Horses

Talking With Ceri Dickinson With Pure Essence Photography

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This time we talk with UK photographer Ceri Dickinson of Pure Essence Photography. Not only does she live and love the horse life, she has a fantastic eye for capturing the moment. I think you’ll love seeing her work and finding out more about what makes her tick.
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Tell us what a day in your life is like.  
A day in my life can be very different depending on which day you catch me! I work as assistant manager on a livery and hunting yard so, on a work day, it’s up early to do my horses and then off to work.  Work can involve anything from a lot of mucking out to schooling a horse, teaching a client or getting hunters ready for action.

On a photography day I will (again) be up early to see to my horses and then prepare for the shoot.  It’s really important that all my gear (and back up gear) is in good working order and ready to go – batteries will be fully charged the day before.  I also like to spend a little time reading through the booking form the Client’s fill in so that I can get a feeling of who they are and what kind of shots they are going to like.

On a day off it gets really boring – that’s when I have to catch up on the paperwork side of the business and do my housework! If I’m really lucky I might squeeze in a bit of free time to do some “just for fun” photography.

Are you a full time photographer? 
No, I’m part time. In all honesty I’m not sure I would want to be full time.  As much as I love photography I also love working with horses.

I tried to leave a couple of times but ended up going back!  I’m very lucky with the job I have now as it allows me a balance.  Horse jobs are generally all consuming, they are not a job, they are a way of life and I always accepted that.  I never thought I would find a way to be able to do both horses and photography but I have an arrangement with my current employers that I work 3 days a week in summer and 5 in winter, which leaves me with enough time to do both!  I’m a lucky girl!

What types of photography are you most known for? 
I like all kinds of photography and particularly enjoy a bit of landscape or macro photography when I’m just having fun but Pure Essence is all about lifestyle portraits.
What led you to that type of photography and what inspires you when you’re behind the camera? 
What first drew me to photography was landscapes. I love the outdoors and was constantly disappointed with my inability to capture the scale and beauty of nature on my little compact camera so I decided to go and learn how.  I never intended to get hooked! I thought I would stick with my (decent) compact and just learn to use it better – how wrong I was!

At first I hated portrait photography, I thought it was too posed and false and there was too much airbrushing (no, it’s not just for celebs) the finished photo often looked nothing like the person once all their imperfections were removed.  Then, one day, I was at a competition with a friend and was snapping a few pictures of her horse.  I decided I would try not to attract her attention and grab a few candid shots.  I loved the results, I fell in love with the idea of photographing relationships and moments.  This technique is the aim of all my shoots whether with animals, children or couples  I always want to put them at ease, make them laugh and then capture the real them.

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What role do horses play in your life & in your photography? Any good horse stories? 
Horses are a huge part of my life. I have tried to get away from them a couple of times but I’m always drawn back.  I have worked in many different areas and have some amazing memories….. grooming at the European Eventing Championships, competing at the BD National Championships, seeing horses I’ve backed and produced go on to have wonderful, happy lives.  I think one of my favourite moments was riding a pretty sharp, 14.3hh, 6 year old who had been bred by the people I worked for and backed and produced by me to 8th place in the BD Novice Winter Championships.  It wasn’t the rosette that made me happy, I was just so proud that the little horse went into that scary arena with all the people and stands, etc and trusted me enough to get on with his job.  Moments like that make all the hard work worth it!
What is the most favorite photograph you’ve taken and why? 
My favourite photo is one from that first day when I was taking pictures of my friend and her horse at a show. Barnaby (Hailstone Hero) was a horse I had produced and sold, I kept in touch with his new owner and she became a good friend.  I took this picture of Barnaby as he was tied at the side of the lorry, there are things I could have done better and things I would change given a chance but I love this photo as Barnaby’s personality just shines out of it.  His owner has a framed copy in her home.
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How can readers find out more about your work? 
I am based in Yorkshire but am willing to travel to any area of the country with a travel fee, if you can organise a group of 4 or more of you at any one yard I would waive any travel costs.

My website is www.pureessencephotography.co.uk I apologise for the lack of updates on my blog – I’m a terrible blogger but there are plenty of examples of my work there.

My facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/puressencephotography or you can follow me on twitter @PureEssPhoto

Any parting words of wisdom for people that want to pursue their passion?
Do it! Always do it, but be ready to give it everything you’ve got and expect disappointments along the way!
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Talking With Equine Photographer Anna Kemp

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This time we chat with Equine Photographer Anna Kemp who lives in the UK. She’s a horse gal with a fantastic eye for capturing just the right moment in photographs. I think you’ll enjoy finding out more about this budding photographer and seeing her work.

 

  • Tell us a little bit about what a day in your life is like.

 

Since we are still enjoying the summer holidays here, a day in the life at the moment typically involves horses, horses, and more horses! (And the occasional sleep in…) I spend as much time as I can with my own horse, Freddie, schooling and hacking out when the lovely English weather permits. When I’m not at the yard you can usually find me volunteering at my local RDA, or out on a shoot! I attend local equestrian events and travel to different yards around the area when people ask me to do a shoot. This will soon begin to change however as I embark on my final year of A-levels – scary stuff! There’s a lot of studying to come but I hope to still be able to fit this around my riding and photography!

 

  • Are you a full time photographer? If you work at another job tell us about that as well.

 

I am unable to pursue photography as a full time profession as of yet since I am still a student, however, I do conduct shoots for people and their horses all over my area for a small fee – we all have to start somewhere, right? As mentioned previously, I also volunteer at my local RDA yard as often as I can which is an extremely rewarding experience when I get to share the joy on the rider’s faces when they get to trot for the first time, or go for a walkabout on their special pony outdoors! In the future I hope to be able to combine my passion for writing, photography and, of course, horses to be able to work for an equestrian publication.

 

  • How did you get into photography?

 

For as long as I can remember, my dad has enjoyed photography as a hobby so my interest was probably sparked by him! I got my first little Kodak camera at the age of about six and it could only take up to twenty photos at a time – though I never let that stop me! From that moment on, wherever I went, the camera went. Just over a decade and several cameras later and I’m onto my first bridge camera which I got for my 16th birthday (Canon SX40 – DSLRs still terrify me a little bit!) From a young age I have also entered some of my work into an annual local agricultural show and always enjoy learning from other people’s expertise there!

 

  • Out of all the pictures you’ve taken what is your favourite and why?

 

I think my all time favourite photo has to be one taken when I was still taking riding lessons and helping out at the yard, about two or three years ago. I had brought along my little pink Lumix to take some snaps of the horses and, on passing my all-time favourite ride, a 14.2 Welsh D named Topper; I decided this would be an ideal opportunity to practice the elusive macro mode! He stood there calmly as could be as I came right up close to his cheek to try and get a good shot of his eye – this was something I’d often seen in equine artistry and websites and the like, so I wanted to replicate the style as best I could! An Old English proverb states that the ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’ and I think this is part of the reason why I ended up loving this photo so much and why an edited, more cartoon version of the image is the hallmark of Hoofprints. Particularly since Topper still is one of the greatest horses I’ve ever had the fortune to meet, this photo will always hold a special place in my heart!

 

  • What role do horses play in your life and in your photography? How do they inspire you?

 

Horses have played a huge role in my life for approaching ten years now and last year my sister and I decided to take the leap from taking lessons and helping out at our yard once a week, to loaning our own horse. We have now found Freddie, or ‘Fantasy Feeling,’ a handsome TB gelding who we have on part loan 3 days a week; though through these summer months it has tended to work out more often than that (we’re not complaining!). He enjoys dressage and together I hope that we can attend some local competitions next season!

 

The work of Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks is of particular interest to me and so I try to incorporate their techniques and advice wherever possible. A special friend gave me ‘Perfect Confidence’ for my 11th birthday and was even lucky enough to be able to include a postcard of Pie signed by Kelly! I think it was at that moment I knew that I wanted to be involved with Intelligent Horsemanship. Next summer I hope to attend one of the Intelligent Horsemanship courses to expand my knowledge of their amazing concepts further.

 

I also attend as many equine events as possible, including HOYS in 2012 and Blair Horse Trials last year – I’m delighted to say I am able to return to both for 2014! Events like these also provide a great opportunity to practice my photography and it was from this, as well as taking photos of my friends and their horses, that inspired me to set up Hoofprints. For me there is no greater joy than being able to capture the beauty of horses, whoever they are and wherever they come from, to enjoy at any time at all!

 

  • How can people find out more about your work? List your website, blog, facebook, twitter, etc.

 

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/hoofprintsep

INSTAGRAM: hoofprints_ep

 

TWITTER: @hoofprintsep

 

  • Any parting words of wisdom for those that are interested in becoming a photographer?

 

Work hard – and don’t give up! I realise that probably couldn’t sound more cliché but it’s the best advice I can honestly give. Showcase your work wherever you can, gather critique and keep practicing! It doesn’t matter what kind of camera or software you have, providing you know how to use it. There are many free editing websites out there as well as video tutorials on how to get the best from your camera which can be extremely helpful. Don’t forget it is usually the smallest, most simple things that can make the biggest difference!

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Talking With Maureen Gregory…

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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?

Review: 

“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

Twitter @MaureenMgregory

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!

Thanks again!

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Talking With Romance Author Christina Cole

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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.

KEEPING FAITH..

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.

 

Cowboy on Montana ridge at first light,mountain background

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! 

Chatting With Author Laura Crum

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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.
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Next time we’ll be talking with western romance author Christina Cole! You won’t want to miss it!

Talking With Juliette Douglas

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This week I talk with western author Juliette Douglas who has penned the Freckled Venom Copperhead series. She has a natural talent for writing westerns and has as down to earth a personality as you’ll ever find. Enjoy!

1) What is a day in your life like?

My day is probably pretty boring to some. I rise early, write some, take care of post emails, etc.

2) Do you work outside of writing?

Yes. As I say on the back cover of my books, I’m just an old fart who washes boats for a living. I like that because it frees me up to write all winter.

3) How do horses fit into your life and stories?

We always had horses when I was growing up. Now, I don’t have any. But still appreciate their beauty and the gift they give of themselves.

4)  What genre do you write in and what led you to write those types of stories? How long have you been writing?

I write older western adventures with a little romance thrown in. 1870’s to 1880’s. I kept waking up with these western stories percolating around in my head. They drove me nuts until I began writing them down. I didn’t even own a computer back then. Now, I’ve killed four and on my fifth computer. God showed me a talent I did not know I had six years ago.

5) What is your most favorite story that you’ve written and why?

Had started two before the Freckled Venom series. They stunk so bad I deleted them. Now they have been re-written into future books. I only have two books out at the present time. Lacy’s story, Freckled Venom Copperhead was my third attempt at writing.   And this one seemed to click. Many times the characters took hold and wrote their own stories, I just typed the words. Lacy will always be close to my heart as it is the first book of many I have in my computer.

6) What is your writing process like and how do you think it contributes to your stories?

I’m an oddball. Nothing is ever written down. No outline, no draft. I just sit and it seems to flow as I type. I don’t have a formula I follow. I just sit and write.

7) What do you think makes your stories unique?

I have a friend who had a brother-in-law who wrote the scripts for Bonanza. When they visited the set, my friend asked the brother-in-law how they kept coming up with new stories all the time for the show. The brother-in-law smiled and replied. “We don’t. We take an old story and put a new twist on it.”

That’s what I do. Take an old story and put a new twist on it and you have a new story. A female bounty hunter is a new twist on an old story of male bounty hunters. Now a days, this makes a story line unique. Also my story lines are more action/adventure than romance, though I do include a teasing dash of that in the stories.

My books appeal to a wide audience. From teenagers to grandparents, and all those in between.

8) What do you have in the works and where can people find out more about your books?

My website is currently under construction and will be up shortly. In the meantime you can find me on Facebook. My books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as Google books, Goodreads, Authorsden.com, and Bearhead Publishing.

Here are some sales links –

Freckled Venom Copperhead

Freckled Venom Copperhead Strikes 

WORKS IN PROGRESS

 Freckled Venom Skeletons  Fall 2014

Perfume Powder & Lead

Holy Sisters!

 Shave-tail

 Bed of Conspiracy

Parting comments:

 The Freckled Venom Series was fun to write and I hope others have just as much fun reading the story!

Book Cover 2 (2)JULIEETTE DOUGLAS 2JULIETTE DOUGLAS 1

 

Our next interview will be with Laura Crum who is not only an avid horseman but a terrific writer as well. Stay tuned! Also check out Kimberly Castillo’s Book Blog! She’ll be doing a book highlight of Lost Betrayal in the very near future! 

Talking With South Dakota Cowgirl & Writer B. K. Kopman

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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.

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