This fall has been busy with another new children’s book and a film festival win….
Beauford The Patriotic Donkey was released in November. Beauford is the brainchild of my other half, retired race trainer and former pro bull rider T. A. Bouk. “Tab” likes to say he waited until he was almost 60 to write his first book! We collaborated on the project along with local artist, Atlantis Corn that graduated from Sweetwater, Tennessee high school this year. A big thanks to art teacher Matthew Mikos for holding the contest among his students for the opportunity to illustrate the book.
Beauford chases the thickens and thinks he’s too good for goats, but he soon learns everybody has to work together when you live on a farm. The book endears itself to the American Public by teaching the timeless lessons of farm work ethic, the importance of the flag, and honoring military service.
The book quickly climbed to the top, making Amazon Best Seller lists for Children’s New Release Animal, and Farm Life categories, and hit the all time top seller list for Children’s Farm Life books. Beauford The Patriotic Donkey enjoyed a local book tour with book signings at Rural King, Blount County Heritage Museum, Sweetwater Antiques, B&B Wholesale and Auction, and Pallet Jack Snack Shack.
FIRST FILM FESTIVAL WIN….
LOGLINE FOR THE GRULLA –
A determined cowgirl enlists the help of a former bull fighter and drug addict in the search for her horse that is still mysteriously missing after a tornado destroys her ranch.
The script, since entitled “The Grulla” won the Winnie Award for Best Equine Screenplay for the Equus Film Festival. I would like to extend a hearty “Congratulations” to my fellow Winnie recipients in the other categories. You can see the full list of winners on the American Horse Publications website.
The script is actively being submitted to agents, managers, producers and directors. You can also check out my profile on IMDb Pro.
READ THE FULL SYNOPSIS –
This entry was posted in Books, Horses, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged Agent, agriculture, american flag, Author, book blog, book signing, book tour, books, Bouk, children, childrens books, director, donkey, drama, Equestrian, equine, Equus Film Festival, F.J. Thomas, farm, farm life, farmer, farmers, film, Film Agent, film festival, film manager, films, horses, kidlit, kids, kids books, lessons, military, movies, new release, patriotic, patriotism, producer, Rural King, screenplay, screenwriter, screenwriting, Script, Sweetwater, Sweetwater Antiques, Sweetwater Tennessee, T.A. Bouk, talent agent, teachers, Tennessee, The Grulla, Writer.
This week, my publisher released my short story, Winds On Indian Mound, as a single on Amazon.
Because everything I write has a little real life in it, I thought I’d share the real event that inspired this paranormal short story…
Are there ghosts in Indian Mound?
What really happened in Indian Mound, Tennessee? No one knows for certain, but a paranormal experience I had there years ago most definitely inspired my latest short story, Winds On Indian Mound.
It happened long ago while I was out riding my mare late one night. Of course, that was back when I was young and fearless. However, on that particular night, my bravery quickly evaporated; I was so scared to death, I still remember every detail twenty-five years later.
Just like the story, I had the offer of free board for my two horses in Indian Mound, Tennessee. The pasture my horses stayed in was relatively small, but it sat on about two hundred acres of rough and sometimes steep, rolling sage-filled fields. The property backed up to over seven hundred acres of woods. There were logging roads and any manner of dirt trails that ran through the woods.
Always being a cowgirl that wants to see what’s just around the bend, I looked for a way on to the seven hundred acres. Sure enough, just like in the story, at the top of the hill a large oak tree had fallen and taken the fence down with it. There was a gap just big enough for my horse to walk through.
The curious thing about the gap in the fence was that every time I crossed it, the wind was blowing and the temperature would drop. Even on the hottest of days, I would get a chill as I rode my mare across that fence line.
I rode those wooded trails as much as I could, each trip getting later as I went a little further in and discovered new places to ride. The last few rides, I managed to make it back to the barn shortly after dusk.
However, the last ride I took there ended when the full moon was high up in the sky. Looking back, I estimate it was probably around ten or maybe eleven o’clock at night. I was used to riding that late.
That particular afternoon, I crossed over the fence line, and although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the wind was blowing the worst it ever had. I remember goosebumps appearing on my arms even though it was late summer and plenty hot.
The little chestnut grade mare that I had, Coco, was solid as they come. She was supposed to have been a Quarter Horse and Fox Trotter cross. I rode her everywhere and she never spooked at anything – probably the only reason I was so brave!
As I rode that evening, I didn’t pay much attention to the time, or the fact that it was getting dark. Then all of a sudden, my mare stopped dead in her tracks and would not move. Her head was raised and she was focused on something deep in the woods. Keep in mind, I had owned that horse about five years at that point and she had never done such a thing so I knew she saw something.
Over in the middle of some brush about twenty feet away, I saw a flash reflection of light. The only way I can explain it, is that it looked like moonlight reflecting off something metal.
I wear glasses now, but at the time I didn’t because quite frankly I didn’t have the money. When you’re young, you have different priorities I guess. At any rate, with it being dark and my eyesight not what it should be, I could see basic objects but I couldn’t see a lot of details.
Right after the flash of light, a medium size bird flew up out of the brush where the light had been. My mare suddenly decided then that she could move on down the trail.
I’ve always had what I call a “knowing”. It’s when you just know things for a fact that you shouldn’t know but you do. That night, I had a “knowing” that something was there in those woods. I felt it as surely as I had felt the wind earlier.
A few yards down the trail, I sensed someone or something was following us. So, I turned around and looked back. Sure enough, I saw something light colored about the same height as I was on my horse. I couldn’t see any details, as mentioned earlier, but I could see that it was a definite object that wasn’t staying still!
I told myself I was just being silly, and bumped my mare up to a trot. When I got around the bend in the trail, I looked back and the object was the same distance behind us. I decided to test what I was seeing, and began to canter my mare thinking surely it would disappear. Yet, every time I looked back, I saw that same object several yards behind us, just far enough back I couldn’t see exactly what it was.
By that point, I panicked and asked my mare for a full out gallop! We galloped all the way to the break in the fence. When we got there, the wind was blowing even more violently than it had before but the temperature didn’t change.
Once through the fence, we headed to the barn as fast as we could. The trail back was hard packed dirt with loose rock on top. It went downhill and to the left. We flew down the hill and took the left hand turn.
About half way to the barn, I stopped, thinking surely I was safe. I cocked my head to listen and heard the faint sound of gravel rolling down that hill. Needless to say, I high-tailed it to the barn!
I’ve always been drawn to otherworldly things. Probably because of my “knowing” as I call it, along with a sensitivity that I can’t quite explain, I have a good balance of curiosity and skepticism. I’ve spent a lifetime studying the supernatural, and have even analyzed several unexplained occurrences that have happened after that. Things like shadows and voices, usually at night, but not always.
Was it a ghost? Who knows, but whatever it was, that supernatural encounter had a huge impact on my life and found its way into a mix of fiction and American Indian culture in Winds On Indian Mound.
This entry was posted in Books, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged Authors, Book, book release, creek indian, ghost, ghost stories, ghosts, horses, Indian, Indian Mound, inspiration, native american, paranormal, riding, short story, Stewart County, supernatural, Tennessee, trail riding, writers.
This week we talk with fellow Solstice Publishing author and horsewoman Maureen Gregory. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her, especially since she’s a fellow horse lover, loves animals and has a great sense of humor!
Tell us about where you live & what your day to day life is like.
I live in rural England in an area known as the Peak District, with my husband Chris and a collection of creatures great and small. Our home is a very old stone farmhouse, we can only date it back 400 years, but it is older than that. The lounge has old oak beams, the main one was off a ship apparently! There is a stone fireplace, in the winter the fire is blazing, but today, it is hot and sunny.
When I am writing I sit at an oak table with the window behind me. As I have two small dogs and one cat there is always one of them curled up on the chair and one in my lap. The only problem is when Minty (the cat) decides to walk over the keyboard.
My routine is dictated by the weather! If it is lashing down with rain/snow/hail or blowing a gale I get my outside chores done as quickly as possible, come in, light the fire, have breakfast and begin writing. However, if the weather is ok, I like to ride my horses, and potter about outside. At the risk of sounding a bit bonkers I confess to spending hours sitting with my two pet sheep – Rambo & Sweep, just chilling out and pondering on this and that. I then look at my watch, shriek “OMG where has the time gone!” and rush back into the house.
Tell us about your horses and what you do with them.
I have two horses Apollo and Jassmin. Apollo is a Welsh Cob, chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. He is twenty now and still very lively. We do dressage competitions together, but our favourite is dressage to music. He loves it. We recently won a dressage to music championship, despite the speakers to the main arena breaking down just as we started our test. I couldn’t hear a thing, but Apollo could, and I just followed his lead.
Jassmin is a ten year old coloured Gypsy Cob, she has blue flecks in her eyes, long white eyelashes and a long flowing mane. On a recent hack a little girl shouted out “Oh look that horse has angel hair!” She also has silky white feathers.
My friend made a short promotional video to promote my novel, and it features Jassmin, looking very windswept. Although she is not typical of a dressage horse she has lovely light paces and does very well in competitions. Our favourite pastime is just hacking out along the many bridleways and lanes.
I also have the pleasure of owning Dylan the donkey. He is fifteen, very loveable and cheeky. Dylan doesn’t really do anything, he just is!!
Do you write full time?
I gave up a career in psychiatric nursing and mental health counselling to renovate an old farmhouse. It took several years and after the work was completed I decided not to go back to that line of work. I felt as if I had moved on and things would not be the same if I went back.
I began to write short stories for magazines, with some success before I decided to concentrate on writing my debut novel. Also by that time I had added to my collection of fluffies and furries, paws and claws, so alongside assisting Chris with his paperwork I find my day is busy enough.
Here’s some info and a review on her book The Seventh Wave….
In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game? Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?
“Beware the Seventh Wave,” begins with Emma rushing to make it to a funeral. Things just haven’t been going her way for a long time. An early morning argument with her husband, Phil, left her feeling exhausted. She over slept and was running late. A quick breakfast from the local eatery drips on her clothing. The weather is gloomy. To just top her day off, she scraps the side of her car trying to enter the cemetery lot. Nothing is going right.
At the funeral, she knew she was going to be running into her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Mark and Alicia. She just wasn’t prepared for the reactions she was going to be experiencing. Seeing Mark brought back feelings that she tried so hard to suppress over the years. But what can you do when you are both married to someone else?
As we all do when we are trying to sort out our lives, Emma is conflicted with her feelings. Instead of checking into a hotel as she originally planned, she returns home to find what can be the most devastating thing ever. Walking in she finds what she’s hoping is a romantic event planned for her only to find her husband in the throes of passions with her friend Katie.
Totally in shock, Emma had the difficult task of trying to sort out her life. Does she fight for her husband and marriage? Does she give up and let the other woman win, again? Is she ready to restart her life all over again? Is there anyone in her life that she can actually trust?
It’s a phone call from Mark, a week after the funeral that sets Emma up for the most drastic and important event in her life. With her marriage failing, she willingly runs to Mark in hopes to help him in a time of need. But will the help that she offers Mark, help her find what she is missing in her?
How can people find your work? (List all your buy links & contact info — this is about promoting you!)
Buy Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory on Amazon UK
Maureen Gregory’s Amazon UK Author Page
Book Trailer: Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory
Maureen Gregory’s Website – www.maureengregorybooks.com
Maureen Gregory’s Facebook Author Page
Link to Maureen Gregory on Goodreads
Profile name on LinkedIn: Maureen Gregory
Any parting words of wisdom for those writers looking to be published?
If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t – you are absolutely right! It’s all in the mind-literally.
Feel free to include comments, etc.
Just a bit thank you for hosting me on your blog. Happy riding, writing & all the other things that make life worth while FJ!
This entry was posted in Books, Horses, Writing and tagged amazon, Author, barnes & noble, books, British, drama, dressage, ebooks, England, equine, farm, Goodreads, horses, kindle, London, Maureen Gregory, murder, Peak, Peak District, reading, sheep, Solstice, Solstice publishing, suspense, Tennessee, UK.
This time we’re talking with Secret Cravings author Christina Cole. Christina has been very successful as a romance writer and as you’ll soon see does a wonderful job at spinning a tale. Her belief in true love is what guides the way in the stories that she tells…
Tell me a little about your life. Where do you live and what is a typical day like for you?
I live a quiet, old-fashioned sort of life in a small mid-western town. I’m happily married to the love of my life. My time is divided between family, my love for writing, and the things I enjoy, such as cooking, music, and, of course, reading.
How long have you been writing and what genres do you write?
I’ve been writing all of my life. I scribbled my first short story at the age of four. At eight, I wrote my first novel – a very short one about a girl and her horse. How original, huh?
What inspires you in your writing? What is your muse?
What inspires me is my belief in love. I truly believe that love is a powerful force in our lives, that it can strengthen us, encourage us, and help us become better people. Learning to give and receive love is a true blessing.
What role do horses play in your life and/or stories?
I was riding horses from the time I was three years old and remained a “horse crazy” girl well into adulthood. Sadly, I’m no longer actively involved with horses and riding, so I do the next best thing – I write western romance novels. I’m also a history lover, and I’m naturally drawn to the days of the “old west”. I’ve written historical romances set in other times and places, but my heart belongs to the cowboys who’ve ridden into our American culture to become icons of hard work, respect, and honor.
Horses do play a very important role in Keeping Faith, my latest western historical romance, available July 1 from Secret Cravings Publishing. Horses, in fact, are so important to the story that I asked the cover artist to please include an image of a horse on the cover. I was very pleased with the result.
The hero of the story is cowboy Tom Henderson, a man with an affinity for horses. Some folks say it’s because he was – literally – born in a barn. His drunken whore of a mother made a wrong turn that April morning after leaving the outhouse and ended up giving birth to her son on a pile of straw in the horse barn.
As Tom struggles to become a better man and provide a secure future for those he loves – including his infant niece, Faith – he has an opportunity to ride out and capture a band of wild horses. His dream is to someday have a horse farm, but that dream has always been as unreachable as the rocky mountains around him.
I won’t reveal the outcome, of course, but Tom learns through his experiences. Horses can teach us a lot if we’re willing to listen.
What is your favorite thing about a cowboy and why?
His respect for others. People often quote the old saying that “What the world needs now is love,” but I think it’s really respect that we’re so often lacking. For me, the cowboy is a potent symbol of what true respect means.
If there was one thing about your life that you wish you could change what would it be and why?
In looking back over my life, my greatest regret is that I have so few tangible things to celebrate the lives of the people I’ve loved. I lived with my grandfather while I was growing up. He was a remarkable man. I have only a few photographs of him. He told me many stories about his own childhood, stories about his experiences in World War I, and stories about people and places he’d known. I wish now I had them written down. There are others, too, who have passed away, leaving me with memories, but very few of those tangible reminders, such as photographs, recordings, and other memorabilia.
How can people find your books and learn more about you?
I do a lot of blogging. Although most of my blogs are designed to showcase other authors and help them promote their books, I do have two personal blogs readers can visit for more information about me and my philosophy of live and love.
Christina Cole Romance (christinacoleromance.com) is my “official” blog where I share a few personal thoughts and keep readers updated on new releases. Occasionally I take part in “blog hops” and give away books, ebooks, and other prizes.
Riding Into the Sunset – Stepping Back in Time (thesunsetseries.wordpress.com) is a blog I’ve set up for “all things Sunset”. The stories I’m now writing are all set in the fictional little town of Sunset, Colorado. Readers can visit the blog to learn more about the stories in the series, more about the town itself, and more about the characters who live there.
Any parting words of wisdom for writers?
Know who you are as a writer, and write the stories you’d like to read. Writing should be a pleasure, so listen to your own voice, and write your own stories.
Love brings them together. Hatred tears them apart.
One man…one woman…between them a precious child whose future they hold in their hands.
Everything they say about Tom Henderson is true. Born in a barn, the bastard son of a drunken whore, he’s got nothing to offer, and any dreams he might have are as far away as the distant snow-capped Rockies — and probably as unattainable. He’s long had his eye on pretty Lucille McIntyre, but that’s just one more impossible dream.
Lucille has always been considered the prettiest and most popular girl in Sunset, but her father’s sudden death has left her shaken and sad. Now, life seems to be passing her by.
When a prim and proper spinster arrives to deliver a squalling 3-month-old infant to Tom, his life and Lucille’s both change. His decision to keep the baby girl sets off a firestorm among the good ladies in town who don’t consider him fit to raise a child.
Together, Tom and Lucille will do anything in their struggle for keeping Faith.
Next time we talk with Solstice Publishing author Crackerberries Anderson about her book Blackhorse 2015. This will be an extremely interesting interview and very different from the interviews you’ve read so far! Stay tuned!
This entry was posted in Books, Horses, Writing and tagged amazon, Author Interviews, blogs, Book, Christina Cole, cowboys, ebooks, horses, interview, Mondayblogs, Publishing, romance, Secret Cravings Publishing, western, westerns.
This time I’m chatting with author Laura Crum who writes mysteries. If you love an authentic down to earth “who done it” that involves horses, then you’ll love Laura Crum’s books. Her years of experience in the horse industry have created some great stories that are difficult to put down for even just a little while!
Tell us a little bit about where you live and what your life is like.I live in the hills near California’s Monterey Bay on a very small horse ranch. I keep five horses here, also have a large garden and various other critters. All of my horses are getting older, my oldest horse is 34 and I have owned him for thirty years. I spend my time writing, reading, riding and taking care of family, critters, garden…etc.Do you write full time or do you work in addition to writing?I have been a full time writer for over twenty years. My first mystery, Cutter– involving the cutting horse world– was published by St Martin’s Press in 1994. Since then I have published a dozen books in my mystery series featuring equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy.How do horses first into your life and how do they fit into your stories?I spent my twenties training and competing on cowhorses and cutting horses and my thirties training and competing on team roping horses. I have owned horses non-stop for over forty years; I currently spend most of my horse time trail riding with my son. In my lifetime I have started well over a hundred colts, worked on commercial cattle ranches, as an assistant to professional trainers, and at a mountain pack station. All these experiences form the background of the books in my mystery series.What genre do you write and why?My books are mysteries, partly because I have always loved mysteries. More specifically, when I began writing, it was in an attempt to take my background in the western horse world and use it in the same way Dick Francis used his background as a steeplechase jockey to create his wonderful stories. I quite frankly set out to imitate him, because I loved his books so much, and I am never happier than when my novels are compared to his.What makes your books different from other books in your genre? How do you think that has impacted the type of readers that you have?I would say my books are a bit more honest and authentic than most of the horse themed books I’ve read. I would also say that they are a bit more personal than most of the mysteries I’ve read, and I’ve tried to weave into them my insights about life as well as horses. If I were to describe the series, I might say it is more or less a blend of memoir and mystery.Tell us your favorite reader story where you met a fan.can’t say that I have a favorite reader story. I do remember one woman who traveled across the state to meet me and then was bitterly disappointed that I wasn’t actually a vet myself. I also remember getting my hair trimmed (and looking less than elegant)…and the woman in the next chair recognized me and said, “Aren’t you Laura Crum?” I sort of wanted to deny it and slink away.Do you have any special writing rituals? If so, how do you think it makes a difference in your writing?No writing rituals. I just try very hard to make my deadlines. That’s what keeps me honest.How can people learn more about you and your books?All my books are on Amazon and available as Kindle editions. Type in Laura Crum and you’ll find all twelve, complete with reader reviews…etc. You can also go to lauracrum.com. And I write a weekly blog post on the Equestrian Ink blog.Any parting words of wisdom to writers trying to get their book published?I broke into traditional publishing over twenty years ago–things were very different then. One needed a literary agent for an editor to look at the ms, and self-publishing was a dirty word. Now with Amazon and Kindle, more and more writers are self-publishing and calling themselves “indie” authors and having success. So I really have no idea what approach I’d follow if I were starting today. The old wisdom of write the best and truest thing you can in your voice is probably still good advice.Next time we’ll be talking with western romance author Christina Cole! You won’t want to miss it!
This entry was posted in Books, Horses, Writing and tagged amazon, Author Interviews, Authors, blogs, books, California, cutter, cutting horses, ebooks, equine, horses, interview, kindle, Laura Crum, Monterey, Mysteries, Mystery, Quarter Horses, roping, Tennessee, writing.
I ran into BK on Twitter and I have to say she’s a cowgirl that I really like and I think you will too. She epitomizes what this blog is all about with her love of horses and her out of the box thinking on writing. Mark my word — I think she’s on to something with her stories and will be taking the publishing world by storm!
Tell us about you and your family? What is your life like?
I grew up in Duluth, MN in a six kid family. I have amazing parents who encouraged my love of reading and horses even though they didn’t understand it. They’re still a bit surprised that horses didn’t turn out to be some little girl phase (sorry folks, I’m a lifer). About three years ago when I finished my third year of college, I met a South Dakota farm boy at a friend’s wedding and it was Cloud 9 and unicorns after that. We’re married now and live outside the small town of Lake Norden, SD. We reside in a little rented farm house on forty acres of prairie with our two dogs and one horse.
I work three jobs currently. I am an administrative assistant at a government land conservation office (NRCS), a part-time colt starter and horse trainer (I usually only take on three horses at a time due to not having my own facility yet), and am a writer in any spare time the first two jobs leave me.
How did you get involved with horses?
I was a dog person as a kid. Then my mother made the mistake of drawing a horse for me on a fogged up bathroom mirror. I fell hard and even though we lived in town, begged for a pony every Christmas. When I entered sixth grade, my parents bought a thirty acre farm and we began to board a friend’s horses. Whenever that friend was around, I would beg him to teach me something about his wild paint horses. After a while he bought his own place and moved his horses (saddest day of my young life!) and our pasture sat empty for a few years. I was lucky we had neighbors that took my horse poor self in and taught me to ride on their wonderful foxtrotters. Eventually in eighth grade, I wore my parents down and we bought an old appaloosa mare who taught me a great deal about confidence.
I worked for a few stables in the area, honing my skills and learning, before I hit upon horse job heaven: exercise rider for a cutting horse barn three miles down the road. I spent almost four years immersed in the sport of cutting, drinking in the dust and cattle, living for the thrill of riding an athletic horse as it dodged catlike after a cow. One of the hardest things about getting married and moving was leaving that job! To date, those were a few of the most important years in my horse life. What I learned there impacted how I start colts and tune horses now.
If you had to tell us about only one horse you’ve dealt with, which one would it be and why?
Hands down it would be a little Arab/Quarter horse crossed named Lassie. She was the first horse I ever trained, and boy, was she a handful. Lassie was and still is, the friendliest horse I ever met, but she was hot and nervous. I got Lassie as a four year old filly when I was a junior in high school. I was outgrowing my first horse’s athletic ability; I wanted to go riding all day, every day and the 23 year old mare just wasn’t up for it.
Some friends of ours were getting out of horses (seriously, who does that!?) and happily sold me the spunky Lassie. I loved her even though she’d dump me at the first sign of trouble. After a year of fighting, I finally buckled down and read some Clinton Anderson, delved into Buck Branamen and poured over Ray Hunt’s writings. Lassie and I worked our tails off and after a few months, she was as bombproof as could be and I could ride her bareback and bridleless. I was on top of the world! I felt like Stacey Westfall! I was as pleased as punch at our success. But Lassie wasn’t done teaching me yet.
The summer after my freshman year in college, Lassie bowed both her back tendons during turnout. I was devastated. To me, this was the end of my horse. I had little knowledge of horse leg injuries because my horses had never gotten more than a minor cut. But even though I thought Lassie would never be ridden again, I resolved to give her the best possible care. I threw myself at Google’s feet, I prostrated myself in the lap of every veterinary hand book and bribed my own vet with muffins for every drop of knowledge about bowed tendons. A year later, Lassie was pronounced sound! I sadly but happily (bittersweetly?) prepared her for her next home in wake of my engagement. She is now a little girl’s barrel horse and is living a pampered life!
What type of writing do you do and what is your latest project?
I scribble off a few lines of poetry here and there and pen some song lyrics occasionally, but what I really love writing are westerns with a twist. While an avid student of Louie L’Amour, William Johnstone and Elmer Kelton, I also love fantasy and steampunk. You can just bet I’ve read every Harry Potter book more than three times. As a result of this, I’ve started several stories where cowboys end up in odd places and have to use their bronc riding, sharp shooting, cattle mustering skills to get themselves out of a sticky situation. It wasn’t until lately that a particular group of characters had finally had enough of my false starts and demanded a full adventure. I’m at the editing-the-fourth-draft phase and have declared it’s genre to be “western steampunk” and its working title is “Maker”. Maker is set in the northern region of Montana in 1890, where a young cowboy and a talking mountain lion join forces to defeat and discover why a mechanical killer cougar has been slaughtering local ranchers’ cattle.
My main focus with any of the stories I write is staying true to most aspects of the old and modern cowboy way of life, and gearing them toward the young adult and middle grade reader. Many kids these days don’t get to experience life outside of the city and traditional western books may appear to be an archaic or uninteresting read. I want to introduce these young readers to the world of the west without boring them with the typical gunfights and long cattle drives. Don’t get me wrong, I love those aspects of traditional westerns, but my gut tells me today’s younger generation finds them less endearing. I feel current writing project a gateway book for children to grow into avid readers of all westerns, a genre I don’t want to see die or phased out.
How do horses factor into your writing?
Actually a lot less than I thought. My characters always get a good horse and I make sure to describe gear and movements correctly, but they aren’t the headlining act. I tried to feature horses more prominently a few times but the cowboys kept trumping them in every scene so I backed off. I still have it in my heart to write a story based around cutting horses and riders but until then, my horses just play a supporting role. They have presence, but my characters aren’t as bug-eyed about them as I am.
When did you start writing?
I’ve written and kept journals since grade school but as much as I loved writing, it honestly never entered my mind that I could actually write a book. It was during college when I rubbed elbows with a few aspiring writers that I realized authors were normal (I use that word in the loosest sense) people like me and not some awesome word gods in the sky. That’s when I buckled down and started learning everything I could about writing.
Do you have any unique writing rituals, and if so what are they?
I don’t have any specific rituals or needs to get in the writing mood. I write anywhere and everywhere I can. Between the office job and the horse training, I don’t have a ton of time to waste setting up to write, so I’ve learned to write when I can no matter what is going on around me. I’ve been known to write an idea in the arena dirt and yell “don’t ride over this!” and then bolt for the tack room to find a pen. I’m always listening to the way people say things because if they say it in a particularly clever or blunt way, I’ll end up discreetly scribbling down their words on my hand or chanting them in my head to memorize them.
How do you handle writer’s block?
If I hit a blank spot, I don’t stress. I stand up, walk away from wherever I was writing and go do something else for a while. Sometimes I’ll just write nonsense words like Dr. Suess or start narrating everything I do in a loud voice for the next hour. That last one throws my husband for a loop but I always end up with a phrase or sentence that sparks my imagination and then it’s back to the writing desk.
Of all the pieces you’ve written, which one is your favorite?
My favorite story I’ve written is definitely my current project “Maker”. I love my characters even if I am a bit hard on them.
I have penned a favorite poem, too. My dad, in a weak moment, confessed that he had always dreamed about having a stout little pony to pull him around in a cart. The image of a forty-seven year old man asking for a pony drove me straight to my notebook. On his next birthday, I presented him with a hilarious poem about a rough and tough tractor mechanic asking for a pony for Christmas. It’s one of the few times I’ve gotten my dad to roar with laughter over something I’ve written, so I’ll always cherish that one.
How can people find your work?
I’m pretty disconnected compared to a lot of people I know, but I just joined Twitter (@BKKopman) and Instagram (@bkkopman) after I got read the riot act from a fellow writer friend about platform building. There you can find snippets of my current works and lines of occasional poetry. As I get more comfortable with all this technology, I might be persuaded to start a blog, but until then, 140 characters and the occasional picture is about all I can handle.
This week we’re taking part of a Blog Hop thanks to talented freelance writer, author, and martial arts enthusiast from the UK, Mark Iles. Please visit his blog at http://markiles.co.uk/2014/04/the-blog-hop.html
What am I working on?
I’ve always got several projects going in various stages of development. There are three particular projects however that I’d like to focus on this year. The main focus right now is a western romance novella about a romance writer that’s down on her luck. The second is also a western romance with a curious paranormal element added. Then I’ve also been working on a sequel to Lost Betrayal.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Lost Betrayal is on the market as a Western Romance however the story is really much bigger than that. The drama and suspense throughout the story are just as big as the romance. In addition to writing big stories, another difference would be my insight to the horses and people in my books. As a trainer, I look at the world through a training view-point and tend to look a little deeper than the surface at the reason a horse or a person does something.
Why do I write what I do?
One of my biggest reasons for writing Lost Betrayal was to bring awareness to the fact that large animals are the last to be rescued in a disaster. They’re just not a high priority, they require special skills to rescue in most cases, they can’t be relocated to just anywhere and they receive the least amount of publicity when it comes to their needs. Writing the book was a way to open up discussions about that and bring an awareness to the public about that need.
Another reason that I write is that there’s always some lesson I want to share with the world. Stories are a great way to do that. Plus, my head is always filled with new ideas that just have to find a way out somehow!
How does your writing process work?
Working full-time and running a horse farm is already a full load. When you add competing, giving lessons and judging horse shows it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time! I’m as passionate about the horse industry as I am my writing so it’s hard to balance the two, really. Most work day mornings I get up at around 4 to 5am in the morning to get everything in. I do most of my writing during those early hours as it’s quiet and there aren’t many interruptions. Then I’ll also grab some writing time on rainy weekends as well.
As far as inspiration, I have a playlist of the Steel Drivers that I’ve worn slap out. Something about their music inspires me to write from the heart. Since I have several projects going, I usually don’t have any trouble with writer’s block. If I don’t feel like writing on one particular manuscript, I’ll feel like writing on another one.
In regards to the actual writing itself, I outline like crazy. I not only outline the story itself but I’ll also outline each chapter. I have to know where I’m headed. If I don’t outline, I tend to go down a rabbit hole!
Thanks for taking the time to find out more about my writing and what I do! Next week on May 12th check out Olivia Gracey’s blog at http://www.oliviagracey.com/blog.html. Olivia is a new author with Solstice Publishing. In addition to writing, she’s also a singer, songwriter, and photographer.
While we’re talking about wonderful authors, here’s a few more blog links to wonderful writer friends of mine.
Stephanie Hurt is a southern romance writer. A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of being interviewed for her blog. Here’s the link to that interview – http://stephanie-hurt.com/2014/04/26/interview-with-f-j-thomas-author/ Check out her blog site while you’re there to read more great interviews and read about her life as a writer.
Stephanie Berget is a fellow barrel racer and romance writer. Visit her blog at http://www.stephanieberget.com/ to read about her stories and the latest musings about her life.
Elle Marlow is another fellow barrel racer and romance writer. You can read about her latest book and shenanigans at http://ellemarlow.blogspot.com/