You can check out my books on, and at Barnes & Noble too.

Friday, March 30, 2012


A Song of Ice and Fire series
by George R.R. Martin

I wish I could say I was a fan of this amazing series from the get-go, but instead I have to thank my brother - fellow geek - for pushing the books on me. Because with the exception of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I don't think I've ever enjoyed any book or group of books more than I have these. I'm more cynical than I used to be and I tend to read as a critic, more for self-education on what I like/don't like and should/should not do with my own writing. But with these books, I'm only a fan, and a rabid fan at that.

The HBO TV adaption - titled after the first book in the series: Game of Thrones - is phenomenal. Season 2 premieres this Sunday, April 1, and I can't recommend it enough...though I think the books are pretty essential!

Thank you, Brother, for letting me borrow your books. For describing The Wall and Winterfell, an honorable family, a bastard boy, and this crazy-complicated web of political intrigue in a way that piqued my imagination. Sometimes, it's really fun being a geek.

Oh, and Winter is Coming...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100 Words: Flash Fiction

There are several definitions of flash fiction. Some forms are really strict in word count. Stories can be comprised of as few as 55 words to as many as 1,000 words. But regardless, it's essentially a short story with some kind of plot. The flash fiction I've read raises more questions about the characters than it answers, but it's a really cool form of storytelling. This is my first attempt - it is bad, sorry - so don't judge too harshly. I turned mine into a 100 word challenge and I'm using a character from a story I want to write at some point in the future.


Clouds. His mother had loved clouds. She’d told him, when he was a round-faced little boy, four, with dirty feet and torn clothes, that clouds were sky ships, sailing through an ocean of blue just like the real ships plowed through blue, foamy seas. She’d pulled him up in her lap and told him the stories. Her apron had smelled like the thick, caked soap she used to wash clothes. But that had been before…and this was after. He was a man now and he had no mother, no memories, and he didn’t look at clouds. Daydreams were not allowed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lightning: 14


Melanie almost laughed, but she caught herself, too tired to really force the sound out of her lungs anyway. Instead she nodded and loosened the girth of the little bay colt she’d just ridden. He was one of the three-year-olds just getting used to a saddle and weight, so she’d used her English tack on him.

It was just after noon and the sun was an oppressive, heavy ball in the middle of the sky, pressing down on them. She’d ridden all morning, this colt the last ride of the day, and after all that time, all Dan had to say was “good”.

“Thanks.” She ran the stirrup up and rolled the leather beneath it, securing it in place, and looped the reins over the colt’s head. “Come on, dude,” she patted his sweaty neck and started for the gate. Dan stood at the rail, his crutches propped against the fence, a white-knuckled hand gripping the top board. He stared at the empty arena and stayed motionless while Mel led the gelding back toward the barn.


Someone asked me, a year or so ago, “what would YOU write about?” And it was said in a way that suggested I had nothing interesting to say. Which would be true if I was writing about my own life. Which I’m not. Thank god! But aside from poking holes in my self-esteem, the comment did something else: it got me thinking about what DOES inspire me.
It always goes back to music.

Music is a very personal thing. Everyone has his or her own favorite artists, bands, songs, styles. I’ve never been able to categorize my tastes. Because if I claimed to be a hard rock fan, I’d be omitting how much I love Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert. And if I was just a country fan, there’d be no accounting for Def Leppard. And really, despite what people claim, they all like a little bit of everything. AC/DC is my favorite, favorite, favorite band…but there’s something stirring and beautiful about Aaron Copland’s compositions. ADELE is amazing. “The House of the Rising Sun” was the first request that came to mind when the mariachi band was coming around at the Mexican restaurant the other night. I love the Allman Brothers, George Michael, Carrie Underwood, Skynyrd and the Fray.

Sad songs, love songs and leaving songs inspire me to write. Lines, choruses and melodies tickle creativity. And amazing guitar riffs always bring action montages to mind. I build my own playlists and cycle through them week by week. Recommending songs can be tricky because no two people have the same musical ideals, and sometimes, people (usually my peers) choose music because they think it makes them sound cool or mature or…whatever.
But, this week I’m listening to:

“My Heart Can’t Tell You No” – Sara Evans
“Hell on Heels” – Pistol Annies
“Barton Hollow” – The Civil Wars
“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” – Johnny Cash
“Uncharted” – Sara Bareilles
“Kings and Queens” – 30 Seconds to Mars
“Turning Tables” – ADELE
“Skeletons” – Eli Young Band
“Too Close” – Alex Clare

I have an unhealthy relationship with iTunes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blues and Whites

I'm no photographer by any stretch, but I liked the color study here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Tami Hoag

I love all of her stuff. She went from romance to mystery without missing a beat. Her mix of rich details, intense action, violence and spookiness is so much more gritty and realistic than CSI ever thought about being. Still Waters, Ashes to Ashes, Dark Horse...I haven't read a title by her that wasn't entertaining. Absolutely love her stuff.

And then....

I found out she's a dressage rider.

I was grooming for someone at Regionals one year - a show where all the winners from a particular region compete together for top honors - and was enjoying doing the grunt work and getting to be behind the scenes without the stress of showing myself. I was double checking my rider's ride times when I came across the name d'Artagnan in the show program. Tami's horse! He was no longer Tami's horse, but I knew she rode down in Florida and had obviously sold the gelding to someone else in the region, someone who was at regionals!!

I didn't have time to track down d'Art while I was there, but it's just as well. I was rapidly turning into a fangirl.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Chaos of Creativity

Last night, I was struck down by a new story idea - I say "struck down" because it's about as debilitating as a migraine - and it got me thinking about a blog post. Juggling a third story would be nuts, so the idea had to go in my little notebook of "Things I'd Love to Write but Probably Never Will" until a later date. I hate having to have that notebook. I wish ideas came in a tidy, orderly fashion right when I needed them, not before or after. But ideas are not cooperative.

In college, most of my fellow students had a writing approach that I longed for. "I want to write a story about....." they'd say, and they'd sit down with pen and paper and plan out topics and characters and relationships between those characters. And then they'd look at me and ask, "what do you want to write about?" And I'd get this blank, stupid look on my face, because I had no idea, and the harder I tried to decide, the more limited my creativity seemed to be. The more I tried to just decide on a topic, the more my ideas became sad, cripple little things.

My writing process is this:

I have this bank, if you will, of settings and objects that are aesthetically pleasing to me. Things like classic muscle cars, old barns, empty fields, cemeteries, haunted castles, redneck dive bars, leather jackets, boots, and dark, nighttime forests live there. I love music (that's a whole other post) and I drown myself in it while I clean stalls, when I jog at night, and certain songs pull certain aesthetic images out of the "bank".

Then I walk around for days with this spark of an idea. A ghost. A whisper. And I can't dwell on it too much, or it'll get scared and retreat.

And then, finally, a bomb goes off in my head. Character names, their relationships, their purposes, the all comes with an explosion. It's chaotic and overwhelming, and, usually, the idea absolutely sucks. But it comes, and not always in a neat, organized package. Most of the time, they're useless, but sometimes they can be beaten into submission.

For days after the explosion, I see story scenes in vivid, detailed flashes. But always scenes from the middle of the story - the beginning always, always has to be forced. Ugh!

Last night, the hero was Caleb, and he was kind of a dick. The vampires in his story were not sparkly or friendly, and weren't the good guys. Caleb went in the notebook, but it's still hard to steer my thoughts back to where they're supposed to be.

I don't like my process, because I don't think it's productive and I know I'll never come up with anything "hip and fresh" that way. Novels that are "hip and fresh" are not borne from explosions.

But better to know your own weaknesses I guess. I'll never be tan, never execute a real cartwheel, and explosions happen! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekends are for working...

...and for doggie baths. There's no such thing as "a day of rest" on a farm.

Mowing grass and mucking stalls is good thinking time, though. I should have updates for both stories to post this week.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

100 Words: Little Things

Sometimes a twenty dollar pair of cheap rubber rain boots with daisies on them can make a person ridiculously happy. New rain boots means no wet socks, no blisters, no discolored toes because said wet socks have been soaked with Georgia red clay water.
Little things: calm, grazing horses. A clean truck. A good workout. A good book. My instant coffee in the mornings. My horse’s dog-like propensity to want to be between “scary” strangers and me – he’s a good lead horse, and apparently I’m a part of his herd and not his boss.
I’m boring. But I’m okay with that – I’ve got new rain boots.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

As Promised

I love a rainy sunrise, everything glazed with water, the black silhouettes of the trees.

Anyway, I promised a new story, and I'm going to upload the first portion of it today. Made for Breaking should be a nice change from Lightning.

I've been really pleasantly surprised by the number of hits within the past couple of weeks. If you're enjoying the writing, I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you Suz, Janice and anonymous commenters!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This Week

There's more Lightning updates on the way and, to hopefully make things more interesting, I've got a second story that I'll begin posting. It's completely different from Lightning and should prove more complicated and exciting.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chapter Twelve

“Radio says there’s a good chance of a tornado. There’s warnings all over the place,” Toto said as he strode past her, arms laden with empty feed buckets. “I’m not puttin’ anybody out till this passes.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Washington Irving

“The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region and seems to be commander in chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk, hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind.”
“Sleepy Hollow” was originally published as one of the serial installments of Irving’s work The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon in 1819 and 1820. It is perhaps his best known work, save for “Rip Van Winkle”. It is my absolute favorite work of fiction without question.
I love his language: there is something magical about the way he weaves words together in such a richly descriptive, folksy way. How could you not smile reading about Ichabod Crane who might have been mistaken for, “the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield”? (Favorite line!)
I love the legend: Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel, the poor superstitious pedagogue who falls victim to the local rumors of the Horseman. It’s simple: a tiny, rural town afflicted by dark fireside tales, populated by locals who fear a vengeful spirit.
I love the tone: this is a story in which modern day gore has no place. It’s colloquial and quiet, mysterious, and just spooky enough to give you a happy little chill. I love the sense of tradition and love the ambiguity at the end: we never know if Ichabod was chased away by the Horseman, or Brom Bones in costume.
My hokey love for ghost stories can be blamed on “Sleepy Hollow”. For me, it’s the consummate folk tale. The Tim Burton film version is fun, the Disney cartoon is extremely accurate (and cute and narrated by Bing Crosby). But nothing can touch the original, written word.
“[On] the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it, a shattered pumpkin.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chapter Eleven

“Whatcha think, dude?” Mel reached up to scratch LT behind one red, silken ear. In the blue-white beam of the flashlight, his face seemed eerily long, the stripe on his face almost fluorescent. His wide, liquid eyes were the only sign that he was at all alarmed about the fact that she was sitting in the corner of his stall in the pitch black of the pre-dawn barn. He sniffed at the flashlight in her hands, then, deciding it was harmless, tried to figure out if it was edible too.
“No, no,” she laughed even though she didn’t feel like it, pulling the Maglite out of his reach. Her horses were magical like that: even when she felt absolutely hopeless, they inspired a smile, a warm thought. Reminded her that she couldn’t afford to swim in self-pity because she had creatures who depended on her for everything.
Sleep had mocked her until she’d finally given up and tugged on clean clothes, had moved through the barn as silent as a ghost and let herself into LT’s stall. She loved Roman, but if you were going to sit prone in anyone’s stall, it had to be LT’s.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Not in Kansas

It’s been three weeks since THIS happened to the barn.

It was a perfectly gorgeous, sunny Saturday…afflicted by a wind so fierce it nearly bent the trees double. Today has been wind-ravaged too: none of that gentle breeze stuff, but real, face-slapping, gale-force, roaring wind.
But compared to Friday’s storm outbreak across the Midwest and South, a little roof damage is nothing. My heart goes out to the families who’ve lost loved ones and homes, who are picking up the scattered pieces of their lives. It is nothing short of amazing to see that what took years to build can be obliterated in a matter of seconds.

My favorite fictional stories are ones that feel deeply-rooted in their settings. I want to have all my tactile senses engaged and for the moments that I’m between the pages of that book, I want to be there, whether there is Atlanta or London or some backwoods town in Montana. And you can’t set a scene without taking weather into account.
Nature’s wrath brings people together and pushes them apart. It strips away hubris, leaving behind only courage and determination. Storms are a universal source of fear and awe, of respect and even, at times, admiration.
In the South, the worst weather always seems to strike at night. When it’s dark and the lightning is highlighting eerie green patches in the sky, we huddle around our TVs and radios, and we pray for our homes, our families, our barns, our animals, and yes, ourselves. We pray that the tornadoes that dive down out of the clouds like dark tentacles won’t take too much this time. The destruction is random: untouched houses sit beside unrecognizable piles of rubble.
And when it’s all over, and the sun is shining again, we tell stories about the time we sat huddled in a basement with a motorcycle helmet on our heads, hoping the piano upstairs would get sucked out of the house rather than come tumbling through the floor. We talk about watching the funnel descend on the other side of the barn and running hell bent for leather, breathless, dragging a mare along beside us and hoping the three-day-old filly at her side kept up. You laugh at the memory of stubborn husbands, fathers and sons who aren’t “scared of a tornado” and who waited until the last possible moment before ducking for cover.
There are funny stories about kissing dirt at the bottom of a roadside ditch while a whole bunch of nothing went on around you. Then there are harrowing tales of bravery and near misses. Tragedies and seeming miracles. Sometimes real life is more exciting and more terrifying than fiction, and we pass the tales down to one another, proving that in this day of technology, oral storytelling tradition is still very much alive.
Whether the weather is transporting you to Oz, or forcing you to spend a few hours killing black widows with wasp spray in your underground tornado bunker, Mother Nature has a way of forcing herself into all of our stories.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chapter Ten


“Am I doing it?”
Can’t you tell? Mel wanted to ask. Instead, she bit back a chuckle and watched Eli attempt to guide his horse Red through a movement she called a “leg yield” that he kept referring to as a “side pass”. Like the time before, Red was trotting straight down the center of the arena, his spine rigid, not yielding in any way.
“Not quite,” she softened the blow. “You might try practicing on a circle before you attempt the straightaway.”
He pulled his solid chestnut gelding to a halt and gave her a bewildered look over his shoulder.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chapter Nine

“I still can’t wrap my brain around that.”
Mel released a soft sigh that was part exhaustion, part frustration: frustration at her inability to make any more sense of the crazy turn her life had taken.
She sat in the grass, one leg folded beneath her, the other extended because she had a cramp in her calf, drawing aimless patterns in a sandy patch of earth with the end of a stick. The sun was hanging low in the sky, nightfall a mere hour away. From her seat behind the barn, she could hear the hungry whickers of horses as Toto and the Danville brothers poured the evening feed.
“I know,” she relented.
Her friend Elyse made a tsk-ing sound from the other end of the cell phone Mel held against her ear. “You are not working at some dude ranch, Mel. This is insane.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mom's Birthday

Today is my mom's birthday and, like every year, I am reminded that I don't take the proper time throughout the year to really express my gratitude. "Thank you"s are exchanged routinely, but I wonder if she knows how much I appreciate her.

This picture was taken a few (maybe eight) years ago at the Olympic Horse Park, my stomach in its usual tangle of knots as Mom and I watched my competitor complete her ride and Cosmo watched...something, sweetly of course because he never did anything that wasn't done sweetly. That day, like all the other horse show days, Mom was my caddy and my groom: camera and test schedule in hand, a brush and a towel in her back pockets. She wiped the green slobber off Cosmo's mouth and gave his sweaty neck a quick brush down before we went into the show ring. Wiped the dust off my boots - because you do NOT go into the show ring with dust on your boots. She knew when I rode, in which arena, how long it would take to walk from the barn, reminded me during my warm-up that it was almost time. I was constantly amazed how much she learned about my sport, how in-the-know she was. She was not a parent who showed up ten minutes until my test in clean clothes, took her seat in the bleachers and clapped politely. No, she drove the truck, checked me in at the office (usually while I was having nervous dry heaves in the bathroom), went behind me and touched up the horse when I failed to get all the dirt from behind his ears.

She was dirty and sweaty and exhausted and choking down horse show concession stand French fries alongside me. Lugging saddles and bridles and reminding me not to get freaked out because that horse and rider ahead of us had executed a flawless test.

I could never have reached for my horse dreams without my mom. And she still supports me in everything I do. Whether it's my writing or my riding, whether it's something as simple as swinging by the feed store when I'm sick, or holding my hand when one of my horses is sick. She reminds me not to let what other people say get under my skin, tells me to keep going when I doubt myself. And for that, and so many things, I'm always grateful.

Love you, Mom! I don't say it enough, but I really, really do THANK YOU.

Happy Birthday.