If you read my last post you know what my favorite picture is this week :) I think I took more pictures of Ashwin than any of the other horses this summer. What's your favorite? I also like the power lines and vintage hat.
Whisper is finally finished!! I stayed up until one a.m. last night because I simply had to get it done! It's only been two and a half months since I started it...that certainly is a record time frame for me!
It is nineteen chapters, not including the epilogue and is the shortest thing I ever written, but I think the intensity of the story will make up for the lack of length, at least in part. It's just over 34,000 words right now, but that will probably change during editing.
I really love this story. I got way more emotionally involved than I usually do and I hope that shows.
I was going to save this picture for Friday, but I just couldn't wait. This is one of my favorites of Ashwin and I think it fits really well with the last part of the book. This will be the last picture in the story and I wrote a scene to go with it. I think it portrays the happy, content Whisper in contrast to some of the pictures I'll use for the beginning of the book that show Ashwin agitated.
Here is one last excerpt from Whisper. I had a really hard time choosing what to share, and it had to be short, otherwise it gives the whole story away :)
I need to spend some time working on Book #2 of The Christian Cowgirl Adventure Series, but I'm hoping to have Whisper published this winter if I can get all my ducks in a row!
I took her face in my hands and touched our foreheads together. "It's going to be just fine." I whispered. "Be a brave girl for me."
Taking the rope in my left hand, I grabbed the stirrup and slid my foot in. I felt her tense so I waited a minute before easing my weight into the stirrup.
I paused, but she stayed still so I swung my leg over the saddle.
Exhilaration rushed through me. I was sitting on her
Everything felt good so I lifted the makeshift reins, clucked a little and squeezed my legs gently.
She stepped out a bit hesitantly, but soon her stride lengthened and she tossed her head excitedly.
My hands were shaking from excitement. I shifted the reins to my left hand and used my right to stroke her neck.
We walked steadily around the ring a few times, then I squeezed my legs again and she broke into a trot.
Her stride was smooth and I felt like I was floating.
Another few rounds and we sailed into a canter, our bodies moving together as if we'd been made for each other.
Around we flew. Everything else disappeared until it felt as if we were completely alone.
If you ever have the opportunity to help an abused horse, remember Whisper and give them a second chance."
I have just hit 30,000 words on Whisper! I was at standstill for awhile, but it is going strong again!
I'm on the last leg of the story. It's not going to be as long as I was hoping, but I think the message it holds will make up for it's lack of length.
Ashwin is doing great. I've taken him on several rides, both alone and with a group and he is doing amazing. He is learning how to canter without being afraid and is a super steady horse. He doesn't like a bit so we ride him bitless, like Smoke. Levi rode him a little earlier this week and he liked him. He's such a sweet boy and he's come a long way from when we first got him. Lydia was even able to ride him on a trail ride the other day and he was absolutely perfect. She even loped him a few times.
And now another excerpt...
As I came out of the barn from putting my tack away, I felt someone watching me.
Turning, I saw my mare gazing at me from her corral. Her expression was guarded, but curious.
Her gaze was intense and instead of avoiding her eyes as I usually did, I fixed my eyes on her shoulder as I approached.
That seemed to confuse her a little, but she held her ground and waited. I held my breath. I sensed that whatever was happening was crucial to our relationship.
I walked slowly up to the fence and she still stood quietly. I could see the battle raging. She wanted to trust me, wanted to believe I wouldn't hurt her, but something was holding her back.
I looked into her eyes and I knew, this was it. I had to join up with her now.
The mare's head came up and glancing quickly behind me, I saw Dad standing in the barn doorway.
I picked up a ten foot rope from where someone had left it on the ground and moved slowly to the gate.
I eased it open and stepped inside. The mare turned to face me and she blew out nervously. She knew something was up.
Slowly I coiled the rope in my hand and took a few steps toward her. I needed to see how she responded to pressure so I didn't push her too hard and set us back.
I stepped slightly to her right and she copied my movement. I stepped closer and she backed up.
I had a feeling that she understood what I was doing and was okay with it.
So I held one end of the rope in my left hand and the coil in my right and waved it at her gently.
She snorted and backed up. I waved it higher and with another snort, she turned and trotted along the fence.
I shook the rope at her and she picked up her pace. She held her head high and the white of her eyes were showing. She was filled with fear, but trying hard to please me.
When I felt she was ready, I tossed the rope toward her, keeping hold of one end. She immediately started cantering.
I kissed to her and trotted to keep up, coiling the rope as I moved before throwing it again.
It landed closer to her this time and she gave a little squeal as she jumped ahead to avoid it.
This was the beginning step of join-up. Horses are prey animals and they usually choose flight over fight. When I put pressure on her and made myself to be bigger than her, she ran from me. I can't kick or bite her like another horse would to assert dominance, so by chasing her off and denying her access to me,
eventually she will ask to have a relationship with me and will join-up. The rope is basically an extension of my arm and to her, it's like another horse kicking her.
A horse's flight distance is usually about a quarter mile. After that distance, they will turn and face whatever frightened them and determine A) whether it really was a threat or B) whether it is still there at all.
When they are in disgrace with the alpha horse, they are chased from the herd and made to stay away until they show signs of submission. They are more vulnerable when away from the herd, so they usually come around fairly quickly, eager for the security of authority.
During join-up, you are letting the horse know that you are the alpha and also teaching them that you don't want to hurt them and letting them know they can trust you.
The mare didn't like the fact that I was telling her what to do, but I could see her relaxing as she realized I wasn't going to hurt her and also finding security in my authority.
After ten minutes of keeping the mare moving constantly, I saw her inside ear turn and lock onto me, the first sign that she beginning to submit. Up until now, her ears had been flickering back and forth, but now that it had locked on me, I knew that she was concentrating.
As she loped around the pen, I marveled at how beautiful she was. Her silver coat glistened in the sun, her dainty head and intelligent eyes drew me in. Underneath that stunning exterior lay a beautiful heart, just waiting for someone to notice and help it blossom.
It was a warm day and the mare was sweating heavily. I prefer to do join-up when it is cool in the early morning or evening, but Dad had always told me, "When you feel the time is right, go for it." A lot of working with horses is about feelings. You can only have so much head knowledge; the rest comes from the heart. Dad says that is what separates the great trainers from the rest. They follow their heart, not their head.
Well, I'm late with a post once again! The internet has really been giving us headaches lately and it will probably be awhile before we get it resolved, but I will do my best to post more regularly and on time :)
What is your favorite photo this week? I like the one of Smoke and the one of Lydia but my favorite is the side view of the school desks :)
I also really love the one of the wooden door hidden behind the vines and bushes...that one just might become a book cover!!
Happy 50th Birthday, Dad!
We had a surprise "over the hill" party for him Saturday evening with about twenty-five friends and family. It was a miracle we managed to pull it off...its very hard to keep a secret from him :) But it was a ton of fun! Hope this next year is a great one!
Well, I was supposed to post the winner of the giveaway of Alicia's book on Saturday, but due to internet issues, I wasn't able to.
So, drum roll please...our winner is....Hannah Yu! Congratulations Hannah! Please leave a comment with your contact information so Alicia can send you your PDF copy of From the Dark to the Dawn.
We are having internet problems at home so my posts will be very sporadic as I have to do them on my phone...not the easiest thing in the world!!
Just a few pics today. I spent of my week indoors :)
Decadent Rome, 61 Anno Domini. The masters of the universe have crushed the Iceni rebellion with an iron hand, slaughtering and enslaving her people.
For Philip, his existence as a captive means living to hatred. He despises his rich, young master, resenting his life of servitude and the wrestling feats Marcus forces him to perform. Bitterness engulfs his soul until he only lives for the day when he will crush the might of Rome.
Then Christianity enters the picture. Taught by a Jewish breadmaker to know the man called Christus, Philip begins the struggle to forgive and honor his master. But forgiveness is not easy towards one who lives for himself.
Marcus Virginius knows nothing but power and pleasure. Destined to a successful career serving Nero in the Praetorian Guard, he wants no part of Christianity. And he is determined to crush Philip’s newfound faith – no matter what it takes.
Join Philip and Marcus in their journey of redemption, faith, and forgiveness. Is love enough to conquer hate? And will the light of the gospel ever surmount the darkness of Rome?
Persecution abounds – will the two young men survive its terrors and live to experience the bright hope of a new dawn?
I first heard of Alicia Willis a couple months ago through Google+.
I began following her and one of her books caught my eye instantly.
It hadn't been released yet and the longer I waited for it to come out, the more eager I was to read it.
I bought the eBook soon after it came out and...wow! I was very impressed.
From the Dark to the Dawn: A Tale of Ancient Rome is a beautiful, inspiring story. The characters are real and the scene descriptions are wonderful. Alicia did a remarkable job of weaving the story together.
I'm not a person that is easily moved, but this story had me in tears several times. My heart went out to Philip and Marcus as they learned and struggled.
I really can't say enough about this book. It is very obvious that Alicia put a lot of effort into this story and her hard work paid off.
You can visit her blog http://aliciaannewillis.blogspot.com/ to learn more about Alicia and to see her other titles.
Alicia has offered to give away one PDF copy of this book!
Thanks for doing this giveaway, Alicia!
How to Enter:
Leave a comment stating which of these you have done along with your username
The winner will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 13th.
A bit more variety this week! This time there is no doubt in my mind about what is my favorite picture! I absolutely love the picture of Ashwin(above). I shot that with my phone while loping Smoke and leading him behind us.
I really like a lot of the other pictures too. I just got a bunch of pictures printed and I'm planning on putting together some collages. That should be fun!
Most of these pictures were taken after a storm...I've always loved pictures of plants with rain drops but could never seem to get any myself so I was pleased that these turned out so well.
Some of the other ones were from a recent trip to an Amish store in Clare, Michigan. I took my camera along knowing we would be in Amish country and I was glad I did.
While we were at the Amish store, a lady had a heart attack. Mom helped her until the ambulance got there, since she is an RN. We had quite an adventure that day!
I redid the cover for Whisper the other day...what do you think?
I like this version better.
I haven't been working on Whisper quite as furiously as before. I'm on Chapter Fifteen, 27000 words. The ideas are still there, I've just been having trouble A) finding time to write and B) actually getting the ideas from my head onto the computer :)
The last time I shared an excerpt, I asked for your input on whether I should make this a series or not.
I have decided to let Whisper stand on it's own, but I intend to continue writing about abused animals, horses specifically. I have already started another book about an abused horse. Samantha, the main character, lives on a dairy farm, so in addition to writing about her and the horse, I intend to include lots of fun stuff about life a dairy farm. I've always wanted to write about my experiences when we were still milking cows, but never could think of a story. Now I have story and I can weave in some of the great and not so great things that went on on the farm.
Ok, here's another shot of lovely Ashwin a.k.a Whisper and the expert. :)
Dad stood back and watched as I unlatched the gate and stepped inside.
I attempted to steady my ragged breathing and wiped my sweaty hands on my skirt as I stepped inside. The mare was nervous enough without taking her cues from me.
Dropping my eyes to the ground, I made sure my posture wasn't threatening in any way.
The mare seemed strangely calm. I wondered why, but didn't dwell on it. As long as she wasn't throwing a fit, I was happy.
Dad spoke softly. "Walk next to the fence, Rachel. Drag your feet."
I did as he said, keeping my right shoulder parallel to the fence. I moved slowly, occasionally glancing in the mare's direction, but mostly I watched her out of the corner of my eye.
Outwardly she remained calm except for a slight tensing of her muscles every once in a while if I made too sudden of a move, but I knew there was an inward battle raging.
I walked about fifteen feet down the fence, then Dad told me to turn and go back the way I had come.
I walked back to the gate, passed it and continued down the fence.
The mare was watching intently and I could see the fear in her eyes, but I also saw curiosity.
She swished her tail nervously. It's typical of horses to swish their tail when they are nervous or concentrating.
So far, I was thrilled she hadn't reacted to me, but her lack of reaction was also a bit discouraging. I was eager for some movement, some major acknowledgement of my presence.
A moment later, she gave it to me.
As I took another tentative step forward, she turned and trotted in the opposite direction.
I wanted to cry, laugh, dance…anything to show how thrilled I was.
True, she had moved away from me, but right now it was a huge step in the right direction.
The last time I had attempted to enter her pen, she had screamed and lashed out violently…her intent had been to
frighten me off, she was ready to fight.
Now, she had chosen flight over fight and I was thrilled. You can deal with a horse that will run from you, but a horse that wants to fight is very dangerous and not to be trifled with.
She had chosen to run from me and that I could handle.
Horses are prey animals and they have two things that they instinctively do when frightened or threatened. Fight or flight. Horses will usually choose flight, so when one chooses to fight, you know to tread lightly.
The mare was still moving away from me, following the fence. I stayed rooted where I was and after a few minutes of pacing back and forth, she stopped and faced me.
I was surprised she had faced me. Usually when a horse feels threatened, they will turn their rump to you. That is their defense mechanism and it is easier to defend themselves with their back feet.
She was showing that she did trust me to a certain degree. She was fairly certain I was not going to hurt her, but she couldn’t bring herself to trust me fully yet.
I was beginning to really understand how her mind worked and what she was thinking from her body language.
I rewarded her for stopping and facing me by turning my back to her, releasing the pressure and letting her settle for a few minutes.
I was impatient to try to get closer, but I knew if I rushed it, a lot of work would be undone, so I waited until I felt she had had a chance to calm down, then I turned back around.
She was regarding me curiously, but calmly. I began walking toward her along the fence again, keep my shoulders tipped to the outside.
Her head came up, but she did not move.
This time I got within twenty feet of her before I felt I couldn't push her any further.
I wasn't sure what to do now. I didn't want to push her too hard, but I didn't want to go too easy either.
Dad spoke in a low tone. "Sit down on the ground and keep your eyes off her." he instructed.
I settled down on the ground, watching her out of the corner of my eye.
She seemed curious about this change in tactic.
She lowered her head and blew out, creating a small whirlwind of sand.
I blew out through my mouth, making a similar sound to the one she made.
When you are working with horses, it is important to speak their language and adopt their gestures and habits as much as you can. If you walk, talk, act like them, you become another horse in their minds.
By copying her actions, I was letting her know that I was checking her out, just as she was checking me out. That put us on equal terms and made me less intimidating.
I sat quietly on the ground for about ten minutes, then Dad told me to come out.
I made the leap, or rather, Dad made it for me and we have ordered the publishing package for the second book! Now begins the editing!
There is still a lot of work to do before it will be ready, but if I stick at it, hopefully it will be published by next spring. I'll keep the blog up to date on its progress.
I'm doing a book signing at the local museum in the old one room school house during their annual car show. I'm looking forward to it...there should be a lot of people there and they mentioned that I would be there in two different newspapers.
I'll be posting an excerpt from Whisper tomorrow along with a new cover design.
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