Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Despite ongoing problems with chronic procrastination, I managed to add to my books available on Amazon, though I successfully procrastinated about writing about  them here for quite some time.

Horses Of The Sun   has been out a bit over a month and is plodding along in 'a few sales a day' position - ranking between 5,200 (on its best day) and 12,000... that doesn't sound all that great, but then I consider that it means about 950,000 books aren't doing as well, so maybe it isn't so bad.

 My new book, Flame The Fire Horse and Other Horse Stories came out last week, but I haven't done anything about promoting it yet apart from put it up for two days of the free promotion that Amazon offer (hmm, seems strange, giving your book away for free, but I guess the idea is that - if it is good enough - it will generate some good reviews and people will recommend it to others).  I first wrote Flame about 25 years ago when it ran as a serial in The Horse Magazine (one of Australia's leading horse magazines then and now), and I revamped it for Kindle. It's also currently running in Western Horse On-Line a brilliant, free western horse magazine produced in Australia. Flame is a fictional story about a legendary outback stallion, and there are also four true stories about horses I've known.

For the troubled teens and tweens of this world, there's a nice little book of advice dealing with some of the problems they most commonly ask about You Look Worried  - it's not the guaranteed fix-it for all their problems, but it will give them some sound advice on a huge range of things that worry them, from self esteem, weight, bullying, sexual concerns and other things. It's only 99c because I can't make it any cheaper - this book is really about helping kids, not making money (don't worry, I only get 30c a copy and it has hardly sold any copies, so I'm not going to make money from it). Four teens, so far, have actually gone to the effort of emailing me to say that it has really helped them, so that is worth more than money (but how can they write an email but not give it a review and a good star rating? *shrug*

Now I'm trying to get the second in the series of The Outback Riders completed. Horses Of The Sun was the introduction to the series. Horses Of The Light is the second book, about the four young people looking for the Min Min lights which appeared in the first book.

But I'll do something about that later.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You just have to cope...

When things pile up on me, I always like to remind myself of a line I came up with many years ago: You only have two choices - either you cope or you don't cope, and not coping isn't an option so you just have to cope.

So no matter what has piled up, if someone asks how I'm doing, the answer is usually, "I'm coping."

Today we cleaned up after yesterday's storm and any horses in muddy yards were put out on grass, which took a bit of shuffling with five stallions in breeding season, but all done. My daughter Kate began the website for the series of books The Outback Riders ( www.theoutbackriders.com - early stages yet) and there's an email address if any readers want to write to me - outbackriders@hotmail.com - so, bit by bit, the process of setting up the marketing of the books is being achieved.

There is a mountain of paperwork in the office to be attacked, but I'm 'living in the moment' to cope with this and just putting those worries off until tomorrow. Ah, Procrastination, thy name is my lifestyle!

I even had a visit from the Jehova's Witnesses today, which gave me the opportunity to have a good theological and philosophical discussion for twenty minutes as I stood there covered in mud (they caught me while I was fixing fences... I looked like a mud monster). Being an evolutionist who sees the hand of God behind the miracle of evolution and the tenacity of genes, I don't see eye to eye with their creationist beliefs but, hey, they're all just beliefs so maybe neither of us is correct. I did bring up an interesting point about some of the theories I've been reading of late which are put forward by theoretical physicists: the theories of intersecting or parallel or layered universes. According to some scientists, these other universes may exist in the same space as we occupy without us being aware of them. Matter cannot pass between them, although certain forms of energy may. Ahhh, as I asked my theoretical physicist friends - isn't that just a scientific description of heaven or the realm of spirits and angels?

Coffee break is over and it's time to head back out and feed the horses. There are only five mares left here after a hectic breeding season, and then show season rolls around again after Christmas. I should update the Horses Of Gold blog, but there really aren't enough hours in the day... so much to do, so little time, but I'll cope.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bales of hay, coincidences, ghosts and horses.

I'm barely scraped through on my target of 5000 words over the weekend, but it's been busy with horses and buying hay for them as well as a serendipitous meeting of people who touch your life and leave you wondering about them.

On Saturday, I took one of our trucks down one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, just twenty minutes from our home, to buy some hay for our horses. I hadn't bought hay from these people before, and the couple joked around as we loaded eighty bales on the truck – she looked to be in her forties, he in his late fifties. I made some remark about how lovely it was to see a couple who were so happy and the man replied, ‘That’s because our life has been so hard, so very hard. We lost two daughters, you see…tragic, just blinking tragic, mate, but, you know, they’re still here with us.’

The woman took over the story and began to tell me about her daughter who died because of her horse, and I interrupted with, ‘Oh, you’re Louise’s mum!’

About four years earlier, a local girl who was an experienced and talented horse rider, died in a freak accident with her horse. I had never met her, but after she died all I heard about her was that she was a wonderful, bright, helpful person who loved her family and friends and animals. It seemed so unfair that such a bright and shining light should be taken so young.

Almost a year after she died, a local lad was nearly killed in another freak accident while with friends. He very nearly died and was unconscious for a while, but was saved and recovered fully in hospital. It was such an unusual accident that it made all the local papers and had people shaking their heads with, ‘Unbelievable!’
Not long after the boy almost died in his accident, I was talking to a lady whom I met by chance and it turned out she was Louise’s mum. She told me how sad she’d been since Louise had died but she and her other daughter could still feel her around them all the time and the horses always seemed to know when Louise was ‘there’. She said her daughter visited her in dreams and there were always little signs left around to indicate she was still with them, and the dogs, horses and cats often looked up past the mother and sister as though looking at Louise.

She said her son, who was in high school, had not come to terms with the death of his sister and he had been terribly depressed and convinced that there was no life after death, that his sister had just gone and there was no God or no soul. His downward spiral worried her and she could not convince him that the spirit of Louise was still with them, still laughing and telling them what to do. Then he had his mishap and almost died and in hospital he confessed to his mother that Louise had visited him. When he floated between this life and death, she appeared to him and told him off well and good, just as she had when she was alive. She called him selfish and told him to stop feeling sorry for himself, that she was fine and he had to be the man of the house and help support his mother and other sister rather than make them worry about him. ‘It was her, Mum,’ he told his mother, ‘It really was her.’

I hadn’t seen Louise’s mum since that day, but I often thought about her and wondered how many lives had been saved by Louise’s death as many other horse people knew of it, all around the country, and took it as a warning to be careful. Her death may have saved scores of lives over the years. I was surprised that she was in a relationship as I remember her saying a painful divorce had ended any chance of her ever entering into a relationship with another man.

It turned out, the man she was with had known Louise for three years before she had died, but had never met her even though Louise had tried to throw them together. He has sworn off women every bit as much as she had sworn off men. Louise told him that he’d get on with her mother, but he refused to meet her. Sometime after Louise died, the two met by accident, and it seemed Louise had her way as they are together, and very happily so, and able to share the loss of two daughters, although they both insist that the daughters are very much around, especially Louise who makes her strong presence felt in many ways almost every day.

During her early period of grief, Louise’s mum visited a ‘medium’, with no great hopes but great scepticism. The medium  brought up so many bits of information that could not possibly be ‘cold read’ (developing story lines based on the positive or negative feedback given by the listener) or from any amount of research (not that there was time for this). Things about the funeral and certain moments that no one else shared and things Louise did and said and wanted, names and animals and messages that could not possibly be from chance, guess work or cold reading. That convinced her that Louise still existed, with the same character, so the energy that was her soul and spirit lived on, just in another form.

It was wonderful catching up with this lady once more... she still has much to achieve and I believe her daughter is there on the other side helping her along.

Also, the hay was great and all the horses loved it. We still have about 8 visiting mares here, even though it is very late in the Australian horse breeding season (which starts on September 1 for our horses... I think the breeding season for Standardbreds is one month different from other breeds and starts on October 1). People breeding for weanling and yearling halter classes tend to have their mares at stud during September and October, but people breeding for performance (under saddle) or just pleasure horses often breed this late in the season. There were two 'walk ons' on Saturday as well: people have their mares checked by their vet and when the mare is ready to get in foal, the vet will tell them to take her to the stallion on such-and-such a day for the best chance of conception, and the mares arrive here, have their brief interlude with the stallion of choice, and go home again. One of the mares is an exceptional Quarter Horse broodmare, having produced two National Champion Quarter Horse colts, and one of her sons has won three (or more) National Champion Quarter Horse gelding titles as well - all at the Australian Quarter Horse National Championships and World Show Downunder, so I am REALLY looking forward to what she puts on the ground from our stallion, Nights Of Gold.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I wrote a book, and I like it!

For over 35 years I've been procrastinating about writing books - there are many unfinished ones on the computer. I wrote a lot of articles for horse magazines, I even wrote for Horse Talk TV (and did some on-camera reporting - you can find me doing the 8 minute report on the Heavy Horse Field Days and talking to people about their products), I wrote my fingers off for my Masters degree (not literally), but I was always going to finish one of the books soon.

Then a few months ago I realised that if I didn't finish them, edit, re-edit and edit them again, all these beautiful people and horses who exist in the stories will die with me. They deserve the chance to live on through words, and as long live words, so do words give life to them (sorry, Shakespeare). So I picked one at random - the first in my series of Outback Riders - and just finished it. It's only 95 pages in print (36,000 words) so not a massive tome, just a light read about kids and their horses in the outback of Australia. I know kids (I was one myself, once, I have three of my own and I teach them at high school), I know the outback (lived there for 7 years and my hubby was born and raised there) and I know horses (grew up on a horse stud, competed at endurance, pony club, dressage, jumping, eventing, polocrosse, hacking, have lots of national and state champions/titles) - so, combining the three seemed fairly sensible to me.

Is it going to be make a lot of money? Doubt it, but it's well written (remember - I have a Masters in Education, I should be able to string together some sentences) and the kids I tried it on, my 'guinea pigs' at school, all loved it (and, no, they weren't brown nosing in order to get good grades, they genuinely liked it and even the slower readers couldn't put it down once they got in to the exciting chapters) and they are telling me to hurry up and write the second one in the series... so almost as nice as having the book done is the fact that these kids are pestering me to finish the second one and send it to them for research purposes.

I learned how to get it on Kindle, and I hope to convince some of my traditional print-on-paper book reading friends to download the free Kindle app to their iPhones, computers or iPads so they can read the e-book version, but most are hanging out for the printed copies to arrive (in a couple of weeks). And I think I may be procrastinating again by sitting here blogging... time to get back writing the next Outback Riders book. The one I've just done is called Horses Of The Sun and the next one will be Horses Of The Light (there are good reasons for the names). I hope I can get all these wonderful horses and people who live in my head down into books over the next few years so that they can live on forever.