CHATTING WITH AUTHOR SAM FINDEN

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This week we get to spend some time with author Sam Finden. Although he’s young in years, he’s an old soul that’s a true horseman at heart with a gift for telling the best of tales. If you love horses, the rural life, and a good story I think you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say.

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What is a day in your life really like and what is your favorite thing to do?  

A day in my life is fairly uneventful most of the time. If I’m running around, I’m doing something wrong. Every day, I get up and throw on my muck boots straight away- even if I’m in my pajamas- and head out to the barn I built last summer to feed the horses. Then I’ll sit and plan out my day, drinking coffee and having a little breakfast. On work days, I’ll head into town and put in some hours at an architectural millwork shop (Western Spindle), After work, I’ll feed again and just hang out on the fence, then spend a few hours off my feet answering emails or working on a new story. I’ll wrestle around with the dog, play the guitar, or watch hockey. I’m no gourmet cook, so dinner is nothing fancy. Pretty laid back, mostly.

Do you write full time?

Writing full-time would be fantastic, but it’s not realistic for me right now. I’m not inclined to take on freelance work, to write just for the sake of writing, so it’s not feasible. Eventually I hope to have enough fiction work out there and producing to make a living off of book royalties, but that’s a ways out yet. I’m a newbie, with Saddle My Good Horse being my first foray into authorship. There are so many things to learn about promoting a book, so many strategies out there. Once I’ve made enough mistakes, that’s when I expect to be able to keep my ponies fed through income earned by writing.

How many horses do you have and what is the story behind them?

I’ve got two horses- both of them are quarter horses, and both of them are geldings. Chance, my old steady-eddy bay horse, is 18 years old. He came my way with another horse, a little mare named Ula that was old as the hills. She’s not around any more, unfortunately, and for a while, Chance was the only mount I had. He’s a good boy, but hasn’t been taught much more than go and whoa. I’m working with him whenever I can, trying to break a lot of habits he’s got. One good thing about him is that he’s pretty forgiving- I’ll put dudes on him without having to worry. He’s lazy and very in-your-pocket.

Red, my 11 year-old sorrel gelding, came to me for free. A word of warning: nothing is free. A buddy of mine was seeing this girl who couldn’t afford to feed him anymore- she got him as a project- and I was down to one horse, so I offered to take him. He’s actually pretty good- very quick side-to-side and very responsive off the leg. Someone put some good time on this horse, he had a good start – enough so that, even after being a pasture pet for years, he hasn’t forgotten all of it. The problem with Red, and it’s not so much a problem with him as it is with me, is that he’s been the boss for years. I’m not okay with that, so we’ve had some friction. All in all, though, he’s a pretty good horse. Like most people, I’ve just got to prioritize doing the necessary work to help both my horses improve. No more “Brush, saddle, sit, and spur.” More groundwork, more time together is required to really help my ponies be their best.

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What type of stories and blogs do you write? How did you start out writing and what led you to write your book? What’s the story behind it? 

I write mostly outdoor and horse-themed stories, though occasionally I’ll post an opinion piece, on my blog, www.samfinden.com. Really, my book was just a short story about ranch kids that got away from me. Writing short, creative fiction about hunting and fishing has been a hobby of mine since high school. When I got back into horses it was like a drug for me, and writing about them was the next best thing to riding. I like to tell descriptive, educational stories, the kind that people, sometimes, have to reread in order to learn something. When it comes to horses, it’s a natural thing- I want to learn new techniques, new theories. Whether it’s horsemanship, shoeing, packing, rodeo, even driving- I love it all. I want to be around it. And I want to bring readers with me, to point out a thumbs-up dally, then explain why by weaving the lesson into a chunk of dialogue or a historical anecdote.

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What role do horses play in your life and your writing? 

Horses play a key role in not only my writing, but in my life as well. I’m hopelessly addicted. I’ve found no better cheerleader for your newest story idea, no better counselor when you’re feeling defeated by something, than a horse. People scoff at the thought of an animal, who supposedly lacks the ability to reason, being a friend to a person, who often forgets their own ability to reason. I’ve moved around a lot and been lonesome a lot, but so long as there’s a horse in my barn, I’m a happy camper. They’re always there for you- of course they depend on you for feed and care, so that stands to reason- but there’s more to it. It’s a friendly nip across the fence, a nicker when you walk by. An observant, nonjudgmental nature. The ability to follow you, to trust you, and the confidence boost that provides. If I could bottle it, I’d be a billionaire. Horses and dogs are the finest of God’s creatures and I’m lucky to have them in my life every single day.

If you had to make one very important statement about life what would it be?

One statement or word of advice: Be considerate. Consider your horses. Consider your friends. Consider why you have enemies. Consider the traction on the road and the weight of your words when heard out of context. Consider your options. Consider waiting until cooler heads prevail. Consider God- He considers you every day. Consider spending more time in the present. And consider what you don’t know, then consider learning something useful.

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What advice would you give other writers looking to become published? 

I’m not necessarily the most qualified voice to recommend avenues toward becoming a published author, as I chose to self-publish. I can, however, tell of things that I’d like to/ will do differently the next time around, whether I self-publish or go the traditional route.

*I will, absolutely, set aside some time and money to farm out my cover design. Some of the templates that Amazon’s Createspace outfit offer are decent- I’d like to think that my second cover is well designed- but a discerning critic or reader may be looking for something much better. Good cover design is worth spending money on.

*Editing is in the same vein- you may think that your work will somehow be diminished by running it through an editor. I disagree. Reading through my book, a few glaring errors jump off the page and smack me upside the head. That alone is reason enough to hire an editor. I’m proud of my story and proud of the book, but I’m not thrilled with the choices I made in a few spots. A qualified editor would have solved that.

*I think an email list, a popular blog, and a sound marketing strategy are absolutely crucial. My book went out with zero fanfare, I just kind of published it and that was that. Had I possessed a list of qualified folks who knew me, wanted to read what I’d written, and were invested in me enough to do reviews, to recommend my work, I’d have been miles ahead. And, when you’re writing horse books, miles are a long way ahead!

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What inspires you to write? Any special writing rituals or writing habits? 

The main thing that inspires me to write is, typically, an experience I’ve had. It’s not always an exact translation, however. For example: My cousin and I go hunting in the back country for elk. We’ll load up backpacks with enough gear to get us through a few days and proceed to work our tails off until we succeed or give up. Several of these trips will put a lot of blog-post fodder in a guy’s head, and eventually it spills out in a story. Full Curl Optimism is one of those stories- a composite of things learned and experiences had, translated into fiction, then applied with a twist- in this case, I substitute Rocky Mountain Elk for Bighorn Sheep, and I give it an underlying battle against depression.

I like to start a story on paper. Usually, I’ll write a few paragraphs in pencil in a spiral-bound notebook, give it a rest for a day or two, then start typing. This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling it, I can just hammer away on the keyboard and, when I look up, there’s a rough draft. It’s times like those that I wonder, “Why am I not doing this all day, every day?”

One thing that I’ve been working on, and it’s hard, is that I rest a draft for as long as I can stand. Coming at a story with a new set of eyes, hopefully in less-rose-colored glasses, has kept me from posting some real junk. Sometimes the story can be salvaged and sometimes it can’t, but either is better than putting yourself out there with a lousy piece. So, maybe, that’s something to think on for people who are interested in writing.

What’s your favorite tale from all your travels? 

My favorite tale? That’s a tough one- I’ve been all over creation with all sorts of characters. Here are a few, though:

Once, while I was working as a wrangler/bus driver/snowmobile guide/ cook/dishwasher/sleigh driver/superduper cowboy at a day-dude outfit in Steamboat Springs, I slid a shuttle bus off a cliff in front of my guests. It was a real banner day in this guy’s life, that’s for sure.

Another time, I got hollered at by Federal agents for walking along in a restricted area at the Hoover Dam- I had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to be there.

In Minnesota, I was training a quarter pony named Twain that started at a lope and went up from there. I never claimed to be a great horse trainer, mind you. Anyway, this pony was all go. The boss picked him up cheap at the sale barn and I can see why. Good little run on him, but no handle. Once, while running flat out across a stubble field, I reached up and put my fingers through the ring on the bit, cranked his head all the way around to my stirrup. He never let up- just kept on running. We should have named that pony Forrest.

Two winters ago, in Montana, where I currently live, my borrowed mare and I somersaulted down a drifted hillside and came to rest facing one another, nose to nose. She was not amused. Later that day, we rode to within 100 yards of a huge herd of elk on three separate occasions- on barren prairie. Pretty cool.

So it’s tough to choose one tale, but suffice it to say that horses are an important part of my life, and every time I head out on horseback there’s the potential for a new story to take shape.

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How can people find out about your book and keep up with your work?

Thanks for the opportunity to talk a little bit about what makes me tick. If folks want to learn more about me, they’re welcome to head over to www.samfinden.com and follow along. From there, they can sign up for my email list to be notified whenever I post something new. They can also take a look at a couple of videos I’ve put together, or click on the link to my listing for Saddle My Good Horse. It’s a clean, educational book for young adults on up, and it’s something that those hard-to-buy-for teenage boys will actually enjoy reading (although there are no vampires or werewolves or anything). It’s horses, cattle, mountains, pretty much.

You can follow Sam on Facebook and on Twitter as well.

Talking With Shanna Hatfield & Learning about Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

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This week we are chatting with Pendleton Petticoats romance series author Shanna Hatfield. She’s quite an entertaining author to interview and one that I think many rural folks can relate to.

From Nov. 7-Dec. 24, Shanna will be donating 10% of the net proceeds from all her book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which is a fund to help injured cowboys. Shanna is also hosting a Facebook Party with prizes this week. I’ve listed the details at the end of the interview along with ways to in

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What is it like to live in your boots for a day?

Day to day, I treat my writing like a career, even though I work from home. I get up early, respond to emails, post to my blog and social media outlets then try to get in some exercise before I get ready for the day. After that, I generally spend the rest of the day in my office writing or editing. Some days I put in as many as twelve hours if I’m in the writing “mode.” My husband, Captain Cavedweller, refers to the mode as the times when I’m so involved in a story I forget about everything else like fixing dinner and making sure he has clean socks. On days when I’m editing or working on promotions, I like to cook and often experiment with recipes (you can find my latest and greatest culinary adventures at savvyentertaining.com) I’ve also gotten into western photography recently. My niece kindly provides much of my subject matter with her horses and cattle.

 Are you a full time writer?

A little more than a year ago, I quit my job in the corporate world to pursue writing full time. My comfortable boots replaced the high heels I wore every day and I love every minute of my new life. I know I am very blessed and fortunate to be able to get up every morning excited to work at something I love so much. I don’t regret a minute spent pursuing my dreams.

 What role do horses play in your life and your books? Any good horse stories? 

I grew up on a farm with cattle, horses, and an older brother who worked on remote ranches next door to nowhere. Between the stories he’d bring home when he’d come to visit and the fact I always had a horse to ride, horses and cowboys play a big role in both my historical and contemporary sweet western romances.

I’ve got many horse stories, but one my family feels compelled to tell everyone happened when I was four with a red pony named Dynamite. I wanted to spend every waking moment with the pony. One afternoon, while I was supposed to be taking a nap, I snuck outside and around to the room where we kept the tack. I couldn’t carry my little saddle, but I managed to get the bareback pad and drag it out to Dynamite’s pasture. I slid it on his back and tightened the cinch then led him by the halter over to a stump so I could climb on. Things went along fine for the first few minutes as he walked around then he let out a big breath and the pad started to slide. By the time my mother realized I was missing and made a beeline out to the pasture, I was clinging upside down to the pad with my head dangling beneath Dynamite’s belly. After that, Mom put quite a damper on my horse-riding adventures.

What made you decide to donate a portion of your proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund? 

When I was researching details for the first book in the Rodeo Romance series, The Christmas Cowboy, I learned about the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund through Rick Foster, program director of the Justin Sports Medicine Team. In the book, my hero, Tate Morgan, is a saddle bronc rider who gets hurt at the national finals rodeo. Trying to get all the details right is what led me to JCCF. It’s such a great organization. JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who sustain catastrophic injuries and are unable to compete for an extended period.  I’m on a blog tour all this week with the Cowboys and Christmas tour to kick off a promotion I’m doing with the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. Now through Dec. 24, I’ll donate ten percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

 What inspires you to write the stories that you write? What is your muse? 

I find inspiration everywhere – even standing in line at the grocery store. My over-active imagination rarely shuts down. Captain Cavedweller is a great sounding board and I most always come up with story ideas when we go for a drive. There’s something about forcing him to be a captive audience, trapped in a vehicle with no escape, that gets the ol’ creative juices flowing.

 Do you have any particular writing rituals? 

As a visual person, before I start writing a new story, I gather photos of people who are my ideal of the characters. If the characters have pets (dogs, horses, cats), I try to find photos of those along with landscapes, house plans, anything that helps me visualize the story and my characters.

Any parting words of wisdom for those looking to be published writers? 

Never give up on your dreams! You can do it!

 If you’d like to find out more about Shanna’s books see below — you’ll notice she has a Facebook Party coming up soon with prizes! 

You’re Invited to a PARTY!

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 You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party:  http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

Enter to Win Prizes!

As part of the blog tour, I’m giving away some exciting prizes. To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Follow Shanna online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1391485546&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/shanna-hatfield

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shannahatfield

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/shanna-hatfield/id450458896?mt=11

Website: http://shannahatfield.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShannaHatfield

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shannahatfield/boards/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4981400.Shanna_Hatfield

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ShannaHatfield?feature=watch

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShannaHatfield

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Life & The New Author…

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In a couple of weeks we’ll be chatting with Pendleton Petticoats series Shanna Hatfield. From Nov. 7-Dec. 24, she’ll be donating 10% of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which is a fund to help injured cowboys. It’s a great cause and you’ll definitely enjoy learning about Shanna.

In the meantime, I thought I would update what’s been going on in my life as a horse show judge, competitor, and writer after the 40 hour work week in the office. As always, there never seems to be enough hours in the day and always a horse I want to ride or a story I want to write. I have to say though, my first year as a published author has been fun and a terrific learning experience for what works, what doesn’t and a lesson on how to fit it all in. Let’s just say most mornings I’m up at 3am, 4am if I’m sleeping late!

One new update that is really cool is that Everybody Needs A Little Romance invited me to be part of their blog. If you love romance, you really need to check it out because the site has several terrific romance writers that post blogs and write book reviews. It’s a mecca for anything romance!

Valley Farmers Co-op has been very gracious in inviting me to do a book signing at their stores in east Tennessee at Athens and Harriman. This year I attended three of their events and had a blast! Not only did I get to see old horse friends, I also got to chat with fans and meet new readers as well. One thing for sure, I’m more at home at a feed store than I am anywhere else besides the barn or the arena!

Book signing at Valley Farmers Co-op in Athens

ATHENS BOOK SIGNING

Book signing at the Valley Farmers Co-op in Harriman

HARRIMAN BOOK SIGNING

Pam Brown also invited me out this summer to sign books at the NBHA Tennessee State finals in Harriman, Tennessee. Fireman has had feet issues this year and I haven’t gotten to run a set of cans since the spring but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to a barrel race! So I got the best of both worlds and got to sign books, see the barrel race and get some time in talking about horses. Needless to say, I was a little tired at the end of the day!

NBHA BOOK SIGNING

My next book signing event is at Foxleaf Bookstore in Cookeville, Tennessee on Halloween night! If you’re down that way, stop by because we’ll have plenty of hot cider and candy!

I’m also an OHSA Carded horse show judge and have the wonderful opportunity to judge some of the shows in the region. Smoky Mountain Horse Show Series is one my favorite places to show and to judge. Last weekend they held their first show series at Tri-State in Cleveland, Tennessee. I managed to capture a quick shot of their beautiful jump course before we got started.

SHOW RING

I love to do everything from show hunter to run barrels and sort cows on a horse. I think different disciplines have a lot to offer and just make for a well-rounded horse. Read my horse blog, Musings From The Leadrope, and you’ll pick up on that pretty quick! A couple of weeks ago I managed to get one of our green horses out to her first show at the Smoky Mountain Horse Show. She went in the In Hand Trail Class and the walk/jog classes as well as a walk/jog Horsemanship class. Granted she wasn’t as finished as the others, but she did a fabulous job and I couldn’t be prouder.

Keith Mooney managed to get several shots of us at the show. Here’s the link to our Horsemanship class  – http://www.keithmooneyphoto.com/HorseShows/SMHSS-October-5-2014/68-W-J-Horsemanship/i-tRn8smF

Then here’s a pic of her In Hand Trail Class.

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So what’s new for the rest of the year? With winter coming, I’ll have a little more down time and I’m hoping to get back to work on The Searching Place, an untitled horse focused paranormal, and a thriller short story. My goal is to have a new book out after the first of the year. Sometimes life gets in the way so we’ll see but that’s the plan at the moment for this new author!  Oh yeah, one more thing…

Lucky kitty sez don’t forget to buy a copy of Lost Betrayal!   #catspeddlebooks

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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!

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!

MAUREEN3MAUREEN1maureen4MAUREEN2

Chatting With Military Suspense Author Crackerberries

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This time we veer off the romance path and chat with author Crackerberries about living in the south and about her new book Blackhorse 2015 that came out with Solstice Publishing in June. Blackhorse 2015 is a military thriller in which all of the men in the family die tragically and it has to do with a horse.

What is it like where you live? What drew you to that area and how do you feel it effects your writing? 

I used to live in Maine.  Great state if you like snow.  I did growing up and I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else.  Now I live in the South and it’s quite a climate change.  I love it. I was drawn here by my husband… my high school sweetheart. I believe no matter where you live effects your writing.  You just need to use your imagination.

Give us an idea of what a day in your life is like.

A day in the life of Crackerberries…wow.  Let’s see I’m up at 4AM usually working on whatever writing project I have going on in my head.  Typically there are several.  Then I make breakfast and lunch for my Tall Cool Jne and send him off to work.  Feed the dog and go back to writing for a few more hours.  Then whatever might be waiting for processing in the garden. I do a lot of canning and preserving. In the winter time there are always tons of frozen fruits and veggies that we’ve frozen in the summer that I turn into breads, pies, etc.  I’ve always got some project going on in the kitchen as well as on the laptop.

What genre do you write in and why?

Anything controversial…I like it.

Tell us about your book Blackhorse 2015. 

Blackhorse 2015 originally was penned Time Ticks & Terror Licks. It came about because two friends of mine, Chip and Jody suggested I write a story about an electro-magnetic pulse. Sometimes when you start writing a subject, it takes on a mind of its own. There is a lot going on in this book and in life, there is always a lot going on. I hope the readers will find something they can relate to and feel like they are in the story themselves as they read it. I think the best thing to take away from a book is to be pondering in thought about the ‘what ifs’.

What gave you the idea to write such a story as this & what inspired you to use horses as a key element in the story?

Blackhorse is a word used for secret codes. In case you hadn’t noticed every letter is different, therefore each letter equals a number.  I can’t tell you more than that or I’d have to kill you!

 

How can people find out more about your writing & blogs?  (feel free to include your sales and blog links) 

Where to find Crackerberries:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crackerberries/e/B00KWGNMDY

Web: http://www.crackerberries.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Crackerberries

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Crackerberries

Blackhorse 2015: https://www.facebook.com/Crackerberries.Blackhorse.2015

Crackerberries Kitchen: https://www.facebook.com/CrackerberriesKitchen

General Blog: http://crackerberries.wordpress.com/

Recipes Blog:  http://crackerberries.blogspot.com/

Poetry Blog: http://yell-o-dot.blogspot.com/

Any parting words of wisdom for writers that want to be published? 

Don’t give all of your secrets away.  It is a dog-eat-dog world out there any trust me when I tell you if you are original someone will copy you.  Take that as a compliment but be careful about all the secrets you share.

Next time we talk author and dressage rider Maureen Gregory  . She has two adorable Cob ponies that are a joy to ride!