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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Now available for Kindle

Keep You is now available for Kindle download.

Inside Scoop

I don't know if anyone else is this way, but I always enjoy when my favorite authors talk about their motivations and thought processes in relation to their various projects. Because Keep You is labeled a "contemporary romance", and because I know that tells a reader a whole bunch of nothing about the type of book it is, I thought I'd take today to talk about my own motivations.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A True Story: part 6

At his first show, Cosmo was Cosmopolitan again, “by Peron out of Celestia by Donauschimmer”, and we went down the centerline in the covered arena at Conyers to the sound of shuffling footfalls in the bleachers that were loud as gunshots. I had a nest of snakes in my belly, and the stress had turned my arms to overcooked spaghetti. Cosmo’s owner was watching down  at A with Mom and I had a moose antler Trakehner pin on my lapel that she’d given me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Big News

I've been trying to get a book published for three years now. Three seperate books, three very different storylines, but always the same answer. I tried to do it the "right" way by querying and obtaining an agent. I had nibbles on each book, but no bites, and I finally came to the realization that I was going to have to take this into my own hands.

My novel Keep You is now for sale at This is the Amazon US link, but it's available in Europe as well.

Gary Jones of Gary and Elaine's Photography shot my cover. I had this vision of red Converse sneakers done in black and white and red, and he captured it perfectly.!/GaryAndElainesPhotography

This project is a bit of a departure from what I normally write. It's a romance, but also a family drama; a story about kids growing up and realizing what they mean to one another. Like I told agents:

"Keep You, complete at 99,448 words, is a contemporary romance with a literary fiction feel. Told in both the “Then” and the “Now”, the novel follows the story of Tameron Wales, a boy who had to grow up too fast because his mother needed him, and who drove away the love of his life on purpose so that he might spare her from the violent threat of his father. Joanna Walker, twenty-three and youngest of five, struggling to make ends meet post-grad, still doesn’t understand exactly what happened four years ago when Tam left her standing up against her dorm building, in the rain, like something out of a bad made-for-TV movie. She only knows that her brother Mike’s wedding – an extravagant, farcical Irish castle ordeal ordered by his fiancĂ©e – will bring she and Tam together again and that no castle in the world could be large enough to contain the history between them…nor the lingering emotions. Jo Walker is the kind of girl who knows what she wants out of life, and she’s always wanted Tam, even if she kind of hates him a little bit right now."

I had so much fun writing this and I'm really hoping someone out there will enjoy reading it. I ordered my own proof and the physical quality of the book is on par with everything in the bookstore right now. I was so pleased!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I have an announcement that I'm really, really, all-caps REALLY excited about. I'll be posting it and links tomorrow morning first thing.

I do not have a future career as a model

For the record, nothing of this nature is ever really my idea. I hate pictures of myself. I'm picture-phobic.

But friends with a new photography business asked if I would "model" - and I use that word loosely because a cardboard cutout would be more photogenic - and they came out to the farm two weeks ago to take pictures. If you're going to be photographed, this is the way to do it. Gary and Elaine made it pretty painless.

Mom took behind-the-scenes shots with my camera.

The horses were afraid of the lighting equipment.

Riddick continued to get in the way.

Gary got the shots he wanted.

And he was gracious enough to do me a big favor. He took this cover shot that I am thrilled to death about!

Getting in on the testing phase of a new photography business is a great way to get affordable, high quality family pictures. Despite all my self-conscious fretting, it was definitely a good afternoon.  Thanks, Gary and Elaine!!/GaryAndElainesPhotography

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A True Story: part 5

At thirteen, I thought dressage was about as exciting as a root canal. I was pony clubbing and racking up 4-H ribbons with my Quarter Horse and all the top hat and tails extravagance of dressage seemed part of an equine cult that I had no hopes of ever breaking into. So, like every dumb kid, I turned my nose up at what I didn’t understand. I have since lamented my stupidity, but that’s a different story.

Cosmo was deemed – as expected – “unsalvageable”. His owner told me, in a conspiratorial stage whisper, that she was glad. “I want him to be a real horse,” she said, “and to have a little girl”. Enter said little girl. And thus I was given free rein to ride and rehab him.

Saying I had dressage lessons would be a lie. To begin with, I had rehab lessons. Kelly was undaunted by his fitness level (or lack thereof) and I was too giddy about being eighteen hands up in the air to be discouraged.

We made for the most ridiculous horse and rider pair. I topped out just shy of five feet; a soon-to-be-high school freshman with glasses and a retainer and…well…don’t expect any close up pictures of me from those days. On top of a ribby, patchy-haired bay moose who looked like he should have been hitched to a plow, I was every inch the barn rat with my reject, rescue nag. He had a long, long way to go before he was even sound, let alone fit for anything. And I’m sure that when he hit the ground twelve years before, all long, newborn legs and big head, no one had ever thought he’d be gimping along for a kid, a transition between trot and walk an applause-worthy feat, but that’s what happened. All he lacked in muscle he made up for twice over in heart, and a year later, he was back in the show ring.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A True Story: part 4

The thing about horses is that they are an odd mix of resilience and fragility. Injury and illness prone, they have a digestive system that needs careful maintenance and legs that – holding up over a thousand pounds of body weight – are always at risk for catastrophic ailments. A broken bone doesn’t just mean a cast and six weeks propped up like it would for humans or small pets – most often, a break is a death sentence. Tendon and ligament injuries can be career ending. Two of my current horses have metabolic disorders and their sugar intake has to be monitored and controlled (yeah, there’s sugar in feed, hay and grass). They can be the strongest and weakest of animals and most of the time, they don’t die of old age, but have to be euthanized.

So, Cosmo’s left hind leg had a big ‘ol crater in it. He slowly gained weight, and as the fungus cleared, hair began to grow. Flesh filled in his ribcage and I could no longer count the vertebrae in his neck. But that hunk of missing muscle in his haunches gave him the mother of all pimp walks. Rather than articulate his hock, the entire hind leg lifted as a unit with each step. It moved in a series of quick jerks. Click-click-click, and then clapped back to the ground. He had no pushing power with it; it was very much a peg-leg gait.

But horses are grazers, and much of their circulation and digestion depends heavily on continuous movement. Plus, like humans, injuries are less stiff and scar tissue more manageable when they get steady exercise. The general rule is: stiffness should be treated with light to moderate exercise. If a horse is notably lame – favors a leg in a head-bobbing, limb-dragging, obvious way – or if there’s heat or swelling, the horse should be rested.

Retired for a year, Cosmo had had plenty of rest – plenty of starvation too – and he was not, even with the clicking, peg-leg, lurching pimp walk, lame. Cosmo’s owner said that after his “injury”, she was given pages and pages of rehab therapy to do with him, but it hadn’t ever been done. My vet said a little exercise wouldn’t hurt. He had what the doctor called…well, to be honest, I don’t remember. Something-myopothy that was diagnosed by his particular gait and nature of his gluteal muscles. But, the point was, some rehab would do him good.

Twelve years old and really not in any position to rehab anything, I began the process. So, so many horse people are impatient when it comes to their horses’ fitness, but I was too patient, a trait that sometimes frustrated others. There was no such thing as too patient with this horse.

We started with hand walking. Cosmo – even after being failed by humans – was such a people-horse. He loved to be social, so he was happy to go for long, slow walks. Then we progressed to up and downhill walks. Trotting in hand. When I started longeing him, it was not in the traditional sense: I jogged alongside him so he could go all the way around the arena because tight circles would have been too hard on him.

Then Cosmo’s old trainer learned what I was doing. She wanted to, in her words, “come get on him and see if he was salvageable before she turned him over to a kid”.  But I was the one with the real trainer – the trainer who understood that things take time, who knew that under their shiny coats and flashy movement, horses have personalities and hearts. I have Kelly to thank for developing my attitude toward the sport: making the most of what’s in front of you, taking care of your horse is more rewarding than any award.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Poor Little Authoress

There's a chapter in Little Women entitled "Literary Lessons" in which Jo decides to greatly shorten and simplify her manuscript in order to sell it. Making it more "sensational" and less realistic. Her father and Meg urge her not to change it, sure that all meaning of the story will be lost without the details. Her mother wants her to learn the lessons of criticism.

I had the biggest smile on my face when I read this chapter because the publishing industry hasn't changed. If anything, stories are even simpler and more sensational.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A True Story: part 3

A healthy horse would have foundered on the amount of protein-rich hay and grain we poured to Cosmo those first three months. It’s always better to introduce any drastic nutritional changes slowly over time so the horse’s digestive system isn’t shocked, but the vet said we didn’t have time to play around with that. Cosmo was at least 800 pounds underweight, and our vet said that without an instant, dramatic change in his diet, he would very literally starve to death.

He ate three meals a day, a standard 8 quart feed bucket overflowing with Senior feed (high in fat and protein) rice bran, rice bran oil, a probiotic, vitamin supplement, hoof supplement and a joint supplement for his bum leg. He was fed pounds and pounds of alfalfa hay and was turned out in a private grass paddock. All of his dietary needs were being taken care of. He had a stall and clean water and, as farm employees, that was where our responsibilities ended. Owners groomed and exercised and doted on their own horses – we were simply housekeeping.

But it became apparent that, though his owner loved him and provided for him, she wasn’t going to be a presence in the barn. Enter a life lesson for my twelve-year-old self that would prove lasting: sometimes, when you do the right thing – the thing that helps someone – it pays off in ways you couldn’t imagine.

My mom went out and bought a gallon of iodine shampoo and two scrubby mitts. Cosmo was the most wretched, pitiful thing on four legs, and his head hung listlessly while we bathed him that first time, scrubbing at the crusty, oozing sores across his back.

“Is his owner paying you to do that?” someone asked my mom.

“No,” she said, “but this poor baby needs someone to love him.”

We started, and it was more Mom than me, grooming him every day. She attacked his rain rot with a curry comb and antifungal wipes and sprays. I had never heard that inhalation of such a severe case of fungus could lead to a respiratory infection, but Mom ended up with a case of pneumonia that needed multiple shots of cortisone to control.

While she recovered, I took over with Cosmo, armed with a paper dust mask and sometimes safety goggles.

Three months later – despite lack of payment, to the shock and head-shaking of everyone else at the barn – Cosmo was starting to look more like a horse than a skeleton. And he was starting to come alive. He nickered for breakfast and lifted his head when we called him; he rubbed his massive heads against our shoulders and leaned into the curry when we brushed him. He was big on touching – always reaching out to place his muzzle against some part of us.

                                    Cosmo (and Mom) after two months of all the food he could eat.
                                    We don't have pictures of his first few weeks, much to our dismay
My trainer watched the transformation taking place and asked one day, thoughtful, if Cosmo’s owner would ever let me ride him. I laughed – he was injured and half-starved, why would we even wonder that? But she maintained the curiosity. Opportunities to ride horses of his caliber did not come along every day.

I didn’t realize that, or even see the caliber, until he became strong enough to trot across the paddock. He was excited for dinner and he lifted his giant body, tucked his head, and floated across the grass. He could move. Even with his injury, still skinny, ribs protruding, he was impressive.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A sunflower, a sequel, and neglect

This is the volunteer sunflower that's growing off the back patio. The birds kicked black oil sunflower seeds out of the feeder and from one of them, grew this monstrosity. It's funny that while the carefully watered and pruned potted plants are dying, here's this seven foot tall accident.

Because I obnoxiously link all things to writing, I find the irony comforting. When I try to make a story happen - when I sit down and decide I want to write a specific kind of story - creativity abandons me. It's the accidental stories that have a way of growing into something I never expected.

Keep You was one of those happy accidents. Now, I'm neglecting my blog as I work on the sequel. As a reader, I like sequels, but only if they're well-done. As a writer, I hope I'm getting it right, though it's a bit strange to work on a sequel when the fate of the original hangs in the balance.

But because I've decided wasting time is not in the least bit fun, I've set myself a deadline. If a certain thing doesn't happen before September first, I'm taking proactive steps toward my goal. September of 2011 was a difficult month, so this year, I'm going to ensure it's a good one.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A True Story: part 2

We live in an age of exaggeration. People say “I almost died,” over a paper cut, and “I rocked!” when they didn’t. Which is why I always had the feeling no one believed me when I told them what Cosmo looked like that first day.

Cosmopolitan, eighteen hands high (that’s six feet even at the shoulder), sired by an Olympic stallion, shown through second level and trained through Prix St. George, was never destined for the Olympics. Genetics guarantee nothing. But he was a beautiful, high-dollar show horse, talented and intelligent. When his owner called looking for boarding, he’d been out of training for over a year due to an injury. It was a sure bet he’d never show again, doubtful if he could even be ridden, and he’d been retired on a farm where neither owner nor trainer visited him. He’d also been starved, nearly to death, and his owner was panicked about finding a place to stable him where he would actually be fed.

Cosmo, my mom informed me when she picked me up from school on the day of his arrival, looked like a Holocaust survivor. There was a buzz at the farm, a low-pitched hum that was emanating from the last paddock up the driveway because everyone was tear-choked and shocked by the “fancy dressage horse” who’d arrived earlier that afternoon. The vet had come and gone and left a list of the animal’s emergency nutritional needs and Cosmo’s owner had logged her credit card at the feed store and told my mom to, “get him whatever he needs.”

I was the only one who hadn’t seen him, and was dying to. Mom handed me a halter so long it could have hung around my neck and tripped up my feet and said that, even though I was twelve and tiny, it would be okay for me to bring him in by myself because he was, “too weak to misbehave.”

All the way up the driveway and there he was, nibbling feebly at the sandy grass just inside the gate, big as a brontosaurus with hooves the size of dinner plates. And he was ruined. Whatever he’d been before, however brilliant he’d been, he was completely, devastatingly ruined.

People say “skin and bones,” and it’s only true half the time. Cosmo was skin and bones. His massive knees and hocks, the knobby vertebrae in his neck, the hollows of his pelvis, each smoothly curved rib was stark beneath the leathery, too tight skin stretched over them. His hair was gone – a few tufts of red bay stubble clung to his belly and shoulders, but the widespread rain rot on his back and hips and face had taken away his coat. The fungal infection was so bad that half-dollar size crusty barnacles pocked his flanks. His huge mule ears flopped lifeless on either side of his head.

His “injury” – that we would later learn the truth of – was a great sunken cavity beneath his tail and dock: the meat and muscle of his hindquarters wasn’t merely atrophied, it was gone, surgically removed after a massive hemorrhage.

I didn’t cry, like so many people did, but the sight of him was sobering. He was nothing but bone, hide, and the muscle it required to stand upright. He didn’t even look alive.

When I went into the paddock to halter him that first time, he didn’t see me, his eyes like glass, and for one long moment that smelled like the stink of his rotting skin, I wondered how I could slide the halter over his head because he was much, much too tall for me to reach. He was taller than any horse at the farm. Taller than any horse I’d ever been in the presence of save Budweiser Clydesdales. He let me walk up to him and touch the end of his nose, and then slowly, like the effort of doing so might make him collapse, he lowered his mammoth head, pressed the white star between his eyes against my chest, and his brown, glass eyes blinked while I haltered him. It was the first, but not the last time he’d help me, and I walked backward down the drive in front of him as we began the arduous journey to his stall, awestruck.

His owner had tears in her eyes when she talked about the trust she’d placed in the farm that had almost killed him, the money she’d paid them for the mass amounts of food he consumed daily. She was not a rider, but an owner and benefactor, and her guilt was palpable.

“He won’t ever look like this again,” my mom promised her, and he never did.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A True Story: part 1

In life, I think it’s rare and lucky to be inside one of those Big Realization moments and be conscious of it while it’s happening. To feel your pulse pick up, the sweat trickle down your temple, to breathe in the sights and sounds and scents of that instance and to know that, in the grand scheme of your life, the simple act of being in that place is more important than what you are actually doing. The way you analyze your hopes and dreams, accomplishments and goals, is being shaped right then.

For me, the blood pounding in my ears was like a kettle drum. My hands went liquid soft on the reins. One of my Big Realizations took place, surprise surprise, on the back of a horse.

In 1996, Michelle Gibson rode the Trakehner stallion Peron to Olympic Bronze at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.
Peron and Michelle Gibson in 1996

Five years later, I met Peron’s son and I had no idea, laying eyes on that broken, nearly starved skeleton covered in rain rot, that I was about to learn exactly why his father had been so successful. It was the same collection of traits that made Cosmo, horse that he was, the most inspiring soul I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.