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
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!
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
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 the Valley Farmers Co-op in Harriman
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week we talk with fellow Solstice Publishing author and horsewoman Maureen Gregory. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her, especially since she’s a fellow horse lover, loves animals and has a great sense of humor!
Tell us about where you live & what your day to day life is like.
I live in rural England in an area known as the Peak District, with my husband Chris and a collection of creatures great and small. Our home is a very old stone farmhouse, we can only date it back 400 years, but it is older than that. The lounge has old oak beams, the main one was off a ship apparently! There is a stone fireplace, in the winter the fire is blazing, but today, it is hot and sunny.
When I am writing I sit at an oak table with the window behind me. As I have two small dogs and one cat there is always one of them curled up on the chair and one in my lap. The only problem is when Minty (the cat) decides to walk over the keyboard.
My routine is dictated by the weather! If it is lashing down with rain/snow/hail or blowing a gale I get my outside chores done as quickly as possible, come in, light the fire, have breakfast and begin writing. However, if the weather is ok, I like to ride my horses, and potter about outside. At the risk of sounding a bit bonkers I confess to spending hours sitting with my two pet sheep – Rambo & Sweep, just chilling out and pondering on this and that. I then look at my watch, shriek “OMG where has the time gone!” and rush back into the house.
Tell us about your horses and what you do with them.
I have two horses Apollo and Jassmin. Apollo is a Welsh Cob, chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. He is twenty now and still very lively. We do dressage competitions together, but our favourite is dressage to music. He loves it. We recently won a dressage to music championship, despite the speakers to the main arena breaking down just as we started our test. I couldn’t hear a thing, but Apollo could, and I just followed his lead.
Jassmin is a ten year old coloured Gypsy Cob, she has blue flecks in her eyes, long white eyelashes and a long flowing mane. On a recent hack a little girl shouted out “Oh look that horse has angel hair!” She also has silky white feathers.
My friend made a short promotional video to promote my novel, and it features Jassmin, looking very windswept. Although she is not typical of a dressage horse she has lovely light paces and does very well in competitions. Our favourite pastime is just hacking out along the many bridleways and lanes.
I also have the pleasure of owning Dylan the donkey. He is fifteen, very loveable and cheeky. Dylan doesn’t really do anything, he just is!!
Do you write full time?
I gave up a career in psychiatric nursing and mental health counselling to renovate an old farmhouse. It took several years and after the work was completed I decided not to go back to that line of work. I felt as if I had moved on and things would not be the same if I went back.
I began to write short stories for magazines, with some success before I decided to concentrate on writing my debut novel. Also by that time I had added to my collection of fluffies and furries, paws and claws, so alongside assisting Chris with his paperwork I find my day is busy enough.
Here’s some info and a review on her book The Seventh Wave….
In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game? Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?
“Beware the Seventh Wave,” begins with Emma rushing to make it to a funeral. Things just haven’t been going her way for a long time. An early morning argument with her husband, Phil, left her feeling exhausted. She over slept and was running late. A quick breakfast from the local eatery drips on her clothing. The weather is gloomy. To just top her day off, she scraps the side of her car trying to enter the cemetery lot. Nothing is going right.
At the funeral, she knew she was going to be running into her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Mark and Alicia. She just wasn’t prepared for the reactions she was going to be experiencing. Seeing Mark brought back feelings that she tried so hard to suppress over the years. But what can you do when you are both married to someone else?
As we all do when we are trying to sort out our lives, Emma is conflicted with her feelings. Instead of checking into a hotel as she originally planned, she returns home to find what can be the most devastating thing ever. Walking in she finds what she’s hoping is a romantic event planned for her only to find her husband in the throes of passions with her friend Katie.
Totally in shock, Emma had the difficult task of trying to sort out her life. Does she fight for her husband and marriage? Does she give up and let the other woman win, again? Is she ready to restart her life all over again? Is there anyone in her life that she can actually trust?
It’s a phone call from Mark, a week after the funeral that sets Emma up for the most drastic and important event in her life. With her marriage failing, she willingly runs to Mark in hopes to help him in a time of need. But will the help that she offers Mark, help her find what she is missing in her?
How can people find your work? (List all your buy links & contact info — this is about promoting you!)
Buy Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory on Amazon UK
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)
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!
This time I’m chatting with author Laura Crum who writes mysteries. If you love an authentic down to earth “who done it” that involves horses, then you’ll love Laura Crum’s books. Her years of experience in the horse industry have created some great stories that are difficult to put down for even just a little while!
Tell us a little bit about where you live and what your life is like.
I live in the hills near California’s Monterey Bay on a very small horse ranch. I keep five horses here, also have a large garden and various other critters. All of my horses are getting older, my oldest horse is 34 and I have owned him for thirty years. I spend my time writing, reading, riding and taking care of family, critters, garden…etc.
Do you write full time or do you work in addition to writing?
I have been a full time writer for over twenty years. My first mystery, Cutter– involving the cutting horse world– was published by St Martin’s Press in 1994. Since then I have published a dozen books in my mystery series featuring equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy.
How do horses first into your life and how do they fit into your stories?
I spent my twenties training and competing on cowhorses and cutting horses and my thirties training and competing on team roping horses. I have owned horses non-stop for over forty years; I currently spend most of my horse time trail riding with my son. In my lifetime I have started well over a hundred colts, worked on commercial cattle ranches, as an assistant to professional trainers, and at a mountain pack station. All these experiences form the background of the books in my mystery series.
What genre do you write and why?
My books are mysteries, partly because I have always loved mysteries. More specifically, when I began writing, it was in an attempt to take my background in the western horse world and use it in the same way Dick Francis used his background as a steeplechase jockey to create his wonderful stories. I quite frankly set out to imitate him, because I loved his books so much, and I am never happier than when my novels are compared to his.
What makes your books different from other books in your genre? How do you think that has impacted the type of readers that you have?
I would say my books are a bit more honest and authentic than most of the horse themed books I’ve read. I would also say that they are a bit more personal than most of the mysteries I’ve read, and I’ve tried to weave into them my insights about life as well as horses. If I were to describe the series, I might say it is more or less a blend of memoir and mystery.
Tell us your favorite reader story where you met a fan.
can’t say that I have a favorite reader story. I do remember one woman who traveled across the state to meet me and then was bitterly disappointed that I wasn’t actually a vet myself. I also remember getting my hair trimmed (and looking less than elegant)…and the woman in the next chair recognized me and said, “Aren’t you Laura Crum?” I sort of wanted to deny it and slink away.
Do you have any special writing rituals? If so, how do you think it makes a difference in your writing?
No writing rituals. I just try very hard to make my deadlines. That’s what keeps me honest.
How can people learn more about you and your books?
All my books are on Amazon and available as Kindle editions. Type in Laura Crum and you’ll find all twelve, complete with reader reviews…etc. You can also go to lauracrum.com. And I write a weekly blog post on the Equestrian Ink blog.
Any parting words of wisdom to writers trying to get their book published?
I broke into traditional publishing over twenty years ago–things were very different then. One needed a literary agent for an editor to look at the ms, and self-publishing was a dirty word. Now with Amazon and Kindle, more and more writers are self-publishing and calling themselves “indie” authors and having success. So I really have no idea what approach I’d follow if I were starting today. The old wisdom of write the best and truest thing you can in your voice is probably still good advice.
Next time we’ll be talking with western romance author Christina Cole! You won’t want to miss it!
This 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?
The Freckled Venom Series was fun to write and I hope others have just as much fun reading the story!
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!