Saturday, January 31, 2015

FINALLY! A new post...

Since the carriage company I worked for closed shop, I'm no longer a Slave Driver. I am, however, still a writer, and have finally completed the Carriage Chronicles trilogy. The Accidental Star of the Dog and Pony Show, (apparently I'm doomed to making up long titles for the rest of my life) the last book in the series (don't read it unless you've read The Carriage Trade and The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony)  will be available on Amazon beginning February 1, 2015. It's been a long ride, and one I will cherish forever, or until my Alzheimers kicks in and the only things I recall are TV shows from my childhood in Chicago like BJ and Dirty Dragon, Ray Raynor and Family Classics with Frazier Thomas. (Amazing how I can remember those but have to reset my password every time I log in...)

I have many more stories in the works, but cannot promise any kind of publication date due to time constraints and my chronic laziness. When they do hit the streets I will inform all three of you who are still visiting the blog.

Thank you for your time and have a great day!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

I believe I owe you an explanation.

I haven't posted in a while, which if you regularly stop by this blog you've noticed, unless you have Alzheimer's, or are in a coma sitting at your computer, and you only get to this blog because of random twitches that make your mouse hit the "Favorites" bar, and therefore are obtuse about what page you are landing on anyway.

Part of my lack of posting is due to the enormous  constraints on my time. After twenty years of being a 'stay at home mom', in which I worked part time, I finally got a full time, Monday through Friday gig. What we drivers call, with disdain,  a 'real  job'. Plus I'm still employed as a carriage driver, although I haven't worked since Valentine's weekend.  Trying to get into the M-F dawn to dusk groove has kicked my ass.

As you might imagine, after working nights for the last ten years, morphing into a position that requires me to get up at 5:45, commute when there is actual traffic, wear clothes suited for an office as opposed to a barn,  then returning home through, once again, traffic that is so thick I wonder if they're giving away free stuff at each intersection,  I tend to be exhausted. Plus I was wracked with some health issues that ended up being undiagnoseable . I even went to see several persons in the medical profession. And unless you're a close personal friend of mine, you wouldn't know that me going to a doctor is big. I never do that. It took my right eardrum bursting because of an infection for me to visit a Doc-in-the-Box for antibiotics. And  I still can't wear my wedding ring because of a horrendous canoeing incident that made the  movie  Deliverance  look like a church picnic.  So dealing with my mystery illness has been an exercise in futility of epic proportions. I depended on my jacked-up ring finger to perform spontaneous self-healing.  As usual, this did not occur.  But as a life-long Cub's fan, while I always have high expectations, I'm accustomed to disappointment.  I expect the debilitating plague of aliments that has been haunting me like a VooDoo curse will continue, despite my current  pro-active medical stance.

Anyway I digress. So I've been busy, you've gathered that. I still have book three of the Carriage Chronicles sitting on my nightstand in manuscript/paper form waiting for me to augment it. I will get back to it, but it is simmering in my mind while I embark on the dreaded daily commute. While I was at  the worst part of my illness, when lethargy overtook me on a daily basis, I watched all six seasons  of Six Feet Under, and the past three seasons of Game of Thrones. Why, you might ask, was I drawn to these particular stories? Because, I respond, they, like my novels, have ensemble casts.  Watching the way the writers juggle all of the different story arcs belonging to the vast array of characters gives me ideas. Plus, in the case of Game of Thrones, the costumes are awesome.

In two weeks I will be a volunteer for Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience. I'm not doing this for any research or motivational reasons, it's just for shits-n-giggles. But after that the sun should be warming Utah on a regular basis, and I will get back to my regularly scheduled programming. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dry Erase Adventure

Sorry I've been away. I've been working like mad. Both driving carriage and writing. Last week I finished the rough draft of the third installment of The Carriage Chronicles; The Accidental Star of the Dog and Pony Show. This is the last of the Bill/Carlos (Carlin) saga. However, I did leave a little wiggle room to write some other linear tales, such as Nora's story and the romance between Marlin and his fiancé. So at least there's that.

I have no less than three other novels percolating on my laptop, and I would like to get started on those soon.

After finishing the first draft of The Accidental Star, I set it aside and, with the exception of going through and fixing typos, for which I am legendary, I went to work on a couple of other projects I've been meaning to get to.

One of those, the project I have made my priority, is a new dry erase board. The one I currently use is typically overrun with notes. And when I run out of room on the board, I write notes on Post-Its and plaster them all over the white board. Which defeats the purpose of the dry erase board, since you 1) cannot read the notes I wrote there and 2) it messes up the dry erase ink so they are virtually unreadable anyway. 

So, my solution was to buy a Dry Erase Kit by Rust-Oleum and paint a 4x3 section of the wall where my dry erase board used to hang, effectively doubling  the space I use to write notes, plot arcs, character arcs, and witty snippets of dialogue before I forget them. Because I guarantee I will forget them if not written down. Where I can find them. Because sometimes I write stuff down and forget where I wrote it down. Yes, I am a forgetful mess.

Now, a note about me: (Okay, another one... since you already know I have the remembering capabilities of Ten Second Tom*) I am probably the single most impatient individual you will ever encounter in your life. Seriously, I'm worse than a Golden Retriever waiting for you to throw tennis balls. So the two hour window  kind of chaps my ass. I'm also cheap frugal. I believe in getting my money's worth out of a product. Okay, reality check: I believe in squeezing every last dime from whatever it is I purchase. So... I rushed it. I only waited twenty minutes between coats, and I put on four coats. So what I ended up with was a saggy mess reminiscent of parts of Southern Utah. So, while waves and sags in red sandstone are beautiful, they would not be appropriate for properly applied Dry Erase paint. So, I sanded the sags, ripples and drips down and bought another kit.

Now, since I already had a 'dry erase' base, I knew wouldn't have to apply as many coats the second time around.  So I only mixed half of the kit. I measured out 9.5 ounces of the base in a mixing glass, and only added 4 ounces of the activator. I set the timer on my phone for two hours, and applied a thin coat of paint.  30 minutes later I applied the second coat. That seemed to work out much better.  Then I waited 45 minutes to apply coat #3.
It turned out all right. And it fit in the spot I wanted, so that beats buying an enormous Dr-Erase and trying to mount it in too small of an area.

I also wrapped the foam roller with plastic wrap between coats. I do this all the time when I paint a room because it keeps the paint on the roller or brush from drying out between use. I've kept them wrapped (with regular, non-dry erase paint) for up to a week to facilitate touch-ups. Then I throw the roller/brush away, because I'm too lazy to wash it out and I don't have a utility sink. My kitchen gets enough rough treatment without adding paint splashes that make it look like Jackson Pollock is using my kitchen as his studio. Although that wouldn't happen anyway since he's dead.

By the way, I have a love/hate relationship with Frog tape. For those of you not in the know, Frog Tape is a special (read expensive) type of masking tape that forms a bond between the paint and the wall. It's supposed to stop bleed through. I used it when I painted my office and it worked okay.  It worked all right for the white board project too. But you have to make sure that the paint that gets on the Frog Tape isn't really thick, or else when you peel it of you get a ruffled effect. So while you may not get bleed through, you can get bleed over.  Of course, 1) I'm not a professional and 2) your mileage may vary.

Here are the step by step photos:

My old Dry-Erase. Too crowded...

 It's called a Dry-Erase, not a Post-It holder...
 I measured using a laser level and Frog Tape, marking off the area I want;
It's the camera operator, not the area, that isn't level...

 This gives you an idea of the new size compared to the old Dry Erase. Much more spacious
 I filled in the holes from the old board and sanded the wall to make it a smoother surface. Dry -Erase ink gets 'caught' in crevices.
 First coat; Kind of thin. It would have been better if the wall was white, but my office is blue, so...
 Second coat, getting better...
 Third coat,
 And here we go. You can see that it covers the blue. The camera on my phone isn;t good enough to show you the sags and drips, but after allowing it to dry, sanding and re-painting, it looks pretty much the same. And it works well, too. I'm satisfied. If I was a little taller I could actually reach to the top and write up there without it going all skewed
                                                                                                          kattywompas and


So, now I will be getting back to The Accidental Star of the Dog and Pony Show. So far for tag lines I have:

When did Happily Ever After become so perilous?

Insert blurb here, which I haven't fully written yet, so blah, blah, blah...

And then,

He never wanted to play a hero, but now he has no choice,

They still need some work but I'm going to finish editing then worry about it. I hope to have a January release. And I'll be working with Wattpad in conjunction with the new novel. 

(*Ten Second Tom: a character with short term memory loss from the movie 50 First Dates)

Friday, August 9, 2013

And Away We Go!

The next twenty-four hours will be very trying for me. The majority of you would not see them as angst ridden and fraught with peril, but I do.

You see, we're going on 'vacation'. Vacation for the average Joe is a fun filled journey of discovery and relaxation. For me, not so much. The vacations we have taken the last few years have been great, with the exception of the overnight stay in Kansas at a shit hole RV 'park' which was not much more than a treed lot next to a busy highway/train crossing. But our vacations were previously angst free because we drove to them. Usually dragging our travel trailer behind our vehicle.

 I love my RV. I know who slept where, what they did in the friendly confines, and that coffee pot was not washed out using the toilet brush. Being surrounded by my own personal belongings gives me comfort. It allows me to relax, and actually have a good time. Rest, recreate and rejuvenate my body and soul. It's nice. But this vacation is one that I have been dreading. "Why?" You might ask. Simple:

I hate to fly.

I understand the science of flight. The plane wants to be in the air, blah, blah, blah... It's safer than car travel, blah, blah, blah... There are strict rules in place for the crew and passengers alike to maintain optimum blah, blah, blah...

That's great. But here's the thing; I'm a bit of a control freak, and the powers that be  frown upon me knocking on the cockpit door and asking for the crew's references and qualifications.

"Did you get a full night's sleep?"  "You won't be texting and flying, right?"  "Are you in a happy relationship?" "Are you on any medications that might alter your perception of life?" "Have you seen the movie Airplane! ?"

Not only do they discourage that type of behavior, but they also don't like it when you get on a plane drunk, which is my old standby method of flying. Once I get to the airport, I pound down vino like a camel at an oasis, trying to store it up in my system, hoping for a time-release buzz effect.

Our flight tomorrow is at six am. Which means we have to be at the airport by five. Which means I have to get up at four. Which means for me to get the proper amount of alcohol in my system, I'd have to start drinking at two. I work nights driving a carriage, I don't even go to bed before two. So I might as well stay up all night, right?

"You can sleep on the plane."

No, you can sleep on the plane. I must stay awake and vigilant, keeping the plane in the air with sheer force of  will.

I also understand that now, in an effort to screw a passenger out of even more of their hard earned money (because charging for your baggage isn't enough...) some airlines make you pay to sit next to a friend/loved one/person who has bathed in the past 24 hours. To quote Mr. T, I pity the poor fool who has the unfortunate happenstance to be next to moi. Both Mr. Slave Driver and The Kid are well versed in my take off and landing routine. They must hold my hand and allow me to exert enough force to keep the plane on a steady path. For the average person, this wouldn't be an issue, but I'm not the average person.

I'm a carriage driver.

That means I routinely control a 2000 pound animal with my hands, thus also allowing me enough well developed muscle control to rip apples in half without benefit of a knife and crack walnuts with a squeeze. So, seriously, unless your name is The Incredible Hulk, you do not want the job sitting next to me requires. On the other hand, in a restaurant people like to sit next to me because they get all the things I don't like to eat, like shrimp, mushrooms, bleu cheese chunks and avocados.

And to add to the stress, we are arriving at our destination in no less than three flights. That's six take offs and landing. Six, count 'em. If I'm in a middle seat, I can inflict my own type of torture on right side person for take off, and left side person for landing. If I'm at the window or aisle, somebody gets double dipped and is headed for a world of hurt.

So if you're at the airport and see an unfortunate individual with a squashed hand screaming while they run down the concourse, you know I've been there.

You can find me in the bar.

(SLC to Minnesota. Minnesota to New York City. New York City to Portland, Maine.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sometimes Bad Shit Just Happens

It's been a rough couple of weeks for the folks I work with. After being officially retired, one of our horses, Bart, was finally transported to his new home. He was living out the rest of his days with his team mate, Belle, and one of our former drivers who had waited for this moment with great anticipation. Ten days after arriving, he unexpectedly passed away. The news came as a shock to us; Happily Ever After is supposed to mean riding off into the sunset. It's not supposed to end in death. And if Bart had gone to someone we did not personally know, someone not connected to our carriage tribe, we may never have discovered his fate.

We collectively mourned his passing, confused and angry about the unfairness of it all. The women who loved Bart the most, one who babied him for years but could not afford to keep him, and the other who longed for his arrival at  her rural property, and rejoiced when he finally came 'home', were heartbroken. It's not fair have your excitement and expectations met with an untimely death.

As the stewards of our animal friends, it's our responsibility to end their suffering. The elephant, some breeds of parrots,  and giant tortoise live at least as long, if not longer, than humans do. The rest of our non-human family members have various life expectancies that are considerably shorter than ours. This means that in our lifetime, we will have many of them enter and leave before we do.

Immediately following Bart's passing, one of our drivers had to euthanize her personal horse. Age and a chronic condition were the reasons she released her equine partner from her suffering. It hurts. It hurts like hell, but it's what we have to do. Our responsibility to our animal friends doesn't end with feeding, grooming , exercise and affection. Like it or not, we are the harbingers of their demise. That's why we are recipients of the 'Big Brains', to analyze the situation and bring about a resolution.

Saturday morning I awoke to the news that a little guy with a big internet presence, Cupcake the Herd Master,  a rescued miniature horse from Blue Star Equiculture, had passed. He was too young, too adorable, to well loved to even conceive of this happening, yet it did. Shocked and saddened by the untimely passing, I sent off a note of condolence via the internet.

This morning I discovered that we have lost yet another star in our equine solar system. If you've read either of my novels, The Carriage Trade or The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony, you're familiar with Tony.  Tony was a gorgeous Belgian draft horse. His golden coat, creamy flowing mane and tail, along with his soft eyes and noble head,  sold rides for any driver who worked with him. Customers were drawn to the big guy, and if you were fortunate enough to work with him, your job was made that much easier. People would bypass the other horses and want to ride with you. Not because of your stellar salesmanship or witty repartee; because Tony was such a handsome example of horse flesh.

Tony had been retired for a while, out to pasture (yes, we do have one of those) with some of the other horses owned by the people who run the carriage barn. His passing was sudden and unexpected. We are still in shock. After gathering information about the circumstances, I had to make one phone call. It was a very difficult one for me to make, but it had to be done.

Unbeknownst to many of you who have read my books, there really is a Bill. He's nothing like the Bill Fantazma from the Carriage Chronicles. He's not much taller than I am, and is a self described "Stupid Irishman." But the real Bill's love for Tony is no less than that of the character in my books. Bill adored Tony. Although he is no longer a carriage driver, if Bill knew I was working with Tony, he would come downtown and visit him. Not me, Tony. He would bring Tony treats, and, although we are not allowed to give our horses treats when they are working, Bill would stuff apples and carrots down Tony's gullet, hug on him for a while, then meander home. It was a hard phone call for me to make, but I felt that it was owed to both Bill and Tony.

July has been a sucky month for us. I am a control freak, and when I have no control I feel helpless and angry. But I recognize that there are so many things out of my control, that I have to accept them, and move on.

Tony, Bart and Cupcake are gone. But I have comfort in knowing that they live on in my writing. And I can only hope that it also brings some measure of solace to those who knew and loved them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yet Another Five Minutes You Will Never Get Back~

My friend and former co-worker,  Stacey, who writes the Jumping-Percheron blog, gave me this Liebster award. I'm not very good at these kind of things, getting awards and then the follow through. Mostly it's because I'm lazy. I'm also trying to work four days a week, write two books simultaneously and I get to spend Sundays with my family. Some of the time.

In between the cracks, I visit my Appaloosa, Dreamer, goof off with my friends, do laundry, and waste a considerable amount of daylight looking at pictures of animal babies on that infamous time suck called Facebook. I'm not very domestic, so my house is a shambles, and my yard is a lovely shade of yellow due to neglect. Except for the weeds; I excel at growing weeds. And not the kind you can make money with, unless dandelions suddenly become a priceless commodity. Then, I've hit the mother lode.

So here is my feeble attempt at a Blog Award Follow Through, in which the only requirement that I actually fulfill is answering the eleven questions.

See? I'm even too lazy to right click, save the award icon, and upload it to my blog, which I probably could have done in less time then it's taking me to write this sentence...

1. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Scotland, or Australia. Two countries I would someday like to visit.

2.  Have you ever been out of the country that you live in?
I have been to Jamaica, Providence Island in the Bahamas, Mexico and Canada. I don't like to fly, and they no longer let you get drunk before you get on a plane. This stupid FAA regulation has drastically curtailed my flying.

3.  What's your job, do you like it?
I have two jobs, and I love them both. I am a commercial livery carriage driver in Salt Lake City, and a writer. When I'm not doing one, I'm either thinking about, or doing, the other.

4.  Proudest moment with your horse?
Once I would have said the first show I brought Dreamer to and he won a blue ribbon. But a lot of horses win blue ribbons. Now I would say the day I was visiting him at his new home, Courage Reins, a therapeutic riding center in Highland, Utah. I had him on a lead rope, standing behind MBA's mini-van, dragging tack out of the back, when a stranger walked up and asked me if Dreamer was my horse. She then proceeded to tell me how much she loved him, how great he was in class, and how all the students and volunteers loved ( and fought over who got to) work with him. It was a testament to my horse that even though he had only been there a short time, he had won the hearts of everyone connected with the center.

5.  Any horse tattoos?
I have a Yin-yang horse head on my right shoulder cap. It is the model for the cover of my novel, The Carriage Trade.

6.  Favorite place to haul out to ride?
I sold my trailer and no longer haul Dreamer anywhere. When I had a farm in Missouri we would hack our horses around the 36 acres surrounding our property.

7.  Any other hobbies besides riding?
I ski (badly) and camp. And by "Camp" I mean take our travel trailer somewhere with full hook-ups. Then we go hiking. And by "Hiking" I mean walk around and drink wine. I hike the same way I fish. Because, to me, if it's not sunny and I can't get a tan & drink wine, I'm just sitting in a chair on the shore holding a stick.

8.  Most ridiculous piece of tack you've seen?
One of those Mexican saddles with the horn big enough to play poker on. The best piece of tack was insulated saddle bags that could hold a 4 liter box of wine. Very useful!

9.  Furthest distance you've taken your horse aka road trip, day haul, show, etc...?
In 1995 we moved Dreamer from Northern Illinois to K.C., Missouri. In 2003 we again moved him, from K.C. to Salt Lake City, Utah. When he was moved from K.C. to S.L.C. there was a one night stop in Colorado. The next morning he had to be coerced to get back in the trailer. I do not blame him one bit.

10.  Is this your first blog award?
No, but it means the most because it came from my friend Stacey at

11.  Do you board or have your horse(s) at home?

My horse currently lives at the above mentioned Courage Reins where he gets love and attention from his extended family every day. It is a fabulous place for him to spend his twilight years. 

Oh, yeah, now my other book, The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony is available in paperback. You can buy it, along with the first one in the series, The Carriage Trade, over on Amazon. So please go and buy it. Then read it. Then leave a review. And tell your friends. Because until I hit it big in the dandelion market, I could use the scheckles...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Weekend Behind Us...

Last week was a hectic one for the Slave Driver household. On Thursday we trekked up to Logan, Utah to attend the student orientation for incoming freshmen at Utah State University. Never having attended "real" college ourselves, Mr. Slave Driver and I are excited to be able to wear USU clothing and plaster USU stickers over every available inch of our vehicles, and cheer for USU sports teams. We are honored to be associated, by proxy, with so fine of a university. And, you know, proud of The Kid for going there. 

We spent the night at a hotel in Logan so we wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn and make the drive, although we had to get up at the C.o.D. anyway to get The Kid there early enough to take a math test. Now I know for future reference to stay at the University Hotel. It's only steps from the building  where we spent the entire day. We could have shoved The Kid out the door Friday morning and slept in another couple of hours. You know, like typical college students.

Live and learn, I guess.

On Saturday I was involved in a multi-author book signing at a local book store. I was joined by fellow writers Doree DePew, MaryMartinez, Stanalei Fletcher and Anna Sugg. Many friends and family stopped by, including my carriage tribe, because they are loyal like that. I still feel awkward "autographing" a book for someone who will surely see me wandering around the driver's room in my long-johns come December, but they appear to enjoy it, so what can you do, right?

Stanalei, Doree, Anna, Mary, Cindy Dumas (owner of Marissa's Books) and Lisa Deon aka Slave Driver

After the book signing Mr. Slave Driver and I attended a 25th Anniversary for one of his employees. They are Hispanic. I must admit, while I grew up in the Chicago area and have been to many types of celebrations, I have never been to a Hispanic event. The invitation was in Spanish. My mother, who is the most fluent reader/speaker of Spanish in our family, translated the invitation for us. The extent of my Spanish is being able to ask the following:

"Hi, how are you?"
"Much work?"
"Where are the bathrooms of the Devil?"

And, as with many other foreign languages, I can swear at someone or tell them to shut up.
It was fun but we were tired because we're getting old and the only liquor they offered was Budweiser. Mr. Slave Driver was the designated driver, and I don't drink beer of any kind because it's gross. We stayed for a respectable couple of hours then headed home to pass out.

Sunday was Father's Day here in the US. We go to a lot of movies, and this day was no exception. Mr. Slave Driver chose "Another Earth" as our movie of the afternoon. Now, I like Will Smith. I liked him in just about everything, from "Six degrees of Separation" to "Wild, Wild, West". The thing I enjoyed about "Another Earth" was the way they recognize how language evolves. It reminded me a lot of "Firefly". However, watching this film I was left with this burning question:

1000 years in the future they have the technology to evacuate Earth for another planet in the solar system, yet their most advanced weapon is a glorified Ginsu knife? Really?

And what's up with the space ship? I totally understand why it broke up after being hammered by asteroids; it's made of papier-mâché, PVC piping, that orange plastic safety fence (but grey, not orange) car wash brushes, and long, wide rolls of toilet paper. Definitely not space worthy, in my humble opinion. But, then again, I'm not an engineer. And, I don't like to fly.

Anyway, the busy weekend is over, and I'll get back to writing books. And there will be a third Carriage Chronicles. I have to finish "Things to do in Big Rock while you're Dead", first, but here is an excerpt from Chapter One of (apparently I cannot get away from long titles)...

The Accidental Star of the Dog and Pony Show

"See, there's where your logic is flawed. Bill is the kinda guy who will search the ends of the earth for me until he dies, so if you kill me, you have zero chance of being together. He craves closure, and will devote the rest of his days trying to find out where I went and what became of me. And that means he'll have no time for a relationship with you, and you'll end up being ignored. But if you save me—" Carlos splayed her hand across her chest and arranged her face in the most frank and innocent expression she could manage. The kind she used when dealing with the police, and customers she felt were being stupid. "Then you'll be a hero, and Bill loves heroes. Then, his moral code will insure that he will show his gratitude by being with you forever."
Carlos nodded earnestly upon finishing her carefully crafted lie, drops of sweat racing down her face, landing on her already drenched tank top. She made sure to use only Bill's name, and not refer to him as her husband. Calling Bill her husband only enraged the wild-eyed woman she was negotiating with.
The past twenty-four hours had not gone well for Carlin 'Carlos' Farley-Fantazma. Being held captive in what she assumed was an abandoned hay barn had given her ample time to review the events leading up to her current situation. In hindsight she believed that her biggest mistake was not necessarily going with the rabid, crazed fan she was dealing with, but neglecting to inform anyone from her tribe that she was leaving. And as improved as her mental functions were becoming, having brain damage tended to impair her judgment. Which was why she was having a bizarre conversation with a lunatic somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Carlos had awakened that morning with a blinding headache, face down in moldy smelling hay. For just an instant she thought that she was back living in the apartment above the carriage barn, and had somehow passed out on one of the ton square hay bales stored by where they kept the Vis-a-Vis. She inhaled deeply, not opening her eyes, but started coughing at the pithy odor of poor quality alfalfa mixed with mold and mud. She opened her eyes and pushed her body up, her confusion compounded by the cold realization that besides being in a dark and foreign building, she was also without her prosthetic left foot. And the back of her skull hurt like hell.
"Somebody's in a shit-load of trouble," Carlos muttered out loud. And a short time later she came to the conclusion that the somebody in a shit-load of trouble was her.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Women and their Geldings...

My horse, Dreamer, and I have been together since August of 1992. In that time we have moved twice. In 1995 we moved from Illinois to Missouri, and in 2003 we moved from Missouri to Utah. Since he came into my life I've also had a child, changed jobs five times, and began a career as a writer. Through it all, Dreamer has always been a member of our family. Even when we left our farm in Missouri, and had to liquidate our livestock which included three other horses, Dreamer has still been along for the ride. Up until a month ago, he lived a lazy life in South Jordan. Once in awhile we would ride him, but really the only thing about the facility we liked was it's proximity to our house. It was close. But the times I had available to visit him, since I work nights, are days. And most days no one was there. I have a thing about riding with no one around. In Missouri, Dreamer kicked me in the chin when I was alone, with the exception of my 18 month old toddler, on the farm. One frantic land-line (no cell) phone call to Mr. Slave Driver, an emergency room visit, and 11 stitches later, I decided that working with 1000 pound animals while alone was a bad combination.

That was my decision. Your mileage may vary.

 Dreamer as a zebra and Slave Driver as Jane. Mr. Slave Driver was Tarzan. Dreamer's costume was made from funky old zebra striped waterbed sheets. Recycle, that's my motto.

Last month, Dreamer was sent south, to a  hippotherapy facility called Courage Reins, for an interview.  And when I say 'interview' what I mean is a tryout. An audition. The facility serves individuals with mental or physical issues and making sure a horse has the correct temperament is essential for their program. I wasn't worried. We decided long ago to bombproof our horse because we had a child. So Dreamer had to put up with all kinds of nonsense and shenanigans. Like this:

This is The Kid and Dreamer at a horse show in Missouri. He's a ballerina. I can't remember exactly what the hell The Kid is supposed to be. (Yes, I'm a pathetic mom.) I put the costume on him (by the way, it takes about four yards of netting to make a tutu for a horse...) and he looked, sniffed and ho-hummed the outfit. That, however, was NOT the reaction from the horses we passed while walking to the arena. By their violent and crazed reactions, you would have thought he was being ridden by Godzilla. 

But he was a show horse from the time he was foaled, so having weird stuff put on his body was nothing new.

After moving to Utah, I again dressed him up for a Halloween party at his barn. This time he went as a Unipegaloosa. That's a combination Unicorn-Pegasus-Appaloosa. He's wearing a horn, but it's kind of hard to tell with the angle of the photo. 

Once again, I have no idea what kind of costume The Kid is wearing. Some kind of Arabian dancing girl with a pink tutu headpiece. Yes, that is the kind of mom I am. I can tell you exactly what my horse is dressed as. My kid, no so much.

The white wings are sewn onto a bareback pad. He turned and looked at them when I tacked him up, rolled his eyes, and plodded along beside me with nary a sigh. Dreamer is the Honey-Badger of horses: He doesn't give a shit.

What all this is leading up to is this: He passed his 30 day trial with flying colors. So now, at the age of 24, Dreamer begins his new career as a hippotherapy horse. The facility is very nice, and everyone that finds out I'm his owner feels compelled to tell me how much they love my horse. What a good boy he is. How wonderful it is to have him in class, and how well behaved he is with the children.

And really to me it's not a surprise. It was on his back that The Kid learned to ride. (Yes, I know this picture looks cheesy... back in the stone age we didn't have Photoshop so we had to make up weird photos the old fashioned way, with scissors and glue sticks.) And he was schooled early on that it was in his own best interest not to screw around. So much so that now, when he feels you become unbalanced, he stops. dead. in. his. tracks.

So now he has a new home, a new job, and hundreds of people to pet him and love him up.

And, The Kid is still riding him.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Whew! That Was A Wild Ride...

The contest and free eBook downloads for The Carriage Trade and Splitting the Difference are now over. Thank you so very much to everyone who participated. Worldwide, over 7200 copies of The Carriage Trade and 425 copies of Splitting the Difference were picked up by unsuspecting victims  readers with questionable excellent taste in literature. A good time was had by all.

 Now I can stop hyperventilating. 

Congratulations to the winners of the coffee mugs: The Carriage Trade mug goes to Mary Beth, and the One Trick Pony mug, April. To everyone else who entered, if you are interested in another chance to win and you live in Salt Lake City, I will be holding a raffle for four more mugs, plus two other surprise items at the debut book signing for the paperback edition of The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. 

On June 15, 2013 from 2-5 pm visit me at Marissa's Books & Gifts, 5664 South, 900 West in Murray Utah. More information will be available to closer to the date.

Thanks again, everyone. Happy reading!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Unintended Consequences

I wrote a little book a while ago. Okay, it's not little. It's honkin' huge; over 90,000 words. It took me less than a year to write it, and four more to re-write, cut, edit, re-re-write, search for an agent, be told that a heroine with disabilities is a "hard sell" so no thank you and finally decide, "Screw it, I have KDP and Createspace. If I break even, I'll be happy."

Last year I published The Carriage Trade. Sales were okay, nothing spectacular. But the reviews I got (and no, not all of them were from my friends. Some were from people I know from the internet who have no vested interest in writing a good review for me) were good.

I finally finished the follow up to The Carriage Trade: It's called The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. I published that on May 1, and to help publicize it, I decided to give away downloads of The Carriage Trade and my short story, Splitting the Difference.

When I left for work on Thursday, my numbers were respectable. At 1:00pm over 850 copies of TheCarriage Trade and 140 copies of Splitting the Difference had been downloaded.  I was satisfied with those numbers. The last time I gave away Splitting the Difference, a rough total of 850 were snagged.

I got to work, chatted with barn manager Kar for a while, then opened the browser on my phone to take a peek. I just about passed out.

In less than an hour, I went from 850 to 1250 in downloads. And the numbers shot up from there. With the amount of downloads per minute, I prognosticated that I'd reach 4000 by the time I left work for home, about 11:30pm.

I reached 4000 at 9:18pm.

As of this writing, 11:30 am on Friday May 3, I've surpassed the 5200 mark.

Needless to say I've been in a constant state of humble shock since yesterday afternoon. All I can figure out is one of the free eBook sites must have picked up on my offer and promoted it. Whoever you are, thank you so much! And if you arrived here because you muddled your way through the internet maze and found my blog after downloading a copy of The Carriage Trade, thank you, also.

And if you haven't, go get one now. The offer ends at 11:59 on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

If you enjoy The Carriage Trade, and want to read more about the exploits of the carriage tribe, pick up a copy of The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. 

*If you purchase a copy of The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony, make sure to enter the contest for the coffee mugs. The details are available here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oy! The Things I Do For You...

Free. Yep, EFF ARE EEE EEE. Free: Complimentary. Gratis. For nothing. On the house.  Gratuitous. Chargeless. Pro bono. Zip. Bupkiss. Nanda. Without cost. Unencumbered.

Starting at  midnight, May 1, 2013 through midnight May 5, 2013, for the first time ever, you can download, for FREE,  The Carriage Trade. 

But wait! There's more!  Splitting the Difference will be free also, but I've given that one away before. So you might already have it.

"Why?" You might ask yourself, "Is the notoriously cheap frugal Slave Driver being so benevolent?" Has she inherited a butt-load of money from a distant relative? Won the Nigerian Lottery, perhaps? Had an epiphany and converted to an organized religion?

Naw... It's all a ploy. Because I realized, by watching various ABC Afterschool Specials when I was a child, that smart dealers give out the first hit of their product for free. Once you've been exposed to the wonders of _________ (crack, Costco, Netflix: fill in your poison here) if you enjoy it, you're hooked. And then you want more.

So I'm hoping that you will be hooked on my voice. Download The Carriage Trade for free, and maybe you'll want to read the sequel, The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. Which, coincidentally, is being released tomorrow also. But that book isn't free. It's $4.99.

Why not collect the whole set!?!

See how it works? Sneaky, huh?

So run! (do not walk) over to my Lisa Deon author page on Amazon and stick it to the man by downloading two free eBooks. And, you know, buy The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony, since you're over there anyway. After all, why waste the virtual gas and have to make another internet trek to get the third book later on. Really, it's a matter of convenience. See the kind of favor I'm doing you? Logical, if you think about it.

What's that? You don't own a Kindle? Why not? I've got over 170 books on mine and it never once gained any weight. When I grow up, I want to be a Kindle reading device. Think how luxurious it would be to devour the most tasty morsels and never gain an ounce.

Okay, so you don't want a Kindle, because you're a ludite, or have a paper eating habit, like to dog-ear the pages, or have an aversion to shiny, pretty things. Well, obviously you got here using an electronic device, so go download the free (I've used that word a lot in this post) Kindle Reader app for your platform of choice and dive right in.

But wait!!! THERE'S EVEN MORE!!!

I'm running a contest. A fabulous contest where you can win one of the highly coveted The Carriage Trade or The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony coffee mugs! Yes, it's true! Purchase The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony and you have a chance to win a beautiful mug to slurp the beverage of your choice from. Coffee, tea, vodka, some shit that's healthy for you, I don't care! Use it to store pencils, cotton balls or change. Ensconce it in a shrine or carry it down a dark alley and use it as a weapon. How you utilize it matters naught to me.  But if you're going to buy the novel anyway, make sure you follow the steps that will enter you into the contest.

Two winners will be selected.

Prizes: One (1) coffee cup printed with the cover images of either The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony or The Carriage Trade. Winners will be given their choice of which mug design they wish to receive.

1.TWO WAYS TO ENTER  Between 12:01 am on May 1, 2013 and 11:59 pm on May 5, 2013, "LIKE" the Facebook page of Lisa Deon Writer , and then purchase a download copy of the eBook The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony by Lisa Deon on Amazon at and post that you have done so on the Lisa Deon Writer Facebook page after the purchase has been made.

OR (for you non-Facebook people)

Between 12:01 am on May 1, 2013 and 11:59 pm on May 5, 2013, purchase a download copy of the eBook The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. When you receive an email confirmation of purchase from Amazon, forward that email copy to me, Lisa{at}LisaDeon{dot}com

2. ELIGIBILITY: Open to legal residents of the fifty United States and District of Columbia who purchase an eBook copy of The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony between May 1, 2013 and May 5, 2013. Purchaser must share their purchase on their own Facebook page and "like" the Lisa Deon Writer Facebook page to be entered in the giveaway. Failure to "Like" the Lisa Deon Writer page, and then post your purchase on both your personal Facebook page and the Lisa Deon Writer Facebook page, or failure to forward the Amazon email detailing your purchase of TheRe-Education of the One Trick Pony to me (Lisa{at}LisaDeon{dot}com) will make you ineligible to win.

3. WINNERS SELECTION: Winners will be selected within 48 hours after the close of the event from among all eligible entries received during the Giveaway. Winners will be determined at random using Winners will be announced on the giveaway post and contacted via email by May 7, 2013. Winners will have 48 hours to respond with their full name, mailing address and email information to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. Mailing address must be within the fifty United States and District of Columbia. A list of winners can be requested at anytime by contacting Lisa{at}LisaDeon{dot}com. Winners need to send their information to Lisa {at}LisaDeon{dot}com

4. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize is dependent upon the total number of eligible purchase entries received. Prizes are limited to one (1) per household.

5. GENERAL: Subject to all federal, state and local laws/regulations. Neither Lisa Deon nor any affiliates will have any liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by any prize or resulting from acceptance, use and/or misuse of any prize or possession, due to participation in this promotion. Acceptance of a prize shall be construed as and signify the winner’s agreement and consent that Lisa Deon / Sponsor may use the winner’s name, likeness and/or prize information, without limitation, for promotional purposes without further consideration, review, approval or payment, where allowed by law. By participating in this promotion, entrants agree to be bound by the decisions of Lisa Deon / Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects.

6. INTERNET: Lisa Deon / Sponsor is not responsible for electronic transmission errors resulting in omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission or alterations of entry materials, or for technical, network, telephone equipment, electronic, computer, hardware or software malfunctions or limitations of any kind, or inaccurate transmissions of or failure to receive entry information by Lisa Deon / Sponsor on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website or any combination thereof. If, for any reason, the promotions are not capable of running as planned for any reason Lisa Deon / Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Giveaway and select the winners by random drawing from among all eligible entries received from all methods combined up to the point of the action taken by Lisa Deon / Sponsor.

7. SPONSOR: Lisa Deon  is the host of the giveaway and Sponsor. The Sponsor is deemed to be the party providing the product for the giveaway. Lisa Deon / Sponsor is responsible for shipment and delivery of giveaway product, unless otherwise specified.

8. DISCLOSURE: The prize for the Giveaway is not considered compensation in order to facilitate a review. The comments made within the post are in no way edited or influenced by any parties, including Lisa Deon / Sponsor.

So, to sum it up:

1)"Like" my Facebook Lisa Deon Writer page.
2)Buy a copy of The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony
3)"Share" through Amazon (which gets posted on your Facebook page) that you have made the purchase.
4)Go back to my Lisa Deon Writer page and post that you have purchased the book.
5)I then verify your purchase, and enter you in the contest.
6) Check back on at my blog, Confessions of a Slave Driver May 7 to see if you are a WINNER!

1) Between 12:01 am on May 1, 2013 and 11:59 pm on May 5, 2013, purchase a download copy of the eBook The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony.
2)When you receive an email confirmation of purchase from Amazon, forward that email copy to me, Lisa{at}LisaDeon{dot}com
3)I then verify your purchase, and enter you in the contest.
4) Check back at my blog, Confessions of a Slave Driver on May 7 to see if you are a WINNER

Easy peasey.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This is NOT "My Pretty Pony"...

I spent last weekend at a mansion with a bunch of romance writers. My roomie and I had nice digs. A beautiful queen size bed, bathroom with a claw footed tub, although our loft was infested with three other writers... but that wasn't problematic in the least. They climbed up the ladder to their attic enclosure and didn't toss miscellaneous flotsam onto us while we were sleeping so everything was good. I had just brought up my second load of junk (I do not travel light. Go camping with me... If you forget something, it's not a problem; I've brought along two) and dropped it in the corner when I spied a wooden object behind the headboard. 

The designed of this house is a little odd... lots of weird angles and cubbyholes causes furniture to sit in the middle of a room instead of against a wall. At first glance I was delighted by my discovery; that is, until I got a closer look. What should have been an awesome find for a person as addicted to horses as I am, ended up giving us the heebie-jeebies.

You see, I'd found Deviltariat. He was an enormous demon horse, carved from the sick psyche of someone who obviously has never been enamoured with horses of any kind. His wooden eyes glowed with malice, and his open mouth was poised to bite. And, he was the size of a pony. 

"Why, oh why?" I cried, falling to my knees in front of the horse from hell, begging him not to kill me in my sleep. Okay, I didn't really do that. But what I did do was to throw a towel over his head to block out his evil thoughts. Then I made a tinfoil hat to wear while sleeping, so his aberrant telepathic images wouldn't invade my already over-imaginative writer's mind. 

But that's just me. You might have slept like a baby. You know, with THIS only inches behind your head~

I thought not.

The rest of the house was no less, err, interesting when it came to the choice of decor. There is a huge presence of carved stuff. I found it particularly disturbing to have Angels looking as my butt when I was seated on the toilet. 

However, I will admit that the view of the canyon, deer and wild turkey outside made up for the oddities inside. Even considering I was surrounded by writers, and we are infamous for coming up with weird stuff like this.

Indoor Pool

A non-creepy yet huge Remington cast

Deer chillin' in someone's front yard.

Anyway, my next blog will be about my new book, The Re-Education of the One Trick Pony. There will be contests, prizes, cake, and of course wine. You can win the prizes. The cake and wine are mine. 

All mine.