Author Interviews

Living On The Edge

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This time, instead of doing the usual interview questions, I thought I would do something a little different as this young rodeo competitor, Zakk Tompkins of On The Edge rodeo apparel, has quite a story to tell. You can find Zakk and his brand on Twitter at @OnTheEdgeRodeo . Check out his  unique brand on his website at On The Edge apparel.

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I’m a 23-year-old cowboy, entrepreneur and freelance writer born and raised in central,IL.

Running both a full service equine facility, and an apparel company, keeps me fairly busy! Average days consist of feeding and caring for the 18 horses we have on site providing full board, training and lessons. Whether it be cleaning stalls, fixing fence or working colts my days are filled with these chores for the most part.

We currently do about 20 lessons a week with folks of all ages. Lessons are western riding ranging anywhere from complete beginner to those wishing to compete in rodeo. The latter is perhaps the most important part to me and the motivating factor in continuing even during tough times.

As a young kid, like many others I wanted to be a cowboy. Although I didn’t fully understand all that the lifestyle and job entailed, I knew wanted to be a part of this amazing subculture. Unfortunately, I was already committed to competing in wrestling and martial arts.

I began training Muay Thai with my dad at age two, as he had competed professionally prior to my birth. I vividly remember religiously watching episodes of Walker Texas ranger and then having to “Walker fight” my dad after each show. This consisted of him being the bad guy and me of course playing the part of Chuck Norris. By about 4 years old, my cut kicks were leaving sizeable welts on my dad’s legs which apparently was a green light to further my training.

As the years went on my training continued. I began to compete across the country at national events. Although I loved the sport and travel, I always wanted something a little different. I just wasn’t sure what.

School work and sports came easy. I had many friends and a seemingly happy home life. Yet, even though I was only twelve, I was slowly loosing myself, slowly dying. As fear, doubt, and anger consumed me, I fell into a deep depression.

I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for me, I tell you this because I want everyone to see and realize that depression is a biological disease. One that does not discriminate between race, gender or socio-economic status.

The ridicule at school became nearly unbearable. I was withdrawn and depressed and couldn’t explain why. Being someone who relied on logic, the feelings of sadness and anger being inexplicable were totally unacceptable to me. No matter what I got or how good life was, I was depressed. Coming home only to lay under a blanket in total isolation. Weight gain and self loathing followed. I allowed the symptoms of the disease to consume me.

This was a mistake that at the time I wasn’t aware I was making, and had no idea how to combat it. As the symptoms worsened, I finally spoke with a professional. In the midst of getting the help I needed, things continued to worsen.

At age 13, I left a suicide note and ran away from school. I will never forget every detail of the steps I took that day. I was found very shortly by my father who had been contacted by authorities. As he eased my mind and convinced me to come home I felt some relief. I was admitted to a local mental health facility where I spent three agonizing days. Help was not immediate and it took years and personal dedication to make any headway.

Although I still suffer often from depression, I have found one of the greatest God-given coping mechanisms – purpose via horses.

One thing that drove me to get help from day one was that I knew others, who were less fortunate than me, were suffering the same as I was. As I slowly dropped out of traditional sports and grew older, I found various ways of becoming involved with horses.

I began dating a girl from school my freshman year who had a few Haflingers and was involved in Pony Club. Although English wasn’t my first choice for riding, it was my only option. My girlfriend at the time began teaching me to care for and ride the horses they had. Before long, I was volunteering full time at a local barn. I worked seven days a week doing the worst jobs you can find on a farm. I did this as a way to afford lessons.

I spent every free moment watching people ride and train, learning what I could. I watched and read everything I could get my hands on. Eventually, I got a paying job as a glorified stall boy at another local barn and took the horse I had purchased there. After about a year and working with several other trainers in both cutting and pleasure, I began leasing the property and running Westbrook Stable. This is the full service facility I now run.

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When I took over, it was a small operation providing boarding only with about 8 clients a month. Over the past three years, it has grown to 18 horses, a lesson program and training.

Having struggled through the grind to get where I am, I wanted to find a way to give back. We began a rodeo team for youth and adults that provides all the necessary equipment, knowledge and connections at the most affordable rate possible. It is amazing how many young lives we have been able to touch, and honestly is better than any medicine I’ve ever been prescribed. It took a combination of correcting the chemical imbalance, professional therapy and a LOT of self-help.

My girlfriend and I now compete in rodeos across the Midwest in barrel racing and tie down roping respectively. And yes, we are seeking sponsors!

This eclectic background is what drove me to start my apparel company called On The Edge. I wanted a brand that represented a lifestyle. I began designing apparel with a message. The message was simple – Lose the fear and doubt, live on the edge and chase your dreams! The brand is still small, but is gaining steady business we sport my brand and travel the rodeo circuit.

As last year was my rookie year in IPRA, I had a lot of tough times and lessons to learn. I’m now practicing harder than ever. In tempo with my usual MO, my goals for this year are sky-high, yet attainable. I am currently working to gain sponsors as well as preparing myself to chance to compete in RFD Tv’s The American. I will also be part of a six shooter series put on by a popular stock contractor on the IPRA circuit and am looking forward to a chance at winning the series and buckle.

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If any one person can take an ounce of motivation from my story of struggle and perseverance, then it has all been worth it. My personal strategy every time I back in the box is to improve on ONE predetermined area of my roping during that run. Perfection is great but only comes after the building blocks are set in place. With that in mind, I don’t expect to be perfect.

My pastor, Jason Schifo was a major factor in my mindset. After hours and hours of talking with him, I finally realized that perfection wasn’t ever going to happen. It was beyond my control. What was in grasp of my control was the proper mindset, and remembering to get better with each and every run to the best of my ability. Leaving it all in the arena, one run at a time.

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Blogs Galore!

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I have to confess, I haven’t kept up the interviews on here as much as I would like – I’ve got a few new ones coming up soon!

In the meantime, I figured I’d give an update on writing & farm news. There’s been quite a bit going on!

Back in the fall, I got asked to be a regular guest blogger on Everybody Needs A Little Romance. The site hosts a good number of well-known romance writers. While they do talk romance and there are book reviews, the neat thing is they talk about every day events as well. It’s neat to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a real romance writer! What’s even better, a few of the guest bloggers are horse gals as well – How cool is that?!

The other news is that I recently launched a website and blog called Cowgirls With Curves. It’s a place where real sized riders can be encouraged and share their struggles and triumphs, and just be recognized and highlighted. Each week I post a new interview so the world can see how many wonderful plus size riders there are out there. The response has been overwhelming, and it’s been fulfilling to see the difference the site has already made. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for CWC!

On the writing front, I’ve been working on a new novella, The Searching Place. Here’s a little hint of what it’s about…

Carter Perkins knows a lot of the local women. What horseshoer doesn’t know a lot of females? But then, Carter knows a bit more about them than what size shoe their horse wears. A bit of a small town player, Carter doesn’t quite know what to think of the fiery red-headed gal from out west. It’s not until he gets himself into a bit of bind that he realizes he needs to change his playboy ways. 

I’m also working on a couple of short stories, another novel, and I’m ironing out the plot for the sequel to Lost Betrayal. I frequently share snippets of my latest WIP on my Facebook Page so be sure to visit it often!

The last bit of news is that I’m fostering a donkey. Yes, you read that correctly! Oscar, as I call him, is a local rescue case that was running loose unattended in the neighborhood. I’m fostering him until we can find him a home with lots of attention. He’s not been gelded and he’s not been handled. Needless to say, he’s been quite the project. He’s made progress though and I’m hoping the work that I’ve been doing with him will help his chances at finding a good home with lots of attention.

Meet Oscar the foster jack donkey!
Meet Oscar the foster jack donkey!
He's teaching me where to scratch!
He’s teaching me where to scratch!
When he first came to us, you couldn't get within 10 feet!
When he first came to us, you couldn’t get within 10 feet!

Stay tuned for the next interview! We’ll be chatting with Cowboy Poet, Stuart Hooker. Visit  his web page at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/stuarthooker.htm .

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.

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!

 

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!

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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!