farm

Story Projects For 2018….

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I finally finished writing the film script for Lost Betrayal

So now begins the process of getting it in the hands of an agent that truly believes in the power of this story as much as I do. With a lost horse, a redeemed cowboy and a horse gal that just won’t give up, this really is a big story needs to be seen on the big screen. So stay tuned! Just like Sage, I’m not giving up on getting it there!

On the book front, my goal for 2018 is to do a good bit of book signings at various businesses and events in east Tennessee. I love connecting with readers and horse folks and I’m hopeful that this coming year will bring more opportunities to do just that.

At the end of December, B&B Auctions in Sweetwater, Tennessee hosted a book signing for my books. B&B Auction, located off of I-75 south at exit 62, holds auctions every Tuesday and Thursday night featuring sellers from all over the southeast. Not only did I get to hang out and see some neat stuff sell at fabulous prices, but talk with some pretty cool folks too!

Earlier this month, the Dinner Bell Restaurant, also located at exit 62 in Sweetwater, hosted a book signing as well. I met one reader in particular who I thoroughly enjoyed talking with that owns an Egyptian Stallion. It’s always fun to chat horses and books!

In addition to the book signings, I have a couple of new projects in the works.

One project is a picture book that Tab and I are working on together – Beauford The Patriotic Donkey. It’s in the very early rough stages of development and we still have to figure out what we’re going to do on the artwork, but suffice it to say Beauford is a very cantankerous donkey!

Roo the rooster sets him straight about the fact that when you live on the farm, everybody has to have a job. In the process, Beauford also learns the farm value of being patriotic and loving your country. I love what this story teaches kids, and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop.

Another project is a story about demonic possession. This is a paranormal story that I started several years ago and it is so compelling, I knew I had to pick it back up! It brings up some unusual faith questions no one ever seems to mention so I knew the story had to be told. It’s about half finished at this time.

Horse N Ranch Magazine recently published a couple of my articles on training tips for when you can’t afford a horse trainer. I’m hoping to write more horse articles this year as well.

Here’s to 2018 being an epic year on the writing front!

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Talking With Jenny Sauer

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I met Jenny Sauer on Twitter. With her fun personality, and unusual background of farming and acting I knew she was someone I wanted to interview for the blog even though it wasn’t directly horse related. I think with her great rural work ethic, diverse background and sense of adventure you’ll enjoy reading about Jenny….

You’re a jack of all trades – tell us a little bit about your scientific writing, being an actress and model, and a farmer…..

One of the best things I’ve learned, most recently, being a full-time farmer, is that I’ve become a mechanic. I always knew the basics, but now I know what the feederhouse chain looks like and how to change it. I can speak the “tool speak” now, and I’ve found myself, very often actually, walking by a construction site and noticing what tools they have. I was with my mumsie one day, walked by a construction area, and I exclaimed, “Oh wow, Dewalt makes that big of an air compressor?!” Mom laughed at me because I’ve never really spoken that way about tools.

I’ve started my own tool collection for my work truck. I enjoy going to eBolt in Jacksonville, IL now with Dad…and I know the owner’s name. I know a lot of the guys at Arend’s Awe in Riggston, IL (the John Deere implement my great grandfather initially started). We have to go in there fairly often for parts, so Dad sends me in there to pick up stuff.

My wide array of knowledge just continues to expand, which I love. I LOVE being able to figure things out that are practical. If something is wrong with my car/truck, I can now figure it out on my own rather than calling my dad right away, which I still would if I couldn’t figure it out quickly enough. Being able to be mehcanilly inclined is so liberating because I don’t NEED anyone else, especially needing a man.

Now I’m not some raging feminist, but it is nice to be able to do things by myself.

What is a typical day like for you?

Waking up — having my “morning routine” which consists of making an acai bowl, Tazo English breakfast tea, and lemon water (I add my own lemons). Mornings when I have to hurry, I have Marshmallow Fruit Loops in a “Jethro size” bowl. Sugary cereals are not just for kids.

I may or may not have to feed everything at our shop and cattleshed (black Angus cattle and kitties). This depends upon if my dad has errands to run. During harvest, I did the feeding every day so he could hop on the combine and just go. Every couple of days, I fill up an umpteen amount of corn buckets to take corn to two other pastures of cattle. My trapezious muscles are quite impressive at this point.

And then from there, well, whatever needs to be fixed/repaired/moved/cleaned/etc. There isn’t a day where there is “nothing to do;” there is ALWAYS something to do.

What was it like growing up in a farming family?

Super duper. My parents were able to be at every sporting event, practice, school-related activity I had, including my older brother and sister’s events/practices. Farming is stressful, but working for yourself allows for you to allot time for the important things in life. All of those small things, kids remember. I’m so fortunate to be able to look back on my childhood and be able to say with all honesty, that my parents were ALWAYS there, no matter what. I’m also thankful and lucky to have such awesome parents.

One of the other great things was that I started learning how to drive when I was 10. I knew how to drive a car, truck, vehicle with a manual transmission, and a tractor before I was 16. That helped me able to deal with drivers in Chicago and Los Angeles traffic. I also knew how to hook up a hitch and pull a trailer. My first time, I remember, actually driving, was in my dad’s red 1989 red Chevy truck pulling a trailer while the guys bucked square bales onto the trailer. I guess Dad thought, “what could go wrong with a little kid driving 3-5mph, at least she’ll be useful?” We actually still have that truck; modified into a flat bed.

What were some of your chores growing up and why do you think you were given those particular chores?

I don’t believe I had any specific chores, simply what mom and dad wanted to me to do, they just told me to do it.

What type of farming do you do now, and what are some of your goals for your farm?

We farm corn and soybeans. I’d like to expand and try a couple other crops. I’ve always wanted to try growing sunflowers because for one thing, they’re pretty, and for another, they were one of my late grandpa Sauer’s favorite flower.

He farmed up until the day he passed. I loved him like my own father, and it would be kind of in remembrance, reverence, of him. Sunflowers are a happy flower, I’ve never been witness, nor heard about, anyone being junky when receiving sunflowers. I have heard about roses and carnations (obviously because those are filler flowers) not being received well, but not sunflowers.

I’m kind of running off the topic here, but harvesting the seeds is interesting. I’ve looked up how it all works, does it mean I’ll give it a go on a few acres? Maybe, but that is something I’d like to experiment with someday.

I’m a HUGE proponent of change. I think it’s necessary as humans to introduce some sort of change in your life every once in awhile, otherwise, you become too comfortable and never challenge yourself. That could be something so small as to try a new protein powder in your shake, or as large as moving to a different state where you know no one. I did both of those things. I like a morning routine, but that’s about as monotonous as I get.

What are some of the struggles that you experience as a farmer?

The fact that we are competing with other countries for corn and soybeans production and prices are basically like they were in the 80’s. The price of corn and soybeans is kinda sucky right now.

South America, you’re welcome we shipped modern farming equipment and taught modern day farming techniques to you.

People don’t realize that farmers don’t get a raise because they work harder or because they complimented their boss nonstop, it’s based upon the markets and people who have no idea how farming works. Am I being slightly facetious there? Yeah, but I don’t care.

Also, farming is like playing the lottery. You depend on the weather. Sidenote: all my friends always ask me what the weather is going to be like because I always check…that’s what being from a farmer family does to you.

Ok, back on topic…you never know what the weather will do, and meteorologists don’t even know 70% of the time (that is my own percentage I believe it is, that is not scientifically proven). So the fact that you really have no idea what kind of crop you will have that year makes for a little stress in your life. Of course there are things to help alleviate that worry, but it’s always there, no matter what type of “weather dances” you might perform, candles lit in church, or bottles of wine consumed.

You are a published science writer. Tell us about that.

Ever since I was in third grade, I wanted to be a podiatrist. I started playing basketball competitively then, and I also managed to tear my achilles tendon when I was the ripe age of 9. I went to see a podiatrist, and I was hooked.

I thought I always wanted to be a doctor. I had the grades and drive, but my senior year of college, I thought, “Ehhhhhh, I’ll be over 30 years old before I can enjoy my life. Yeaaaaaaaah, no thanks.”

I graduated with honors in biology and decided to go into clinical research. I was hired on at the Jones Eye Institute in Little Rock, AR.

The lab group I worked with consisted of maybe 12-15 people. We had 9 studies going on at the same time, so I dabbled in half of those doing various lab tests for whatever was needed.

I was a glorified lab tech, but helped write, used my ideas/suggestions, etc and BAM, got published. We were finding the correlation between the immune system and the eye. We found complement factor H, I actually, visually, found it due to me running the Western Blot procedure.

We gave lab rats cancer in the eye (uveal melanoma), scratched corneas and used honey on the scratches-yes, it does indeed induce a faster healing time, and all that jazz.

I did some very cool stuff, however, the lab environment I was in just wasn’t cutting it for me. I’m a social person, when I want to be, but the lab people I was around weren’t really all that fun- shocker I know. I met some very awesome other lab people, with whom I am still friends with, however, they were not in my lab.

I was a fitness instructor at the same time, so I did that for awhile (did that in Dallas, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, and Los Angeles). I kinda did what I wanted, BUT not simply on a whim. I’ve always had confidence in my abilities, and if I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to be performing well or slightly unsure if I can hack it, I don’t follow through with that option. I take risks, but calculated ones. I think I’m kind of like most people, I’m not really a huge fan of failing. I know it happens, but if I can avoid it as much as possible, I’d like to do that.

Modeling and acting are opposite ends of the spectrum from farming. How did you get into the entertainment and fashion world?

So my college days, not a whole lot of people know this, but I went to a different college every year for 4.5 years. I took off a semester while I lived in Chicago, so that accounts for the “.5th” year. What can I say? I love change, and I love traveling, so that was my way of “traveling” so-to-speak.

I met new people all the time, immersed myself into the culture of wherever I was, and I loved it. Would I recommend it? Wellll, it’s not for everyone because I had to to a lot of “extra” classes due to not all classes transferring, but I had something over 200 credits.

I took a lot of classes, did well at each school actually, normally always on the Dean’s List, but needed different scenery.

Ok, so back to your question…I got into modeling whenever I was attending the University of Illinois in Chicago. I started out trying some promotional modeling, which was just looking decent and getting paid to talk to people about a product. It was easy money, most of the time, but then it branched out from there.

I was “seen” at some things, then asked to work for them, do a photoshoot here and there, that kind of stuff. I did my research and learned about all this stuff, but then it got to the point where I was becoming kinda junky because I wasn’t eating much and working out a lot to compete.

I’m 5’8″, so in order to be competitive with the Amazons, you have to be thinner. The thinner you are, the taller you look/photograph. Well I’m 75% German, I’m not meant to be skinny, so it was too much work to be “skinny,” it’s WAY easier for me to be muscular. Plus I have a lot more energy and am much more personable when eating and working out on a consistent basis. 😉

So I had the taste of modeling, that helped me to understand the acting world. I NEVER acted in my life, nor thought about it while younger/in school.

I was a stage manager for a play in college because I tried out for the lead role (yeah, that was ambitious with no experience) and of course the theatre instructor chose a girl she has worked with multiple times before. I understand, now, why it worked out that way, however, I was told by quite a few people, who viewed my audition, that I did a very good job.

It was for a role with a southern accent, I nailed that because I’m surrounded by a redneck accent, so it’s not that much of a stretch to do a southern accent. It was a blessing in disguise because I am not a stage actor, I enjoy the feature/tv/commercial arena.

While I was in Oklahoma City, I decided to move to LA. I did my research before, figured out, mostly, how it all worked, and said, “Yep, we’re doing this.”

Like I mentioned before, I wouldn’t have simply done it on a whim if I didn’t believe in my capabilities to figure it out, and I did my research before I moved. I had a backup plan, my bio degree, fitness certifications, and farming. When I moved, I was comfortable because I had something to fall back upon in case I was totally mucked up wrong.

I moved, worked, received my “must-join” SAG notification, so I paid up and joined the union.

By the way, I have mentioned in my book, Snickering Out Loud, that I obtained this by working, not performing sexual favors. With all the news lately, I know that sexual exploitation of girls and dumb actors is rampant out there.

I don’t know if it was luck, but I’m going to say it was from “living” before heading out there that saved me. I also have a little bit going on up in the ol’ noodle, so I was never really asked point blank to be subject to “yucky stuff.” I had a friend tell me it’s because of my “aura” and “vibe,” but I think it’s because I walk and speak with confidence. The predators out in Hollywood prey on the weak unfortunately…I never came across as weak, which I am very proud to say. I won’t say that I wasn’t persued, however, I was being chased after I suppose because of my unique background, not because I seemed “easy.” It’s a tough world out there, I would not recommend it to anyone young.

What are some of your most well known acting and modeling gigs?

I hate to do this, but it’s probably easier to go to my website (www.jennysauer.com) and look on the acting resume.

I think the most well-known, but not actual large roles, were “Hangover 2” (this was the role where I became a “must-join” into the union) where I was a flight attendant and “Water for Elephants” where I was a foxtrot dancer. My cool uncle, Uncle Joe, taught me how to do the fox trot at his wedding, so because of him I landed that role. They were “extra” roles, but I got featured, so that was cool.

I got to talk to some of the biggie actors, that was quite the experience. I got some fun details about the actors because I struck up conversations with the crew and directors. I didn’t care, they are just people, so that’s how I treated them. In which case they opened up quite a bit. For some reason people seem to think I’m easy to talk to, so that’s flattering.

What have been some of favorite jobs as an actress and model, and why?

Any of the union jobs because craft services (the food) was better, we got to eat before the nonunion, pay was better, and had rules to protect us, so we were treated better.

What is like being a farmer in the entertainment industry?

Fun. No one has my story, so I never sounded like all the other actors.

How has being a farmer shaped your career as an actress and model?
It was easier to make friends and alliances. Due to growing up in a town of 7 seven houses, you have to be able to perform “small talk” fairly well, and act like you like the person, so acting came fairly easy to me. I attended school in a town of 1,800, so everyone knows all of your business and your relatives. Being able to deal with everything that goes with a small town, really makes it VERY easy, in my opinion, to handle city issues. What people complain about in a city is small taters compared to what is complained about in a small town. We have to figure out a lot more because we don’t have everything at our disposal, good critical thinking skills. I’m sorry my good city friends.

As a farmer, we have real-life problems, people in the acting world don’t really understand ANY of those, so it helped to not get wrapped up and swallowed in that world.

What are some of your goals as an actress?

My goal, when I moved to LA, was to land a national commercial. I did that, while living in Chicago (I lived in LA, moved to Chicago, then back to LA-all in 5 years) in a Swiffer commercial where it was just me. So I met my goal and am still in the SAG-AFTRA union. I won’t ever get rid of that union payment, that was quite the milestone, and something I’m very proud of obtaining the way I did. It takes some people YEARS to get their card, so the fact that I did the right things and did real work to get it is quite satisfying. Since I reached the goal I set out to do, I’m ok with allowing acting to take a backseat. It’s not gone from my life, I have something up my sleeve coming up which I can’t discuss, but farming is something I’ve always come back to, every single year.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

My first word was “kitty.” That probably wouldn’t be a surprise to most, but I don’t believe that is something I mention too often.

If you could tell the world one thing what would it be?

Travel, expand your mind, it only makes your life better, not worse. You don’t have to have a lot of money to see some place new. It makes you look at things differently, which is a good thing.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the farming business?

Save A LOT of money…and buy good work gloves. I have very feminine hands, piano hands one might say, and I like to keep them that way. I wear Milwaukee brand gloves, good stuff. They keep me from having “man hands,” which is something I don’t believe is too terribly attractive in a woman.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to make a career out of acting or modeling?

This could make for a very long answer. 😉 Make sure you get your skin nice and thick because you will hear “no” VERY OFTEN. A lot of people become very insecure, well, don’t. I know that’s easier said than done, but once you allow doubt to creep into your mind, it’s hard to get rid of. I know I just ended that sentence with a preposition, I should probably fix it, but that’s how I speak on occasion. It’s really a “mind over matter” sort of concept. You have to think your shite doesn’t stink without being arrogant. I know that might sound like an oxymoron, however, it can be mastered. There is a HUGE difference between being confident and arrogant.

Also, there is always someone younger and prettier than you, this includes men. If you decline a job, they will find someone else, you are dispensable. There are so many people trying to “make it,” so you have to hustle. LA is one of the most transient cities, so you’re nothing overly special, but you have to make yourself seem like you are, and stand out-for the right reasons.

One more thing, you have to be responsible. I lived the “Hollywood life” for awhile…then I got tired. I can see just how easily it would be for someone naive to get swept up into that world. Hell, I almost did. It’s also very expensive to live that lifestyle AND be an actor, pay for classes, headshots, clothing, rent, food, etc. It’s not an easy life, I can tell you that much. So like the advice for starting a farm, save a lot of money before you think about going into acting so you aren’t living in your car-yes, a lot of people do that out there, no joke.

Would I do it all over again? Hell yes. Am I glad I moved home to help Dad on the farm? Hell yes. I made decisions based upon myself, therefore I have made myself happy. I didn’t do anything for anyone else. I still fly back and forth to CA, but farming has been something I’ve ALWAYS had, and ALWAYS loved. You can’t take the country out of the girl.

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 Maureen Gregory…

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This week we talk with fellow Solstice Publishing author and horsewoman Maureen Gregory. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her, especially since she’s a fellow horse lover, loves animals and has a great sense of humor!

Tell us about where you live & what your day to day life is like.

I live in rural England in an area known as the Peak District, with my husband Chris and a collection of creatures great and small. Our home is a very old stone farmhouse, we can only date it back 400 years, but it is older than that. The lounge has old oak beams, the main one was off a ship apparently! There is a stone fireplace, in the winter the fire is blazing, but today, it is hot and sunny.

When I am writing I sit at an oak table with the window behind me. As I have two small dogs and one cat there is always one of them curled up on the chair and one in my lap. The only problem is when Minty (the cat) decides to walk over the keyboard.

My routine is dictated by the weather! If it is lashing down with rain/snow/hail or blowing a gale I get my outside chores done as quickly as possible, come in, light the fire, have breakfast and begin writing. However, if the weather is ok, I like to ride my horses, and potter about outside. At the risk of sounding a bit bonkers I confess to spending hours sitting with my two pet sheep – Rambo & Sweep, just chilling out and pondering on this and that. I then look at my watch, shriek “OMG where has the time gone!” and rush back into the house.

Tell us about your horses and what you do with them.

I have two horses Apollo and Jassmin. Apollo is a Welsh Cob, chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. He is twenty now and still very lively. We do dressage competitions together, but our favourite is dressage to music. He loves it. We recently won a dressage to music championship, despite the speakers to the main arena breaking down just as we started our test. I couldn’t hear a thing, but Apollo could, and I just followed his lead.

Jassmin is a ten year old coloured Gypsy Cob, she has blue flecks in her eyes, long white eyelashes and a long flowing mane. On a recent hack a little girl shouted out “Oh look that horse has angel hair!” She also has silky white feathers.

My friend made a short promotional video to promote my novel, and it features Jassmin, looking very windswept. Although she is not typical of a dressage horse she has lovely light paces and does very well in competitions. Our favourite pastime is just hacking out along the many bridleways and lanes.

I also have the pleasure of owning Dylan the donkey. He is fifteen, very loveable and cheeky. Dylan doesn’t really do anything, he just is!!

Do you write full time?

I gave up a career in psychiatric nursing and mental health counselling to renovate an old farmhouse. It took several years and after the work was completed I decided not to go back to that line of work. I felt as if I had moved on and things would not be the same if I went back.

I began to write short stories for magazines, with some success before I decided to concentrate on writing my debut novel. Also by that time I had added to my collection of fluffies and furries, paws and claws, so alongside assisting Chris with his paperwork I find my day is busy enough.

Here’s some info and a review on her book The Seventh Wave….

In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game? Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?

Review: 

“Beware the Seventh Wave,” begins with Emma rushing to make it to a funeral. Things just haven’t been going her way for a long time. An early morning argument with her husband, Phil, left her feeling exhausted. She over slept and was running late. A quick breakfast from the local eatery drips on her clothing.  The weather is gloomy. To just top her day off, she scraps the side of her car trying to enter the cemetery lot.  Nothing is going right.
At the funeral, she knew she was going to be running into her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Mark and Alicia. She just wasn’t prepared for the reactions she was going to be experiencing. Seeing Mark brought back feelings that she tried so hard to suppress over the years. But what can you do when you are both married to someone else?
As we all do when we are trying to sort out our lives, Emma is conflicted with her feelings. Instead of checking into a hotel as she originally planned, she returns home to find what can be the most devastating thing ever. Walking in she finds what she’s hoping is a romantic event planned for her only to find her husband in the throes of passions with her friend Katie.
Totally in shock, Emma had the difficult task of trying to sort out her life. Does she fight for her husband and marriage? Does she give up and let the other woman win, again? Is she ready to restart her life all over again? Is there anyone in her life that she can actually trust?
It’s a phone call from Mark, a week after the funeral that sets Emma up for the most drastic and important event in her life. With her marriage failing, she willingly runs to Mark in hopes to help him in a time of need. But will the help that she offers Mark, help her find what she is missing in her?

How can people find your work? (List all your buy links & contact info — this is about promoting you!)

Buy Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory on Amazon UK

Maureen Gregory’s Amazon UK Author Page

Book Trailer: Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory

Maureen Gregory’s Website – www.maureengregorybooks.com 

Maureen Gregory’s Facebook Author Page

Link to Maureen Gregory on Goodreads

Twitter @MaureenMgregory

Profile name on LinkedIn: Maureen Gregory

 

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

If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t – you are absolutely right! It’s all in the mind-literally.

 Feel free to include comments, etc. 

Just a bit thank you for hosting me on your blog. Happy riding, writing & all the other things that make life worth while FJ!

Thanks again!

MAUREEN3MAUREEN1maureen4MAUREEN2

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

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I ran into BK on Twitter and I have to say she’s a cowgirl that I really like and I think you will too. She epitomizes what this blog is all about with her love of horses and her out of the box thinking on writing. Mark my word — I think she’s on to something with her stories and will be taking the publishing world by storm!

Tell us about you and your family? What is your life like? 

I grew up in Duluth, MN in a six kid family. I have amazing parents who encouraged my love of reading and horses even though they didn’t understand it. They’re still a bit surprised that horses didn’t turn out to be some little girl phase (sorry folks, I’m a lifer). About three years ago when I finished my third year of college, I met a South Dakota farm boy at a friend’s wedding and it was Cloud 9 and unicorns after that. We’re married now and live outside the small town of Lake Norden, SD. We reside in a little rented farm house on forty acres of prairie with our two dogs and one horse.

I work three jobs currently. I am an administrative assistant at a government land conservation office (NRCS), a part-time colt starter and horse trainer (I usually only take on three horses at a time due to not having my own facility yet), and am a writer in any spare time the first two jobs leave me.

 How did you get involved with horses?

I was a dog person as a kid. Then my mother made the mistake of drawing a horse for me on a fogged up bathroom mirror. I fell hard and even though we lived in town, begged for a pony every Christmas. When I entered sixth grade, my parents bought a thirty acre farm and we began to board a friend’s horses. Whenever that friend was around, I would beg him to teach me something about his wild paint horses. After a while he bought his own place and moved his horses (saddest day of my young life!) and our pasture sat empty for a few years. I was lucky we had neighbors that took my horse poor self in and taught me to ride on their wonderful foxtrotters. Eventually in eighth grade, I wore my parents down and we bought an old appaloosa mare who taught me a great deal about confidence.

I worked for a few stables in the area, honing my skills and learning, before I hit upon horse job heaven: exercise rider for a cutting horse barn three miles down the road. I spent almost four years immersed in the sport of cutting, drinking in the dust and cattle, living for the thrill of riding an athletic horse as it dodged catlike after a cow. One of the hardest things about getting married and moving was leaving that job! To date, those were a few of the most important years in my horse life. What I learned there impacted how I start colts and tune horses now.

If you had to tell us about only one horse you’ve dealt with, which one would it be and why?

Hands down it would be a little Arab/Quarter horse crossed named Lassie. She was the first horse I ever trained, and boy, was she a handful. Lassie was and still is, the friendliest horse I ever met, but she was hot and nervous. I got Lassie as a four year old filly when I was a junior in high school. I was outgrowing my first horse’s athletic ability; I wanted to go riding all day, every day and the 23 year old mare just wasn’t up for it.

Some friends of ours were getting out of horses (seriously, who does that!?) and happily sold me the spunky Lassie. I loved her even though she’d dump me at the first sign of trouble. After a year of fighting, I finally buckled down and read some Clinton Anderson, delved into Buck Branamen and poured over Ray Hunt’s writings. Lassie and I worked our tails off and after a few months, she was as bombproof as could be and I could ride her bareback and bridleless. I was on top of the world! I felt like Stacey Westfall! I was as pleased as punch at our success. But Lassie wasn’t done teaching me yet.

The summer after my freshman year in college, Lassie bowed both her back tendons during turnout. I was devastated. To me, this was the end of my horse. I had little knowledge of horse leg injuries because  my horses had never gotten more than a minor cut. But even though I thought Lassie would never be ridden again, I resolved to give her the best possible care. I threw myself at Google’s feet, I prostrated myself in the lap of every veterinary hand book and bribed my own vet with muffins for every drop of knowledge about bowed tendons. A year later, Lassie was pronounced sound! I sadly but happily (bittersweetly?) prepared her for her next home in wake of my engagement. She is now a little girl’s barrel horse and is living a pampered life!

What type of writing do you do and what is your latest project?

I scribble off a few lines of poetry here and there and pen some song lyrics occasionally, but what I really love writing are westerns with a twist. While an avid student of Louie L’Amour, William Johnstone and Elmer Kelton, I also love fantasy and steampunk. You can just bet I’ve read every Harry Potter book more than three times. As a result of this, I’ve started several stories where cowboys end up in odd places and have to use their bronc riding, sharp shooting, cattle mustering skills to get themselves out of a sticky situation. It wasn’t until lately that a particular group of characters had finally had enough of my false starts and demanded a full adventure. I’m at the editing-the-fourth-draft phase and have declared it’s genre to be “western steampunk” and its working title is “Maker”. Maker is set in the northern region of Montana in 1890, where a young cowboy and a talking mountain lion join forces to defeat and discover why a mechanical killer cougar has been slaughtering local ranchers’ cattle.

My main focus with any of the stories I write is staying true to most aspects of the old and modern cowboy way of life, and gearing them toward the young adult and middle grade reader. Many kids these days don’t get to experience life outside of the city and traditional western books may appear to be an archaic or uninteresting read. I want to introduce these young readers to the world of the west without boring them with the typical gunfights and long cattle drives. Don’t get me wrong, I love those aspects of traditional westerns, but my gut tells me today’s younger generation finds them less endearing. I feel current writing project a gateway book for children to grow into avid readers of all westerns, a genre I don’t want to see die or phased out.

How do horses factor into your writing? 

Actually a lot less than I thought. My characters always get a good horse and I make sure to describe gear and movements correctly, but they aren’t the headlining act. I tried to feature horses more prominently a few times but the cowboys kept trumping them in every scene so I backed off. I still have it in my heart to write a story based around cutting horses and riders but until then, my horses just play a supporting role. They have presence, but my characters aren’t as bug-eyed about them as I am.

When did you start writing?

 I’ve written and kept journals since grade school but as much as I loved writing, it honestly never entered my mind that I could actually write a book. It was during college when I rubbed elbows with a few aspiring writers that I realized authors were normal (I use that word in the loosest sense) people like me and not some awesome word gods in the sky. That’s when I buckled down and started learning everything I could about writing.

Do you have any unique writing rituals, and if so what are they?

I don’t have any specific rituals or needs to get in the writing mood. I write anywhere and everywhere I can. Between the office job and the horse training, I don’t have a ton of time to waste setting up to write, so I’ve learned to write when I can no matter what is going on around me. I’ve been known to write an idea in the arena dirt and yell “don’t ride over this!” and then bolt for the tack room to find a pen. I’m always listening to the way people say things because if they say it in a particularly clever or blunt way, I’ll end up discreetly scribbling down their words on my hand or chanting them in my head to memorize them.

How do you handle writer’s block?

 If I hit a blank spot, I don’t stress. I stand up, walk away from wherever I was writing and go do something else for a while. Sometimes I’ll just write nonsense words like Dr. Suess or start narrating everything I do in a loud voice for the next hour. That last one throws my husband for a loop but I always end up with a phrase or sentence that sparks my imagination and then it’s back to the writing desk.

Of all the pieces you’ve written, which one is your favorite?

 My favorite story I’ve written is definitely my current project “Maker”. I love my characters even if I am a bit hard on them.

I have penned a favorite poem, too.  My dad, in a weak moment, confessed that he had always dreamed about having a stout little pony to pull him around in a cart. The image of a forty-seven year old man asking for a pony drove me straight to my notebook. On his next birthday, I presented  him with a hilarious poem about a rough and tough tractor mechanic asking for a pony for Christmas. It’s one of the few times I’ve gotten my dad to roar with laughter over something I’ve written, so I’ll always cherish that one.

How can people find your work?

 I’m pretty disconnected compared to a lot of people I know, but I just joined Twitter (@BKKopman) and Instagram (@bkkopman) after I got read the riot act from a fellow writer friend about platform building. There you can find snippets of my current works and lines of occasional poetry. As I get more comfortable with all this technology, I might be persuaded to start a blog, but until then, 140 characters and the occasional picture is about all I can handle.

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Lost Betrayal is coming out March 5th on Amazon!

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I’ve got a couple days before my next interview so I thought I’d share some news in the meantime.

Solstice Publishing is releasing my debut romance novel, Lost Betrayal, on March 5th on Amazon in Kindle format. This is a modern western romance with a few flames thrown in.  Check out my Facebook  to find out the buy link and keep up with news on my next book. You can also follow me on twitter.

UPDATE – Lost Betrayal was released a little early! You can download it on Amazon.

Probably one of the biggest things that is important to me in writing this type of book is authenticity. If nothing else, when it comes to horses this book is the real deal.  I eat, sleep, breathe horses. You can’t talk to me too long without it wiggling into the conversation somehow. I’m not one of those starry eyed horse women that think all horses are my friends. I’m a woman that rides colts, loves working the most difficult horses even when I get bucked off, and  that is always striving to see how far they can go. I do my own feeding, saddle my horses, and clean my own stalls….well, when my husband is running short or time or we’re at a show.

By the way, to give you some background on the book, it took me ten years to write Lost Betrayal. I got the idea years ago after watching the news about a really bad tornado. The last couple of years have spurred me on as we had some devastating tornadoes closer to home in east Tennessee, northern Georgia and Mississippi.

One fact that haunts me more than anything is that in a disaster large animals are often the last to be rescued. Anyone can rescue a person or a small animal. Not just anyone can rescue a thousand pound animal that’s scared to death that can’t be reasoned with. It takes a certain set of skills that are not that common.  Also, people and small animals get more press time than anything so their needs are met quickly. Large animal needs often go unmentioned to the general public but they’re just as important. 

If you’d like to see the book trailer, here’s the link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urkSTWnMNr0

Here’s a little bit about the book –

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?

Here’s the book cover!

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Next week I’ll be talking with western author, Tell Cotten about how ranching and writing. In the meantime you can read about his newest book, Cooper on his blog. I’ll also be interviewing romance writer, Stephanie Berget about barrel racing and her books. You can check her out on her website. So stay tuned! Can’t wait for you to find out about these folks!

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!