.

So what do you think, everyone? A Good Move?

The best part of this is that I am getting excited about my career again, knowing that I might reach new readers this way. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dear Blog

Gah! I haven't seen you for so long! Like, Last Year!

What have I been doing, Dear Blog? Well, let me catch you up . . .

First, there were "The Holidays." Which somehow seem to morph into taking up all of one's time.

And in the middle of these festivities (actually as I was getting ready for a holiday party) I, ahem, broke a tooth! Which segued into several trips to the dentist, a root canal which is still bothering me, much tooth pain, and learning more about the numbers for teeth (bad #12 tooth!) than I really want to know. *sigh*

I want a smile like this.

But then, I was surprised by Santa at Christmas with a new iPad! Egads! Woo Hoo!

An Apple product, which I knew nothing about, but which everyone assured me was a "piece of cake." But where was the Help Menu? So (thank God for libraries) I immediately checked out some books from our local library on how to work an iPad. (Which some people told me was the epitome of "Old School.") But there you have it.

Very soon, I was downloading things, (like the Kindle App, so now I can read everyone's Kindle book) and I was playing online, and oh yes, learning to take videos!

Of ducks.
And chickens.
Yes, I know this isn't a video. (If it was, it would be too cute for words.) But I am learning, and hopefully soon will post cute animal videos, so that you, too, will get nothing done. Ha, ha!

Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone. I am writing, and hopefully soon will publish another (not yet titled) cat story. I am enjoying writing some shorter fiction, and plan to make these a series, but with different characters (and cats.)

And I promise you, Dear Blog, I will be a more regular contributor this year. Just as soon as I . . . oh wait, the chickens are taking a dust bath in the flower bed. Must get that on video. Where is my iPad???