Gina McKnight - Author, Equestrian, Poet & Freelancer         USA

Delivered by FeedBurner

Recent Posts

Milton C. Toby
Teresa Ann Winton
Michael Sands
Nancy Kaiser
Tawny O'Hara


Animal Communicator
Graphic Designer
Horse Breeder
Horse Trainer
Stunt Rider
World Traveler


September 2012
August 2012
June 2012
April 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011

powered by

Gina's Interview Series:

Milton C. Toby

Welcome Milt!an awarding-winning author, photographer, attorney, and world traveler. Milt has written professionally for some 35 years: on the editorial staff of The Blood-Horse magazine (where he covered Thoroughbred racing in the United States, England, Panama, and Japan); a six-year stint as a freelance photojournalist living in China, Costa Rica, and Colombia (where his clients included Soldier of Fortune); and more recently as a frequent contributor of articles to The Horse magazine. He also is the author of five books about Thoroughbred racing and equine law, plus award-winning short fiction…and so much more….
Where are you in the world?
I live in Georgetown, Kentucky—spitting distance from the Kentucky Horse Park—with my wife, equine veterinarian Roberta Dwyer, and a complement of animals four-strong: Burdock, a headstrong Dalmatian that hates other dogs and was expelled from dog school because of it; Echo, an adolescent Doberman who is the only dog Burdock can abide; Plumpkin, an orange and white rescue cat who looks like his name sounds; and Sherlock, another rescue known to the vet only as “New Cat.”
Tell me about your horses…
We don’t have any horses now, but I’ve been involved with them in some capacity or another for as long as I can remember. I grew up showing American Saddlebreds, but I’ve also competed with hunters and in combined training and dressage.  I was a steward with the American Horse Shows Association before the organization morphed into the USEF and I’ve served on the Board of the Kentucky Horse Council and as Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine law Section.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing professionally since 1972, when undeterred by a total lack of experience I talked my way into a job as sports editor for a small newspaper in Aiken, South Carolina. Aiken was—and still is—an important winter training center for Thoroughbreds. My first day on the job, I was assigned an interview with Greentree Stable trainer Jack Gaver, about his horse running in the Belmont Stakes a few days later.   Problem was, Gaver was in New York, I was in South Carolina, and I had absolutely no idea how to interview someone—or, for that matter, how to type.  (Still don’t know where the keys are!)  I tracked him down, made my deadline, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It was a wonderful introduction to journalism, and I haven’t missed a deadline yet.
I left Aiken after a year to work for The Blood-Horse magazine in Lexington, Kentucky.  I was on the editorial staff until 1984, covering races all across the US and in Japan and England as a writer and photographer.  I left The Blood-Horse for six years doing freelance news photography in China, Costa Rica, and Colombia, and then returned to the States for law school.  I kept working as a freelancer all the while. I’ve been to the races on every continent, and I’ve thrown away a lot more losing tickets than ones I’ve cashed.
More recently, I’ve been sending more and more time writing.  I’ve done seven books, along with two years of monthly equine law columns for The Paint Horse Journal and three years as a weekly blogger on assorted equine law topics for The Horse.  I also interview authors as a Contributing Editor for the online newsletter of International Thriller Writers, and I contributed an essay about Lionel Davidson’s The Rose of Tibet for ITW’s Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, which was nominated for an Edgar Award.
What books have you written?
I write non-fiction, mainly because that’s what I like to write, but also because I haven’t found an editor or agent with the foresight to take on my two unpublished novels.  My latest book is Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky, which was released by The History Press in early September.  I call Noor the best horse no one remembers because he beat Citation four times in 1950, and set three world records in the process, but then dropped off the map for years. It wasn’t until a commercial development project threatened his gravesite in Northern California that Noor returned to racing’s collective consciousness.  Charlotte Farmer, an avid racing enthusiast, took up Noor’s cause and launched a one-woman campaign to locate his unmarked grave, exhume the remains, and move them to Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Central Kentucky.
My previous book, Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, also was published by The History Press.  It won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for the best book about Thoroughbred racing published in 2011 and an American Horse Publications Editorial Award as the best equine book of the year.
Earlier books included the Complete Equine Legal & Business Handbook and a biography of the ill-fated filly Ruffian.
Where do you like to write?
When I’m working on a project, I think about writing just about everywhere. For me, this preliminary mental organizing is the heavy lifting.  The writing itself goes fairly quickly as long as I know where I’m going.  I’m not a big fan of outlining, although I know some writers live and die by their outlines.  I use a similar technique called “mind mapping” when I have something complicated that I need to help a reader understand.  It’s a visual flow chart that helps organizes information.  For Dancer’s Image I had to condense two weeks of complicated and technical racing commission hearing testimony about the chemistry of drug testing into one chapter that made sense and the “mind map” helped me sort things out.
I get some of my best ideas when I’m walking the dogs, and some of the worst when I wake up in the middle of the night with what sounds like the best turn of phrase in the world.  For me, the latter hardly ever pan out when the sun comes up and I try and decipher the writing in the notebook on the bedside table.
I have an office at home when I finally get around to actually writing.  I also travel with a laptop, and on occasion I’ve managed to get some substantive work done on the road.
How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
Because of the subject matter, most of what I write is very research-intensive, and keeping track of information can be a real challenge.  It’s also an absolute necessity, though, because readers are knowledgeable and will call you out when you make a mistake.  For me, research often is the best part of a writing project.  Conventional wisdom is that you should “write what you know.”  I think you should write about something you want to learn more about.  For me, that involves a significant amount of digging.  It’s a great feeling to come upon a fact or a connection that you weren’t expecting to find.
There’s nothing more frustrating than remembering some interesting tidbit of information that I want to use, but not being able to locate the source.  I’ve got four large white boards scattered around the house and I feel like a stockholder in the Post-It Note company.  I try to carry a small notebook around with me, but I usually forget that, and I’ve had some luck with using a small digital recorder or the memo function of my smart phone for notes.  One of the neatest gadgets I’ve come across is a small, battery operated scanner that I can carry around in my briefcase.  I scan books, magazine or newspaper articles, and photographs, download the files to my computer, and organize them for future reference.  It’s faster and more accurate than taking notes.  I’m experimenting with Evernote and One Note for organizing information, but I’m not sold on either one yet.  So far, what works best is a big stack of file folders crammed with notes.
What are you currently writing?
I’m researching topics for a book proposal and for a few magazine articles.  I’ve always been intrigued by the kidnapping of Shergar in Ireland during the early 1980s.  He raced for the Aga Khan and was one of the best Thoroughbreds of the 20th Century.  He was taken from his stall one night by an armed gang (probably from the Irish Republican Army, although they never claimed responsibility) and held for ransom.  The money never was paid and the horse never was recovered.  The affair has turned into racing’s most famous cold case.
I’d also like to write about the history of performance-altering drugs in equestrian sports and about how a dozen or so landmark legal cases have shaped the way sports are conducted these days.
Do you have suggestions for beginning writers?
I’ve got a few suggestions for people who want to write:
First, start from the ground up.  Learn the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, how to structure sentences, paragraphs, chapters.  Getting the fundamentals right doesn’t guarantee you’ll be published; getting them wrong almost guarantees you won’t be.
Next to my computer are the two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the Chicago Manual of StyleThe Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words.  Within arm’s reach are a shelf of other reference books about writing, copyright and publishing law (I’m Chair of the American Society of Journalists and Authors Contracts and Conflicts Committee and I speak to writers groups about copyright and contracts), and whatever topic I’m researching at the moment.  Good writers break the rules all the time, but always for a reason.  It’s not a good idea to break the rules because you don’t know any better, or just because you can.  Break them only when the end result is better.
Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite authors for fiction, writes dialogue without quotation marks.  That’s technically wrong, but he knows what he’s doing and he uses the technique to great effect, and to win a Pulitzer Prize.  It’s okay to break the rules if you know what the rules are, and why you’re breaking them.  Walk before you run.
Second, write.  I attend several writers conferences every year, often as a presenter, and the mantra these days seems to be market, market, market.  That’s fine as far as it goes, but when you come away from a conference with a list of things to do—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, web sites, the list goes on—writing often is near the bottom.  Writing is a skill that needs practice.  It isn’t something you learn through osmosis. 
Third, read—a lot.  You need to read enough good writing so you can recognize it in your own work.  A few of my favorite authors are Mark Bowden (who wrote Blackhawk Down), historian David McCollough, and David Halberstam for non-fiction; Cormac McCarthy, Jeffrey Deaver, and John Sandford for fiction.
Finally, find a mentor.  You want someone who can read your work objectively, tell you what’s good and bad without the inherent bias of a spouse, or family member, or friend.  Then don’t be afraid to toss your mentor’s suggestions in the trash.   
Do you have any suggestions for beginning riders?
I haven’t been on a horse in years, but riding—like writing—is a skill.  Learn the fundamentals from a good instructor and practice.
Follow Milt… 

Teresa Ann Winton

Welcome Teresa!
A writer of fiction, nonfiction, narrative, poetry and fantasy, Teresa is a published author as well as a song lyricist. 
Where are you in the world?
I live in the Midwest, but my heart resides in the forest and hills of the South, USA.

Where do you like to write?
In my home and out in nature.
What inspires you the most?
Music, movies, paintings, and sculptured art. I also find nature and animals to be tremendously inspiring.
How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
When I want to write a book, poem or song I barricade myself at home and refuse to put it away until it’s complete. For instance, with the novel I just completed, I forced myself to pen at least something every day until it was done. If, however, the thoughts did not flow easily I spent my time researching, browsing art, listening to music or visiting nature to inspire creativity.
Writers are no exception to discouragement and life’s challenges, we all have highs and lows and still we have to carry on. I believe I was in training many years ago to become a writer because of having to do positive things when I felt lonely and missed my parents while living in foster homes. I was encouraged by my teachers and older wiser women to journal and write my feelings down on paper. Now it’s only second nature to reach for my many colored pens and express some kind of art when I need an outlet for life and its sundry challenges.
I think being in love with what you do is key and I do love to write and create art. I organize my thoughts according to subject, emotions etc. and then go back and select the most powerful of the ideas and regroup those into paragraphs. Sometimes a new story will just come to my mind, almost instantly, and other times it’s a long process that comes much later.
My friends are important in my life so I call on them when I need big time help. One of them, Laurie, gave me a box of gifts and told me to open one each time I felt discouraged and needed inspiration. She left further instructions that she would refill the box when it was empty…and she surely did! I believe it’s important to have a connected group of friends within your inner circle. Friends who believe in you, support and encourage you and can also be candid about your writing.
Above all, I believe in prayer, and lots of it. Before I write anything I ask God to give me something original to present to the world. I recall when I was penning my latest piece, a love story. I did not know what I was going to write from one day to the next. I simply prayed and then I sat down and let my imagination take me away.

Any suggestions for beginning writers?
Do not limit how you create and what you create. I place all my ideas in a storage box or saved Word documents and refer back to those when I want to finish a project or begin a new one. Pieces of the Pearl was an example of that, though the actual story took three weeks to write once all the tiny pieces had come together in the final product.
I found it helpful to interview readers and find out what they looked for in a book that draw them in and inspired them. I recall asking several friends about songs and what they felt made a song popular and unforgettable. I then took those ideas and formulated my own lyrics to a few songs I’ve written.
Most importantly, find your strength in artful expression and let that be the focal point and the beginning of a new piece of writing. For me, I am moved and driven by emotional storylines perhaps because my youth was riveted with them. So I use those in my writing. Most artists, when asked what inspired their work will invariably say, I dug deep within myself and pulled out all my experiences, losses, joys; whatever I could to help me create a rich and moving work of art.

Who is your favorite writer and/or poet?

William Shakespeare

Follow Teresa:

Michael Sands

Michael is a working playwright, poet/writer. His writing is warm, funny, heartfelt; about living and loving......

Where are you in the world?
  •  Woking, Surrey. About 35 miles from London.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  • There was no specific time as I always wrote stories from school onwards. But when I help out a local theatre group in 2002 then I really wanted my work performed on stage and they performed my 1 play in 2003 – exactly a year later.

Your plays are fabulous. Where are they performed?
  • Thanks. I’ve been lucky to have them performed in Woking and more recently in theatres around London. Some underneath pubs, which always makes it more interesting.

How do you store your thoughts and ideas for manuscripts?
  • I normally leave them in my head until I feel they are ready to be put to paper.

Where is your favorite place to write?
  • My local coffee shop. I have my own dedicated seat & table.

What is your inspiration for writing? Do you include your own life events?
  • I find family dynamics and world events very interesting and like to explore peoples relationships with each other.

What is it like to work with actors?
  • It’s great because I don’t want them to stick to the words on the page, if they feel another line would be better I’ll use that instead. I like to keep my work organic as possible, so it grows.

What do you currently have in the works?
  • At the moment I’m editing my first short horror film ‘Pizzaface’ which I wrote & directed and I’m also writing a new film script and another play.

Do you have a favorite playwright/author? Why?
  • Harold Pinter will always be an inspiration to me because his work says so much. Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka for the same reason.

Any suggestions for novice playwrights?
  • Just write, write, write. Get your work performed as much as possible and believe in yourself.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Hopefully I’ve had a TV series made or my plays are performed in the West End or Broadway. I Will get there!

Follow Michael.... 

Nancy Kaiser

Nancy  Kaiser is an Animal Communicator, author and freelance writer.  In her first book, she draws on extensive experience to share her personal journey and anecdotes about the animals she has encountered along the way.  The result is a spiritually uplifting book that inspires all who truly care about animals or are drawn to the world of interspecies communication.

Where are you located?

I was born and raised in New Jersey, USA. My husband and I had an equine hospital and breeding farm in central New Jersey for 27 years. He retired in 2004, and we moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the High Country. I live in Todd, which is just north of Boone with my two Labradors and a Swedish Warmblood horse.

Tell me about your writing and your book releases....

My husband walked out six weeks into construction of our retirement home. We separated and divorced in January 2005. I began writing a personal journal about a year later to understand how and why I was alone and 600 miles from everyone I knew without a home or a job. At the urging of friends who felt my writing could help others faced with traumatic life challenges, I turned my journal into my first book, Letting Go: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation,  which was published in June 2008. I released the book I’d always intended to write, Tales of an Animal Communicator ~ Master Teachers, in October 2011. This is the first of a series and shares the stories of the filly foal who taught me I was meant to be an animal communicator and healer and my personal animals. 

Where do you like to write?

I write in my office looking out at the woods that surround my home.

Do you write every day?

If I’m working on a book then I write daily if my communication and healing work allows me to. When I’m not working on a book then no, I don’t write daily. I write according to deadlines for articles I’m submitting, and my monthly column for  Stable Woman Gazette -  Horse Tales & Teachers.

How do you maintain ideas and thoughts? 

I write what I live, so I access my memories. For me, writing is akin to channeling. My soul guides what needs to be expressed and shared. Of course, once it’s on the computer screen then my left brain does any editing and organizing that’s necessary.

Who is your niche market?

For Letting Go, my market is anyone that is struggling to learn and grown from significant life challenges; unexpected losses due to divorce or death. It will help those who want to learn from and release the pain of their trauma as easily and quickly as possible. The market for Tales is anyone who loves animals. I’m confident that Tales will broaden people’s perspective on the significance of their animals in their life while helping them develop more meaningful relationships with not only their animals, but all animals.

Do you have a favorite author(s)? Why?

I really don’t have one favorite author. I chose books based on topic rather than author. I read mostly non-fiction, but anxiously awaited each new installment of Harry Potter. I have an extremely eclectic book collection.

What are your writing goals for future endeavors?

My next book, Tales of an Animal Communicator ~ Being A Clear Voice, will share the lessons taught by my clients’ animals. I know it will be created in perfect timing, perhaps 2013. For now, I’m focused on promoting the first in this series, so that the amazing lives and lessons of the animals that have made me the woman I am will be enjoyed by as many animal-lovers as possible. These remarkable souls have waited a long time for me to share their stories and I feel a responsibility to them. I want to be sure Tales finds all those interested in enriching their relationships with animals. 

Do you have suggestions for newbie writers?

Write for the “right” reasons for you. Write from your heart. Publish to contribute something of value to others not just to earn money. Surround yourself with professionals that respect your opinion regardless of your inexperience. Be open to constructive criticism and be willing to explore new possibilities and options. Remain true to your purpose and know that your heart knows best. Even if you never publish, the act of writing alone may be all you need. Writing healed me; publishing didn’t. But, know that the first time you hold your own book is magical and enormously satisfying. Each time you hear how your words have helped another, your heart warms and you smile. Those are the moments you’ll remember long after any money you’ve earned is spent.

Excerpt from 
Tales of an Animal Communicator: Master Teachers
I asked Bob what happened. What did they do to Love? Bob confessed they’d kind of forced and manhandled her, i.e., disrespected her. They’d tried to carry her. “Well, no wonder! Love needs to do it herself,” I declared. The breadth of her emotions continually amazed me. Love wanted so desperately to be independent. It broke my heart to know she never would be, but I couldn’t let her sense that from me. I’d learned early on how much she picked up from those around her. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. 

I continued to encourage Love to be patient while I applied healing energy and waited for the stronger cart to arrive. Again, I don’t think I can stay much longer. Is your mission done? No, not really. Didn’t you come to teach me? Yes. Have I learned all I should? No. Did you come to teach others? Yes. Boots, Bob, Kathy, the other communicator, and my chiropractor. Have they learned everything? No. Could you please be patient with people and stay to help us? I’m trying, but I’m so sad and tired. I don’t know if I can make it. If I can’t get outside, I don’t want to live within four walls, no matter what. I spent longer than usual, flooding Love with healing energy, trying to heal her emotional state as well as her imperfect body. 

Boots called to say the filly seemed really alert, happy, and energized – very different from the last week or so. She said Love was lying down just like a normal foal would, with all four legs tucked underneath her. This was a momentous first. I asked Love what had changed. Excitedly, she confessed, I can feel things in both my hind legs that I’ve never felt before. My bad leg doesn’t bother me, because I know where it is now. Is it painful? No, it’s just sensations.
The new cart still wasn’t ready, so we went over with Bob’s cart. I sensed Love’s excitement. Bob wanted me to handle her head, because he knew I’d let Love do whatever she wanted to. This was her deal. We’re just there to support her. My promise had been kept as I helped her outside. She was amazing – flying as fast as she could to the grass to graze. I was ecstatic to finally see her out of her stall. 

We headed back in when Bob felt she’d done enough. Love cantered back in, breaking another wheel and bending the cart. She did it on her own. She had an amazingly strong will and endless determination. I was so proud of her, and of us. Bob said she was the most alert he’d seen her, with a very normal head and neck carriage; all were encouraging observations. She stayed up for quite a while – meaning she wasn’t too tired. I, on the other hand, was exhausted from her Herculean effort. 

Her short time out had her sweating and breathing like she’d run five miles. I told her I was appalled at how hard she had to work. I don’t mind. It’s my turn to work. You’ve been doing all the work ’til now. As I talked with her, I felt a buzz down both of my legs that I interpreted as the new sensations Love was feeling. I thought I’d be happier seeing her outside, but knowing how many people she had to rely on was disheartening. She’d never be truly independent, which I knew was so crucial to her. We were so much alike, this remarkable filly and I. 

The next day, Love was exhilarated when I asked how her muscles felt after all her exertion. They’re a little stiff, but that’s okay. Being outside makes my lungs expand, which feels good. I told her the new cart was finally ready. I know it’s outside my stall. I told her we’d be out the next afternoon. I’m sure it will take some adjustments. Please be patient. Hurry. 
The stronger cart was donated by the generous builder. Love attracted the most wonderful people to her and brought out the best in everyone. The cart supported her weight and had wheels that swiveled. She galloped out, calling to the other horses. She seemed so proud of herself. 
Later, I asked what she was screaming at the other horses. When I told them you were going to fix me so I could go out, they told me people wouldn’t if it was too hard. I wanted to show them they were wrong about people. The older horses’ low opinion of people broke my heart, but I certainly understood it. I asked how she felt. Did anything hurt? I don’t really know how I feel. I’m enjoying it so much. I don’t focus on anything negative. Smart gal. Do you feel your hind legs? Not much, just a little. I use my hips to move them when I’m going fast enough. That’s why I go fast. 
We got Love out again the following day. She was elated, moving fast and attempting to buck and play just like any four-month-old foal. She almost got away from me. I was leaving for a weekend workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, the next morning. She’d be without my help the next few days. I’m not sure who was happier about her adventures outside, Love or me. No doubt Love, because I knew this was the best we could give her, while she had no expectation for her future. Animals know nothing of future. For Love, now was all she knew – an important lesson we humans could learn from our animal brothers and sisters.
Follow Nancy

Tawny O'Hara

Welcome Tawny!

From New Mexico, USA, Tawny is the author of the wonderful book 'Angels Come with Fur'.  A story about Gandalf the wonder Great Dane. A must read for every animal lover; recommended reading! A fascinating author, Tawny is a musician, equestrian, animal advocate, mother and fabulous writer who will tickle your funny bone and steal your heart......

Where are you in the world?

Well my mind and my heart usually ramble around the country sides of Ireland, but in reality I live on the backside of New, Mexico. I’m about 25 miles SE of the closest town, Deming, NM, but closer to a wide spot in the road called Akela Flats. I have a section of vacant land in front of me, maybe more, can’t see anything on to the Florida (pronounced Floor-ree-da) mountains which are almost 10 miles away at the closest point. The land is full of sage, mesquite and every kind of mulley grass you can think of. There are spatterings of tall yucca trees and a few cacti within my view. We have lovely bushes of crown of thorns that can go right through a steel belted tire. The ground is covered in different varieties of Jasper and white melted rocks that were the result of a small volcano around here long ago. Love those little bubbly rocks and pick them up every time I find them. They say you can find Amethysts here too but haven’t been able to. I’m one of those people who could stand up to my knees in arrow heads and never find a one. When I’m out walking and talking with Domino, my big Apache Rez wild horse, we imagine those days when Geronimo and his ancestors lived here without the white man to bother them; hunting and living free. I feel bad they took that wonderful heritage away from all of us. My people didn’t take from the Indians so I don’t take blame. Mine were being moved from their homeland at the time, also. Guess that’s my bond with the Native Americans, doubt they would feel the same, but in my dreams we are all friends.

You were in a rock band. Tell me about the band and your music...

I grew up playing Classical piano and then Hullabaloo came on TV and my Mother decided I should be a rock n roll star. She sold my piano to my cousin and I came home one day to face no piano, which I lived on, and a guitar setting there instead. It was a Gibson Classical and I hated it. I wouldn’t touch it for days and when Mom finally convinced me to try it I had no idea what to do with it. I bought a book of “The Beatles” songs and they had pictures of chords and thus my career was started. I wowed my close friends with my renditions of songs and three chords. One day my friend took me out to her back yard and sitting across the yard she yelled at me to sing louder as she couldn’t hear me. When I got loud enough for her to hear she went inside the house and yelled “Louder I can’t hear you”. I was screaming out the song by that time. I learned a lot from that and then I learned how to project. This helped a lot with raising my two kids because there was no way they could say they couldn’t hear me at any time.
My Mother was working as a waitress in a fancy restaurant in Riodoso Downs, NM, and I was her bus girl. I was 17 at the time and very shy. By that time I had begun singing folk songs and was madly in love with Bob Dylan. Those songs fit me as I grew up with old songs my Grandfather use to sing to me, from Ireland and some he had picked up in his move across the States. At one time I knew all 90+ verses to “House of the Rising Sun”. When the Animals, an Irish folk rock band, came out with about 5 verses of that song it became a hit. A hit that I knew and most lounge bands knew also. My Mom talked the guys in the band into letting me sing with them one night. My legs were about to shake off my body and I started so quiet people were yelling at me to be louder. When I closed my eyes and let loose they went wild for me so I was a regular sit in with the band on that one song. I never lost the stage fright. But if I stared at the lights or closed my eyes I could block out the crowd.

Later, much later and a marriage and baby later, I moved to Denver and there is where it all seemed to start. I was 19, my husband was in Germany during the Viet Nam war, and I had to raise my baby alone. I got a job at a corner bar singing. I was probably awful but I had some influential fans. One was a local singer in Denver and she took me under her wing and taught me how to be an entertainer on stage. She even helped with the stage fright by showing me I was above the crowd not in the crowd. I wasn’t there. She even helped me make some demo tapes to give to agents around Denver. One agent was a really good guy who told me that with my big voice I should have a bigger sound. He told me to get a band. That was several years down the road and several guitars later. When Ovation first came out with their guitars they were practically giving them away to entertainers to use on stage. That was my first 12 string and I’ve never played anything else but a 12 since. I made a small name for myself in lounges around Denver and one entertainment reporter really liked me and kept my crowds coming in and following me around Colorado.

When my husband came back I moved back to Albuquerque and worked at getting jobs around there. I finally decided to build a band and we called ourselves, “Make Believe.” The band grew to about 5 members at one time and back to 3 and up and down. No one but me was expendable and drugs or being stoned on stage was a way to get kicked out of the band. I didn’t give but one warning. We were asked to open for several big bands back in the 70s and we did a pretty good job of it. I found I could sing in front of thousands of people with no problem, but make me give a speech in front of 30 and there went my shaky legs again. Then I met a couple of brothers who were very famous in New Mexico by the name of the Wickham brothers or Hank and Louie Wickham. Louie was my mentor and would book me somewhere and forget to tell me. I guess I would have second sense but always managed to call him before I was late for a booking or I would read it in the paper. He got me in contact with quite a few people who were great in the money making department and he never allowed me to ask too little.

I had a bad motorcycle accident that ripped my face off and that ended my time with the Wickham brothers but not my career. I hooked up with a partner named Ron Bosserman and we were two peas in a pod. We came from the same part of the country and our styles were almost identical. He was looking for a partner and I was looking for a job after I healed and we practiced three hours before we first went on stage together and were together three years. We had a blast and packed the small lounge and bar areas so tight that there were nights we had to sing 15 mins on with 45 min breaks to get a turn around so those outside could come in. My 15 mins of fame. LOL Ron was Waylon Jennings' ex-bass man and it wasn’t unusual for Waylon or some of his band to stop by off and on. The night I met Doug Kershaw was the highlight of my entire career. I was singing along and looked up and there he was in the back of the club in a velvet suit. I couldn’t get a sound to come out. Thank God for my partner who took over and deserved the credit for getting Mr Kershaw there.

In between Hank and Louie and the accident I had gotten a divorce and then a year later I remarried and stopped singing, sold the bands I was managing and tried to settle down. Three years after that I was divorced again having remarried the same guy and realizing, Nope I was right the first time. He took all my money, house and cars and I took the kids. I got the good end of the deal, did miss the money some though. I went back to the lounge scene singing. I could make a lot of sound come out of that 12 string so I did all right by myself then something awful happened. Disco. I had to go on the road and after a year of home a few days and then back again, I quit and went to college. The entrance back into the world of humans and out of the world of entertainment has always held its share of what ifs and should haves and could haves. I have never made the same amount of money I did in the 70s nor have I ever had as much fun at a job as in those days of pretend. Not that it was easy. I would work until two in the morning, take about 2 hours to wind down sleep until 8am get up and take care of my one then 2 babies and practice, until school was out for my son or all day on my three days off. I had a woman who was a great fan of mine and was in the audience every night where ever I was working. One day, one of my days off, she had found out where I lived and came to my door. I opened it in rollers, wearing an old t-shirt, cut off jeans and had pea baby food all down the front of my shirt from where my baby Kasey had just spit them. This woman’s eyes got wide and she asked me if I knew Tawny Herrera. I told her that was me. She screamed and ran away. I never saw her again in the audience after that encounter. That side of what she mistakenly thought to be a glamorous life was too much for her. I still think of that and laugh and wonder about those who wanted my autograph those years ago. Wonder if they still have those worthless pieces of paper. Those music years were some that opened doors to meet people I would never have been able to meet as a human. I sat and talked to famous people, shared glasses of wine and opinions with them. Sat and ate a steak dinner with Dan Blocker in Cody, Wyoming. (Well, I had a steak dinner he had two.) I got to meet them on a one to one way, not as a fan but a comrade. I never asked for autographs. And there are many I wish I had asked for. Doug Kershaw’s for one. Damn.

Dogs. How many? What breed? Why great danes?

I’ve always had a dog. Dogs have always been my confidants my best friends and someone to love me when I felt alone. All kids should have an animal to love and confide in. I’ve seen my dogs of my childhood brutally killed in front of me by adults who didn’t feel animals had any value but to do their bidding. I have never felt an animal my property or owned by me. We live together; we love and respect each other. I join their pack as the Alpha and they accept that. (Actually they have to because I also have a duty to feed and shelter them and get clean sheets on the bed for them. I think they appreciate how I perform my duties.) I have always wanted a Great Dane. I longed for a Great Dane and one day I got one. A puppy we named Gandalf from the Hobbit books. (That was back when you actually read great books and I read those books to the kids.) He lived up to his name and was my baby boy until he died 11 years later. He wasn’t a “dawg” he was a member of the family. He and Kasey would argue and come running to tell on each other. When he grew up he would argue with his big brother James. They had a fight once where James thought it funny to tell him he wasn’t really my son. Gandalf whined all night and would only go to sleep if I rocked the water bed. I would slowly drift off to sleep only to be awakened by a crying dog again and have to start rocking the bed again. That was a long night. Needless to say their relationship was never the same. James moved out and when he came to visit Gandalf made him sit on the floor claiming the sofa or chair he might sit in. When he died my heart was broken and I didn’t think I’d ever be the same. It was almost like losing a child. 

I got a call from the pound from a girl who had known Gandalf. She told me there was a female Dane there that might die if someone didn’t come who could help her. I went in and saw a skeleton with black skin. I took her not knowing if my other dog would accept her as my other bitch was living up to her name of Taoiseach. (Tee shuck) which is Prime Minister in the Irish language. There was no problem. I named her Dubh (Dove) which means black in Irish but she was always a love and lived up to both the meaning and the pronunciation of her name. I had her for 8 years and she finally just laid down and went to sleep. She died as elegantly as she lived. She was and angelic queen. In 2002 I was perusing the petfinders web site and saw Gandalf staring back at me. When I checked his birthday was the same as Gandalf’s also. I drove from Cottonwood, AZ to Phoenix to meet him. When I walked in we fell in love. I felt a total healing of my heart. I couldn’t take him then but when I went back to get him he wouldn’t move from the door. He was bound and determined to leave with me that time, and he did. After that I adopted Grainne Na Mhail, (Grawn-Ya EE Wy-ya) or Grace O’Malley. She was named after a famous Female Irish Pirate who was another heroin of mine from childhood. Grainne was a hoot, my tattle tail and always “Jojo did it.” Jojo was a purchase my sister made and when she tried to take him back the man admitted that his prize Queensland bitch had gotten with a coyote and he didn’t want him. So I took him coyote and all. We call them coy-dogs out here. Then Grainne’s heart burst when she was three years old and so did mine on that awful rainy April night. I got another call about a little girl named Panda Bear, because of her markings, who was in need of a home or had to be euthanized. We made payment arrangements and I drove from where I now am back to Phoenix and picked her up. We spent a lot of time at the vets because of injuries and had to remove a toe that had been broken and gotten infected. But she is now my big baby girl. Oscar and Panda are the only Danes I have now and have passed the gauntlet of adopting Great Danes to my daughter who has two beautiful boys now and I suspect will continue where I leave off. She is so much better at it than I am. I just let them be dogs, but Kasey teachings them manners and teaches other people through her beautiful boys. Kasey stands 5’2” and handles two 100+ pounds of dogs with no problem. I’m proud my kids learned to love and respect animals as much as I do. ( Her dogs are whooshy city kids though where mine are country kids.)

Last but not least is Bodiccia (Celtic Queen). I just call her Bodie and she listens when she’s ready to. I was driving into town and saw a car stop and throw something out of the car. When I got closer I saw a little black pup sitting staring at the leaving car, from the middle of the road. I stopped and picked her up. I tried to catch the guy but he drove faster than I could do without a ticket. I found they had tightened her collar so tight it was choking her and after brushing her for several days about an hour per day and two trash bags of hair later, she was skinny. Now she is a happy shiny black lab who loves her Panda, adores big ol Oscar and puts Jojo in his place even when he doesn’t need to be. I think it took month or so of driving into town before she quit going to the floorboard of the truck every time we passed the place she was thrown out. I don’t know if she was hiding in case the person wanted her back or it horrified her thinking I was going to do the same. Nope. Every animal I take into my home stays in my home. I don’t throw lives away.

Goats. How many? What breed? Are they ornery?

I have one goat, Fion McCool. He’s a mix of goats but his daddy was a Boar Goat. Onery? That all depends on whom you ask. I think he’s my boy and perfect. That is not the consensus of the rest of the humans around here. But I don’t care and when he’s out and playing you must be prepared to explain in goat what your purpose here is and no way you are getting next to MOM.

I was at a friend of mine who raises goats for meat and milk. Fion’s mother had three kids and she rejected him. There is no known human reason why, only she knew, as he looked just like the other two, but he was smaller. He came running up to me crying. I’d say bleating but it was one long WAAAAAAA. I first thought it was a tiny poodle and knelt down to pet it and he jumped into my arms still crying and kissing me. I had to take him. That was a good decision as he was to be killed the next day. My friend didn’t want to kill him and was happy to give him to me. I took him home and raised him in the house with potty trips after the bottle, outside with the dogs. Panda adored him as she does all babies and he would curl up with her on the sofa either beside her or on top of her. He knew his bottle times and how many. It was cute to hear the little tap tap of hoofs along with the paw thumps. Fion got a bottle and the rest got nummy nums. He was born in January and way too cold to put outside alone so he slept in bed with me until he got bigger then went to a crate at night and outside with Jojo or some dog during the day. He could still come in sometimes during the day until he went on hay and off the bottle. Then he started making messes in the house and his first full night outside behind a locked gate on the deck and in his crate was traumatic for me and him. I was up all night checking my baby to make sure he was alright.

I have pictures of him as a baby where all you can see are his back legs and little butt with the rest of him under the tarp where the hay was kept up on planks out of his reach, we thought. There is no door on any shed he cannot open if there be hay or sweet feed on the other side. There is nothing he won’t have to inspect and drawer he won’t pull out. No bucket or bin is left unturned in his ever unrelenting search for FOOD. Fion now stands about 36 inches at the shoulder lives in a log cabin near his pals corral. I love to see him and Domino, my horse, walking side by side out to the pasture, like they are discussing something important. He is a picky boy and things people say goats eat, he won’t. He does love paper though and has been known to eat a bill or two. That I forgive and have no problem telling them it wasn’t paid because my goat ate the bill. When he was a baby he did tricks and still loves to stand on a step stand for applause and accolades of praise for his wonderful feats of daring. He will jump off with a twist and turn and come over to me to be loved on. On walks with the dogs he chases rabbits for a ways with them until he sees something good to munch. I forgive him for everything because there has been nothing more important than he is. Even to the tap marks on the pickup hood. They buff out and if they don’t well that’s what a pickup is for, not for pretty but for work. I put plenty of scratches on it running through the mesquite so his little tap marks are nothing. However not everyone feels that way. There is a religious group that quit coming around when Fion jumped up on their new pickup and did a few jigs for them. 

Horses. How many? What breed? Do you give them carrots and apples?

Welph, I have two. Not that I ever even meant to have one but God had different ideas for me and I now have two. One, Liffey an AQHA registered quarter horse may have a forever home soon and Domino my mutt horse will once again be an only child again. (Do I hear a WHOO HOO from the corral?).

My first is Domino. He will not leave me until either I die or he dies or we both go together. He is my baby. Domino is a mix breed and I think he has draft in him as he is tall and stocky legged with feathers and gentle as a lamb… to me. Anyone else must die or be told they might. He was an Apache Reservation wild horse sold at auction to local cowboys with brutal ideas about breaking a horse. They took the word breaking to mean just that. He was beaten, whippend, tied with a log chain for days to a tractor tire to keep his head down, hobbled then saddled and spured to buck and when he fell they would beat him with 2x4 pieces of wood. He didn’t break. A woman who knew less about horses than I do, rescued him but carted him from stable to boarding stable until the bill came due and she would get a Sherriff deputy to go with her and she would claim abuse. It wasn’t hard to do as no one dared get near him. His mane was matted to the point of appearing he was hiding baseballs in there. His tail wasn’t any different. When I met him he was at my friends who were boarding him for the woman. She pulled the same thing but being out of boarding facilities, she took him down the road to another friend who has a donkey rescue. My friends got together and the woman thinking she would come back and get Domino was surprised when she came back and he was gone. They decided that Domino and I were perfect for each other and a series of events happened and he is mine, all mine, and I am his all his and I’m the only one he allows to get near him. I get over under and everywhere on him, but yet to ride him. It’s been three years and when I first faced him in the corral I thought, “What the hell am I doing with a wild angry horse?” Now I know that it’s because I needed this new love in my life. He heals me when I go out to hug him the stress and pain just fades for a little while. When he puts his chin down on my back I know he is hugging back. His power is soothing to me.

Liffey was first a phone call early in the morning. Someone had called my rescue friend wanting her to take their horse. She said she didn’t have room for it but would go look at her. She said, “Tawny you have to take her; you said you wanted a friend for Domi.” I turned her down twice but the third time I called her and said OK. When we got to their place I saw a beautiful young horse, standing amid piles of scrap metal. She too was matted and the water trough was not only dry but had dry tumble weeds in it. They gladly told us that since they didn’t have any money to feed her they didn’t water her either. I wanted to punch the woman but I wanted Liffey out of there. Her registered name, I found out when they were giving me a bill of sale, is Go Jet Cash Deck. They called her Nifty. What a terrible name for an unwanted neglected horse. She had been standing in that mess for 9 years. When we opened the door of the trailer she stood in amazement then ran, fell, got up and ran. All day she did this with Domino at her side. The next day she walked all over the 40 acres with Domino still at her side. She had no muscles and for the first week falling was common. 

The evenings were spent with Domino laying down in exhaustion over in his special area and she would lie down under the shelter while I rubbed her legs down with liniment and giving her butte for the pain. I started taking Domino for walks and let her run alongside us. Her awe of the vast world was evident in a video I took of her. She is now healthy, hooves trimmed and rubbing legs too dangerous. She is WOMAN now and don’t take no crap from no one no mo. My little girl has grown up so fast. Now she has to go to trainer. Because not only am I not a trainer, I don’t want to be a trainer. I don’t want to ruin this empty slate with any blunders.

As a published author, you are a great writer. What is your book about?

Hmmm. That would be Mark Twain as an author. I like, no I loved Mark Twain most when he wrote about what he was doing or himself in general. However I was entranced for a whole weekend with his voyage in time in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I can’t say how many times I have read that story. My favorite was how he opened his biography with the line, “…I was born at a very young age…” He saw the humor in his tragic times and in times others thought to be tragic. He didn’t go with the accepted flow of literature but went with what he knew. He spoke as he knew best to speak and thus making his stories easier for me to live in with him. His country, down home style of writing is how I write as I don’t always use the best grammar when I write nor when I speak. I’ve had some criticism about how I write but I find it’s more from my American critics than my friends in Europe and Ireland. The comments I get from my Irish and English friends are far from negative on how I express myself but asking me to write in that style more often. Of course I will because that is the only style I write in. I’m not a posh person, as many will attest seeing me tool around town in boots covered in manure and mud with some hay on them and my old straw hat and sometimes, more often than not, holey jeans (It ain’t because they were blessed either). My truck has enough mud on it so you know about where I live, and I dress in layers and not necessarily coordinating layers. There is no way I can tell you a story through these old eyes and pretend to be a wealthy land owner with a string of well papered horses and correctly bred animals. To do so would come out pretentious and more than likely wrong and unbelievable. I have to let you see what I see through the only eyes that can understand me. This is what Samuel Clemens did. He wrote about the river that he loved and those that lived on it. I believe in his time, Mark Twain was more admired by Europeans than in Americans, so maybe I can be in good company. 

Do you have suggestions for new writers? 

Well I believed I rambled on in the last question and gave that answer. I can only really tell you what I like to read. There are a lot of books people rave about that I have trouble getting to the second chapter without yelling. Steven King has that ability to scare you to death just by reading and seeing what he is seeing. I had a boss once that told me to take notes on a project like I’m a camera. He told me to see it all and make it easy to understand and informative enough so that if I died tomorrow someone could take over the project and know what was going on. Gruesome I guess but that’s the way a book should read. It should make you develop a movie in your head that flows on with every period and well placed comma without a commercial.

Follow Tawny...

Morten Jorgensen

Morten Jorgensen  is an acclaimed Norwegian author who currently is writing his first novel in English.

A master of words, Morten is the author of "Sennepslegionen" ("The Mustard Legion"), "Kongen av København"("King of Copenhagen"), "Kalle Solflue og insekttyvene" ("Charlie Hoverfly and the Insect Thieves", children's book), "Bank" (thriller, German edition: "Rache auf Raten"), etc. 

Novelist, poet, musician, photographer, punk rock veteran, etc., 
Morten made ​​his debut as an author in 1984 with Shadow letter Bungalow 33 . He has published 5 books, written lyrics and reinterpreted texts for radio and stage, translated plays for, among other things, the National Theatre, written numerous book reviews and articles. 

I had the great opportunity to catch up with Morten on his return from his recent research trip to London and Beijing, China, for his forth-coming, two-volume, novel "Brent".......

Where are you from?

I was born in Trondheim, Norway’s 3rd largest city, population 176,000 (2012). When I was 13, my family moved to Oslo, the capital of Norway.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I started reading at 5, and it became a teenage dream. The conscious decision to become an author I took after my first book was published in 1984.

What do you currently have in the works?

“Brent”, a rather massive two-volume novel from the immediate future, scheduled for publication in 2014. A crossbreed between a space opera and a road movie, with Goethe’s “Faust” as backdrop. It is not science fiction in the traditional sense. No aliens, no laser swords. I chose the future because it gives me an indefinite and open canvas, and a large one at that. 

Where do you like to write?

At home. I travel for research, but I write at home. All my books have been written at home. Mostly at night.

What is your inspiration for your novels and poetry?

The word “inspiration” has always felt somewhat irrelevant to me. I am very systematic in my authorship. I planned my authorship in 1984 and adjusted its course, in 1988 and 1995. “Brent” is the final book on my temporary agenda. When “Brent” is out, I will decide what to write next. Maybe all the way to Tombstone.   Unless you count “women” as inspiration, that is. Authors are not all that different from rock musicians. Most of us start out with a romantic teenage perspective on writing, hoping for some kind of glory. I have been fortunate enough to grow out of it. But it is a statistical fact that I still work exceptionally well under the influence of women. I’m a sucker for female compliment. However, I never let it influence my work, only my drive. I think authors should be more honest about themselves. Not go all “Syria” and boast a lot of pompous drivel all the time when they talk about “inspiration”.

Besides, if you have problems being “inspired” to write, you are probably not very skilled as a writer. A pen and a napkin is all an author needs. A finger. Sand.

My only inspirations are language as such, the beauty of it, and my own technical ambition: The strive towards the smooth and the unique. In that sense, mostly dead, but also some living great authors, are inspiring. But I prefer the word “influence”, as I have no control over which authors who make an impression on me. Reading books by skilled colleagues is a learning process to me.

Do you use real life events; your own personal experiences?

I use everything. I’m a total magpie. I can use personal experience, real life events, whatever. But I find it most satisfying to write about The Other, Strangers, people I don’t know. The Dark. The Unknown. If I use personal experience, it is out of convenience. It saves time. And I have no “message” or theme. I find myself as a person completely uninteresting for my own authorship. Through “Brent” , which I consider the final exam of my apprenticeship as a novelist, my authorship is working its way towards what I consider riddles, mysteries, things that I don’t understand. I explore, I do not lecture, and my books have no opinions. Pingo ergo sum.

What suggestions do you have for beginning writers and poets?

That depends on what kind of writer you want to be, whether you want to explore mankind or (just) entertain it. If you want to write thrillers or romance, just go ahead and try. Think commercial, like everybody else. Suck up to your audience. It’s a good life. However, if you want to explore mankind, in whatever sense, ask yourself if this is what you really want to do. There are too many rehashed novels written in the Western World. Do you have something, if not unique, at least something special to bring to the public square, or are you striving for it, with a minimum of realism? The world does not need another depiction of your lost love. Write a diary instead.

It is a very serious craft. Authors are statistically prone to divorce, alcoholism, drugs, suicide, conflict, ridicule, estrangement. In conflict regions, it’s even worse. This goes also if you are a happy camper and irony is your tool for exploring man and his doings. Ask yourself if you really want to. Maybe you’d be better off as a journalist or an academic.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

Technically, I would have to say Shakespeare. It’s sort of embarrassing, in a way, even ridiculous. How can a poet born five hundred years ago, still be the master? It’s the DaVinci and Michelangelo syndrome. It may be seen as an indication of the validity of the theory of devolution.

My favorite writer, though, is Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett. I enjoy his brutality, his depth, his merciless depiction of man and his axing of language. I read him constantly, again and again. Norwegian Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun is another favorite.

My favorite novel, though, is the epic “The Master and the Margarita” by Michael Bulgakov. A book that contains everything.

Poetry: Besides Shakespeare, I have no particular favorites when it comes to poetry.

In your opinion, what is lacking in today's literary market?

Too much entertainment, too few watersheds and milestones.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully writing full-time with a generous budget to travel the world and explore mankind.

Follow Morten

Norwegian publisher: CappelenDamm, Oslo.
Editor: Harriet Karoliussen
International Rights Manager: Kristin Weholt 

Ann Marie Aguilar

Welcome Ann!

From Quezon City, Philippines, Ann is a fiction writer and a digital artist with a strong imagination. Her first stories involves an epic fantasy and a dark fantasy. She started writing in February 2010.  Ann also enjoys writing her blog, poems, commentaries and visions. She illustrates her own book covers, like her third story "L.A. Supernatural Detectives". Every time she writes a new story, she embraces a new genre.  Ann likes playing with new ideas.

Tell me about your writing… 

I started writing a novella when I was waiting for the corrections of my Thesis. My first novella was titled "Kisho Cross" with two volumes and the third novella was titled "LA Supernatural Detectives”.  At first I focused more on fiction, but now I am focus on writing on my blog, writing concise poems, topics that may help others get through rough times. Back in College I wrote short screenplays and short stories but I don't know what happened with them. My first novella is script format.   

How do you store creative thoughts? 

At first I like daydreaming, play pretend or sometimes I just lie on my bed starring at the ceiling and then it is either I write it by hand or sit in front of the computer and type it. 

Where do you like to write?   In my room where it is silent but sometimes even if the television is on or the music is being played I can write as long as I can hear my self think. As long as the sounds are not disturbing, my thoughts or the visions in my head.

What are you currently writing?   

I am writing "The Object Finder” a psychological thriller. 

Book description "The Object Finder"...

She seems ordinary. There's nothing special about her but she can find objects, the truth and the secrets people hides. She can't make you win the lottery but she can warn you about your near future though she not a fortune teller. You can either love her or hate her. She can be an angel or a bearer of bad news.

What are your goals as a writer?

To improve in writing my story, I hope to write good stories that are relevant, insightful and inspiring, though they are written as fiction.

Excerpts from "The Object Finder" 

Chapter 1 Excerpt

At dinner, they eat at a near by restaurant.

"How did you find me?" Fey looks at his exotically handsome face. He is half Japanese and half British-American.

"You know me, the things people hide, I always find them." Kanu shakes his head a bit as he blushes. She grins. "Oh, wait. Oh yeah, you don't know. Megan knows but you don't." She smirks as he laughs. "Of course, I know. Megan and I are one in the same. You know that, I am only pretending so that I won't flooded by e-mails sent by fans." 

Chapter 5 Excerpt

At eight-twenty, she finished getting dressed and walks towards the door. Her phone rings. She clicks the answer call button. "Hello? Who's this?" She hears a man's voice. "As if you don't know." Fey grins. "Kanu! Hi! I'm almost out of the door." 

She opens the door. Her pretty almond brown eyes gets bigger as she sees Kanu. He smiles. "Hi baby!" He embraces her and gives her a kiss on her cheek. They both end the call. Fey embraces Kanu tight. "Did you miss me?" She looks into his Hazel almond eyes. He grins. "I sure did." 

All of a sudden, she gives him a puzzling look on her face. "How did you get up here without Ben seeing you?" He grins. "He saw me and just nodded. I think, he knew." She sighs. "I guess Aunt Jessy told him about us." Kanu laughs. "It's okay. Don't worry about it."

Fey clicks the lock button and closes her door. Kanu puts his arm around her shoulder and she puts her arm around his waist. They walk towards the stars. He kisses her lips before they even reach the stairs. The walk down the stairs. They let go of each other as soon as they reach the ground floor.

Follow Ann...

L. David Ryals

L.David Ryals ....... a freelance writer and sometime English teacher living in New York City. He is a graduate of Long Island University's Master of Fine Arts program in English and Writing. His poem "Gentle Fire" was published in the September 2005 issue of Essence Magazine. Mr. Ryals is passionate about Cancer awareness; Adult Basic Education and Literacy. He leverages his considerable talents in the advance of several causes close to his heart. Subsequent to his first surgery, Mr. Ryals underwent a second thyroid surgery. Mr. Ryals is a thyroid cancer survivor.

Where are you from? 

I was born and raised in The Bronx, New York. I am a product of New York City's public school system. I've emerged pretty much unscathed.

What is your genre/writing style?

I write poems, essays and short-stories. I notice, though, that I tend to write more essays. Essays allow me to reveal more of myself than the poems or short-stories.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer? 

I had the idea about it when I was about ten years old. My mother is a writer, too. I would watch her do her writing and so, the ground work of it was laid early. Mostly anything literary came easily to me. But, the idea of it being an actual in the world sort of thing happened when I went to college. In all of my reading about the famous writers I liked, I noticed that they found a place to go and practice their craft. College was that place for me.

I went to Southampton College of Long Island University. It's on the East end of Long Island. The place famously known as "The Hamptons". I went there because it was far enough away from the city and the college had a Summer's Writer's conference where you got to study under and meet famous authors. I had managed to find the place where writing and the nuts and bolts of it would be made real. Today, Southampton College is no more. It is now known as Stony Brook Southampton. The writing program has been retained and expanded. Obviously, I am a very "be true to your school type of guy."

What is your inspiration for writing? 

For my writing, I try to use everything. That is, I watch the news, read the papers and just try to pay attention to what's going on around me. I people watch and listen in on conversations. I can be shameless. Not intrusive, mind you. But, still, shameless. Not being able to write is less about a lack of material and more about not knowing how to approach the subject. Should this be a poem? Should it be a short-story or an essay? Should it even be written by me?

Very recently, I found a way to "use everything" in my own life. After undergoing a second thyroid surgery, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It's a diagnosis that's an earth shaker, to be sure. I decided to use my training as a writer to help me through it. Writing help me feel as if I had a measure of control over my situation. And, it allowed me to help people along the way.

Sometimes, writer's fall into the "Everybody But Me" syndrome. That is, everybody, but me has a more interesting life or are doing more interesting things. Do your best to resist that mindset. Being able to look at your life and find what makes it interesting, what makes you interesting, forces you to sift the particulars and find the universal in your situation.

Are you first generation American? There's a story there. Are you the eldest child and feeling the burden of family expectations? Again, there's a story there. A lot of times, the story that's worth telling isn't the story that you think you know. It's what lies in the spaces of the story that you think you know all too well. 

Why is grandma always so mean? Did you know that in the "old country" she was a town elder; came from old money and used her influence, judiciously? When she came to America, she had to start over and work two jobs; learn the language and endure the taunts of people who assumed she was stupid because she didn't speak "American". My point is, when you go looking, you will trip over stories that are worth telling. Sometimes, the best stories to tell are the ones closest to home. 

Any suggestions for a new writer? 

I would advise a new writer to read as widely as possible. Do your best to gain an international perspective. Figure out why you like something and the areas in which it works or doesn't work as a piece of writing. I mean this for any prose that you come across. Adverts on the subway? Yep. Airport novels? Absolutely. In-flight magazines? They are gold mines of the power of persuasion. Critique and learn from everything you read and hear. Why was that magazine article unpersuasive? Why didn't that car commercial have you out the door and to the dealership? If you're aware of what moves and motivates you, you can move and motivate someone else or millions of someones.

Who is your favorite author? Why? 

I am a fan of Raymond Carver. in his writing, he made the mundane and everyday accessible. Sometimes, as writers we have the idea that the day-to-day things are to be avoided. Carver showed that you can take hum drum and show a microcosm of humanity. I like Flannery O'Connor for that quality, too. A fairly decent writer can paint a scene and make you believe it. The exceptional writers, like Carver and O'Connor, will hand you back your life revealing areas of pathos, humor and horror. You come away from their stories and wonder how much of the world aren't I seeing? 

Do you have a favorite quotation?

I like this retread of a Benjamin Franklin quote: "Who is so wise as to learn from the mistakes of others?" This goes back to my suggestion to read everything that you can and to read internationally. I used to tell my students that if they read widely enough, they could avoid all sorts of heartbreak and calamity. I would ask them, "Can you learn from the mistakes of your parents and friends and everyone you know? Everyone's life has a lesson to teach." 

Where do you see yourself in five years as a writer?

I have the desire for the writing trifecta: The Pulitzers in Essay writing, Poetry and Short-story writing. Aim high, I say! I expect that I will have completed a doctorate in English and Writing. I enjoy teaching and am looking forward to getting back to it. Also, for those of you considering a graduate writing program: Remember, that a program like that offers you the gift of time. It'll be two or three years when you'll be able to focus and improve your writing and develop friendships and rivalries with people who share your passion to write. Choose a place that makes you happy; a place where you can see yourself waking up and spending hours of your life with the same people and with professors you respect and who respect you.

Read L. David's articles and more ...

Ann Stockstill

Welcome, Ann!  

Rancher and horse breeder, Ann is internationally known for her Homozygous Paint Horses....

Where is Coyote Creek Ranch?
Coyote Creek Ranch is located in Winona, Texas, USA, which is a small country town in East Texas centrally located between Tyler, Longview, Gladewater and Kilgore.  I am approximately 100 miles from Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana. I have 165 acres of rolling land with 110 acres of pasture, 5 ponds and a spring fed lake that is 7 acres and stocked with catfish and perch. The remainder is in timber (a mix of Pine trees and hardwood).
Tell me about your life as a rancher and your horses…

I lived in the city all my life and taught middle school and junior high English and Science along with other subject areas for Pine Tree ISD in Longview for 29 years and later for Winona ISD for 7 years.   I had no aspirations to be a rancher but it rather fell in my lap when I married my second husband in 1993.  He owned cattle and liked living in the country so we sold my house in town and moved to the present location.  I bought my first horse, a Palomino gelding, about that time.  I had always wanted horses but never had a place to put them or the opportunity to own one.  My first horse, Skipper,  was a sweet natured horse that had been ridden by kids and then put out to pasture.  He was about 13 years old and gentle enough to ride bareback.

About 6 or 8 months later, we went to Idabel, Oklahoma and bought Peps Last Lady (AQHA own daughter of Mr San Peppy) to keep Skipper company and allow both of us to ride around the ranch and check cattle. About the time I bought Lady, I started noticing black/white paint horses and thought they were absolutely beautiful.  There were not many available so I started looking for one to buy and found a man in the Gladewater area that had a black and white stallion for breeding services.  I had never heard of a homozygous horse but found out that it meant they only threw paint offspring regardless of what they were bred to.  I decided to bred Lady to Sparky and the resulting foal was a black and white filly which I named Stormy. Not very original but she was born in February on a freezing night in the rain.  Lady was quite confused to have a black/white baby since all of her previous foals had been sorrel quarter horses.  It was really odd to see a sorrel quarter horse with a beautiful black/white filly.  I still have them both.  Lady is about 20 years old and Stormy is close to 14 years old.
In the next few years I began to look for other black and white paints and go to auctions in Shawnee, Oklahoma and Lufkin.  I bought several black/white paints including Color By Chick which had been bred to a double homozygous stallion, Summers Half Moon, owned by Dana James in Gladewater. The resulting foal was my multiple APHA/PtHA World and Reserve World stallion, Summers Chico Bandito Chico was the horse of my dreams.  Not only was he black/white but also homozygous for tobiano and the black gene.  He was splashy colored with one blue eye and one brown. Chico has such a sweet nature and athletic ability that I decided to send him to a trainer when he was two.  
Summers Chico Bandito has won World in steer stopping, heading and heeling and top honors and superiors along with thousands of points in heading, heeling, steer stopping, tie down roping and a few pts shy of superior in working cow horse. He has produced numerous offspring that have also won APHA World and PtHA World Championships in cattle events.  His foals have been sold internationally to Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Ireland, Sweden, Belguim, Canada and Mexico.  I ship cooled and frozen semen and hope to start exporting frozen semen to Australia in the
near future.
Out of the offspring winning World championships, I have Chicos Bandelero being shown in cattle events and standing at stud in Sanger, Texas. I have also owned World and Reserve World champions Chicos True To TexasChicos Delta Flyer Gold Bar, and Chicos Blonde at the BarChico's offspring are also being shown in reining, working cow horse, barrels, trail and other events.
I chose broodmares to bred to Chico that had World Class pedigrees and many have points and winnings of their own.  I look for own daughters of World Champions to get the best chance of getting athletic, good looking horses.  Chico's offspring have been blessed with his good nature and willingness to learn and perform.  Everyone is surprised to find that even with 100 horses at my ranch that they come to you wanting to be petted and groomed and we have no problem catching any of them.  They have been easy to train and even have been able to put as many as 10 stallions together with no problems.
I have also started breeding Chico to quarter horses with great pedigrees, such as, Shining Spark, Grays Starlight, Peppy San Badger, Hollywood Dun It, and Nu Chex to Cash to name a few.  I have a 8 month old filly out of a Chico filly that has World Champions top an bottom including Shining Spark and Nu Chex To Cash and she is already athletic and is has been a joy to start training.  She is bay and white with
one blue eye and one brown like her grandsire.
Chico has also been bred to Holsteiners to produce splashy colored dressage horses and hunter jumpers.  They are show stoppers in a ring with solid brown or gray horses.
In your opinion, do paints have a different disposition than other quarter horses?
In my opinion, paints have a better disposition than most of my quarter horses.  Their foals will come to you wanting attention where the quarter horse foals tend to be a more reserved and they take more time to come around wanting to be handled.  I think it is ridiculous for many cowboys and ropers to state that paints aren't as athletic or fast as quarter horses.  You can’t find a single paint horse that doesn’t have 
quarter horses and or TB on their pedigree.  The major difference is color.  I love to look at a pasture full of loud colored black/white or bay/white horses.  Their color adds so much to a parade or rodeo events than looking at sorrel or bay solid horses.  I think more should be used for mounted police work to help stand out in a crowd and they are great in movies; Hidalgo being one of the great paints in movies.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
My favorite place to ride is along a beach or a wooded trail.  Love to hear the sound of waves splashing against the shore or the quiet of a forest with only the sound of occasional birds chirping and the sounds that your horse makes as you move along the trail.
Where do you show? 

My horses are usually shown in shows in Texas (Ft Worth, Lufkin, Waco, Athens, Stephenville, Royse City, Katy, Houston) but we have shown in Monroe, Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi,  which also have some good paint shows.  Now that APHA requires paints to qualify for World  there may be a bigger interest in showing than since our economy took turn for the worse.   We show at the World Show in Ft. Worth along with the Stockshows in Houston and Ft. Worth.
What are your goals as an equestrian? 

It has been my goal to produce the best black and white horses that I can.  I breed not only for color but performance and disposition. I specialize in black/white double homozygous horses.  Many people do not understand what a homozygous horse is but they are horses that have been tested genetically and shown to only throw the paint gene so their offspring are paints.  Horses that are not homozygous
have about a 50% chance of throwing color and 50% chance of throwing a solid colored foal.  Horses that are homozygous for the black gene can throw black, bay, grulla, and buckskin but do not have the sorrel or chestnut gene. 
My international clients are mainly interested in black/white homozygous and preferably double homozygous horses.  They look at performance ability and the ability to throw color.
I really wish that our government was interested in helping ranchers with our drought situation.  Many horses are being starved, abandoned and sold for slaughter due to the expense of feeding and caring for them.  Horses have been a part of our heritage and culture for hundreds of years.  They are powerful, majestic creatures and need to be protected and given the dignity they deserve.  Lady ranchers could also use some help and respect these days to make ranching a profitable business to be in. 

Follow Ann

Marie Michlová

Welcome Marie!
Currently working on her new novel "Muses´Death", an historical novel to be released in June 2012, published by Torst.  

An equestrian at five years, she remembers her youth surrounded by horses, but now writes more than rides. A graduate of Charles University, Prague, Marie is from German, Russian and Czech descent.  For her new historical novel, she has been in contact with Sir Walter Scott’s and John Gibson Lockhart’s relatives...

Where in the world are you? 

I live in the Czech Republic, in Středokluky – a small village near Prague. 

A history major, writing history...tell me about your new novel.. 

Well, I have started writing it eight years ago and I have been improving it ever since. I decided to use some real historic characters and some made-up heroes; all my real characters in the novel say what they once had said, do what they once had done, it was very difficult for me to learn absolutely everything about their lives, finally I had to do my own research which was the hardest task – I am an historian so I took it very seriously.   

Nowadays I can share the whole story not only as a writer (my novel will be published in June 2012) but also as a historian (I will have a lecture on Scott´s life at Sorbonne University in Paris in July 2012). Briefly my novel is about mental changes in the late Enlightenment, Romanticism and early Victorian period, the characters are mainly writers - the real ones are Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, John Gibson Lockhart, James Hogg, their families etc. 

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas? 

I have no problem with that, I am constantly thinking about my novel, it is like my second life, I cannot forget about it as well I cannot forget to breathe. The best ideas I had when I have been very busy doing something else. I also like to walk alone and thinking about my novel. I usually project my novel as if it was a movie in my imagination and think “What will happen next?” “Should I describe the place more?” 

Do you write everyday? 

Basically yes, but obviously there were many days when I did not want (or I couldn’t) write during past eight years – for example when I had my final exams at my high school or university. 

Where do you like to write? 

I prefer my computer at home. 

Do you have a favorite author? 

If I have to say only one name I would say Erich Maria Remarque, I have read all his novels and his only play and I enjoyed them very much. When I was a child I really loved Astrid Lindgren – for example her novel The Brothers Lionheart

Look for Marie's new book release, "Muses´Death",  to be announced from Torst Publishing, June 2012.  

Jack SpyWriter King

Welcome  Jack SpyWriter to my blog of famous people! 

Tell me about your beginnings....

I was a rebellious kid, and left my parents' home early, to travel, working along the way, and enrolling in a university (mostly for the free dormitory lodging that it offered). One of the jobs I picked up was a government gig that turned into nearly everything a young man ever wants to be. It allowed me to witness the behind-the-scenes of political maneuvering, to see the human beings behind the public personas of some of the highest officials. That experience inspired my writing.

Where are you in the world?

I spend most of my time in the pristine Kawarthas [Ontario, Canada], a remote region where writing meets no distractions.

A former top-secret government courier (wow!); is it the inspiration for your novels?

Is it not true for most creators that we draw from personal experiences? From what we know? From what we are? If I were the world's greatest lover (not that I lack in that respect), I'd write tales of seduction.

Writing fiction is a way to camouflage ourselves. Some people choose writing to express all those feelings or experiences, which, for whatever reasons, they are forced to conceal, whereas others pour out for the sheer exhibitionist's thrill.

Whatever the case may be we write what moves us, whether these be unfulfilled dreams, or overwhelming experiences that must be unloaded to keep us sane.

Your novels are spy-thrillers. Tell me about your writing...

Writing thrillers is not an easy task. As any genre, it has its devoted readers who have certain expectations. Meeting those expectations, while maintaining some level of originality, which distinguishes one writer from another, is perhaps the biggest challenge.

Writing spy fiction provides additional challenges, in that much of what true espionage is about is... not very exciting. It's more of an analytical work than James Bond would have it. For this reason most espionage novels are pure fiction, with little connection to the real world of spies. Spying generally involves the retrieval of information that is hidden, or otherwise not available. The shootings, stabbing in the back, or poisoning, etc, while it certainly happens to spies, is mostly the work of a whole other department, and has little to do with actual espionage.

So, there you go, for the benefit of the reader, and to find a publisher, a writer of espionage fiction must maintain the illusion and perpetuate fiction. That brings me to the crucial question: Why do I write at all? And the answer is: The run-of-the-mill espionage novels are not satisfying to me as a reader. I write what I seek as a reader, but cannot find. The reality of the world of espionage is what I miss in spy novels, and thus I strive to fill that void.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

I write nothing down. I do not make notes. You will find nothing in my house that would indicate where my ideas come from. Drawing from personal experiences I am a firm believer in the old maxim, well expressed by Maxim Gorky, that that which we cannot remember is simply not worth remembering, little else writing down.

Where do the ideas come from? Again, this goes back to our experiences, to that which moves us, and which we need to come to terms with, to why do writers write at all? Beyond the simple need to satisfy our ego, many of us write not because we know the answer to what moves us, but because we seek the answer to the unanswerable, or where the answer is suppressed. Espionage is all about the illusion. Everything we think we know about it is either wrong, or planted by the services involved in it. I write with the aim to straighten that, which is purposely obscured. It is my guiding thought.

Where do you like to write?

Being surrounded by tranquil wilderness and the simplicity of living in a wooden hut is the best way to put aside all that which presses on us in everyday life, from work, to regular household chores, to the unavoidable hustle and bustle of a neighborhood, whether a large urban area, or a hamlet, where a simple grocery shopping distracts and affects the creative process in, well, a negative way.

Do you write everyday?

Writing is not a matter of choice; it's not something you switch on, and off. I feel guilty when I don't write. Days seem wasted when, for whatever reason, I am unable to sit down at the keyboard. If I were writing a diary I'd have to put down "Nothing" under a day when I wrote nothing. It would be a day wasted. However, it is important to note that not all writing involves putting together letters, and words, and sentences. As I mentioned - I write no notes, but I do plot, and plan in my head. So, even when I'm seemingly doing nothing, as it may appear to an outsider who sees me on a park bench, I may in fact be deeply involved in the process of creation.

What are you currently working on?

I'm in the final stages of two novels. Both require the last re-writes. They are a part of a trilogy of change, books challenging the established world and social order. As in all my books, these too are inspired by actual events. One draws on a true story of a plot orchestrated by wealthy industrialists to oust a US president who chose to stand by his citizens during economically devastating times, and the other one deals with a certain religious Order that goes beyond a prayer, as an ineffective way to rid the world of evil, and picks up arms instead.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

I would sooner mention numerous favorite authors, than a single one. The list of authors would be quite long, but their writing boils down to something that is seldom practiced these days (and is not necessarily the writers' fault) - a message.
I like to read to learn about how others see us - about world affairs, about the human condition - all seen from varied perspectives. For this reason I prefer to turn to writers from outside of the English language sphere. In fact some of these writers were responsible for my desire to learn foreign languages, to read what was (and often still is) not available in the English language. Writers with a social conscience are particularly dear to me.

Do you have suggestions for novice writers?

In these times when anyone can publish a book, and in essence become an author, it is ever more important to stay clear from conformity with "established" trends. These produce a plethora of forgettable books. The current fluidity in the publishing industry allows one, at last, to write and to publish what one wants, what one feels passionate about, without relying on what the publishers want. It's important to remember that it isn't the publishers who set the trends - they only cash in on them. You, the writer, are in the driver's seat.

Follow Jack

Shane Simpson

Residing in England, Shane began his equestrian career as a jockey.  Employed by Oak Ridge Quarter Horses, England, Shane is also a movie stunt rider, jouster, horse trainer, and much more.  I caught up with Shane between events… 
What is Stampede Stunt Company and what do you do there?
Stampede Stunt Company is owned by some very close friends of mine. They do live shows at country fairs, castles and at big events like Your Horse Live. They provide one of the best jousting shows in the country with some trick riding for more entertainment; they also teach horseback archery, jousting and sword fighting amongst other things at their base in Wales.

When I started my career with horses, I was a horse racing jockey! After I left racing to expand my knowledge, I learnt how to trick ride, joust, fall, sword fight, double for actors in films, fix problem horses, help with rider confidence and train western horses. 

Anything to do with horses i'll try my hand at!
So, you are a 'jouster'...what is like to joust?
Jousting is an incredible adrenaline rush especially full plate jousts with full contact! 
Did you participate in 'official' training? Where?
The only official training I have had was a 9 week course at the British Racing School, other than that, everything I know comes from what I have learnt from all the different areas of horsemanship that I have been able to experience through watching, doing or studying.
Do you have a rigorous training schedule?

I try to go to the gym as often as I can but have been slacking recently due to moving to a new area, but I’ll be back into the routine of going five days a week soon enough.
Do you travel a lot? Whereto?
I have traveled a lot, just not recently due to having my daughter, Maicie. I have been to Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Dubai and Japan! 

Did you grow up with horses?
No, actually I am the only person in my family interested in horses and I started riding when I was 13 years of age.

What breed of horse(s) do you keep/ride?
I work with Lipizzaner, Andalusian, Friesian, Thoroughbred, Dutch Warmblood, Welsh cobs, Painted horse, Quarter horse, Arab, Polish Arab, Hanoverian and my favorite Lusitano! Lusitano is by far my favorite breed, the stallions look amazing and in general they are really eager to please!
In what films have you stunt-doubled?
I have ridden as an extra in Clash of the Titans 2 (the second in the series, which will be out later this year and I rode in a sea battle), Snow White and War Horse. I doubled for an actor called Colin Morgan who is on a TV show over here called Merlin which is aired weekly on BBC1.

How do you fix problem horses? Are you a horse trainer as well?
Well that all depends on the problem, the horse and more often than not, the rider/owner. I suppose in a way I am a trainer, I have never really thought about it like that I just enjoy every aspect of horses!

Who is your favorite equestrian/trainer?
My favorite equestrian trainers would have to be Monty Roberts and Jean François Pignon. I have had the pleasure of working with Monty Roberts on a few occasions and learnt so, so much!

What can I do to be a better equestrian?

Everyone can improve even the best learn something new everyday about their horses but if i had to say anything, be patient and don't try and rush things - horses learn things at their own pace just like humans.

What is your dream job?

If I had the money, my dream is to open a equestrian facility with my future wife, who is also an amazing horsewoman, to take in troubled children, teens and young adults to help them through their problems by teaching them natural horsemanship and helping them to rebuild their trust through horses. 

Follow Shane

Gerard Keenan

Welcome Gerard!
From Ireland, currently residing in London, Gerard Keenan is a world-renowned equine photographer.  His stunning photographs capture the spirit and beauty of horses. His photographs are envied and collected worldwide, including celebrity buyers; his photograph, Horses #5, is displayed in the newly opened Ralph Lauren store in Singapore. 

A winner of international photography awards, including: World Photographic Arts Spider Black & White Award, B&W Magazine USA, and IPA (International Photography Awards) honorary mention, to name a few.  Gerard's work is published worldwide in various photography and art magazines. 

When did you realize you wanted to pursue photography as a career?

I was 21, having always had an interest in Art.   
Your equine photography is stellar.  
Why horses? 

I grew up on a farm in Ireland and was always attached to animals, but I found Horses to have an otherworldly quality which is difficult to explain. They have a calming presence and I understand why they are used as therapy with people suffering from mental or physical ailments.   

Do you have a favorite breed that you like to photograph? 

I don't really have any particular favorite breed to photograph as I suppose I treat them all equally.   

Any stories of difficult or challenging photo-shoots? 

Most of my shoots go well and the horses are always well behaved!!   

Your favorite horse to photograph?   

I guess I prefer greys and whites as they stand out better with the clouds as a backdrop.   

Do you have any tips for novice photographers? 
Basically you have to have your own signature and it's not wise to copy other photographers work. Follow where your heart goes.   

Do you have a favorite photographer? 

I have too many to mention;  Lewis Baltz, Jean Loup sieff, Eugene Smith, Alexander Rodchenko, to mention but a few.   

Where have you exhibited; any current exhibits in the world? 

I have had no major exhibition as yet, but am hoping to show in London in 2012. 

Follow Gerard and view his beautiful photography

COPYRIGHT All images are copyright of Gerard Keenan. 
Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited

Marla Todd

Welcome Marla!

From Orangevale, California, USA, Marla is an art director/illustrator/designer, writing ad copy and marketing material, as well as an accomplished writer - Marla has six novels up her sleeve!  Girl in the Woods is in the works, an epic fantasy romance adventure, to be released soon! Marla likes to write alongside her cat 'Oscar'. She is an avid photographer as well, and loves to take photos of her lovely daughter, Charlotte. 

Marla and I are in the Wolfpack Writing Group, a daily symposium of phenomenal writers.  We share accomplishments, challenges, artistic endeavors, and more! So happy you are here, Marla....a howl for the pack!

Tell me about yourself....

I draw. I paint. I cut intricate things out of paper. It is what I do and who I am. I tell jokes and it doesn’t take much to make me laugh. I live for art and keeping life creative. I write stories of adventure. I read about 5 books a month (mostly fiction). I figure out the history and stories of historical artifacts. I love anything to do with costume, and history and art and adventure and good wine. I love to walks by the river, road trips, visits to the frog pond and watching the stars. I collect old photographs from the 1840’s – 80’s. I also collect old friends and new, because like the antique artifacts, they all have wonderful stories and bring beauty and joy.
What is your inspiration for writing?

It’s a lot cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun. When I write I keep a sense of my own personal self. I've always worked for others doing design work or writing, but my own writing, my fiction and essays are my own. I don’t share any of my own art or writing with anyone in my “professional” life as an art director/designer. It is my secret life.
What keeps me writing is that it is entertainment for myself, then for others. It is fun. My dad always told us stories he’d just make up off the top of his head. He was always a great science fiction and fantasy reader as well. We’d spend a lot of time discussing books and speculating on time travel and sharing stories. Story telling was part of my life from the start.
I started out years ago writing plays, poetry and essays. I had several essays published, plays produced and read one of my bits on NPR. Now I’m writing novels and short stories. Writing about relationships and characters and dialog is great. Start with a great cast of characters and then the plot will evolve around them.
Until about 8 years ago I’d more or less stopped writing seriously. There were too many emotional roadblocks. Everything I wrote was serious and not even fun for me. I became one of those brooding gloomy writers. I appreciate good gloom, but I’m just not good at it.
Writing started again when I wrote a story sort of as a joke for a friend. Eight years later that turned into 700 pages and a sequel. A lot of old ideas came to the surface as well as new stories and books. I started to have fun again. I brought the humor and light back into my writing.
A big inspiration is the people in my life. My husband Steve Kings and daughter Charlotte, my mom, my friends – especially Becky Miller who has pushed and pushed me over the years, both of my Kims, and of course my dear dear amazing creative writer friends in the Wolfpack [a writer's symposium] who have been such an inspiration and kept me going on those dark and stormy nights.  I’ve never had so many people cheer me on and encourage me. And this time there is no negativity or pushing. This is my time as a writer – there are no limits this time.
Another inspiration is photography and art. I collect 19th century photography. I’m always looking for faces of my characters in old images, or photos with a story behind them. I’ll do the same with art – my own or the art of others.
How do you collect ideas?

Collect is a great term for ideas! I have no idea how I collect ideas. I’ve found that anything and everything can spark the idea for a story. I’ll drive down the road and see a roadside memorial at an accident scene then think it would make a great story about some kids who put up fake memorials, then that thought moves on to something else and by the time I’m done I might be writing a science fiction story from the Civil War.
I also get ideas from my own life, the stories of others and history. I don’t write historic fiction but I’m inspired by it.

Do you have a favorite place for writing?

I write in my head on walks. I used to listen to audio books but now I play my own stories and work out characters, dialogue and plots. Then I key it in.
My computer is by a fish tank so I hear the sound of the water, sort of like a calming fountain. Or I like to take the laptop outside when the weather is nice.
Any suggestions for novice writers?

Have the proper tools ready and available at all times (a computer that works, perfect fountain pen, a notebook in your car or purse for ideas, sharpened pencils). 

Write all the time – in the computer, on paper, in your head.

Don’t worry about what others think right now – just write.

Hone your craft. Learn to use the words, like you’d learn about cooking or fine wine. Savor it.

Don’t be too into yourself – look at others and the world around you for inspiration. It will open up your eyes.

READ – the more I read the more I write. Be it a National Geographic magazine, a historic novel, science fiction, murder mystery, and styles and genera I would NEVER write, it doesn't matter – the more you read the more you’ll write. It is yoga for your brain.

Most of all – suffering for your art is not a requirement and I don’t recommend it. Have fun. You don’t HAVE to be serious. Yes, serious about your writing but not about your subject matter. HAVE FUN.

What are you currently writing?

Six novels and several short stories.
Family Tree (working title): A novel about a girl named Liz, who runs from an abusive husband into the arms of a serial killer, then escapes to find a new face, a lot of money, a new life and a group of eccentric friends who have secrets of their own. In the meantime her ex-husband becomes more famous by the day building a career on her disappearance.
Misplaced Souls: A ghost story/novel. Sort of a New Wave Ghost and Mrs. Muir murder mystery romance.
I have several others in the work as well including a book based on camping trips I used to take once a month with girlfriends when I was in my 20’s (rain or shine).
A few short romantic stories are also in the works.
What are your future plans as an artist and a writer?

To keep writing. I have pages and books of funny graphic novel sort of things I used to play around with. I’d like to complete one.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

I love to read.  I go nuts if I don’t have a book or two going. A few of my favorites are, of course Mark Twain,  John Sanford (Prey series) is at the top of the list. Nelson De Mille, Matthew Pearl, Martha Grimes, Tana French, Douglas Adams, to name a few.  I also have a few guilty pleasures – writers that I won’t admit reading to most people.  There are so many good authors writing now. The authors I like the most are those with great characters I can relate to or at least find interesting, good dialogue and a bit of humor and/or romance thrown in.
My feeling is a good writer can put a character in any situation and run with it.
Do you have a favorite quote that sums up who you are as an artist and a writer?

 “Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use.” Mark Twain A Tramp Abroad
“I may not have gone where I intended to go but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” Douglas Adams

Girl in the Woods- Prologue

Alexander Byron a Prince of the Northwestern Kingdom is told that he must marry a Real Princess. Having been engaged three times already to Real Princesses he is ready to give up when Princess Candi shows up. But Candi isn't all she seems to be. On an attempt to get away from the pressures of it all Alex goes on a diplomatic mission where he meets Olivia Snowhawk, a child of war and wizardry, and the President of the powerful mulit-national corporation Universal Technologies International. She is anything BUT a perfect princess. Olivia is a woman of frightening mysteries and secrets unlike anything he could ever imagine. In a world where technology and wizardry are both common facts of everyday life the pair figure out what it really means to love heart and soul.


Excerpt from Night at the Crest
by Marla Todd 

Chapter 1 .....
He loved the drive through the rolling oak forested hills. He spent every weekend he could with his cousin Ruth. But this weekend might be rough. He was going to ask his family about his latest job offer. This was his dream job. He’d all but signed the contract. Everyone would be there to give him their own jaded opinions. Most wouldn’t be too thrilled.

He looked over at beautiful golden Lorna dozing in the seat next to him. She was his older sister, his mentor, the one who kept him grounded. He imagined her with a halo and beautiful wings spread out in shining glory. Then he wondered if she was sleeping with her new best friend, a plastic surgeon named, Dennis O’Brian. Denny, as she called the man was nice enough, but suddenly Jonathan felt like he wanted to beat the crap out of the guy if he ever touched Lorna. Then he’d torture him and flay off his skin leaving him a quivering mass of, well, whatever. He had to stop being so protective of his sisters.

Jonathan’s mind skipped back Dallas Andrews. He felt sick to his stomach. It had been unpleasant business, but somebody had to do it. After all it wasn’t easy being angel. 


Joan Ranquet

Welcome Joan! 
Joan is an Animal Communicator and author of Communication with all Life, Revelations of an Animal Communicator (Hay House).  She is the founder of Communication with all Life University. Through private sessions, workshops, teleseminars and speaking events, Joan facilitates a deepening of the human/animal connection. Joan was chosen by MSN as one of the “Top 25 People Who Do What They Love” and has been featured on Dateline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Animal Planet to name a few.  Her healing CD, Animal Alchemy Energy Work for Animals and Their Humans, will be out in 2012, along with her newest book, Energy Healing for Animals.  

Where are you located?

I grew up outside the Seattle, Washington, USA, area in an place that was once rural and is now quite suburban!  I look at people’s homes now and remember ripping through what is now their living room at about 35 mph bareback on my horse - Honeyhorse! 

Tell me about your writing and your book releases....

My first book is Communication with all Life, Revelations of an Animal Communicator, published by Hay House.  I should really back up and tell the whole story at this point.  When I was seven years old I wrote plays to perform with the neighbors, the proceeds were to go to buying a horse.  Thankfully that year I won a horse and the world was spared my bad singing.  I always kept a diary, then a journal.  I wrote poems, short stories, and plays in college (I was a theatre major). One of my plays was in my college's Literary Magazine Harbinger; all the other [plays] were produced.  I wrote performance pieces in New York City and Los Angeles.  I won Critics Choice at the Edinburgh Theatre Fringe Festival for a play that I co-wrote, co-performed and co-produced called “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World, a Two Woman Show”, with Karen Loftus.  I then wrote screenplays and in 1996, when I had an about-face turn of careers, I became an animal communicator. I started writing about my experiences.  I knew Hay House would publish my first Animal Communication book and I wrote that on a post-it-note in 1998.  They finally found me about six years later and published my first book.  My new book will be out in 2012 called Energy Healing for Animals, Techniques to Enhance the Health, Longevity and Wellness of the Animals We Love, published by Sounds True. 

Where do you like to write?

I love to write in my office which has a view right into the pasture where my horses are.  Across the pasture the ravens have a big nest and are always up to something., and I watch other wildlife float through.
Do you write everyday?

In a perfect world, yes. Sometimes that doesn’t look as romantic as writing great philosophical pieces or poems about the animals.  . . . . sometimes writing is reminding a client to keep the hope up in an e-mail or thanking someone for a profound experience.  I like to write in my journal if I haven’t carved out time to write or rewrite a current piece.  Thankfully when you do write everyday – it isn’t something you have to stop and think about.
How do you maintain ideas and thoughts?
I keep a journal for starters.  A lot of ideas get flushed out in that.  If I’m driving, I’ll write on a bank statement if I have to something like “forgiveness piece, Michael Vick’s dogs….” And then thankfully, I have an excellent memory for the imagery I created in the daydream.  I also have notes in computers for each months newsletter.  So I already have next months and the following months newsletter etched out for my clients and readers.  Where my memory fails me sometimes is what [file name] I’ve saved my brilliant idea under in the computer!!!!!  So I have learned to keep a list of ideas.

What/who is your niche market?

While on the one hand my market is anyone with an animal, I have a couple of niche markets.  One is anyone with an animal – I have something helpful to say about creating connection whether you believe in Animal Communication or not.  After 16 years of being an Animal Communicator, I have 16 years worth of working with behavior and wellness, so I have a lot to offer anyone with an animal.  Anyone with an animal with a challenge is definitely my niche market!!  I have a healing background – so people interested in alternative health. I also have had a lot of high level competitors as clients –horses in the Olympics, dogs at Westminster and of course I love helping the kid in 4-H that wants a better connection with their barrel racing partner.  I love to get the horse and rider or the dog and handler truly connected on the same page and moving forward as one in competition.  And in general – my goal is always household or barnyard harmony!!
Do you have a favorite author(s)? Why?

As an Actress and writer in the theater, I love Chekhov, Gurney, Tennessee Williams, William Inge to name a few.  And of animal books – J. Allen Boone – Kinship with all Life (he was a screenwriter and basically an animal communicator of the 1950’s – 1960’s.  Machelle Small Wright – Behaving as if the God in All Life Matters – I love this because she had so much trauma in her life and really turned it around for a spiritual relationship with animals.  I love books like Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand did an amazing job of recalling the period in history and why the world needed a horse like Seabiscuit.  Healing books – my favorite is still Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss – I was lucky enough to study with her for a few years about 13 years ago.  My favorite Spiritual book is Living Buddha, Living Christ by Tich Nhat Hanh.  Authors of novels range from the Brontes to Salinger. 

What are your writing goals for future endeavors?

I have 2 or 3 books in general I want to write, and two documentaries I want to write and direct.  I have some self-published healing CD/workbooks coming out immediately and hopefully a DVD!!  I also blog – not regularly enough – partly because I’m currently in a rewrite for the new book.

Do you have suggestions for newbie writers?

Just keep writing, edit later.  Get it down on paper, you can always make it pretty later!!  Try to write everyday – that way it isn’t something that becomes overwhelming so you just don’t do it.  Find a quiet time in the day to connect with yourself and write.  Also, if you are a horse or animal person, have some outings each day – sometimes your best material comes on a dog walk or grooming a horse!!

An excerpt from 
Communication with all Life, Revelations of an Animal Communicator
published by Hay House.  

From the Chapter: Setting the Tone
Thoughts, Memories, and Deep-Seated Belief Systems

   "So many times horse trainers tell you 'This is too much horse for you'. As long as your safety isn’t jeopardized, rather than look for another horse, look for a different trainer. Dog trainers may say, 'Oh, you’re never going to accomplish this'.  Get a different trainer. Get a trainer that supports your belief system: you have a right to love and to dream big.
      Cindy called me because her horse just wasn’t cutting it. She had a barn full of great barrel racers and she had convinced herself that this one horse just didn’t want to do it. He liked barrel racing, he told me, but I got a sense he was truly a late bloomer. Work was fun, but why did he have to do it all of the time?
      He was naturally talented, so if she could just take her mind out of it and make it more fun, this would be a breeze for him. She had a tough time getting her mind out of it as many of the horses followed her mental track. Because she had a knack for finding competitive horses that loved this sport, she had a lot at stake. Yet this one horse was providing her with a sense of failure so strong that she couldn’t get her belief out of the way that this horse could not do it. So she’d get out there with him and he’d fulfill that negative prophecy.
      When we had our session, we talked a lot about her belief system about him and that she had to get her mind out of the way. So the next barrel race, she spent her time in the warmup ring and even in the box saying out loud: 'La, la, la, la, la, la….' Like a little kid, reminding her mind that she couldn’t hear it. They had their best time ever!"
Connect with Joan
For Sessions, Workshops, upcoming events and Dolphin Trips:                                                                                                                                              
Check out:  Random Thoughts of an Animal Communicator:                      
The best  Supplements/feed for all life:

Michael Forester

Michael Forester is 
Chief Executive Officer of Equi-Earth, a division of New World Equine, an aspiring company pursuing excellence in equine care as well as state-of-the-art global equine acquisitions.  Currently surrounded by Arabian horses, Michael is an all-around equestrian.  He is also involved in networking kids with horses, an honorable vocation….
Where do you live?
I am originally from Western Wisconsin, USA, just across the State border from Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota. My official current residence is Las Vegas Nevada. I am currently looking for farms in both California and Kentucky.

When did you meet your first horse? 
Before I could walk. I was introduced to horses through a local friend / local who had horses and showed them in parade with his authentic stagecoach, which is currently in a museum.

How long have you been an equestrian?
I have had and worked with horses since I was 9 years old.  I currently represent top quality Arabian horses all over the world. I am putting together a new way to market Arabian horses that will be a game changer, reduce the cost of both selling as well as searching for purchases of Arabian horses (other breeds to eventually follow), the best part is that it would add, not subtract from, what others are already doing ... I am also putting together a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) to purchase LARGE equine related proprieties. I am talking about more than just a farm, taking advantage of the opportunities in the market with respect to value of acquisition which could pay for the acquisition in double quick time.
Who is your favorite horse trainer/method?
I have many that I like Bob Battaglia, a true horse-person's horseman; Shelia Varian, even though she does not show any more I love the way she never forgets that you need to make room for a horse to be a horse and that includes all of the champions she has bred throughout the decades; Michael Byatt, for the horseman he has become as well as an ambassador around the world that he is for the breed; Jay Allen, for the thoroughness in the job that he does in preparing a horse along with what he has done as the president of the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona.
I think Jeff & Jerry Schall do a good job, as well as Sandro Pinha.  Jenna Ball is someone people should consider as she is an up-in-comer in the industry (and I can certainly vouch for her family’s character personally)... so many more...
What is your favorite horse breed? Why?
The Arabian horse, for it's beauty, purity of blood, it's soulfulness that you can see in the eyes. They raise your spirits, inspire your creativity, and they help people raise their children, making them responsible for an animal they respect and helps them to create a positive identity for themselves in the show ring.

Do you spend long hours in the horse barn?
Yes, I am helping a friend take care of 35 Straight Egyptian (Al Khamsa) Arabians, plus one Polish bred Arabian. They were severely neglected for ten months.  They are all healthy now with some of them selling half way around the world.
Do you have a favorite horse quotation?  
“For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the king was lost; for the lack of a king the battle was lost; for the battle being lost the kingdom was lost and all for the want of a nail.”
What are your future goals as an equestrian and horse-lover?
  • The REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust)
  • ™The Charity (working with kids and horses).
  • ™Connect buyers and sellers in a way never thought of before.
  • ™Buy, sell, breed and show some of the finest horses in the world.

What advice do you have for those who would like to own a horse?

  • Buy or breed for what you like not what is the flavor of the month. Quality is always in fashion and fads are 15 minutes away from being 5 minutes ago.

  • Buy the best mare/mares you can find; the foal is at least 60% of the mare, and invest in old bloodlines.

  • Remember that no matter how much you pay for the horse, the purchase will be the cheapest part of ownership, so the purchase price should not be the primary limiting factor.

  • Have a plan for each horse (show horse, sale horse, broodmare, etc.)

  • Set a limit to how many horses you can handle - in expenses, time and attention. Don't buy more until you have sold one or more. Stay under your limit; if more people did this the market would be much healthier for all breeds.

  • If it were to ever come down to feeding the horse or yourself, the horse eats first, or you should not own.

  • Make time for your horse to be a horse, and not just work to a stall and back again (necessary if you want to maintain the horse’s mental health).

  • ™Most of all, own them because you like what we have in the breed, not because you think you can make a profit, or as a tax shelter.

Connect with Michael:

Deborah Barnes

Welcome Deborah!

Following her dreams of becoming an author, Deborah writes about her relationship with her cats as inspiration for her first book.  Currently residing in South Florida, USA, Deborah talks about her book, writing methods and cats....
Where do you live?

I was born in Lansing, Michigan and have moved about two dozen times in my life. I currently reside in the paradise of South Florida with my fiancé, Dan, and my seven beloved cats.

Tell me about your writing and your book releases....
For as long as I can remember, I have been a writer, but it was not until the completion of my first book in October of 2011, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary, that I could claim I was an author. My writing began in typical fashion – scribbling with lipstick on the bathroom mirror as a toddler that elevated to a career as an Executive Assistant for over twenty-five years. It was after two life-changing and unexpected events in my late forties, that I found the personal strength and courage to follow my dream of actually writing a book – one was a surprise of nature – Zee, my lovable male Maine Coon cat, and Zoey, my high-spirited female Bengal cat fell madly in love and subsequently had a litter of kittens together. The other event was less joyful, I was unexpectedly laid off and went through a very difficult time dealing with the unemployment. Through the lessons learned from my cats, I found the strength and creativity I needed to write a story about how powerful the feline-human bond is and how integral my cats were to my road to personal healing.  My current writing revolves primarily around my Blog, Zee & Zoey's Chronicle Connection, that is a collection of beautiful photos, artwork, and heartfelt true stories about myself and my life with my cats.

Where do you like to write?

I like to do my structured writing at the computer, but the majority of my writing occurs at any hour of the day or night when a thought or concept comes to my mind.

Do you write everyday? 

Absolutely. Because I maintain a blog and am looking to branch out into article writing and another book, I find it imperative to write my thoughts down loosely everyday.
How do you maintain ideas and thoughts?

I am very old-fashioned in that sense – I have piles and piles of handwritten notes that range from Post-it notes, to scraps of paper, to formal notebooks that are later typed into more formulated and concise thoughts at the computer. Sometimes an idea is perfect right out of the gate and sometimes I will struggle with it for hours or days, looking for that perfect sentence. I find that most of my thoughts occur at random moments of the day - normally either while I am at work at inappropriate moments; driving home during hostile rush hour traffic; when I am watching one of my favorite TV shows and my mind wanders; or when I am exhausted and need to get some sleep, but my brain just won’t shut off, forcing me to get out of the bed at an ungodly hour to jot down my thoughts. If am driving, I will grab any scrap of paper I can find in my purse – check stubs, receipts, shopping lists, lottery tickets – and quickly and incoherently scribble my random thoughts to translate later onto the computer. I become obsessed when my creative juices are flowing and have learned the hard way, that I won’t remember them with the same foresight or genius passion later on if I try to recreate them.

Who is your niche market?

While it is primarily cat lovers, my humorous and spot on approach to the nuances of everyday life situations makes my writing universally appealing.

Do you have a favorite author?

I no longer have the time I used to for leisurely reading, but when I did, I read a variety of books from romance novels, to vampire gothic, to historical sagas. I can’t say that I have a favorite author, as I become fully absorbed in any story I read. I also like to keep myself open to storylines that appeal to me and not just a particular author.
What are your writing goals for future endeavors?

I would like to write another story about my feline gang, but I am not yet sure of what direction I want it to go in – possibly something more for a younger audience and I also have a very solid idea in mind about the masculine side of loving cats. For me, my writing goals are not just about books. I want to use my skills in a broader scope to help educate people about the serious problem we have in this country with cat overpopulation. I would like to become a strong voice and leader in helping to increase shelter adoptions for cats and decrease the number of them that are brought to shelters for behavioral problems that could be corrected with more knowledge on how to correctly care for a cat.
Do you have suggestions for newbie writers?

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. I was 50 years old when I wrote my first book and it has been an incredible joy and liberation for me. You can’t always write with the sole purpose of fame and recognition either – I find for me, writing has opened so many new doors and possibilities I never knew existed just by reaching out and trying. It is also extremely important to take advantage of social media. I have made dear friends for life through Facebook in niche markets and by attending conferences in my field. You will find that most people want you to succeed and the mental scope is fascinating in that your world will stretch to depths you never thought possible otherwise. Lastly, really like yourself as a person. When you are happy with who you are and accept the fact that you are human with weaknesses, imperfections, and flaws, it will give you a certain strength and confidence to believe in yourself. While writing is a joy, it can also be brutal. You need a really thick skin and have to learn to take the praise along with the rejection. Above all, don’t take it personal – learn from it and move on!
Excerpt from The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey 

"Imagine, if you would, a world of love at first sight, where pigs do fly, where carpets are meant for magical rides, where empty boxes are transformed to magnificent castles and forts and a door becomes the gateway to the unlimited possibility of a charming and enchanted garden filled with endless adventure and intrigue. That, my dear readers, is the looking glass world of Zee and Zoey and this is their journey of a shared life, where every day, the merest of ordinary becomes the possibility of extraordinary in their minds eye."

Follow Deborah

Denise Lee Branco

Denise Lee Branco is the founder of Strolling Hills Publishing and author of Horse at the Corner Post: Our Divine Journey, which won a silver medal in the 2011 Living Now Book Awards.

Branco's memberships include American Horse Publications, Women's Horse Industry Network and Northern California Publishers and Authors. She has been a featured guest on KAHI Corral - KAHI AM 950 Radio and Speaking of Horses TV, and her book recently received commendable reviews in Northwest Horse Source, Yankee Pedlar,Horses All, and Honest Horses magazines.

Where do you live?   ™    

Born and raised on a small cattle ranch, just outside city limits in the small (back then) town of Merced, California.  All kinds of animals made the ranch their home, too; from the typical horses, dogs, and cats to rabbits, chickens, and even a duck who used to waddle behind my bicycle, until he figured out he could take a shortcut on the circular gravel driveway to get ahead of me.  It was wholesome country living at its best in my Portuguese-American family, where most extended family members lived only an hour away.  I feel very blessed to have that type of upbringing.    

Tell me about your writing and your book release....   ™    

I released my first book, Horse at the Corner Post: Our Divine Journey, in October 2010.  Although writing always seemed the best way for me to express my feelings, my career hadn't taken me down a professional writing path until that time.  In doing research for the book, my parents found stories I had written as a kid about ranch life stored away in boxes that were signed by, "Denise Branco, Author".  I guess it was fate after all. 

Where do you like to write?  ™    

On the couch, sitting right between my two cats.  Seeing them content, lounging alongside me, puts me at ease to let the writing flow. 

Do you write everyday?   ™    

Sadly, no.  I still have a regular job and most of my extra time this past year has been spent promoting Horse at the Corner Post.  However, I am making an effort in the new year to write every couple of days or so, even if it's just a few sentences.    

How do you maintain ideas and thoughts?    ™    

I'm pretty much old school...still handwrite all my thoughts and ideas on note paper. 
What/who is your niche market?   ™    

Animal lovers, but horse lovers the most...ages 6 to 96.  I've been incredibly fortunate to receive beautiful feedback from all ages, sharing how my story has touched their heart.  That is what I live for.    
Do you have a favorite author?   ™    

Now that I've met so many fellow authors, I couldn't choose a favorite even if I tried.  I love them all.  We support each other and want the best for one another.  That is such a beautiful thing.   
What are your writing goals for future endeavors?   ™    

I have several ideas for the books I'll write next, but it's the order of them, that's the challenge.  I like writing when it flows, but in the end, I feel I need to let the path unfold before me.  I need to see what direction this book goes, and that will decide which book will be next.  I'm just one of those that believes things happen when they are meant to happen. 
Do you have suggestions for newbie writers?  ™    

Join writers organizations and do your homework.  What I mean by that is learn as much about your craft and the industry as you can.  Learn from those who you aspire to be.  But most of all, believe in yourself.  We only have one life to live.  So, go for it!  Write that book now, instead of never and looking back at the end of your life wishing you had.     
Excerpt from Horse at the Corner Post, page 5:  
"It was a year packed with events celebrating the United States of America's Bicentennial.  Freedom '76 slogans briskly swept through America while red, white, and blue trios sparkled across the land.  Old Glory elegantly waved with each subtle breeze.     

American pride--we all had it.  I was a youth and had convinced myself that my collection of commemorative coins and two-dollar bills would, one day, be worth millions.  Instead, I learned that the most valuable things in life have nothing to do with money."    

Follow Denise

Richard Carreño

Richard Carreño  resides in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA...........
a writer, bookseller, and an educator, formerly a lecturer of American literature and English composition at several universities in the United Kingdom and in the United States. He is editor of The Philadelphia Junto and a partner in the on-line bookshop, @philabooks|booksellers and WritersClearinghousePress. He specializes in art, architectural, and cultural reporting and criticism. 

He is the author of several books, including Museum Mile: Philadelphia's Parkway MuseumsLord of Hosts: The Life of Sir Henry 'Chips' Channon, and Clotheshorse: A History and Guide to Riding Apparel.

In 1996, Carreño was a visiting scholar at Cambridge University and, in 1998, an educational consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development (A.I.D.) in Ukraine. Carreño was based in the late 1990s in London, working as a media consultant, writer, and editor for Writers Clearinghouse, a firm he founded in 1978 in Fabyan, CT. He travelled widely in Europe and the Mid-East. Returning to the United States in 1999, he held a short-term, mid-career assignment as a James H. Ottaway Sr. Fellow at the American Press Institute, Washington. 

He is the recipient of an honors citation from the Lowell Mellett Fund for a Free and Responsible Press, Washington, for his work as a media critic; a first place award from the New England Scholastic Press Association; and a Friends of The Bahamas Essay Award, among others.   

In 1999, Carreño founded @philabooks|booksellers in partnership with late father, Ralph J. Carreño of Boston. The on-line bookshop specializes in books about The New Yorker and its authors; men's fashions; works by and about the Pennsylvania author John O'Hara; and books by and about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. @philabooks also sponsors The Philadelphia Book ConneXion, a charity that distributes free books.    

Carreño was a reporter and editor for many years in the 1970s and 1980s for numerous newspapers, includingThe Boston Globe; The Hartford Courant; the Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Massachusetts; and The News, Southbridge, Massachusetts, where he served as the first news critic and reader ombudsmen in New England. His free-lance writing has appeared in scores of regional and national publications in the U.S. and in the U.K.   

His work now appears regularly in the Philadelphia Weekly Press. He also edits The Philadelphia Junto, an on-line blog.  

Among his teaching posts were adjunct positions at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island; the Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Clark University and Assumption College, both in Worcester, Massachusetts; and at the Choate-Rosemary Hall School, Wallingford, Connecticut. In 2004, he was an ESL specialist in Spain.   

For many years, Carreño operated a family-owned boarding stable in Connecticut. He is an amateur horsemen, previously participating in foxhunting in Massachusetts and polo in Florida and Massachusetts. His interest in equestrianism extends to book collecting in that area and it being specialty designation of @philabooks. He has amassed a 5,000-title personal library, including a comprehensive collection of works by and about John O'Hara.   

Before moving to the U.K., Carreño served as an elected and appointed official to several library panels, including the Connecticut Association of Library Directors; the Connecticut Governor's Conference on Libraries; and the Thompson, CT, Library Board of Directors. He is a member of Pen & Pencil Club, Philadelphia; the Cambridge University Society; and the Mid-Century Society, Philadelphia and London.   
Carreño was educated at New York University, where he was a Regent Scholar and studied under the noted historians North Callahan and John Tebbel. He obtained undergraduate degrees from the American University, Paris, France; and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This was followed by graduate work at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. 
Carreño has also worked and lived in  France and Switzerland. His childhood home was in Nassau, The Bahamas, where is mother, Marion Berman Carreño, is buried. Carreño is a former resident of Worcester, Massachusetts, and Thompson, Connecticut.....

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
First time I read The New Yorker as a kid.
What is your genre and writing style?
Advocacy first-person journalism. Informal.

Where do you like to write?

In my office.

How do you maintain ideas and thoughts for manuscripts?
Files, Notebooks.

In your opinion, what makes a great writer? 
Non-fiction: Kick-Ass Cheeky Honesty Fiction: Universal Timeless Theme.
What suggestions do you have for first time writers?

Write, proofread, cut, edit, write and do it again an again.

Do you have a favorite author/poet? 

Author: John O'Hara

What are you currently working on?

A biography of Paul Mellon.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Whoa! One day at a time, please 

Follow Richard

Kelly Preston

Welcome Kelly! 

Kelly is an animal lover and author of 
Real Dogs Don’t Whisper

Raised on a ten-acre property in Pennsylvania, USA, she grew up with horses, rabbits, and dogs. Mr. MaGoo is a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso and the book’s co-creator and co-writer. Mr. MaGoo has forged ahead with this project in an attempt to present the facts from a dog’s perspective. 

Where are you from in Pennsylvania?  

I am originally from Brogue, PA; a very small rural town that is south of Harrisburg, PA. In fact, so small, to this day a sign reads; “Welcome to the Village of Brogue, PA”.  Throughout the years I moved from PA to Washington DC to San Diego CA; and now, I am a resident of San Jose, CA.   

Tell me about your writing and your book releases....  

My writing comes from life experiences and how my dogs have inspired me to overcome many hurdles and obstacles that I have thus far endured.  My goal is to inspire and motivate my audience to enjoy life; live in the moment, much like our pets.  As cliché as this may sound; every cloud does have a silver lining, just need to have one thing, faith.  What I wanted to avoid was the book becoming too heavy, I decided to have my spunky Lhasa Apso, Mr MaGoo as my co-author. His chapters are humorous to say the least, he provides his perspective on life and how us humans need to learn a few things from, you guessed it, him.  After all, according to him, he is the alpha of the Universe. My book released this past April, as this is my first published book; I am already brainstorming ideas for my second book.  My goal is have it completed late 2012/early 2013.  While I do not want to reveal too much, my co-author, Mr MaGoo will be actively involved in this one too.   

Where do you like to write? 

I like to write in my home office with my dogs’ right beside me; they provide me with endless entertainment as well as material to write about.  With Mr MaGoo constantly getting into something, this is the perfect medium and blend for content to write about.   

Do you write everyday?  

For my upcoming second release, I am still in planning phase.  However, Mr MaGoo has published both a blog and monthly newsletter; both of which, keep me writing and the creative thinking flowing.

How do you maintain ideas and thoughts? 

My best ideas come to me when I am not in front of the computer, never fails.  They usually are when either walking my dogs or working out.  What I now do is keep a journal in the car, this way I can keep track of my ideas as I am leaving the gym.   For those ideas that come to me as I am walking my dogs; now don’t laugh, I call myself.  I leave a detailed voice mail, containing the idea; what was occurring at that time; and any other piece of information that may help me recall what it was that I was brainstorming about.   

Who is your niche market?  

My niche audience would be pet/dog lovers.  While my book is about my dogs’ and co-authored by a dog; this book is idea for any pet/animal lover.  Our pets can be the best teacher in our lives at times, which makes this book idea for not just dog lovers.  In addition, while the book is aimed for the Young Adult reader, there is a strong cross over potential.  In fact, I am finding my book is reaching all genders and age ranges, which makes this book idea for all.   

Do you have a favorite author? Why? 

I do have a favourite author and that is Mitch Albom.  His writing style leaves you feeling inspired, motivated to embrace life; his deep thinking and ability to describe the feelings in a few words distinguishes him from many writers. His message in any of his books is love and love freely and deeply.   

What are your writing goals for future endeavors? 

Some of my writing goals for the future are: publish my second book; expand digital efforts; and look into publishing for children too.  Perhaps take what I have already done, take snippets and create a book for children in the age range of 4-8 years old.  This is an idea that I have been mulling over for a while now; perhaps a 2012 release?   

Do you have suggestions for newbie writers? 

Yes, follow your dreams.  If writing and getting published (either self or traditional) is your dream, then, go after it.  The only item that will stand in your way is yourself; believe and have faith in yourself and watch what wonderful events will transpire.  There are so many excellent resources out there; seasoned authors that will help; and new avenues to explore with work and determination, and a dream, anything is possible.   

A short excerpt (not an easy selection) highlighting Mr MaGoo's humor, as Kelly hints in the interview. 
"WOOF! I thought I’d never get that human off the computer. It’s purely ridiculous that I have to share a computer with her to begin with—PC: personal computer. Hello! I’ve not been able to check my e-mail for all of eternity. Forget about writing a book. And is it remotely possible that she takes a break and plays catch or spends a few minutes telling me how wonderful I am? Oh heck no. 
The human has been on her very own little planet the entire time. It’s absolutely amazing that medicines and bare necessities have been tended to at all. Oh sure, she’s fed us and walked us, administered daily medications and cleaned up all of our messes. But get this—despite my gentle reminders to purchase doggie treats, the human seems to think being down to one, single, solitary two pound bag of doggie treats is somehow acceptable. I think the human would do well to tend to the canine catering and leave the writing to the pro—me. 
And as for the three (count ‘em three) chapters the human just finished writing—it looks like unadulterated balderdash to me. Talk about the Princess of Poppycock! WOOF! I haven’t even bothered to read them. At a glance, it looks like she added a bunch of unnecessary details to my already perfectly brilliant work. I’ll go back and read that nonsense when I need some insomnia material. Sorry that y’all had to wade through it. 
I know you guys are aching to know what I’ve been up to. That’s why you picked up this book originally. And who could blame you? I am an amazing animal. I’m fun. I’m entertaining. I’m freaking smart and way beyond your basic level of cute. It’s a shame no one has figured out a way to clone me. Enough about me though. Let me tell you what I’ve been up against while the human was being a computer hog. 

I was taking a nap and dreaming about cool grass and chasing butterflies when I woke to the sound of tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard. It was the human and it was sadly just the beginning of several days of much of the same tap-tap-tapping. I started off just trying to get the human’s attention. I dropped my favorite squeaky toy at her feet. Nothing. I picked it up and gave it a couple more squeaks. Still nothing. I noticed that the sound of the telephone ringing diverted her attention and it occurred to me that perhaps that’s when she’s in listening mode, so I’d squeak the toy several times when she was on the phone. It became painfully obvious I needed to come up with ways to entertain myself."

Follow Kelly

Omer Tarin

Welcome internationally acclaimed writer and 
performance poet, Omer Tarin....

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?   

          There wasn’t ever a fixed time, when I knew, no sudden epiphany or realization! I always read and wrote a lot, even as a child, and my imagination was always working. I used to day-dream a lot, too; and many of my dreams became ‘ideas’ for poems or stories. 
So I have been writing ever since I can remember, all sorts of things, and gradually, quite by themselves, things began to fall into place. I must say my parents, especially father, were very supportive and encouraging—my father was my earliest literary mentor and guide and he had very good taste, was an avid reader and had a rather substantial library which he allowed me full use of. I never remember him saying ‘read this’ or ‘read that’—it was a true voyage of discovery for me, one day reading (say) Dickens, and a few days later Gerald Durrell or Robert Frost or selections from various regional languages and literatures. And then, when I began to write, my father encouraged me all the more, would often take time out of his busy schedule to discuss a poem or story I’d written. Later on, I was lucky to go to some of the best schools in Pakistan, in the old British colonial ‘public school’ tradition, and some of the masters there were absolutely splendid people. They’d encourage us to ‘do our thing’, whatever inspired or appealed to us, and always had time to discuss, to critique and guide. Although I write in three languages, the major part of my writing now is in English and this was something that my teachers guided me towards initially, and they were also the first ones to publish some of my work in school and college magazines and later, to prompt me to write for literary journals and even newspapers and periodicals. This gave me a great deal of confidence in my writing potential in my student days.   

 What’s your genre and style?  

          I am essentially a poet. However, I have also written some shorter fiction and non-fiction prose—some of these writings have only just been made available in privately printed editions, in the USA/North America. Since I’m also an academic and research scholar by profession today, in addition to my literary writings I have also written a fair amount of research: on history, culture and folklore, Pakistani and South Asian regional literature and art and so on. As a poet writing in English, in South Asian contexts, I am not, I believe, restricted to any limitations of style or content. Although most of my poetry is vers libre, I have experimented and keep on experimenting quite a lot. Even with forms and styles that are not usually found in English/Western literature. As a young student, I was deeply influenced by certain mystic, spiritual and meditative aspects of some of our South Asian literary traditions, for example such as the works of the Punjabi Sufic poets like Baba Farid, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah; and also by the broader ‘Islamic’ Sufi poetic tradition, especially the  classical Persian works of Rumi, Hafiz and Attar. One of my own early poetic mentors in Pakistan was Taufiq Rafat, a fine poet who was also an authority on Punjabi poetry and a bold exponent of the adaptation of a Punjabi idiom into his own English poems. I guess one way or the other, these ‘influences’ are all to be found in my work.   

Do you use real life experiences, characters, storylines etc, for inspiration?  

         Yes and no. ‘Inspiration’ for me isn’t a fixed or systematic thing. It’s something that just ‘happens’. Sometimes, you are thinking, or in a day-dream or reverie, or sometimes some person, word, action, some sight or sound or smell becomes evocative and –lo! I think I do tend to draw upon personal experience in certain ways, too, in fiction by utilizing certain events or people that I’ve met or known, and ‘filed away’ as the basis for imagined scenarios and characters, in due course. In poetry, my ‘experience’ is something different; something from another source, or part of me altogether. As you might know, I am also a ‘practicing mystic’ in the Islamic Sufic way, and various forms of meditation, of ‘connection’ to higher spiritual ‘realities’ are regular parts of such practice. At times, these experiences, which aren’t really ‘expressible’ in other forms, find their voice in my poetry. At other times, the subjective condition, that strange half-awake and half-asleep ‘poetic state’ emerges out of some part of me on its own account and ‘inspires’. I must add, that for me at least, ‘inspiration’ is seldom direct. I don’t go and sit by a river or watch a sunset and say “Oh! How lovely! I’m going to write about this!”. It acts in subtle, elliptical ways. Seeps down into the subconscious and takes on some strange and often unbelievable shapes and disguises. . .   

Where do you like to write?  

          I am personally most comfortable writing at my ease in my small study, or work place at home. For more ‘academic’ type of writing I like to be at my desk and with my Computer/Word processor in front of me and flanked by all my paraphernalia like dictionaries and thesauri and reference books etc. When I write poetry, this can take place anywhere; there are many nights when I wake up and start to write, and I always keep pen and paper handy. Later on, I take my ‘draft poem’ to my desk, too, when I start to ‘polish’ it up. This takes me quite some time, as I like to write and rewrite a poem a number of times, and a number of ways. I enjoy experimenting like this. One thing I am normally not able to do, is write outdoors, in proximity to nature—I might take in varied impressions, sensory perceptions and all, in such surroundings, but for me these have to be eventually ‘refined’ through a certain process. Was it Wordsworth who said that poetry was “Emotion recollected in tranquility”? I’m not sure; but whoever it was, came quite close to expressing how I (a) ‘feel’ and then (b) create, later.   

How do you maintain ideas and thoughts for manuscripts?   

         Mostly in diaries that I keep. These are less the standard daily journals than my general musings, thoughts/ideas and all. Often, during the course of such writing, I come across good or useful ideas for a future essay or story or something—not poetry, generally—and when such an idea occurs to me, I jot out a quick outline how I’d organize it, or do it, and then I flag the outline or page/s, using my own codes and abbreviations. This makes it easier for me to return to a particular idea or outline, when I need to. Usually, I don’t maintain bulky files and odds and ends (although I know some writers who do) except for my research/academic writing –but for that, I also have other resources, and people, to assist and help me out. That’s quite a different sphere of activity for me compared to creative writing.   

In your opinion, what makes a great poet?   

         To tell you the truth, it is very difficult to say. Poetry is such a complicated business, and such a ‘personal’ one, that it’s very hard to pass such facile judgments! Even with regard to many ‘great’ poets at one time or another, their ‘acceptability’ as great is or might be something entirely to do with certain popular trends and critical opinion and such things—take Lord Byron, for example, the quintessential product of a certain time and age; and take Emily Dickinson by way of comparison, who was quite unknown and unrecognized in her time, but ‘discovered’ by a later one. Yet, inspite of this, one feels there are some ‘commonalities’ too, in some truly ‘great, lasting poetry regardless of where it’s written. As I see it, such poetry ‘reaches out’ to us at many levels, in many ways, and makes us ‘sing’ within! It whispers fantastic things into our ears and hearts, and makes us fly and soar away, into certain realms that we don’t always know exist within us. It also somehow changes us, and allows us some sort of insights into ourselves and into the world and into many things that we normally perhaps don’t think about, or feel in any deeper sense during the course of our routines. It’s a very delicate thread, that binds Rumi and Shakespeare and Basho and Goethe and Tagore and makes them as one.  In a lecture ‘On Poetry’ delivered in 1900, WB Yeats made that famous albeit ponderous statement that sublime poetry emerged when , “All sounds, all colors, all forms, …call down among us certain disembodied powers [which]…we call emotions; and when sound and color and form are in a musical relation, a beautiful relation to one another, they become one sound, one color, one form, and evoke an emotion that is made out of their distinct evocations and yet is one emotion”.  This is as close as one can come to expressing what ‘great poetry’ is.   

What suggestions to you have for first time writers and poets?  

         I’m very happy to see so many people, at least, writing nowadays, especially young people! Even twenty years ago, this wasn’t so common, at least in this part of the world. Young people, or those young at heart and overflowing with words, would often be sidetracked or even actively discouraged; and in a way, there’s a ‘publishing revolution’ that is going on at this time, major changes, which allow writers access to audiences worldwide and very quickly, too. So, in this respect, there’s a lot that’s positive for aspiring writers. At the same time, the basic standards for good writing, for writing that is meaningful and lasting, remain the same as they ever were. I think that all good writers automatically start by reading a lot of good literature, or reading a lot, generally! And this is something that I always advise new writers, please do read, try to see and note and feel what has been written by the best writers everywhere, and how they’ve written it. Finally, if you are seriously committed to writing as a vocation, then just keep on writing, and don’t be discouraged by negative criticism or sidetracked by quests for fame and fortune. These things will come too, in good time. But whether they do or not, write, as if writing was all, and write as well as you possibly can and take time—don’t be in a hurry. There’s no race going on, and that’s just the illusion of the ‘marketplace’, and if you’re good you’ll get published sooner or later. Just believe in yourself and put in a lot of hard work.   

Follow Omer via these links.... 

A sample of Omer’s poetry…
Two in My Garden

They stand together
The twin stalks
In my backyard,
Sometimes reminders
Of some things not done,
Some weeds not plucked
When it was time to do so;

Why I did not clear the yard
Is not so important now
As why did I want to?
Indeed, I see no petal
Half as nice as those two
That grow together, in their awkward fashion,
And they have some part of me
Where it wouldn't do;

It doesn’t matter anymore, of course,
When other weeds have grown
Along them, only not like them at all,
And choked the petunias
Out of their shallow beds;
And there is some justice
In my garden going to seed,
Then standing tall and together
Once I’ve ceased to tend.

Shandur Polo

Had I seen the ghosts of this place
They would dance their victory dance;
Glorious vale
Cup, chalice,
The glacial streams
Empty into that lake
Quiet, ever so silent,
Rippling lyre, reflection;
Snows and rocks frame it —
I have no words
Only emotions
Which boil and rise
With the thunder of horses,
The sound of stick
And ball thudding
Across the turf;
The ghosts of this place,
Had I but seen them,
Pale as the snow
Cold as the lake
As vivid as the night-fires
That light the valley;
The whistle of wind
The throb of drum
The chant of song

Had I seen the ghosts dance
Their victory dance….


All my life
Has been lived
For the one moment
Beyond being
Which now points out
New horizons, yet unseen;

What will be?

Mists over Thandiani*
Tonight on the veranda
I behold
The crystalline hilltops
Sublimate into an avalanche
Of snowflakes, in turn
Dissolving into the haze
Of silent mists;

Trees stand frozen
Like stiff soldiers
Mantled in unstirring ranks
Braced for some dire consequence

A wolf’s eldritch howl
And night-birds trill their alarm
As the sickle moon
Glides away behind its many veils;

Owl-flights haunt
My dreams now
And your long green hair
Bewilders me with witchcraft.

* Thandiani is a hill resort located at approx.9000 ft above sea level in the Hazara Division of the NW Frontier Province of Pakistan. It is surrounded on three sides by dark coniferous forests and these offer a stark contrast to the snowy peaks of the Pir Panjal Range, in Kashmir, to the North-East.

Frédérique Lavergne

From Paris, France, Frédérique is a world renowned artist.  
Now living in Bayonne, France, she is in the process of painting Fauji, Marwari Stallion of India….these are a few of her beautiful paintings...

When did you begin painting?
  • My mother was designer and I saw her drawing all my childhood. When we went to visit their horses at the stable in Rambouillet forest close to Paris, we stayed there for the week end, they used to go for a long ride in the forest, and I stayed at stable with the horses... I begun drawing horses there, I was four or five. I started to ride at the same time, even if I was on a horse yet when my mother was pregnant.

Why do you like to paint horses?

  • ™I paint horses first because I feel a strong link with them. I don't talk a lot, and I realized very young that horses talk with their soul. I find them beautiful of course, but I am fascinated by their powerful soul, by their generosity to humans... They have a symbolic force, and from my convictions, they are able to go from a world to another, from our human world to the one of invisible... that's why they help us to know who we are.

What medium do you use for your work?

  • ™I use oil, acrylic, ink, black stone... But mostly oil on canvas.

Where is your favorite place to paint?

  • ™I can paint everywhere. When I paint, I am absent to this world, I just search to make this connection alive.

Where in the world are your paintings?

  • ™I have canvases in USA, Chislhom Gallery Pine Plains, NYin Greenlane, Ireland, In Marceau Gallery, Nantes, France, Entre sable et bruyère Gallery, France...

You capture the soul of the horse in your artwork. Do you only paint those horses that you feel 'connected to'? 
  • ™I can paint all horses, because I feel connected to all of them. DO they have a common soul? There are some horses who don't open the door easily, and sometimes it takes more time for me to get in the work, but, finally, I have never given up with any of them. This must seem silly, but often I feel to be more a horse than a human...

Do you have a favorite horse breed to paint?

  • ™I have no favorite breed to paint. I love to paint expressive horses... so of course, I love to paint Andalusians. They are the horses I mostly paint. But I have recently discovered Marwaris, Kathiawaris and really felt in love with them... I hope to go to India very soon to meet them in real. They look so magical...I am really impressed by the way they carry their head.

How many different breeds have you painted?
  • ™I have painted many breeds... Mangalargas Marchadores, Paso finos, criollos, Spanish, Lusitanos, Akhal tekes, Arabians, Marwaris, Kathiawaris, Desi horses of Pakistan, Holsteiners, draft, Friesians, barb... but for the next edition of my exhibition "horses of the world and equine cultures", I have many others breeds to paint.

Who is your favorite artist?
  • ™My favorite living artists are Susan Leyland, Viviane Duccini, Hrovje Dumancic, Heather Jansch, four equine sculptor; Jeanne St Cheron, equine painter.  Pierre Soulages.  Passed away artists, Géricault, Klimt, Stubs, Delacroix, Degas, Escher.....there are so many I love...

Do you have suggestions for new equine artists?
  • ™Suggestion for new equine artists...spend more time you can with horses, just trying to be WITH them, feel them, meet them, then draw a lot, and be ready to pay the tribute with your life ... I paint each day without any stop since more than ten years, when I don't paint, I am with horses, I watch horses photos, video, read horses book, talk with horse men, learn on equine culture, dream horses....

What are you currently painting?

  • ™Currently, I am painting FAUJI, a Marwari Stallion.

See more gorgeous artwork…

Mukkove Johnson

Welcome Mukkove !  ...An interview with author Mukkove Johnson

Where are you from?

v     My family and I live in the beautiful Matanuska Valley in Alaska. We are surrounded by amazing mountains. 

Brrr...What is it like living in Alaska? Do you have trouble with polar bears? 

v     No trouble with polar bears, though you may be surprised how easily people can be convinced they have to be run off the airstrip before we can fly! We enjoy the general ignorance of Alaska. We enjoy the long days of summer and the beauty of the winter landscape. It is an absolutely amazing place to live. A great part of winter is that I can sleep in and still watch the sunrise.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

v     I don’t know that I ever wanted to be an author. I just like to write! I think I first realized I liked to write in sixth grade. We were required to write in a journal every morning. I wrote for the class paper, school paper and yearbooks. I enjoy writing to process my thoughts, record memories and share lessons I’ve learned.

What is your inspiration for writing?

v     My inspiration is meeting a need. I want to write books I need. If it’s a book I need I hope other parents will find it helpful in raising their children. I want my writing to make an eternal impact. Influencing what my children believe, helping other families.

Why write about Christmas?

v     I wrote Christmas is About Jesus to create a meaningful, Christ centered Christmas tradition for my children. It seems much of what is surrounding Christmas in our culture is pointing anywhere but Jesus. I knew I could not keep them from seeing all the things the culture displays, so I chose to give them something different to think about. I chose 24 things commonly seen around Christmas and came up with a way each could remind us of Jesus. Each day starts with a verse relating to how the symbol reminds us of Jesus. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

v     My absolute favorite place to write is in my yard in the sunshine. That only works sometimes. When the weather doesn’t cooperate I like to write on the couch. I guess I like comfort. Depending on what I’m writing I need quiet.

How do you store ideas for ideas and manuscripts?

v     I am still looking for the “ideal” way to store my ideas. Right now I have files on the computer, ideas in a notebook, and have even tried an online organizing site. I find I have many more ideas than I have time to write. The ones that get worked on are usually the things God keeps on my heart.

Will there be a sequel to your book or are you working on something new?

v     I have been working on Easter is About Jesus. It will be released in 2012. The format will be similar to Christmas is About Jesus.Easter is About Jesus includes activity ideas for the children to participate beyond listening and discussing. I have ideas for other devotions and stories. Right now I’m not sure which project I will pursue next.

Do you have a favorite author?

v     I don’t really have a favorite author. I like any story I can read again and again. My favorite reads have truths of God’s Kingdom, plain or hidden. Most recently I really enjoyed C.S. Lewis’Chronicles of Narnia and look forward to reading them again.

Do you have suggestions for novice writers?

v     Hmm. Advice… Decide what your purpose for writing is. Know why you write, if you are seeking publishing, this will help tremendously when sales don’t go as expected. Research what it will take to reach your target audience. Read your writing out loud, to yourself or someone in your target audience. That really helps me with editing and making sure I communicated what I intended.

Mukkove’s Links:

Brandon Webb

Welcome Brandon!

From Blackpool in the Northwest of England, Brandon is a musician, writer, poet, lyricist, etc., etc...With a new album debuting soon...

You are a famous musician. Do you write your own lyrics? 

  • Yes, of course! I am constantly writing lyrics. Its rare that I'm not putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or thumbs to iPhone! 

What is your inspiration? 

  • My past experience lately. A lot of stories from my youth have come to the fore. Most of my songs are amalgamations of memories and fictional representational characters. I don't believe in just making something up, forcing it. I open the door and the music just floats on through, I'm lucky that what happens is coincidentally true. I don't really think about doing it, I just do it. Kind of streams of consciousness if you like. I've read a lot of Jung and am very spiritual. I believe the energy needs to flow through your art unhindered by the ego. It sounds pretentious and daft to some but it's the truth for me, it's not let me down yet. As Van Morrison said "...let go into the mystery". I do often write about individual liberty too though, I mean the states impact on civil liberty and the mainstream media's impact on the general public's ability to believe or to dream. I feel that people today have been robbed of faith in many ways and have been sold a worthless dream of materialistic riches. Nature is richer than we'll ever be. 

You play guitar and what else? 

  • My first instrument is, and always has been my voice, guitar second. I also play piano, bass guitar, drums, mandolin, ukulele, Greek bazouki, harmonica etc the list goes on. I like anything that allows me to embellish my music. I'm playing with the idea of buying a flute at the minute. 

You have just finished recording a new release. Is this your first? 

  • No, I've had three previous releases although two have been with a band and one solo self release. You could say this is my first official solo record, definitely my first in the states though. I went over to Richmond, Virginia and recorded with some great musicians in an old converted theater. Was a beautiful experience. Some beautiful people and my lord is Virginia magnificent! I truly fell in love with that place. I'm also working on a soundtrack to an English film too. It's called "Better to burn" and is still in production.  

What is it like in the recording studio? 
  • Well, it depends on how you are recording it. Recording with a band, as part of a group is probably the most difficult thing for me. I am used to writing for bands, for myself and solo and just being able to let it flow (as explained earlier) but usually, egos appear in the studio and it tends to blur the flow. I have to be honest and say the studio with a band is probably the worst thing I do with my music. Solo however, that's different. Its more a battle with myself. Still not a nice thing. Everything goes to slow for me. I struggle to articulate the flow, or rather translate it to the producer/engineer as quickly as I feel it. It's easier when I home record. I do have one producer I work with in England who knows me well and tends to get me although my experience in Virginia was phenomenal, I self-produced a lot of it and engineered some of it along with a great engineer called Rob Astleford. The producer, Evan Batemen really helped us get the show rolling and turned it into a real album which any great producer does but he only joined the session half way through. He made it get finished though. The studio owner Arron Reinhardt was also unbelievably cool with studio time and production. It's such a hard process recording. Virginia was definitely the best experience ever. The magic flowed in all the right places but I still had moments where I was pulling my hair out. Live, playing live for an audience is where it's at for me. That's the real edge, the best time. That and right, slap-bang in the middle of a song I'm writing. Live and writing. Much better times. 

Who is your favorite musician(s)? 

  • I would have to say John Martyn, Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley and The Doors. If I was pushed. I do love lots of others though too. A Virginian named Paul Curreri and also Kelly Joe Phelps a few others, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Jackson C Frank. Plenty!

Did you grow up in a musical family? 

  • Erm, well my father left when I was five and my mother spent a lot of time in hospital as a child so I spent a bit of time in care and in foster homes so I never connected musically much at home although my mum has an amazing voice but suffers terribly from stage fright. My father played tenor and alto sax, my auntie was a professional singer out in Australia where she emigrated and toured the north west. My grandfather on my mothers side Harold, was a club singer and multi-instrumentalist in the north of England, my grandmother on my fathers side was also a club singer. I have a tape of her singing, it's one of my most cherished things, I never met her. It's in my blood. I am the first to record music though, record my own music that is. 

Where can we buy your music?

  • Right now, nowhere. The old stuff I've done is no longer in print. I am working on this new album, adding English musicians to it. It should be out in the new year in Virginia and online via iTunes. If people want to get my music, they can buy it through me at my email until I've sorted my record deal.

What are your future goals as a musician? 

  • I am heading up to Scotland in February, Ireland in March/April and then back out to the States in June hopefully. Long term, I hope my album is heard by people and that they get me and feel what I'm trying to do.
What did you have for lunch? 

  • Lunch was good old English chips and sausage (that's fat French fries and English sausage to you lot!)

Ask yourself a question... 

  • Erm, favourite drink? Amstel lager or Faustino I Rioja or of course a nice cup of Yorkshire tea with milk and one sugar thanks. . 

Two songs off  Brandon's forthcoming album...


The sun came up & broke his nightime flying
like a bucket of water on the face of a sleeping giant

He tries to shield his eyes from the Blinding sunny silence

But the sun has won now he's lost his night in the day
nothing to do cept try and hide away

he fumbles around and finds the fix he was trying to break

as a memory forms in the clouds of his floating mind
of a happier day when it was all just passing time

but he is shaken awake to find that reality's much crueler

he spies a needle lying like a ticket to somewhere dearer
but it's an empty shell of air that he pumps down deeper

He's greeted by lights & his soul find's himself & leave's here

oh why Don't you just read between the tracks 
run deep beneath your skin
what would your
mother think of 
this womblike 
coma chasing bliss

This is my most personal song. It's about my father. This is my most honest and painful song. The track was recorded in Virginia and is accompanied by native american indian flute. It's called Michael and is on the album.


On a foreign shore miles away from his home
Michael first witnessed death
At 16 yrs old, his friends and he
First faced down the enemies stand
Michael only remains though he’s never the same 
& his life he just can’t get back
All the wounds that he bore were fleshy and raw
But he knew that they’d heal in time
Yes he was sure they’d heal in time

The skin it did heal though his friends they still scream
From his memories cold and black
And his scars though unseen still remind him in dreams
Of the friends he left behind
He just can’t get passed all the pain in his past 
That somehow keeps crippling his mind
The mistakes he’s made since are all littered with drink
Just to keep his head from the pain
Though he was sure it’d heal in time 

Now it’s 40 years since he was discharged unfit
Though it feels like yesterday
It seems every day now he see’s their faces again
In all that he tries to do
Waking up in the night screaming trying to fight
Unseen enemies from years ago
now he’s so tired of life cos it’s so full of death
He just longed to let it all go
He longed to let it all go 

So one day alone Michael unplugged the phone
And looked through his photos of the past
He drank from the bottle down deep with rope
Considering how to go
with a swift jump and fall Michael ended it all 
for himself not his two sons and wife
In them his pain lives so bitter and sharp
But they’re sure it’ll heal in time
Yeah they’re sure it’ll heal in time

Follow Brandon...

Doreen Austen Haggard

Welcome, Doreen, to my blog!  

From Spain, Doreen is an equestrian an author! Her new book release, The Arabian Horse, is in bookstores now!

When did you fall in love with horses?  

  • I was about five years old when I first fell in love with horses, I can remember like it was yesterday when my parents booked my first riding lesson after that day I couldn't get enough.

Do you have a favorite breed of horse? Why?
  • I would say I have spent a lot of time with the Andalusian so this would have to be my favorite then the Arabian would be my second choice.

Do you currently have horses? 

  • I currently don’t own any horses anymore, I ride for clients now.

Where do you like to ride?
  • I love riding in Andalusia I love the views and the mountain rides. This is how I become to write Andalusian Horses book. 

Where is Andalusia?
  • In the South of Spain, in Malaga.

When did you begin writing?

  • My first book was about birds The Bourke Parakeet in 1997 published by TFH, due to my love of birds as well as horses. The idea of this book started when I purchased this bird and couldn't find any books on them, so I studied them and thought it was about time there was a book available to the world. I think it [writing] is in my blood, as my grandfather William Albert Austen is a decendant of Jane Austen.

Your current book release is out! Congratulations! What is the basis for your book?

  • My new release Arabian Horse and The Arabian Desert Horse come from the idea on Facebook, we exchange photos talk about different types of Arabians and this become very interesting to me. Then I had the idea to share this one step more in a form of a book. 

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers?

  • I think when it comes to writing there is a certain passion about it and its not until your book is finished that you get that buzz, you will have your good and bad days my advice to you is keep going and don’t give up. 

What are your future goals as an equestrian and author?

  • I have never been to U.S.A and would love to visit, always dreamed of checking in to a working ranch and living the life of a cowboy….

Follow Doreen via these links:


Jonathan Hopkins

Welcome Jonathan! 

Thank you for interviewing for my blog of famous people!  

You are an accomplished historical author, and your novel, 
"The Walls of Jericho" is fabulous! As I was reading, I felt every stride of the horse and galloped the journey with your characters. 

What was your inspiration for writing this wonderful historical novel?   

  • Gina, you're very kind, but I don't consider myself accomplished after one novel - maybe after four or five!   I never intended to write a book, and how it came about is a long story which shows how dangerous a thing 'inspiration' can be.   A few years ago, my wife got the grumbles. I'm sure most long-married men have heard the same complaints -  about not being romantic anymore, never buying flowers etc etc. And...they were probably warranted. So I had a brainwave. For our wedding anniversary, which was five months hence, I'd deliver her flowers on a 19th century hussar! What could be more romatic than that, thought I?   Unfortunately, I'd reckoned without the difficulty of getting hold of kit. You can't just pop into your local gents outfitters and buy a Napoleonic cavalry uniform and saddlery. As it turned out I found a re-enactment uniform on eBay, but I had to make the saddlery myself and there are no patterns available. It meant I was forced into searching high and low for descriptions and pictures. I hunted through non-fiction books about  British cavalry of that time - lots of them. And what struck me most was the amount of criticism levelled at those men from just about every historian and his dog. They couldn't possibly have been that bad, could they? The more campaign histories and diaries I read, the more frustrated I got at what I believed were unfair interpretations of many of the cavalry actions. Someone needed to speak up for the British horsemen who fought Napoleon in Spain and Portugal. But I'm no historian so, for my sins, I wrote a novel. To tell the story of what their lives were really like.   And the wedding anniversary? That went fine, thank you. Especially since I'd also organised a carriage ride to lunch.   

What was your inspiration for character development?    

  • Georgian society was highly polarized. The industrial revolution, which grew the middle classes, was in its infancy. But the wars against Napoleon threw the very rich and grindingly poor together in a way most had never experienced before, forcing them, in many instances, to endure danger and privation on an equal footing.   I was interested in exploring how such relationships worked in real life, and whether it ultimately affected the way men dealt with their social opposites on a day-to-day basis. So my two main characters are a prince and a pauper, so to speak. And to make life even more difficult for them, they are childhood friends, brought together by a shared love of horses.

You are working on a sequel to your novel. When will it be released?


  • Ah - an awkward question!  Well, the draft is almost finished but I'm one of those people who is never satisfied and will edit and edit and edit. My main problem is the new story has to be better than the first. I'm hopeful it'll be ready in the Spring.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers who would like to write historical fiction?    

  • Don't be put off by those who tell you crime fiction, sci-fi and horror are the only genres that sell. A good historical novel will always find readers, and the market is growing. Try to find a period that interests you and a niche within that period which no-one else has covered. Read as much as you can, both fiction, so you can see what's popular in style and content, and books by 'proper' historians. I buy non-fiction secondhand and on eBay because textbooks are so expensive and specialist works hard to find at the local library.   But most importantly, write about your characters: what they see and hear, how they feel, how they live. The historical backdrop to their lives is important but that's all it is - a backdrop. Readers buy books to find out what happens to the people in them. And if they fall in love with your characters they'll want to read more and more about them.

Do you write everyday?   

  • No - I should, but I don't. I'll find some reason not to unless I force myself. I've tried sitting in front of the screen and just typing any old rubbish, but I just can't do it. So I don't write for a couple of days and then type madly for the next few.   One thing I make sure of is to do something writing-related every day without fail. Just making a simple note is enough - anything to drive the writing forward. That might be an idea for a new story, a new fact to include, a change or addition to an existing outline; even a line of dialogue for a character. 

How do you keep and maintain ideas and thoughts for manuscripts? 

  • I use a really simple system. I just have a file on the laptop with ideas and outlines that I add to or change every day. It gets backed up with the rest of the system so I don't lose it, as I once did with three chapters of Walls of Jericho thanks to a hard-drive problem. You all back your files up, don't you?   But I also keep a voice recorder in the car - just in case I get caught short when I'm out and about!

What is it like to live in South Wales?    

  • I love this area. We live in the Vale of Glamorgan which is greener and more agricultural than the once-industrialized valleys further north. It's right on the coast so we have countryside and sea in close proximity, but with capital city Cardiff just a few miles to the east we're not too far away from the bright lights either. 

You are an equestrian as well as a writer. Your equestrian abilities certainly shine through in your writing. What is your favorite personal horse story?    

  • There are loads! The best one's on my blog but it's very long winded, so as a shorter anecdote...I was in a showjumping class and my old horse was having an off-day. He ran out at one fence and when re-presented did exactly the same thing. Both times I came off over his right shoulder but luckily landed on my feet. The commentator announced, "I'm afraid that's elimination for, er...let's be kind and say 'two dismounts'".

Do you currently own a horse? Where do you like to ride?   

  • I inherited a cast-off from my daughter - he's a nice old stick but she found him a bit sharp for her. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I started riding him we discovered he doesn't like men! One problem with the area we live is the lack of off-road riding. There are a few forestry tracks, and permit-only riding on a sand-dune system to the west of us, but you have to box the horses to get there. Most of the ancient cart tracks were metalled as roads, before the railways arrived, so there are few bridlepaths...hey - maybe there's a novel in that somewhere.

Who are your favorite authors?   

  • Bernard Cornwell, Clive Cussler (but growing out of love with him), Wilbur Smith, CC Humphreys, the late Dick Francis, MM Bennetts.

What is your favorite equestrian quote?   

  • "A horse is uncomfortable in the middle and dangerous at both ends" - Ian Fleming

What are your future goals as a writer and a rider? 

  • As a writer - I want to carry on as long as possible. I have outlines and ideas for a possible fourteen cavalry stories, so increasing my output might be a good idea!   As a rider - I want to carry on as long as possible. No - seriously, it would be nice to get back to competing before my joints and ligaments start protesting too much. I once had ambitions to wear a tailcoat at dressage - that'd be Medium level and above in the UK - but I think it's probably beyond me now. So a few Riding Club One-Day-Events and some showjumping will suit me fine.

Follow Jonathan via these links:
Amazon (paperback):
Amazon (Kindle):
Smashwords (other e-formats):
B&N (paperback):
B&N (Nook):

Julie Bridge

Julie Bridge is from California, USA.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is founder of The Brego Foundation, an organization devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating off the track thoroughbreds.

Thanks, Julie, for being my guest!  

You are an advocate for the protection of America's horses.  As founder of the Brego Foundation, what is your role?  

Yes, I advocate for horses. Once upon a time horses saved my life by keeping me connected to something larger and greater than myself. I have been on and around horses since I was two years old - ironically - my first ride took place on the back of a thoroughbred mare, the very breed that my organization rescues from the horrific fate of slaughter. In 2007 I read an ad for a 17-hand off the track thoroughbred located in a Washington feedlot. I looked at the photos and his eye spoke to me. Underneath the sadness and depression I saw the faintest glimmer of his enormous heart. I was compelled to do something, compelled to take action. I rescued this horse, named Espresso at the feedlot. I sent $750 to bail this horse sight unseen. Neither of us knew that on that day a long held vision would move that much closer to manifestation, the founding of the Brego Foundation to rescue and rehabilitate off the track thoroughbreds. Brego is the name sake of this organization. I am the founder of this organization The Brego Foundation's core mission is to provide former race horses a second chance and a second career. We do this through networking with other rescues, education and providing funds and resources for horses that are rescued. At this time we have limited space for any rescued horses to be housed in our care. We have some horses housed with Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue who we consider our sister organization in Southern California. We have been diligently looking for property for over two years so that we can actively take in horses that we rescue.

The Brego Foundation will evaluate each horse for suitability as an Equine Teacher and Guide. Our experience with Brego has shown that thoroughbreds in particular are amazingly adept at being teachers, healers and guides. I believe this is due to the enormous heart of the thoroughbred and a desire to have a job that matters. If the horses we rescue are suitable for work with people in a teaching context, they will be transitioned into that roll under Mearas Leadership and Coaching. Brego was one such horse, who was evaluated and then carefully introduced into the teaching work. He took on his role as teacher last August during a Women's Workshop offered by Mearas. Brego demonstrated his gift, as each horse has their own teaching gift, of forgiveness and living in the true present. He has proven to be an incredible teacher and brings himself generously to his work.   

The ultimate goal of both organizations is to return the horse to the partnership role with humans they once enjoyed. Humans were dependent upon horses for war, transportation and agriculture. Since the industrial revolution, horses have been delegated into two primary worlds: companionship and business - business being the business of racing, sporting events, training, etc. And many of us, in horror, have come to the understanding that horses are now disposable, and thus, our goals is to change that perception.   

Is your organization making strides to promote horse welfare?  

Somewhat. However the entire community of horse advocates have been recently dealt a significant blow when President Obama signed into law a provision that reinstates funding for USDA Inspection of horse slaughtering facilities. This was a massive, massive heartbreak to our cause and we are still reeling as a community to the backing down of staunch supports such as Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who did and said nothing to prevent this Ag Bill from going through.   We continue to be a voice for the horses through any means we can, and I am personally devastated by the recent legislation change as well as the BLM policy of running our American Mustangs into extinction.

Does the majority of the public embrace your endeavors? 

If you look at the polls, Americans want and support two things:  - Horse slaughter to be abolished in the US. The United States does not consume horsemeat. Horses are slaughtered here for human consumption overseas, in Europe and Asia. A consequence that the Belgian-owned companies don't want any consumer to know about is that since horses in the United States are not raised as food animals, they are not subject to the strict regulation of what they consume. As a result, horses are given drugs such as Bute, steroids, wormers, and other toxic substances that are used in general horse care. These substances go into the horses meat and are consumed by unsuspecting consumers.   The public also embraces the belief that wild horses should remain wild, not housed in holding facilities funded by tax payer dollars. Unfortunately, behind both these issues is both the Agricultural Lobby and the Oil and Gas Lobby.   

Do you have a favorite breed? Where do you like to ride and what discipline do you ride?  

This is an interesting question for me. I have ridden all my life, since I was two years old. I have ridden in every type of discipline, from Hunter Jumper to Western Pleasure to Dressage. Since my horses are now primarily teaching horses, I don't ride all that much anymore, but when I do, it is either dressage or western, depending on who I am riding.   

What is favorite horse event/story?  

My favorite horse story is that of Barbaro, a horse that rallied a nation to act, out of a deep concern for this horse. Barbaro's short life has left a mark that will forever be felt, and the community that formed around Barbaro is now known as the FOB's for Fans of Barbaro.   Together, we have raised millions of dollars and rescued thousands of horses.   My favorite memory is of racing at a full gallop, underneath the power lines of New Jersey, bareback with my horse only wearing a halter - no hard hat, just totally free..... at six years old.   

Do you have a favorite horse quote? 

Wherever man has left his footprint in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization we will find the hoof print of the horse beside it.   

What is your favorite horse portrayal in media? (book, movie, etc.)  
The Black Stallion,,,, as a child I watched it over and over and over again. Second would be Seabiscuit.    

What is your future goal as an equestrian?   

My future goal is to help people reconnect to themselves and their bodies through working with horses so that ultimately we can reconnect and recalibrate with "the body" known as the Earth.

Follow Julie via these links!   

The Brego Foundation (non-profit) - 

Julie Bridge Mearas Leadership and Coaching 
Transform | Integrate | Lead 

Jessica McHugh

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A prolific writer, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. She has had ten books published in three years, including "Rabbits in the Garden", "The Sky: The World" and the first three installments in her "Tales of Dominhydor" series. More info on Jessica's speculations and publications can be found at

Greetings, Jessica! Welcome to my blog!  
Thank you for sharing your talent!

Where are you from?

I grew up in Hampstead, Maryland where imagination was essential. Well, I suppose I could've gotten into sex and drugs to combat boredom, but I was saving that for my twenties. 

When did you begin writing? 

I always wrote, but I started writing seriously when I was 19. I worked for 11 hours a day at a perfume kiosk that didn't sell much perfume, so naturally I had to find something to occupy the time. I read a lot, especially macabre short stories. One day, I just started writing my own. I still have that first notebook, filled with not-great but not-terrible short stories and the beginnings of my first novel "Maladrid". 

Do you have a muse, catalyst or sidekick for writing?

I enjoy wine. Oh yes I do. I love getting home from work, setting myself up in my Writing Hut with a glass of wine and going ink-sane. :) Other than that, the stories themselves are my muses. I'm inspired (and often surprised) by what tumbles out.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I do love being in my Writing Hut, but honestly, my favorite place to write is wherever I get great writing done. It could be the break room at work, the waiting room of a doctor's office, or outside while I'm taking my daily walk. I write anywhere at anytime, so one might say I take my Writing Hut wherever I go.

When you are writing and deep into characters, do you become a hermit for days?

I used to, but ever since I met my husband, I've taken to disappearing for hours instead of days. Now when I'm deep into story and characters, I bombard my husband with ideas and plots and character quirks until he has to politely say "That's a lot to take, Honey."

You are an accomplished published Author.  Your genre is diverse.  What is your favorite genre to write?  Why?

I'm rocking a horror vibe right now. I find horror extraordinarily fun to write because of the descriptions that are inherent: dripping blood, spattered gore, cracking bone: it's all very playful for me. Plus I love that I, an admitted scaredy-cat, can scare other people. It pleases me to no end. However, I will be turning back to sci-fi in a few months and I'm looking forward to the change of scenery. I definitely delight in being a genre nomad.

Who are your favorite authors?  Why?

Roald Dahl is my absolute favorite, but Bret Easton Ellis and Stephen King aren't far behind. I love Roald Dahl because of his diversity. Most people don't even realize that he wrote anything but children's books, but he has some of the best short stories I've ever read. Some are slightly twisted and some are downright terrifying. Some are incredibly funny and incredibly adult like the "My Uncle Oswald" short stories and novel. His autobiographies are also extremely interesting/funny/terrifying. If anyone out there likes Roald Dahl's children's books, read a few of his short stories. Once you re-read the children's book, you'll realize how incredibly macabre he is even in his stories for kids.

What do you like to do in addition to writing?

I love to sing. I'm ones of those weirdos that practices karaoke before going out. I was in show choir and musicals in high school and since I don't have the time to perform on stage anymore, karaoke is the closest I get. 

What is your deepest, darkest secret?

I don't have any. I've already spilled all of my secrets in my writing. You may never spot them, but they're there. 

What are you working on at the current moment?

I'm currently in revision hell for three novels, and they're all very different. The first is "Telinhe: The Tales of Dominhydor, Book Four" slated for release next year, and that's an epic fantasy. The second is my historical fiction about playwright Christopher Marlowe, "Verses of Villainy", and last but not least is my new horror novel "PINS". I'm also working on various poetry and short stories. 

What are you plans for the future in regards to writing?

My plan is to maintain my uniqueness. In every endeavor, I want to be original and conform to nothing but writing entertaining fiction. I have a lot of stories to tell; whether they are told through fiction, poetry, or theatre, I'm not exactly sure, but I'm confident they'll let me know when they're ready. 

Out of the Woods 
A poem by Jessica McHugh  

I walk the stone-fields of home, watching industry turn alpine 
And craft too many houses with too few backyards. 
The old manor at the foot of the knotted Hampstead hill is gone.
What happened to the squatter, I will never know, 
But I imagine him somewhere below the pavement, 
Knocking on the sidewalk's underside 
And begging for something I still cannot give. 
I stomp and he knocks back, 
Letting me know we are likewise entombed. 
Past the squatter's lot, the bramble-lined paths we cut with sticks-turned-swords 
Are only roads now. 
They turn with an ease that trees refuse
And lead travelers too readily out of the woods.
As a child, I hoped I'd never find my way out.   

The Prettiest Girls
A Short Story by Jessica McHugh

   Henry Young had a fondness for blonds, especially the fake ones. His height of sensuality was in watching a girl strip away the brunette until she hit the flaxen attitude beneath. He hadn't found a girl who'd let him watch yet, but he was always on the lookout for the one who wouldn't run, the one who wouldn't call the police or chase him away from the window with a pair of dull scissors. He was surprised by how many people had dull scissors laying around. How did they expect to defend themselves against someone whose scissors were as sharp as Henry's? They never could, which is why he also had a fondness for dull scissors. But he still wished for a girl who wouldn't reach for a weapon when she saw him. He'd never gotten that far and it left him with a perpetual desire for satisfaction, always hoping the next girl would be the one, then the next, and the next...However, he couldn't deny his enjoyment in the chase. Fear played with women's bodies in the most delightful way. Every heave, every shriek, every jostle of fight and flight incited Henry's hunger, even for those who were only half-bleached. The allure of blood soaking into blond was a bonus Henry cherished with every methodical snip. Those clippings never entered his collection, but they were beautiful, scattered around a bald head like a rosy halo.

   The girl from the tavern was more strawberry than he usually preferred, but he was willing to make an exception. He'd been watching her for nearly a month, growing more enraptured with each day he beheld the difference between the bartender and the actual girl. She was always soft at work, always polite, but through the window of her living room, she seemed softer still. She danced more than she walked and sang more than she spoke, and it solidified the truth he'd always known: blonds were the prettiest girls. And although they weren't always sweeter, they had a sweetness brunettes did not. It was an intangible thing...until Henry had their hair in hand. Feeling their beauty, he, too, felt beautiful. She was gleefully singing along to her favorite TV show and didn't hear him break the lock on the back door. He walked into the room calmly, pretending he belonged there. She didn't run until he withdrew the scissors, but she didn't get far. He grabbed her by the ankle and pulled her to the ground, dragging her into the kitchen while whistling the jaunty Journey tune she'd so recently been singing. She thrashed madly until the scissors got a taste of her. One quick slash of her Achilles tendon and the resulting shower of blood onto the linoleum stopped her flailing. But she wouldn't stop crying. It was rather unattractive the way her face scrunched up during each bawl. He tried to ignore the ugliness by repeating “blonds are the prettiest girls”, but it didn't work. She wasn't who he thought she was, so there was no reason to keep her around. Her hair, however, was pretty enough for keeping. “Pretty pretty pretty” he clucked as he pressed the scissors against her throat and grabbed her hair. It felt strange: dry and wiry; somewhat plastic. All it took was a tug to realize why. The wig pulled free, revealing a short crop of dark brown hair. Henry threw it to the floor angrily and she laughed. He expected her laughter to enrage him more, but oddly, his rage diminished. She was so pretty when she laughed; even with her true brunette out in the open, she was prettier than any blond he'd seen before. The scissors froze her smile and the blades stretched it up her cheeks. Looking down at her new Glasgow grin, Henry realized his lifelong mistake. The prettiest girls didn't have to be blond. The prettiest girls laughed at death.



Arshad Saleem

Arshad Saleem is a Performance Poet, Writer (Fiction, Drama, Articles, Stories for Children), TV Anchor, Radio Jockey, Voice Over Artist, Journalist..and more!!  As a Copy Writer and Journalist by Profession, Arshad is well-versed in the literary arts.  

Thank you, Arshad, for being a guest on my blog! 

Where are you from?

Ans.: My home town is district Charsadda in Province Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan. But currently I am in Karachi.

What is your profession?

Ans.: I am a Journalist (columnist, feature writer & Editor) also Broadcaster, Voice over Artist & Radio Producer by profession.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Ans.: I didn’t want to be a writer but in other words all these creative writings (poetry, short stories etc.) wanted to be written by me. Actually I have a literary background, my father Mr. Saleem Raz is a well known writer, critic, poet & columnist of international repute.

As a journalist and newspaper editor, what do you look for in creating a news worthy story?

Ans.: Today’s journalism is just creating sensation or presenting politicians statements based on propagandas (talking about Urdu News Papers not English Newspapers in Pakistan). Unluckily, I am affiliated with Urdu press but not working in News Section, I am by choice in Magazine section, love to work on Literature and culture. Few years back I was editor of children magazine.

What is your favorite subject to write about?

Ans.: Do you think that there should be a favorite subject for a writer to write about? These are feelings, experiences and observations appeal to write about. Sometimes current burning events, conflicts, exploitation, injustice and cruelty compel to write.

What is the funniest story you've covered?

Ans.: Good question, hahaaha….next please!!!

You have a radio show as well. What is your program about?

Ans.: From last few months not doing any show, but in broadcasting carrier more than 1,500 shows have presented in Pashto and Urdu languages from different FM, AM Radio channels and Television Channels  on different social issues( like violence against women, child labor, women trafficking etc.), culture, current affairs and literary subjects (poetry based shows also included).

Who or what is your inspiration for writing?

Ans.: My father, family background and studying books of some Indian, Pakistani, English and Russian Fiction writers really inspired me.

Do you have advice for aspiring journalists/writers?

Ans.: Keen observation….In depth study of all the philosophical work and study, study and study of all the influential Eastern, European and American writers.

Ask yourself a question...

I think it will be better to convert this wish or message into a question. I want peace, prosperity, justice equality for all the humanity equally.
Arshad has a passion for books..some of his favorite writers include:

Guy De Maupassant
Jean Paul Sartre
Anton Chekhov
Fydor Dostoevsky
Maxim Gorky
Leo Tolstoy
Charles Dickens
Jhon Steinbeck
Mirza Ghaleb
Rajendar Singh Baidi

Pen Name :  Arshad Saleem & Ibn e Raz
Known in the world of broadcasting as Arshad Saleem & RJ Arsh

Follow Arshad via these links:


Angie Parisi

Angie Parisi, Missouri, USA
Welcome, Angie, to my famous people blog!  

Thank you for words of wisdom, beautiful poetry, intriguing stories and encouragement to those of us who want to excel at writing!

I love your quote "Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think."  So true, profound and words to live by!!  Please keep us posted of your writing endeavors!
 Anigie Parisi, Missouri, USA

When did you begin writing?

  • When I was about 9 or 10.  While in high school, I continued to write poetry-ish type scribbles, but only my closest friends were allowed to read and/or comment. (I was always shy and insecure and would only share with those who had earned my trust, which wasn’t always an easy feat in those days.) In fact, I recently found my old notebook. After all of these years, it’s amazing to read what I wrote back then and compare to what I’ve written since.

What is your genre? Fiction or Non-Fiction?

  • It really depends on what I am writing. My poetry and prose seem to be more non-fiction while my snippets (still not sure if they will become short stories or are all part of a larger work) are fiction, colored by reality. Now, my blog ( is another story entirely as it’s mostly a collection of my random thoughts run amuck. Anything I encounter that keeps nagging at me incessantly, will eventually become a blog post.

Tell me about your work and what you are currently writing.

  • Lately, life has done it’s very best to interfere and has become a major contributor to “writer’s block”.  While trying to work through this, I have been doing research in preparation to publish a book/eBook consisting of my poems/prose/stories. On my “good” days, I may manage some prose and/or poetry and have occasionally been able to add to a project I’ve been working on; it’s affectionately been dubbed, what-ever-the-hell-it-is-I’m-writing. In addition, being October and all that entails, I am working on a writing challenge and cannot wait to see how it turns out!

Do you use your own life events for themes?

  • I think everyone uses portions of their own lives when they write. I mean, how could they not? Everything you do, say, read, watch - it all shapes you and your views regarding the world. It’s only natural that these things also seep into how you express yourself creativity. In my case, that also means whichever “lucky” person is working my last nerve may end up as an antagonist in whatever I happen to be writing at the time.

Who or what is your muse/inspiration?

Where is your favorite place to write? 

  • I don’t have a favorite place, per se. I will write wherever inspiration strikes, which is why, at the very least, I always have my phone with me; I love my little NOTES app! Luckily, my iPad fits in the diaper bag so I also have that as an option. With today’s technological advances, it’s no longer necessary to have pen and paper with you at all times.

What do you enjoy reading the most?

  • I love to read fantasy, suspense, horror - honestly, I will read most anything.My mom always had a wide variety of books lying around: Harlequin romances, Tolkien, Erich von Daniken, V. C. Andrews…you name it. When I was 16, I ran out of books to read in the house and, since I didn’t feel like walking to the library, I started reading the bible cover to cover. Well, mostly cover to cover…I skipped the “so-and-so begat so-and-so” section. Honestly, I feel being exposed to such an eclectic collection while growing up encouraged me to keep looking for my own voice. I’ve also recently discovered I truly enjoy the books based on the television show Castle, but my single most favorite book of all time is The Once and Future King by T. H. White.

Who is your favorite author?

  • I have so many favorites: Anaïs Nin, Edgar Allan Poe, Heather Brewer, Stephen King, Laurell Hamilton, Dean Koontz and the entire Wolf Pack – such an amazing group of very talented and gifted people!

Ask yourself a question….

  • Why do I write? I really don’t know. When I was younger, it was something I felt I had to do; like breathing, it was necessary for me. As I became older and life became more chaotic, it fell by the wayside and I ultimately felt like something was missing. Now that I’ve begun once again, I feel more secure and confident about myself and am continually amazed at each piece I complete.

By Angie Parisi:

If only…

If only to turn back the hands of time
If only to start over once more
If only to hear those soft words
If only to feel that way still
If only to pretend it's all real
If only to believe the illusion
If ony to have a little hope
If only to, but never again

~ Untitled ~

Star light, star bright,
Where is my brain tonight?
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have it back, both left and right.

Douglas McDaniel

Greetings Douglas McDaniel!  
Welcome to my blog of famous people!  A writer, poet, publisher and a creative blogger since 2000 (and much, much more) you are well-versed in the publishing/writing industry! Congratulations on your book and media releases!  An amazing portfolio of literary genius!  

When did you begin writing?   
Probably, when my intention was to be creative, was in the first or second grade. It was a kind of song-poem called, "Glockenchockaglockawok." It was about the next stage of man. A new kind of animal. "He wasn't dumb and he could walk, Glockenchockaglockawok," I wrote, or sang, actually. Weird I still remember the slow one-two punch of it and everything.   

What is your genre? Fiction or Non-Fiction?  

 Creative non-fiction. Reality lit.   

Tell me about your work and what you are currently writing.   

Working on three new books. One poetry. Another reality lit novel to catch me up on the Obama years, and a baseball book.   

Do you use your own life events for themes?   

 Yes. Myth exposed, confessed. Like Joyce did with myth. Except in non-fiction form.   

Who or what is your muse/inspiration?   

Depends on the day. I tend to just go blank in the head and it pours out when I tip my mind over. Probably everything I've ever felt, heard, read and so on ... the collective unconscious pouring through me ... Like that Grateful Dead song ... could be the angel or the devil ... who knows?   

Where is your favorite place to write?   

 Coffeehouses. In public. It's a desperate cry for attention. Plus, I need the noise.   

What do you enjoy reading the most?   

Physics makes me feel better. After that, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, Mark Twain ... and poets from the early 1960s ... Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Ginsberg ... Plus, one of my favorite books of all time was Norman Mailer's "Armies of the Night," because he wrote about himself in third-person ... so many books ... things to remember ... an almost impossible question that I thought I could just kiss off, but didn't ...   

Who is your favorite author?   

 Kurt Vonnegut. He changed my life at an early age.   

What advice do you have for inspiring writers?   

Inspiring or aspiring? Blog first. Don't do it, second. Study hotel motel management, buy an iPad and become a reader instead.   

What’s your favorite quotation?  

My own: "Although it may not be apparent, everything is in order."  

Ask yourself a question….  

What is my favorite color? Red, no, blue, auuuuuaauauauauaugghggghhh!

Follow Douglas:

Consider the totality of stress
on the renaissance man.
Hustlin' to & fro',
talkin' wings off birds,
puttin' eyeballs on kites,
makin' list of daemons.
Start one thing no sooner
you're burning the next green branch,
jugglin' chaos and oozing blood
to congeal the form,
breakin' time's inscrutable pane a' glass
& gettin' no sleep in the process.
There are days when ideasrise in the sequence
of smoke holes to the ceiling,
and you gasp for air,
allowing the muse to take form.
There is no sex life, 
nada,no time for introspection,
only invention and monk's tea,
as if mere air were a seven-course meal
before you turn to bed to weep. 

~Douglas McDaniel,Phoenix, Arizona
Currently available at
in the book of collected works,"Many Moons to Mythville"

Marty Thegoatpoet

Hi Marty! Welcome to my blog! Besides being witty, blue-eyed, hippy and a vegetarian, you are also a fantastic writer and poet! Thanks for gracing your poetry here and the connection!

Why do you love poetry?

  • Because it allows me to freely express my inner self in a way prose or verbalization can't.

When did you start writing?

  • I have been writing for decades, but only seriously and with any regularity for the past 14 months. Prior to that I wrote (I guess) a poem or two a year...?

What are your goals as a poet?

  • To get Published!!! And perhaps more importantly, to be read widely on whatever medium.

Which poets do you enjoy reading the most?

  • William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Seamus Heaney, Edgar Allan Poe, Keats, Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Roger McGough, T.S. Eliot to name but a few.

What inspires you to write?

  • Anything and everything.

What advise do you have for starting out poets?   

  • Dear starting out Poet, Be true to Yourself when writing from emotion, avoid clichés! and write, write, write and read... Learn from the Greats and practice.

Do you write in other forms besides poetry?

  • Occasionally I did a toe into Flash Fiction, though I'm in the process of starting an episodic novel to be published as a Blog.

What is your ideal environment to write?

  • Anywhere... have notebook, will travel (which is a cliché... so I didn't write that okay???)

What does poetry add to the world/what would the world be without poetry?

  • Passion, joy, happiness, emotion... / Greyer and more boring.

Ask yourself a question....

  • What's for Lunch? Probably salad with a vegetarian non-chicken Kiev.

Follow Marty.....

Eternal ~ Sonnet 26

Beyond the time when my heart beats less strong,
and age drawn curtains, rheumy, cross my mind,
When nailing down the lid renders me blind,
And after the end notes of my last song
echo unto the gates of heavens throng,
past when my agéd joints have ceased to grind,
When deaths corruption starts me to unbind
and this cruel life can no more do me wrong,
When all I am has vanished to the past,
no memory of me remains extant,
And naught of me is left here on this plane,
The one thing I can promise You will last,
The ONLY thing I never can recant,
My Love for You, My Love will never wane.

@Marty TheGoatPoet 2011

Daughter of the Sun ~ Sonnet 11

My heart on Angels wings soars high this day,
For I have seen the daughter of the Sun,
Her father’s light upon her face doth play
Her hair a halo that has equals none,
beauty like this must be of one divine,
for naught but the divine could be so fair,
her lips will surely taste of rich red wine,
should she acquiesce my unask’d dare,
I call upon Great Pan lend me Your guile,
Sweet Thaleia please send to me Your art,
Upon me Aphrodite shine Your smile
Athena Your great wisdom please impart,            
      My Goddess harken now and hear my plea,            
      And when You can, open Your Heart to me?

@Marty TheGoatPoet 2011

Hollie Bollster

Introducing Hollie Bollster, aspiring poet and writer from Hamilton, Ontario Canada! Hollie is a published performance poet at Destiny Poets, UK and a creative writer. 

Welcome Hollie! You are from Canada!  Tell me about Canada and where you live.

  • I am from Hamilton, Ontario Canada a fantastic city, we have more waterfalls than anywhere else in the world. My city, as am I, is in a period of flux. The old industrial past is conflicting with the future and the same thing is happening to me. I feel at home here, love my town and wish to be part of its future. 

Your poetry has been published online at Destiny Poets, UK; you are a fabulous poet! Do you anticipate publishing an anthology of your poetry? 

  • I would love to publish my poetry but doubt nags at me. The new world order for books and publishing is a daunting mess and I am overwhelmed by the way too many options. I plan to buckle down and have recently begun a more serious attempt to find places for my works.

You are also a creative writer! What plans do you have for your creative writing? A novel or collection of short stories? 

  • Short stories can be sold and published individually in, again, way too many venues. I have however submitted several, which were all turned down, but that is but a learning process. As for novel(s)...yes I plan to finish one I have started and have the ideas floating in this miasma that is my head for many more. 

What is your writing style/genre? 

  • I grew up reading mainly science fiction, but have wandered to classics, to modern musings, horror, comedy, and I do so love tragedy. My stories seem to reflect me. therefore they are of a darker, adult nature. My characters are imperfect, damaged people with pasts that need to be overcome. I like the possibility of redemption but not guarantee it to anyone, not even the beloved main characters). 

What is your inspiration for writing? 

  • I love to read and have always marveled at the depth of stories and the creation of peoples that seem so real to me that I would weep, laugh, cry, hurt when they do. My mind is a constant chaos, a seething, burning miasma and if I do not find and output for the incessant buzzing.... 

What advice do you have for aspiring poets and writers?

  • Read everything and anything you can whenever you can. Set aside time to read because it is wonderful. When writing , just write, let yourself pour out and never look back until you absolutely must.

Thank you, Hollie, for sharing your endeavors and for sharing a few samples of your wonderful poetry!!

Destiny Poets UK

Ronald S. Barak

Ronald S. Barak
Author of A Season For Redemption
Where are you from? Are you a full-time writer?
I’m from Los Angeles, California.  Based on hours, yes I’m a full-time writer.  Based on the fact that I spend as many hours on my day job, the practice of law, it might be argued that I’m not a full time anything.  The wife thinks I’m too full time, period, but in fact she just likes to be contrary and is in fact my biggest fan.

What genre of writing do you prefer? Why?
I prefer all kinds of mystery and thriller books.  Many writers think those are mutually exclusive concepts, the first being built on who done it puzzles to solve and the second being predicated on high anxiety action.  In my debut novel, A Season For Redemption, and my pending second novel, The Quiet Terrorist(s), I try to combine the two, shooting for who done it mystery coupled with high anxiety action.  I guess the short answer of why I prefer writing this genre, or these genres, is because that’s what I prefer reading, and have been reading for decades.  I wrote my first novel on a dare from some friends just a couple years ago.  It took me nine months to write.  I wasn’t planning to do more, but I enjoyed it so much, and the feedback was so gratifying, that I am back for more. 

What was your inspiration for your new novel?
It was a combination of two things, the dare I just mentioned and the fact that I have a strong dislike for most all politicians, liberals and conservatives alike.  I’m not very political; I just don’t like politicians.  So, I was interested in writing a novel on this subject in modern day D.C. that would draw some attention to this subject.  In the book, there is a fictional organization called “The National Organization For Political Integrity,” “NoPoli” for short, which also stands for “no politicians!”  When the book was published, so was the website  Through four staff members, NoPoli blogs about real time, real world politicians in need of…attention, in a style that is a combination of harsh reality, and humor.  One thing very different about these bloggers:  They don’t exist; they are some of the characters from my first novel.  Two other characters from my first novel, the judge who presides over the murder trial in the first novel, Arnold Lambert, and a homicide detective, Frank Lotello, who works behind the scenes with the judge to unravel what needed unraveling before the jury could perhaps wrongfully decide the case, appear in my pending second novel, in part a sequel to the first, but an entirely new story as well.  My hope is that these two characters, each of whom has just a little of me in them, will support a series of future novels.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Of course, I’m a lawyer.  What lawyer doesn’t have at least some advice on anything and everything?  What I’m learning about writing is that it takes a lot of hard work to make it, in no particular order, writing ability, persistence, marketing and luck.  To get there, you need to be prepared to accept rejection, and to just keep slugging until you get there.

What is your next project?
I guess I got a little bit ahead of you.  The next project is The Quiet Terrorist(s), about terrorists who try to do some very bad things.  Something goes awry along the way and they end up seizing and threatening to kill some hostages, one of whom was a juror in the murder trial in A Season For Redemption and recommends Judge Lambert be brought in to mediate an impasse between the terrorists and the President of the United States.  I can’t say anymore because it’s a matter of national security and if I told you anymore, “I’d have to kill you - and all your readers.”

Ron, both novels sound like intriguing reads and I will certainly purchase my copies!  Thank you for being a part of my blog and sharing your writing experience, success and future endeavors! Please keep in touch and let me know of future book releases!  Congratulations and best wishes!
Visit Ron's sites for additional information: