F.J. Thomas

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 .

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 Romance Author Stephanie Hurt

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This week I talk with multi-talented cowboy romance author, Stephanie Hurt. She’s a writer with a big heart that loves horses and I think you’ll see that in the interview.

Tell me a little about yourself & your family. 

Well, I’m a busy woman. I thrive on staying busy. I’m a wife, mother of a 15 yr. old son, Accountant, Children’s Minister and a romance Author. Not to mention I run a publishing service.  I’ve been married to my wonderful hubby, Tommy, for 20 years. We live about 50 miles south of Atlanta on land that has been in my family for over 150 years. We live in the country and that makes me really happy. I’m a country girl to the bone.

What type of books do you write and what led you to write those types of stories? 

As for my writing, I write mostly cowboy romance. Since I’m a country girl, I’ve been around cowboys, farms, horses and such all my life. When looking at heroes, I consider a cowboy a hero. I know some may not understand this, but it’s just the way I feel. All of my romances are clean, wholesome romance. I strive to bring out romance in every age. I have young fans, older fans and even male fans. I try to write something that everyone can enjoy.

How do horses play a role in your books and your life? 

As long as I can remember I’ve loved horses. Since I’ve lived in the country all of my life, I’ve always been around horses. When I was around 13 my parents gave me horseback riding lessons. I remember I couldn’t sleep the nights before the lessons. It was the most fun I can remember having. I hung on my trainers every word. I had posters of horses on my walls, I drew horses on my folders and I just loved the smell of a horse and the leather of a saddle, crazy but true.

When you walk in my living room you automatically know I love horses. I have them on my walls in pictures, plaques and statues. My cousin once found an old horseshoe on our land, then he surprised me with a gift, it was the horseshoe welded on a stand and painted all black. I loved it. I even use my old riding hat as decoration.

So, when I write, you always see a horse somewhere. I also named my publishing service Horseshoe Publishing for obvious reasons.

What is your philosophy on writing and life? 

Let’s see here, I guess my philosophy on life is to live life everyday as though it was your last. Make sure that you leave a legacy behind and I’m talking about a good legacy. Always treat everyone as you would want to be treated. If you do things the right way, then you don’t have anything to worry about and don’t worry over things you can’t change.

As for writing, my philosophy is to write what you know or love. If you have a passion for something, then put it into words. Don’t let the current fads lead your writing. If you write what you’re passionate about, it will show. I write romance to inspire. I think everyone needs a little romance in their lives.

Name your three favorite books that you’ve written.

Oh, this is hard. Ok, here goes:

Open The Heart – An Alpine Christmas Romance

Finding The Right Time – Release date 3/31/14

Moonbeam & Roses

What are your goals for this year?

My goals for this year are easy. Well, maybe not easy, but straight forward. I plan on finishing up my current works in progress and intensify my promotional activities. Also, I’m expanding my publishing service, but that’s for later this summer.

If you had to give one piece of advice what would it be?

My advice is to go after your dreams. We’re only given one run at this thing we call life, so go for that dream and make the most of it.

 You can keep up with Stephanie on her blog at http://stephanie-hurt.com/

Finding the Right Time redone

Talking With Romance Author Stephanie Berget

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This week I’m talking with romance author and fellow barrel racer, Stephanie Berget. Nothing like talking with a gal that enjoys the need for speed and a little hot romance!

Tell me about your family.

I was born and raised a city kid with an overwhelming love of horses. I was lucky enough to marry my cowboy sweetheart and have a wonderful daughter and two terrific sons. My folks are still trying to figure out where the love of horses came from. I think it was a gift from my maternal grandfather. He was a sheriff in North Dakota and a horse gypo.

What type of stories do you write & how many books have you sold?

I write stories about cowboys, mostly rodeo cowboys, and the women who love them and also contemporary romance. My first book is titled Sugarwater Ranch and is set in the central Oregon ranching country. The hero, bullrider Sean O’Connell, isn’t a very nice guy at the beginning of the book. But as his life is falling apart, Catherine Silvera, a woman battling her own demons, helps him learn that riding bulls isn’t the only valuable thing in his life.

You can find Sugarwater Ranch here:

Amazon Sugarwater Ranch

Barnes & Noble http://buff.ly/1de9PRo

Evernight Publishing http://buff.ly/GNYivD

Tell me about how you got into riding horses and what accomplishments you’ve had with them.

When I was 15, after years and years of whining, my parents gave in and bought me a horse. They knew nothing about horses and neither did I, but I fell in love with barrel racing and rodeo in general. I was lucky enough to live near some of the best trainers in the country, Larry and Kay Davis, and they generously gave their time and expertise to help me learn. I’ve had many horses, but three were really special and helped me become a better trainer.

Ruff’s King Tut was a little sorrel gelding with a great big heart. Ruff was born on our place and I won rodeos sanctioned by the Idaho Cowboys Assn and the Northwest Rodeo Assn on him. If I turned him loose and opened the trailer door, he’d load himself. Guess he loved to rodeo as much as I did.

Arnold was a big, high-powered chestnut gelding that my husband bought to team rope on. He ran barrels and poles like a champ and went on to take a young girl to the National High School rodeo.

The horse that stole my heart was a brown mare named Suzy’s Last Flight, or as we called her, Olive. Olive’s sire was Dinner Flight. Many of his colts were born to barrel race and Olive was one of the best. She liked to pin her ears back and act like a bad-ass, but she didn’t have a mean bone in her body.

How do horses fit into your stories?

In Sugarwater Ranch, Sean works with a spooky blue roan colt that he calls Roany Blue Pony. The cowboy may have some problems in his life, but he is a natural horseman. The desire to understand the colt helps him to understand himself and the world around him better.

Where do you get the inspiration for the characters in your books?

Mostly I wake up during the night and have an idea for a character. In Radio Rose, I woke up thinking about what Betty White would be like if she chain-smoked and was a real grouch.

Then, as I write, they introduce themselves to me and tell me what they want to do in the book. As the book evolves, more characters show up and demand my attention.

Besides writing and riding, what are your other interests that most people may not know you have?

Wow, writing and riding take up most of my time, but I love playing with my grandkids and watching football. Go Broncos!

What are your two most important pieces of advice for a new writer?

#1-Finish the Book! You can’t sell it unless you finish it. #2-Write what you love.

 

You can visit Stephanie’s blog and keep up with her progress on her series! 

STEPHANIE BERGETSTEPHANIE BERGET1

Let Me Introduce Myself!

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After ten years of working on a book idea, I finally managed to sell to Solstice Publishing in December 2013. My book, Lost Betrayal, will be coming out in March 2014 in ebook version on Amazon, and also on www.solsticepublishing.com

In lieu of promoting my book, I decided to start a blog – but not just any blog! I wanted something for readers and writers that were also horsemen, or had an avid interest in horses and the horse lifestyle. After all, no matter how hard you try it seems the horse element always shows up somehow.

So here we are. I’ll not only be talking to writers about their books, but also to artists and competitors about what motivates them, speaks to them, and how they got where they are. I want the inside scoop. Besides, I’m always curious about what makes people tick!

By the way, this won’t be a “discipline specific” blog. After all, we’re all horse folks!

Since I’m starting this gig I guess I’d better introduce myself and tell you a little about me and what makes me tick, and what brought me to this point.

I am a Tennessee native that now resides in east Tennessee on my small horse farm aptly named, Fairweather Farm. I’m married and have three step kids who are all enrolled with Uncle Sam for the next few years.

I work full time in the healthcare industry writing contract appeals. I spend the rest of my time judging open horse shows, giving riding lessons and training, and competing in anything from barrel racing and sorting to huntseat and halter. Horses are like air to me – always have been and always will be.

I started writing in high school and never looked back. Over the years, I’ve done some copywriting and have written articles that appeared in America’s Horse, Hoofbeats, Arena Talk, and Horseman’s Yankee Peddlar. It’s rather easy for me to talk about anything horse related. I also write a blog on WordPress, Musings From The Leadrope.

I might as well go ahead and talk about my religious and political views as I’m sure they’ll come up at some point. I have certain convictions based on a lot thought and study, and I know who I am.

I am a Christian and attend a Methodist church and am involved in ministry from time to time. I have Christian values and believe in the Bible. I don’t believe in telling someone what they should believe but I will say what I believe – I hope that my life speaks loud enough that I don’t have to say anything. I also don’t believe in making fun of another person’s faith. I believe regardless of faith, you should treat people with love and respect as none of us are perfect and loving each other is what I’m called to do by faith.

I do love animals and I do eat red meat, wear leather boots and ride in a leather saddle. I believe animals are here to help us and we have a responsibility to manage them well. I believe in being responsible and treating animals well, but I also realize they can be dangerous and there are times for discipline for the sake of our safety. Yes, I love rodeo but I also love English too.

ADDENDUM…  Some of you have been asking about my full length leopard print coat in my profile and avatar pics. This coat was purchased at an antique store in Sweetwater, Tennessee. You can tell that it’s an old coat and the label indicates that it was made in England. The brand is “Shaytoon”. I have no idea whether or not it’s real. I’m sure if it was real, it would have been a lot more expensive than what I paid for it. I don’t condone hunting endangered species at all, and I don’t condone hunting just for sport. By the way, I don’t have a problem with people hunting for meat. The way I look at it, it’s an antique coat and even if it was real I wouldn’t ditch the coat because an animal already gave it’s life for it and nothing can be done about it. It’s better to wear it and honor the animal than throw it away and waste their sacrifice. By wearing it, you open up an opportunity to talk about hunting of endangered species. But again, I don’t think it’s real! 

Now on to that book I was talking about. Lost Betrayal is a romance with a couple of big stories. In short, it’s a story about a girl who’s lost her best horse after a disaster and the journey they both take that eventually lead them back together.

The longer version…

Here’s the book trailer for Lost Betrayal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urkSTWnMNr0

THE FUTURE OF THE RANCH HANGS IN THE BALANCE

Sage is just getting her life back together when a tornado touches down and destroys her family ranch in northern Georgia taking her hopes, her dreams, and the very horse that the ranch’s future hinges on. An ex rodeo cowboy with a past, Garrett has sworn off rodeo and the last thing he needs is entanglement with a woman on a wild horse chase but there’s too many unanswered questions, such as how a horse could stay gone so long.

Refusing to believe her horse was killed in the storm and refusing to give up on the ranch, Sage begins the journey of rebuilding her life once again and searching for the horse that to her, holds the past, and her future. Garrett’s past and a malicious betrayal jeopardize her efforts. Is she strong enough to push past the hurt and the lies in order to get back all she holds dear?

Come visit with me next week as I talk with author Elle Marlow who seems to be taking the publishing world by storm. A debut author, she’s already sold 5 books in as many months! You’ll definitely want to visit for that in depth interview as Elle is a sassy little cowgirl from Arizona whose writing is just a vivacious as her life. Don’t miss it and I’ll see ya at the barn!