Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the Radio

The Christmas craziness is almost over for me. Two more nights of work and then I can get back to finishing The Re-education of the One Trick Pony. In between gearing up for the Sundance Film Festival, that is. So for now, I've included the following link to a radio panel I participated in about  romance. Have a listen over at:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How To Build A Better Mousetrap

Well, not really. As a carriage driver, I rarely need a mousetrap on my carriage. Inside the barn, however, is a whole 'nother story.

Wease and I watched a You Tube video of a driver in NYC who was being illegally detained by some random RARA a-hole. I yelled at my computer monitor with such vehemence that I thought I was going to work myself into a major stroke. So at one point, I shut it off so save me months in a vegetative state and eventual plug pulling.

But I digress... The thing that caught my attention on the video was the way the driver was cradling an umbrella in the crook of her elbow while driving. This is a tricky and cumbersome practice. But it gave me an idea.


So I posted photos of my super-fantastic bumbershoot apparatus on Facebook and was immediately asked by another driver how I rigged it up. So, here is a pictorial do-it-yourself:

1 1/4 inch PVC and a "T" of the same size. You'll need a 
piece long enough to use for bottom brace and an upright.

Two regular size bungee cords, one a little longer than the other; thread one through 
the PVC, use the second one to attach around the seat rest upright supports of the carriage. 
If your carriage is not equipped as so, I'm sure you can improvise something...

So, shove your straight handled (obviously a "J" style won't work) umbrella down into the PVC upright. Use four small bungee cords to secure the umbrella to the PVC~ I drilled four holes into the upright and hooked it in that way. Sit on the box and adjust the upright length to suit you. I'm short: I wanted enough head room that I would be protected yet be able to see the traffic lights. I also used two velcro straps (because I had them already) to secure the upright to the seat back. Wease used a bungee in an "X" formation. Wease and I toyed with the idea of adding a 45 degree angle that could be rotated to deflect the wind depending on the direction it is blowing, or your direction of travel. But I think that gets too complicated. 

So have fun making this and stay dry out there. 
If you want to thank me, you can buy a copy of my book. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Christmas time is here! Yay! For many of you that's an exciting notion, filled with festive activities and days filled with glee. For me it means working five days a week, which kicks my ass because I'm a naturally lazy person. I also have been getting messages from my body that I might be getting too old for this job.

I realized the other day that I have not been getting email notification of comments, so I apologize if it seems I have been ignoring you. I wasn't. I just didn't realize you were there.

I met with a friend of mine last week who is an English teacher. She went through The Carriage Trade and made notations where I used incorrect punctuation, grammar, or sentence structure. I suck at those things and I appreciate her assistance very much. I will be uploading a corrected version of The Carriage Trade to both Smashwords and Amazon for Kindle very soon.

In the mean time, I leave you with a snippet from The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony:


Carlos checked her phone for the time. 3:10. When did I get here? She frowned, and then shrugged, unconcerned with minor details, but a little surprised that the girls hadn't bothered to come and find her yet. Nora wouldn't care about returning home at the scheduled time. Teagan, on the other hand, considered herself late if she arrived a mere ten minutes early. Teagan's personal time zone consistently ran at least thirty minutes ahead of everyone else's.
I should go back to the RV and tell them about the flea market, see if any of them want to stop in for a while. Looking around to get her bearings, she shuffled past rows of shiny knick knacks, used clothing, puzzles, toys, paintings on velvet, car stereos and assorted junk, making her way to the exit.
In the parking lot of the gas station Carlos slowly turned around in the spot the RV once occupied. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish, but no sound came forth. For once in her life, for reasons not due to a medical condition, Carlos Farley-Fantazma was absolutely speechless. With her fisted hands stiff at her sides, she stamped her left foot on the asphalt and simultaneously raised her face to the sky, releasing a loud growl of frustration.
She dug deep to conjure up the worst curses she could, considering they were all really good friends of hers. "Those assholes ditched me! Dirty rat bastards! Drunken, lying, puppy thieves! Fucknuts!" Carlos heard a door close nearby. Glancing over her shoulder she watched an elderly man in church clothes give her a dirty look as he walked around to the driver's side after depositing his white haired passenger in her seat.
She slapped her hand on her belt, searching for the cell phone clipped to it. Wrenching it out of the holster she hit Teagan’s speed dial. The phone made a series of noises but did not connect. Carlos looked at the signal strength. Zero bars.
"Now I remember why I don’t like Idaho. Fuck!" She looked around immediately after swearing, seeing whom she might have offended this time, but the parking lot was vacant.
Carlos decided to hang around a little while longer, hoping that they would turn up eventually. She tried every number in her contact list, but none would connect. Finally, boredom and the lure of the treasures behind the drive-in fence got the better of her and she returned to the flea market.
She stopped in front of a pen containing a puppy that she remembered passing earlier when it was full, nearly bursting with their unfettered energy. She frowned. Now there was only one dog left. It looked pathetic, and a little on the sickly side.
“What happened to the rest of them? There was a bunch just a minute ago,” she asked the red haired, freckled boy hovering around the pen. Picking up the lethargic puppy, she looked it over. It had a pot belly and rheumy eyes, with goop stuck in the corners. Wormy and it needs an anti…anti something or another, she thought. It needs a vet.
He gave her a strange look. “We got rid of them all, like, an hour ago, except for that one,” he said. “Want him?" The boy glanced around quickly, "He’s free.”
“How much were the other ones?” She couldn't remember if there had been a sign or not. She turned the puppy around in her hands, inspecting him. I don’t need another dog. Bill will kill me…
“The others were a hundred dollars each. He’s got good bloodlines,” the boy told her, looking around cautiously. “Lady,” his voice dropped so low she could hardly hear him, “if I don’t find him a home my parents will have him destroyed. He’s the runt."
“Destroyed? What kind of person does that?” Carlos herself was somewhat of a runt, especially when she stood next to her husband. She was barely over five foot tall compared to Bill's six and a half. Growing up together he'd called her 'munchkin' a few times, until she'd beaten the snot out of him for it.
“My parents are breeders, they have no use for the runts,” he said, still keeping his voice quiet.
“What kind of dog is this?” she asked, unfamiliar with the puppy’s breed or color; if it had been a horse, she would have called it a blue roan. Carlos had always been an equestrienne, and wasn't too familiar with canines. Through customers at the dog grooming business that Teagan owned, Bill found a retired show dog, a female Pomeranian with the registered name of 'Miss Tinkers Kitty Boo' that Bill adopted for her not long after they got married. 'Miss Tinkers Kitty Boo' was too convoluted of a name for Carlos to remember, so Bill called the dog Kitty. He figured that an older pet would be much easier on both of them than a puppy. Too bad Teagan’s not here, I should check with her before I make a decision. She always bitches about people buying dogs from the back of cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Something about impulse buying and ten to fifteen years…
“He’s a Heeler,” the boy's reply interrupted her thoughts.
“What is that? Like a Native American Medicine dog? I don’t understand. What does it heal?” Cuddling the puppy against her chest, she frowned at the boy.
A burly looking man walked up behind the boy, who noticeably cringed as the man spoke in a booming voice. “That there dog can heel what ever you got!”
“Really?” Carlos said, impressed. “Can it heal itself?”
The father appeared to be confused. “I suppose, but you have to train it,” he told her, with less volume and enthusiasm than before.
The boy’s eyes made a silent plea. Carlos's glance flicked from the boy, to the man, to the pup in her arms.
Carlos sighed and rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll take it,” she said sullenly.
Burly Man slapped his hands together with renewed enthusiasm. “That’ll be a hundred dollars,” he said. Then Burly Man, whom Carlos was growing to intensely dislike with each passing second, held out his hand for payment.
Carlos looked from the outstretched hand to the boy, and back again to the man, her brows knitted together. “He said it was free because it’s the runt.” She tossed her head to indicate the boy.
Burly Man’s face darkened, and he turned, glaring at the boy, raising his arm as if to smack him. Realizing he had Carlos for an audience he curled his flat hand into a pointing finger, shaking it in the boys face.
“Marlin! You quit tellin’ people dogs are free!" he hissed. "I’d put a dog down ‘fore I give ‘em for nothin’! I got a lot in–vested in them dogs. Stupid boy.” He turned back to Carlos and gave her a greasy smile. “Now that dog is a little feller, so I give him to you for fifty dollars, bein’ that he’s the last one and all. That’s half price, a real bargain.”
Carlos narrowed her eyes at the man, taking a slow, deep breath, and thinking; I really want to knock the shit out of him, but being pregnant and holding a puppy are big disadvantages, so I think I’ll pull a 'Bill' and just let it pass. Bill was into body building, and combined with his enormous size, was always being challenged by guys who wanted to prove their masculinity. He frequently told Carlos he was a lover, not a fighter. He liked to demonstrate that a lot, too. The thought made her smile. Then she remembered she was marooned at a flea market in Idaho and her anger boiled up all over again.
Frowning, she switched the puppy from her chest to the crook of her arm, nestling it between her stomach and her breast, and pulled her wallet out of her back pocket. Peeling off a fifty from her considerable wad she silently handed it to Burly Man.
Burly Man's expression brightened. “Why, thank you, missy. I’ll go and get his papers.” He ducked behind their sunshade and started rifling through a file box on the front seat of a battered pickup truck.
In a quiet voice Carlos asked the boy, "Marlin, is it?"
The boy nodded.
She squinted her eyes at him. "You look more like a goldfish. How old are you?"
"Eighteen," he answered just as quietly, giving her a guarded look.
Carlos, still holding her wallet, pulled another fifty out along with a business card and handed them to Marlin. “Hide this. Save it. When you get sick of your old man's crap, come to Salt Lake and I’ll give you a job.” The teen tucked the card and money in the front pocket of his jeans just as Burly Man returned, papers in hand.
“Here you are, girley. You just fill the rest of that out and send them in to the address along with a check and you’ll git yer registration information in the mail.” He nodded as he handed her the documents.
Carlos folded the papers into thirds and stuffed them into her back pocket as she walked away, muttering, “Asshole,” under her breath. She decided since she was still close to the exit she would check the parking lot again and see if her tribe had returned. That they would she never doubted. She knew it was only a matter of time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How To Win Friends and Influence Readers

One of the things I love best about being a published author is reviews. No, seriously, I gather a great deal of insight about my writing by looking at it through someone else's point of view. And I don't mean a critique, because that's something else entirely. That's what happens during the editing process, when stuff can still be changed before it's too late.

For example, I always thought I was writing a romantic comedy, of sorts. I knew there were tragic moments, but apparently, because Carlin "Carlos" Farley is inside my head and I know what she's thinking, I don't see the "dark parts" as all that dark. I suppose it's a "Can't see the forest for the trees" kind of thing. Truth be told, I'm so bad at writing a synopsis, I should have a reviewer do it for me. 

A reviewer, say, like my mom.

My mom wrote a fabulous review for my novel, The Carriage Trade. It was short, concise, and essentially laid it all out there. In fact, I liked her review so much that I used a very small portion of it on my website

"You'll meet a new kind of heroine in this funny, offbeat romance. I loved it and found the characters different and engaging. Carlos Farley is one of a kind. You may love her or hate her but you won't forget her." 

But you won't be finding my mom's review on my Lisa Deon Amazon page any more, because Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, had started yanking selected reviews from author's pages. This hurts an author. It brings down their rank and review status. Plus it makes it look like very few people read the book.

Part of the reason, or so I'm told, is because some writers have been playing dirty pool, writing their own fabulous reviews under assumed names. Also they are supposedly deleting reviews by authors for authors.

Now, why does that suck dead donkeys? Because besides being writers, a lot of authors are readers. So, apparently no writer should ever read or review anyone else's work. Now, I disagree with that, because if the only writer I get to read is me, my life would be very boring. Did they pull my mother's review because she's a writer? No, but we do share a very common last name, so that might have been the reason. Of course the fact that she was a verified purchaser apparently has no validity in the entire shebang. So, what's a girl to do?

I'm proud of every review written for my novel, even the lowest (3) star one. And I'm thrilled that a few of them have a disclaimer at the bottom stating that although the book was provided to the reader for free, the review was in no way influenced by that.

Being a writer is not the easiest of professions. You strip your soul naked, turn it into words, and leave it out there for people to inspect. But if you enjoy reading, my work, or any other writer, the best way to encourage and assist the author is to go to their page at the selling website of your choice, and simply click. Click the "Like" button, the meta tags, give it however many starts you deem it worthy of, and write something. "I liked it" or "It made me think about..." are reviews. You don't have to make your review of a novel a novel in and of itself.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. If you've read my book, your reviews are welcome and encouraged also.

Oh, and here is a photo of a toasty fire to warm your heart. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

...And Your Little Dog's, Too...

Charlie horse and I drove a wedding last week, one with a pickup in Memory Grove. As usual, I showed up early. I hate surprises, start tweaking if I'm late, and generally like to be in control of my surroundings, so I arrive with ample time on the clock to most of my appointments.

Such was the case up in the park. I waited outside the gates for a while, mostly because there was a plethora of free-range children running around, which I had no desire to engage with. I killed time, dinked around on my phone, scoped out the situation, and made sure the celebrants weren't going to whip out sparklers, firecrackers, or rocket launchers.

Nope, just your average bottles of wedding bubbles. Mildly annoying, totally harmless.

I parked there long enough for an older man on a bicycle to ride up and ask me if I needed him to open the gate for me.

"Nope, I have an opener," I replied.

"Oh, I know the code," he returned as he pedaled away up the trail.

That was nice. Sometimes I have to open the gate for folks, like a few weeks ago when I opened it for the confused UTA Flex (Para) Trans bus driver. He seemed to think that the random opening and closing was some type of windmill for him to tilt at using his bus. I opened the gate to allow him to pick up a passenger at Memorial House, and explained to him how to get the gate to re-open so he could eventually leave. I'd hate to think of him trapped up there, wheelchair bound customer strapped in the back, egging on the driver to try and summon the courage to charge the gates...

I've gone totally off piste here, sorry. So I decided to take Charlie for a little walk since we had time, up to the top of the grove where we do the turn around, then back down so when we parked we would be facing the correct direction to facilitate our newlywed's getaway. As we began our leisurely stroll, a little Jack Russel mix charged us. So I did what I always do; a tried and true method that works effectively and returns the result I'm aiming for.

I looked at the dog, pointed my finger at him, and loudly said, "NO!"

The dog, who up until that time had been making a beeline for Charlie's legs, swiftly executed a "U" turn and ran back to his owner.

I've used this repel method for more than eight years. It has never failed to stop a dog, and I have never had to use a whip on someone's beloved pet. Or its owner. And I've had much larger dogs than this motley creature think about attacking my co-worker.

 Because there are dogs at the barn, our horses are not afraid of dogs. However, they also don't tolerate any crap from dogs, either.

After the dog made his retreat, the owner yelled at me. That's not an unusual response. Typically it's "Sorry," or, "He's never done that before."

But this man yelled, "He has as much right to be in this park as that horse!"


And then he said, "And something, mumble, something, {LEARN TO ARTICULATE AND PROJECT, PEOPLE!} abuse!" and he pantomimed like he was banging on a drum, but I think he was trying to mimic the motion of the lines (reins).

O-kay, buddy. Because you're an idiot, I'm going to ignore the abuse remark. Instead, let's take a moment to talk about your pooche's "rights":

Your dog has none.

YOU have the right to take your dog up into Memory Grove, and once you get past the *bridge, turn your canine good citizen, who does not menace, bite or otherwise harass any human, other dog, or, in Charlie's case, horse, off leash. Then it can roam under your direct supervision and pee on things to its heart's desire.

And if you feel that your dog's "rights" (of which he has none) have been violated by me telling him, "NO!", allow me to lead you down the inevitable dark conclusion of this chance meeting had I not instructed your dog to back off:

Your twenty-something pound ball of indignation and fury (the little-dog complex) would have found its way to Charlie's cannon bone, getting in one good nip, then all two-thousand pounds of Charlie, with no qualms whatsoever and without breaking a sweat, would have crushed your dog like a bug.

Compare their match to, say,  Hello-Kitty vs Godzilla.

And it would be within his "rights" to do it, as Salt Lake City has a leash law, which supersedes the location of an off the leash park. The onus is on you, the owner of the attacking animal. In other words, your dog started it, but my horse will finish it.

So go ahead and yell at me all you want about your aggressive dog's "right" to be off leash up in Memory Grove, sir. Next time, maybe I won't warn off your pet. Because it also happens that my horse has the "right" to defend himself against an attack. And after the inevitable squishy bloodbath, you will have the smug satisfaction of telling all of your PeTA loving friends all about how you invoked your rights.

You and your little dog's, too.

* The off leash boundaries, and rules pertaining to it, of Memory Grove Park are posted on a sign as you enter the property.  Of course no one ever reads the fine print. Except me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shifting Perspectives

 I spent last weekend at the Utah Romance Writers of America conference in Park City, Utah. It was, as usual, great fun and more relaxing for me because I was not in charge of anything this year. I also didn't pitch to any agents this year. In fact I pretty much hung out with my fellow writer roomies and goofed off, which is my standard operating procedure. I also participated in my first book signing, which while not all that fiscally productive (that's what you get tying to sell to members of my RWA chapter, many of whom already either have my book or have no interest in my book because I use a plethora of naughty words, because I am, in fact, naturally foul mouthed) was enlightening.

While many people expressed their affinity for my cover, I discovered that when they look at it, they are not seeing it.

Do you?

I do because I cannot "unsee" things, plus I was there during the creative process, and it's modeled after my tattoo which, if I could do a clean slate, I would change.

So while I was sitting around, a fellow chapter member came up and admired my coffee cup, which has a picture of my cover on it. So I picked it up and said, "And it looks as good in your cabinet as it does on the table." Then I turned it upside down, and the person looked at it again, and said, "I never noticed that!"

Do you?

Maybe because... I don't know, like I said, I cannot "unsee" it. Plus, when I got my tattoo I had the white (okay, flesh) colored horse put on top, and when people looked at my tat they would s-l-o-w-l-y- rotate their head so they were looking at it upside down. Finally, when they were in a totally awkward position, I would mention the fact that is it a ying-yang symbol, but with horses.  The they would "Ooh" and "Aww".


Above are the images used as scene breaks, and it all depends on whose point of view the following scene is in as to the image utilized for the break. And that was done mostly for me, so I knew the owner of the POV and could check for violations while editing. Because I get confused. A lot.

Anyway, that's all the news that fits, with the exception of this: The eBook of The Carriage Trade is on sale at both Smashwords and Amazon this week for $3.99 which is a savings of $2.00. So, don't say I never gave you anything.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Conference, or Jail? Hmmm...

The annual Utah Romance Writers of America's conference is on Friday, October 5 and 6 at the Silver Baron Lodge in Deer Valley (up by Park City) Utah. I will be there this weekend, which is also the same weekend the the Latter Day Saints general conference, which is held in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm kind of happy that they are going on simultaneously this year. I typically take the weekend of URWA conference off of work so I can attend, and I take the weekend of LDS conference off, so I don't end up waiting for someone to bail me out of jail because I've punched an anti-Mormon protester in the face. I don't mind general conference, but the crazy fundamentalist protesters who wave signs and shout at the folks walking into Temple Square really chap my ass.

But that's another story. What I'm posting about is in Saturday, October 6 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm I will be signing copies of my novel, The Carriage Trade, during the URWA book signing. 

So if you are in the area, stop on in and say hi. Or just stalk me, I'm easy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here Comes ....CRAZY!

I know what you were thinking... you thought I was going to say "Honey Boo Boo." Well, I an so very happy to say that I have never, ever, EVER watched that show. The beauty pageant scene from "Little Miss Sunshine" was more than enough "pageant" for my lifetime, thank you very much. Although, truth in advertising, I LOVED that movie and love the soundtrack by Devotchka even more.

But I digress. It seems that the area around Temple Square has become the Vortex of Weirdness. I mean, even though it was kinda weird before. But this past weekend there have been a plethora of odd and quirky events, beginning with a guy on Friday night trying to cram some kind of food down my co-worker's throat. And not just my horse, but other horses working that night. Believe me, we carry whips on the carriages to use on the humans. I advised random horse treater that MY horse did not take candy from strangers.

On Saturday, a guy tried to play "Chicken" with me. So my question to this guy is, "Why in holy hell would you decide come straight at a 2000 pound animal with four legs and the mentality of a toddler, dragging a four wheeled vehicle containing five people, one of which has a good sense of humor but a very short temper?" Oh, and did I mention that he was WALKING?

By the way, he flinched first, so Tom and I won. But I'll give Tom most of the credit, because he has nerves of steel. Except when he's scared of stuff, like his own urine.

We don't work on Sundays, so we actually had a weirdness break. Although Wease and I went to India Fest at the Hari Krishna Temple. Which was a lot of fun. Plus there was food. And jewelry. And I love, love, love Indian costume jewelry. So we had a great time getting our Bollywood on.
(* None of the women in that photo are either me or Wease.)

Then Monday came, which means another day at work, and a crazy woman having an "episode" while on a carriage ride, tried first to leave her kid on North Temple. And when that didn't fly with the carriage driver, she walked away at South Gate, leaving her child in the custody of, you guessed it, a carriage driver.

You know, maybe I will start watching that Boo Boo show. It can't possibly be any wackier than my life, right?

Visit this great book review blog to read Ten Things My Readers Would Be Surprised to Know About Me. And make sure you sign up for a chance to win one of three copies if my novel, The Carriage Trade.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Classy Is As Classy Does...

My most frequent drinking partner, also known as "Mom", and I often use these very fancy glasses to guzzle  daintily imbibe our Two-Buck Chuck   expensive imported French wine. We like them because while gaudy  visually striking they are also  cheap plastic  break resistant and when you are as clumsy  animated as we are, sometimes shit gets broken  minor disasters occur.

To counteract the trashy dollar store ambiance  kitsch of the glasses we often drink from them with our pinkie fingers extended. As everyone knows, pinkie extension transforms even the most low brow activity into something worthy of bourgeois individuals with fancy pedigrees and buttloads of money.

Once in a while I give my pinkie a well deserved rest and just grab the container with my meaty paw and chug. Because there are times when chugging in in order.

What this all brings me to is this: I received a really nice review of my book, The Carriage Trade, from someone who was not a friend, co-worker, or my drinking partner  Mom. And it contained a warning about language. Specifically about the "F" word being used. A lot. And it's true, the characters in my novel do use the "F" word a lot. Why? Because carriage drivers are like that. In the barn, when we go to draft horse pulls, or eating breakfast at one in the morning, we can often be found using the "F" word. We have also indulged ourselves with conversation about horse pooping habits, undescended testicles, and Tampons for bitches. Dog bitches, not human females with bad dispositions. They already have Tampons.

Anyway, I guess my point is this: people use the "F" word. It's been in use for a couple of hundred years now. So who am I to mess with tradition?

Yes, The Carriage Trade has some naughty language in it. But the heroine suffers from a does of brain damage, and that's how she deals with... everything.

If you would like to read something I wrote without any naughty bits, Splitting The Difference is available for Kindle  FREE on Amazon  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9/17/12-9/20/12. Don't have a Kindle? Download the Kindle app for free and read books on your computer or smart phone.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Time Behind The Windshield

Last week I returned from an eleven day trip. I don't usually go anywhere for eleven days, much less drag our camper behind the vehicle. And I need to make sure I pay better attention next time when Mr. Slave Driver tells me how many miles we will be driving. As much as I hate to fly, I will admit that there are times it is a necessary evil. I just wish they'd let you get drunk before embarking onto the plane. They used to allow it, and it made flying a much more pleasurable experience for me.

The purpose of our trip was to watch PFC The Kid graduate from Basic Combat Training. Our first night on the road we stopped outside of Loveland, Colorado and camped at Boyd State Park, which was nice enough. We were joined at our campsite by my nephew Kyle and my nephdog Elvis,

 both of whom reside in the area. Also, I finally got to meet in real life "Conscripted Cherry", a member of a group who are fans of the writing duo  Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie. She was kind enough to drive an hour and a half one way to visit. Plus she brought me a bottle of wine, so she has my allegiance and undying friendship for life.

The next day we drove to Wichita, Kansas. Now, I lived in Missouri for eight years, and I've been to Kansas a few times. It doesn't change much. We stayed in an "RV Park" that was situated on a major road across from train tracks. In the interest of saving lives, the engineers felt compelled to blow the train horn each and every time they passed by, apparently to keep us from wandering zombie like onto the tracks. So that night we slept forty-five minutes at a time. Thanks, Atchinson, Topeka and the Santa Fe!

We stopped and visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which was very powerful. If you're even passing by the area I highly suggest a visit. All those empty chairs... 

I saw my first dead armadillo; I was very excited. My people laughed at me, but I don't care. Nothing quite stirs the blood like a toes up armadillo on the side of an Oklahoma highway. Then it was on to our temporary final destination, Fort Sill. We camped on the base and were lulled to sleep nightly by the sound of artillery fire. I do not recommend this campsite if you suffer from PTSD.

Graduation day came, and we collected our soldier and headed out for San Antonio, Texas.

After we left we were treated to a gorgeous sunset in Texas. 

We spent an afternoon hanging around The Alamo, 

and of course I had to chat with a couple of the San Antonio carriage drivers. They really seem to be big on the Cinderella Carriages out there. And grey percherons. 

Then we had to deposit PFC The Kid at her new temporary home, Fort Sam Houston. The next day it was off to Roswell, New Mexico. I know what you're thinking... Rosewell, that's where John Chisholm, originator of the Chisholm Trail was from.

Oh, yeah, they also have that other thing going on...

We drove to Albuquerque specifically to stop at Trader Joes. Why? Because I'm a wine-o and I like Two-Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) wines which are actually three bucks in New Mexico. Now, I'm not saying that we brought back seven cases of wine, because transporting liquor over the Utah state line is illegal. But if it wasn't illegal, I might do that. 

We got to see a lot of this while we were driving:

After spending the night in Dolores, Colorado in some guy's back yard advertised as an RV Park, we finally returned to Utah. Back home to our dogs and sitting down in a house that wasn't moving. It was a very long trip, but we were able to spend some time with our soldier, and that made the whole thing worth it. 

I'm blogging over at Wise Words today. Stop by. And if you go to the Virtual Book Tour Cafe you can sign up to win a free copy of my novel The Carriage Trade.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the Virtual Road

I have just returned from ten days on the actual road, driving from Utah through Colorado and Kansas, across Oklahoma to Fort Sill where we watched The Kid graduate from basic combat training. Then after a night of being lulled to sleep by artillery fire, we sped off to San Antonio for a day of sightseeing and general goofing around. On Sunday we dropped PFC The Kid at Fort Sam Houston for  105 days of Army individualized training. Our return route included Roswell, New Mexico and a dump of an RV "resort" that was akin to camping in some dudes back yard. All in all it was a    r e a l l y   l o n g trip.

Which brings me to my next "trip". It's a virtual book tour, so in reality I won't have to pack anything or even step outside my front door. This is good news, because, quite frankly, I'm sick of travelling. I have  been to the bathroom of the devil, and I don't want to see it again any time soon. So I can sit back and relax and let my WiFi do the walking, so to speak. And you can join me, no passport necessary. 

Here is the schedule and the links:

September 2, Meet and Greet at the Virtual Book Tour Cafe blog

September 4, Guest blogging at Wise Words 

September 6, Interview at MK McClintock's Blog

September 11, Interviewed at The Bunny's Review

September 13, Review and Guest Blogging at A Book Lover's Library

September 17, Review at Books, Books and More Books

September 19, Interview at Romance That's Out Of This World

September 21, Review and Interview at Black Hippie Chick's Take On Books & The World

September 21, Review and Interview at Little Book Star

September 25, Review and Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

September 27, Interview at Mass Musings

September 29, Review and Interview at Infinite House Of Books

So pull up a chair and a big glass of wine and join me from the comfort of your couch. Leave comments, read reviews, and make sure to register to win a free copy of The Carriage Trade. And if the restroom's dirty, it's nobody's fault but your own. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Operation eBook Drop

My kid is a soldier. (She's the one up front, photobombing this picture of the group.) Okay, my kid is in training to be a soldier. And while she is in basic training right now, she will soon graduate to AIT school, and will be allowed a few privileges, like books. But like many people today, her books will be contained on a reading device, such as a Kindle, or iPad. Because I love to read, and I know that our members of the military can get seriously bored away from home, I have joined what I feel is a very worthy  organization.

Operation eBook Drop

This group of authors offers their eBook  titles for free to deployed members of the coalition armed forces. I joined because I come from a long line of members of the armed services, and it's my small way of thanking those who currently serve. 

So if you are a member of the military who is deployed, go sign up. There are over 1360 authors giving their books away for free. And if you are an author with eFormat titles, consider joining.

There she is again, over on the right. I was happy she picture-hogged it, because in all of the pictures posted on the Facebook page, all the skinny little white girls with light brown/blond hair look the same! They all have their hair in a bun and appear to be swamped in their uniforms. It's like *Thanksgiving, all over again.

*During The Kids's Kindergarten Thanksgiving program, Mr. Slave Driver and I dutifully videotaped a little girl for a full 10 minutes before we realized that the child we had been recording was not, in fact, ours. We felt horrible and chastised ourselves for being bad parents. We have since relaxed our parenting standards, and feel that if we show up with a camera more complex than our cell phones, it deserves a check mark in the parenting skills "win" column. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fifty Shades of Hay

I know I haven't written much carriage driving stuff lately, but that's because (just in case you haven't figure it out yet...) I published my book. However, I still drive. In fact, currently I work four days a week. So here's a little taste of what's been happening:

The Peregrine Falcons returned again and hatched out three babies. One of them (Macy) died after colliding with a building, but the other two survived. Boxer (Boxer Sue originally, but now there is a question about the gender, so just "Boxer" for  now)  is happily soaring around Salt Lake City, munching on other birds, occasionally squawking for its parents. Primo, the other surviving fledgling, suffered some injuries after his own bird vs building incident. He has been turned over to a raptor rehabilitator for therapy. Thus, the small but always interesting group of volunteer falcon watchers once again have, like the falcon family, gone their separate ways. Last week on my way out to South Gate I noticed the volunteer's faithful leader, Bob, walking down North Temple. I told him to get in the carriage, and I gave him a ride for three blocks, dropping him 200 yards from Falcon Central. Bob looked tired, because during Fledge Month, he gets little to no sleep. So It was my pleasure to give him a slight respite from the usual harried running around he does. Later Bob informed that that he was able to strike "take a carriage ride" off of his bucket list. Although I don't think it counts, because it was more like a taxi ride than a carriage ride.

We have some competition now downtown. Well, sort of. At first glance it looks like some weird but colorful torture exercise machine designed by a maniacal Richard Simmons. In reality it's a 6 passenger bike. I looked at their website, which has broken links and little information,  and although their YouTube video has a packed bike with furiously pedaling passengers all wearing bike helmets and smiling like lobotomy recipients, in reality that almost never happens. Oh, yeah, the furious pedaling happens, just not the helmets. And I have to wonder if they have a business license and insurance. Especially insurance. Because, with the exception of a string of green Christmas lights, it's pretty bare bones when it comes to visibility.

People always ask 1) if the horse is real or 2) if it's a Clydesdale. For this photo, the answer to one of these questions is yes.

And finally, we've started using bike locks to secure things like our water buckets and customer's strollers. Occasionally it looks like an eclectic parking lot. And, even thought nothing has ever been taken from our hack line, we now have 100% zero items stolen. I know; although that makes no sense what so ever and is kind of redundant, it's reassuring in a  false sense of security way that you didn't know you needed before sort of way.

Don't ask. It's like a story math question.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Defending Your Turf

I noticed something the other day. You know the $5 DVD bins at Wal-Mart? You know what you will never find there? Disney movies. Pixar movies. You want to know why? The same reason you never find iPods, iPads, or Kindles on sale as a price leader. Because once you allow your product to be cheapened, you will eventually find it in the $5 bin. Yes, I know, it's a form of price fixing, in fact, it's practically the definition of it. However, it also means that the value of an item will be relatively stable.

It's similar to when we sell carriage rides. There are some drivers who will take any amount of cash someone waves in their face. I, personally, don't leave South Gate for less than $25. And I really don't like to blue light special myself by going under the $40 basic 30 minute ride. When someone shows up still sporting their $15 sign for the "Mall Special" (a ride around the block that takes about 10 minutes) it makes me crazy. It's comparable to having your neighbor short sale their house for no reason at all, sucking down the price of real estate in the entire neighborhood.

I am not Monty Hall, and you are not dressed like a kumquat. This is not "Let's Make a Deal." Nor is it the straw market in Nassau. I am not an independent carriage operator; I work for a company that sets the standards and prices for the work I do. There was a girl a few weeks ago who whispered, "Let me do the negotiating," to her friends and then proceeded to later call me a bitch when I refused to take them on a half hour ride for $20. Sister, I don't do anything for $20. Partially it's because I'm lazy, but I also have standards.

Which is why, when so many of my writer friends are selling their work for rock bottom prices, or posting entire books for free, I have priced my 384 page behemoth at $5.99. I worked on it for five years. At Amazon's 30% / 70%  split (which, ironically, is what I get for carriage sales commission) I make $4.12 on the sale of each Kindle download. I make much less on the paperback, and Smashwords has only sold one copy of a format other than Kindle. But that could be because there are issues with the downloads. Which I'm working on. So that should be fixed soon.

But what I will be doing, hopefully by next week, is giving away downloads of my novel to soldiers. It's a program called "Operation eBook Drop" and provides free eBook downloads to any deployed Coalition Armed forces member requesting a free coupon code. You have to go through the program (so please don;t email me asking for a free book) but if it keeps a soldier entertained while away serving our country, then it's worth it.

See? I can be convinced to give away something for free. Because the dollar to value ratio is off the chart here, and I'm the one getting the most out of it.

Please note: If you are a soldier signed up with this program I will be sending out the email with the coupon code next week. Thank you for your service.

And anyone can read the first three chapters for free at Wattpad. Because I'm not opposed to trying something on first before you buy...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Four for the Fourth

Usually, on Independence Day, the folks at Casa Del Slave Driver go to a local PRA sanctioned  rodeo, eat overpriced goodies, watch fireworks, and then return home. But being that this year 1) the holiday is in the middle of the week, 2) The Kid is away at Army basic training, and 3) the holiday is in the middle of the week, we decided to stay home and flop around in front of the TV.

You know, something we almost never do.

Except we did pretty much all of it outside. You see, over time we've collected a number of electronics. Occasionally they break down. Sometimes, we drag them over to a repair shop and get them fixed. Such is the case with a 27 inch Daewoo television we've had since 1999. And mostly we took it to get fixed because we were having people in from out of town and needed the space. Now, I don't mind stepping around a big ass TV in the middle of the kitchen floor, but others are not to used to our, um, unique lifestyle. And by unique I mean lazy. And cluttered.

We also have several DVD players that, for one reason or another, do not operate properly. I keep them for a number of reasons, the main one being that I always hope they will perform a miracle I call, "Spontaneous Self Healing", and there by relieve me of having to either throw it out or get it fixed.  One such broken item has a surround sound do-hickey, while the other DVD player will decided, for no particular reason, not to play a randomly selected DVD. Maybe it's tired, or unhappy with our choices in film, I don't know. But at some point, after viewing several movies, it will, upon insertion of another, simply not acknowledge the presence of the disc. Just up and quits.

The Daewoo TV is, by electronic standards, ancient. It was manufactured in a cave out of bones and rocks. It has inputs, but no outputs. And the speakers are seriously weak. And that's being nice.

I guess I need to explain the purpose of all of this nonsense: Occasionally we do an activity outside we call "Teeny-tiny Drive-in". In the past we have hooked up a laptop to computer speakers, gather around the screen and watch a movie under the stars. Being that we got the ginormous Daewoo finally fixed, and really have no earthly place in the house to put it, short of the hallway where we rarely stand around and watch television, we decided to put it on a cart we use to haul crap out onto the patio where we spend a lot of time in the summer, working up a good case of skin cancer.

So out comes the Daewoo. I hooked up the Digix DVD player which has surround sound but no longer plays DVDs. Then I had to hook up an Entivo DVD player to the Digix DVD player because that one actually plays DVDs, on occasion, when it feels like it. Then I somehow, through trial and error and dumb luck, managed to get the entire thing to work. And by "work" I mean play the DVD and have sound loud enough that we can hear the actors over the helicopters, fireworks, barking dogs and the little neighbor girl who enjoys belting out Justin Bieber at a volume previously only achieved by the faux band, Spinal Tap.

I know what you're thinking right about now... "Slave Driver, what in the Sam Hill does any of this have to do with your "Four for the Forth" title?"

I'm getting to that.

"The Four" are the four movies we watched, and the "Fourth" part was their theme.

The Patriot
Independence Day
Captain America
and Jaws

Now, I know that right about now you;re singing that Sesame Street tune about how "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

But really, it does. The time frame of the movie Jaws is the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

I hope your holiday was a good one, and thanks to all of the members of the armed forces that help us keep our liberties and freedoms which allows us to watch movies like Jaws and write drivel like my blog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Musick has Charms to Sooth a Savage Breast

I write to music. In fact, I create to music. In my head. Often times while I'm driving, which is a little inconvenient because I have yet to master simultaneous driving and writing. But that's just me. Apparently a lot of people think they've perfected it because I see a plethora of folks driving and texting. I do not drive and text, because some day a driver/texter will run into my carriage and kill me. Then all the RARAs will rejoice because another evil slave driver has been taken out of Satan's HR pool.

But I digress... I write to music because the music sets the pace for the scene I'm creating. It brings the emotion to the surface, and helps with the beats. Music also helps me recreate a specific scene in my head, like my very own movie of my novel.

So with the publication of my novel, The Carriage Trade, here is a list for the soundtrack to the book. Some of the titles will be familiar, but I have rather eclectic taste in music so a few will be a bit more obscure. And not every chapter has music.

Chapter/Song Title/Artist
Prologue/New Slang/The Shins
Ch1/Lust for Life/Iggy Pop
Ch3/Coconut/Harry Nilsson
Ch4/Tangled up in Blue/Bob Dylan
Ch7/The Celibate Life/The Shins
Ch8/Dragostea Din Tei/O-ZONE
Ch12/Waterfall/Jim Brickman
Ch14/Pretty Fly for a White Guy/The Offspring
Ch17/Patricia/PĂ©rez Prado
Ch18/Change Your Mind/The All-American Rejects
Ch19/Crazy/Gnarles Barkley
Ch20/Carla Etude/Elton John
Ch21/I'm Too Sexy for my Shirt/Right Said Fred
Ch22/Isn't it Time/The Babys
Ch23/Harder to Breath/Maroon 5
Ch24/Turn On Me/The Shins
Ch25/I'm No Angel/The Greg Allman Band
Ch26/Silver Lining/Bonnie Raitt
Ch27/Because the Night/Patti Smith
Ch29/I will Follow You into the Dark/Death Cab for Cutie
Ch30/Mad World/Gary Jules
Ch31/Thunder/Boys Like Girls
Ch34/Your Guardian Angel/The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Ch35/Some Days are Diamonds, Some Days are Stone/John Denver
End/Best Days/Graham Colton

And for the bonus material,

The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony/Ch1/The Past and Pending/The Shins

Not all the songs start when the chapter begins. But they all pull me back into the scene they represent. I hope you enjoy the soundtrack. 

In case you cannot tell, I really, really love The Shins. And I owe much of the music I use to The Kid, who keeps my musical taste up to date by regularly blasting Indie artists at me. Which is why I know that Vampire Weekend is not a scene from an Anne Rice book. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Show's Over. The Party is Starting Now...

After five years my novel, The Carriage Trade, is finally available for purchase.

I started writing it in the spring of 2007 because I had a story in my head and if I didn't get it out of there I would end up in an asylum. Not that I don't belong in one anyway, it's just the packing and moving and all those change of address cards are so much work. And it's no secret how lazy I am.

Anyway, it's done. Except for a glitch in the page numbering  (I can't tell you how many times I re-numbered those suckers) the trade paperback is now available for purchase through Createspace and the Kindle edition is available through Amazon. My short, Splitting the Difference is still free until Monay, June 18, so get that while you can.

Next week I'm going to post about the music I use when I write. It's an important tool I utilize, but today I have to go to work, driving a horse around in circles.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Free Stuff

As a pre-launch sampler, I'm giving away my contemporary short story, Spitting the Difference,  in Kindle format on Amazon. If you do not own a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reading app for PC, MAC, iPhone, iPad or Android. So, really, you have no excuse not to go and pick it up for free. It's twelve pages. You can read it on your lunch hour. Or while waiting for that lobotomy you've been wanting to get.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm very generous, but  hey, it's .99 cents you can spend on something to nosh on while you're enjoying the story.
So I have the Kindle file uploaded to Kindle and am waiting on their "approval", and I have the Create Space file over there waiting on their approval also. I'm still wrestling with the Smashwords file, because in trying to format to their specifications I had to take out all of the words in italics.

I've discovered I use a LOT of italics. I also use a lot of ellipses... but since the main character has brain damage her thoughts often trail off... you know how it is...
The actual publication day for The Carriage Trade is tomorrow, Friday June 15. So watch for it on Amazon, Create Space and Smashwords (eventually).  Have a great day, and go get the free short story.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wrestling With Pigs and MIRL

The pig I am currently wrestling with is, of course, my novel.

Oh, not the content. That's done. I think I've even gotten most of the typos, punctuation errors, grammar boogers and formatting issues within the document fixed, because that's how good I am I have some fabulous friends willing to read my book yet another time and point out all the stuff I have messed up. The "pig" part is uploading it to Create Space and then having the automatic review wizard inform me that, once again, it won't fit within the margins established by the template. Even though I have diligently (and I rarely do anything with any sort of diligence; usually the most you can hope for from me is a half-assed attempt at making something look like I meticulously followed the directions when in fact I've really been watching cartoons in my head the entire time) followed the formatting directions and used the template so it would all fit within the accepted parameters.

Nope. Just not doing it.

Part of the problem might be due to me adding stuff. Not to the story: I've cut close to 5000 words since I began the self publishing journey back in February. No, I've decided to add the first chapter of the sequel to the end as a teaser. So that added another eleven or so pages, which apparently makes a big difference, according to the Create Space Wizard. And quite frankly I'm getting a little tired of this wizard being all bossy and shit. I'm not a Druid, enrolled  at Hogworts, or a member of the Klan. I should not have to take orders from some snarky, know-it-all Wizard.

Anyway, I'll work it out. Maybe. I can sometimes manage to beat stuff into submission.

The MIRL part of today's title has to do with a stalker fellow Blogger. Most of the folks who have been stopping by my blog for years don't interact with me (I'm looking at you, Cambridge, Massachusetts). Once in a while some of  you people even post comments. Occasionally you people even use a name other than "Anonymous". "Dreaming"  is one of those people, and a few weeks ago Dreaming and Mr. Dreaming visited Utah. I, being the tour guide that I am, left suggestions of stuff they could do while in town. One of the things they decided to do was take a carriage ride around Temple Square with me and Charlie horse. We had a great time, and it was fun to Meet In Real Life. The only other Confessions Blog reader I've met in person has been Mackenzie, and she ended up coming to work for us. I don't think Dreaming is going to give up her awesome home and move to Utah, but she's welcome to visit any time. 

You should stop by her blog. She has a beautiful Aussie named Tucker she recently tortured by sending him to the groomer. I think he looks fabulous, but I know my dear departed Border collie, Cowboy, would have felt the same way if we ever did something as foofy as sending him to the groomer. Like formatting for Create Space, wrestling all that unruly hair into submission is not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Proof Positive

I received my proofs today. Proofs, also known as ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) exist for the sole purpose of finding errors. So I have five books which will be marked up by people whose only job is to find mistakes. Like going out of your way to point out when someone f*cks up. So, in other words, a perfect job for me; except I wrote the book, so I've read the book so often that I don't actually see the words anymore. I have them printed on my heart. Anyway, what this means is my novel is one.step.closer to publication. And while I have driven around downtown and Salt Lake City in a carriage so may times that I know the feel of the street to the point that I avoid pot holes by habit, I have never been down the publication road before.

Hang on, dear reader. I'm predicting it will be an interesting ride.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Interrupt Your Web Surfing To Bring You This Special Report...

Have you missed me? I've been off, playing with both real and imaginary people. And I do have something to show for it... The Kid graduates in two weeks. Two weeks after that she leaves for Army basic training and then off to AIT (Advanced Individual Training), and then four days after that is the release date for my novel, The Carriage Trade.

How do you get to a "Happily Ever After" when you can't remember where it began?

   Carlin "Carlos" Farley's life is an open book. Unfortunately, she can't remember most of it.   She's losing her barn manager, Bill, the guy who's been running her horse drawn carriage business while she's been in extended care recovering from  an accident. Bill has always been there for her, in fact they've grown up together, but now he wants to pursue the career he put on hold and Carlin's resigned to the idea that he's leaving her.

    Bill Fantazma is the kind of guy who always tries to do the right thing. But sometimes doing the right thing is not the right thing to do. He's been in charge of Carlin's care and the business he helped acquire for her, and has accepted the accident and her subsequent brain damage as a chance for a "do-over", since his previous actions to attract her affection were less than honorable.

    Richard Cooper appears the answer to their business problems. Knowledgeable about horses, willing to step in and take over the barn manager position, helpful and solicitous to Carlin, he's not put off by her sometimes bizarre and quirky behavior.
But when Richard sees an opportunity to move in and draw Carlin's affection, Bill realizes just what she means to him and must made a decision; come clean about their past and risk her anger, or step away and allow Richard to have a romantic relationship with the woman Bill has loved all of his life.

    It's a romance she can't remember and he can never forget.

I've been to a lot of workshops and classes and stuff that's supposed to make me a gooder better writer. Brighter, faster, sleeker, etc. Whatever. I still use too many words, but you knew that anyway, right? I had an offer from a small publishing company, but after reviewing several things (the re-writes, for example, and running the numbers, plus they didn't want the sequel...)  I've decided to go it alone. Plus I always knew what I wanted my cover to look like. Being that I am a bit spoiled, do not play well with others, and like to always get my way, it's probably for the best. Plus, if I fail miserably, I will have no one to blame but myself. And I can cure that by adding a little extra alcohol into my daily regimen, and POOF! No more blame.

My personal "branding", as the big kids like to call it, runs several directions. First, everything I write naturally has horses in it. That's just who I am. Second, my covers will be stark black and while with just a dash of color. Why? Because I designed them and I'm not all that good of an artist. Plus if people like the theme enough, I can offer the design on products for purchase. An example is the coffee cup I had made through Wal-Mart:

I love my coffee cup.

Anyway, The Carriage Trade is in the final preparations for  release, and I'm shooting for June 15. It will be available as a trade paperback (Kindle Select)  and eBook. After the first 90 days it will be available on all other eBook platforms via Smashwords. I will of course add the links and if anyone wants to do a blog interview I will be happy to oblige.

Visit my website, feel free to friend me on  and I am also on Twitter under the same name.

Updates to follow as necessary. I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet surfing...