Friday, November 28, 2014

Just a few days until The Mule Man arrives!

The edits are done now and it's moving into the queue to be released on December 7. My editor, who is an avid horsewoman, said she liked it. She did not know that I had quite a lot of experience with mules when I was a young woman; now she does!

I promised a bit on this so here you go. I got my first horses when I was about ten, a couple of old mares who were retired cowponies. It was love at first pat, ride and so on, and that fondness has never left me. A year of so later, a mule joined the menagerie and very quickly found a place in my affections too.

Louie was dark blackish-brown and about fourteen hands high. He had a tan nose that I said was the color of peanut butter! He really was a dear and we had a lot of fun trips together. That is me in the saddle with him on the right. The 30-30 saddle gun was strictly practical because there were cougars, coyotes and other potential dangers out in the hills where we went. And yes, I could and did use it. I really was a "cowboy girl" back in those days!

 If you are not "horsey" let me explain that equines are measured in terms of "hands" which is four inches. The height is taken at the withers which is equivalent to that little bumpy vertebra at the back of our necks and on them is right above the forelegs at the shoulder. As the name implies, Louie was a male and male mules are called "jacks" or now mostly "johns." A mule is a hybrid creature with a female horse for the mother and a male donkey or burro for the father. About 99.9% of mules are sterile but there has been a documented case or two where a female mule (called a "mollie") had a foal with either a stallion (un-neutered male horse) or a jack donkey.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to associate with several old cowboys and expert horsemen who swore by mules. I learned how to manage the long eared beasts and found they were very sure footed, much smarter than horses in terms of taking care of themselves--and the rider, within reason--and the legendary stubbornness and even meanness were far overstated. They make a really great saddle animal if they are properly trained! One old cowboy joked, "First ya gotta be smarter than the mule." Trust me, that is not always easy because they really are very intelligent and crafty creatures! You just have to use that to your advantage. I put a lot of this background into my story, of course. Although I did not neglect the romance and some very hot sex!!

Anyway, between my mid-teens and my delayed departure to start college, my dad and I trained and sold a lot of mules, mostly for trail riders. At that time this was just becoming a popular sport across the country. I probably rode and worked with somewhere between fifty and seventy five mules in that time and only came across a few who fit all the bad stereotypes. Now mules are quite popular in many equestrian circles and some are jumping, doing dressage, used in gymkhana and other competitive performance events and yes, still ridden on trail rides. It is pretty awesome!

To the left I am riding a little spotted mule we called Beano. A similar photo appeared in an ad we ran in the Western Horseman magazine during the time I describe. Those rugged hills are on the west side of Arizona's scenic Verde Valley. Great training ground!

Naturally with this background, I knew I had to come up with a mule story, and The Mule Man is that. There may be others and I may follow the adventures of Orr and Jase a bit further in a sequel. That will partly depend on the readership and sales because I do try to give my readers what they want and a great indicator of that is good sales. But there are also times when my muse takes the bit in her teeth and just tells me what we are going to write about, so you never can tell!

On the 6th of December I'll have a couple of posts on Amber Quill's Author Blog. That's at
(https// ) I will be doing a give-away with a free download or two of this story or the winner's choice from my back list and also have an interview with one or both of the leads in this story so be sure to stop by and check on that!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Amber Quill Friday Fun

AQ has special sales most Fridays now. Today's feature is mystery, detective and crime stories. There are several Deirdre titles in the list as well as lots of cool books by my fellow authors. Click out and take a look and snap up a bunch at a special price!  You don't even have to do a special knock or use a secret handshake to get in!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mules and Me--Part 1

I told you yesterday that I had a history with mules. I know I am kinda weird and a lot of that is due to the way I grew up. I went to one and two room schools from second through seventh grade and most of the time my dad was my teacher. A friend in a local writing group where we're doing memoir type essays laughingly called it "home schooled with an audience." True, and that's just part of it.

Among other things, my dad was a writer for outdoor adventure magazines and got deeply involved in hunting and photography expeditions. By the time I was about ten we had gotten horses and then mules to use on these trips. As the eldest kid I became the main wrangler and by the time I was in high school I was working at close to a professional level breaking and training horses and mules! That led to a lot of bumps, bruises and crazy adventures, I can tell you! I'm starting to write non-fiction articles and essays about some of them.

I have written a lot more about this past life on the other blog Gwynn and I share, but will just say that from an old mule named Louie who was the first one I rode and handled through about fifty others, I got to knew mules well and became a fan of the long eared critters. They are smart, sure footed, sturdy and healthy and their reputed stubbornness is more about keeping themselves--and incidentally their rider--safe than just ornery ways. The concessionaire at the Grand Canyon for the cross-canyon rides uses mules exclusively because they are safer for inexperienced riders, rarely trip or fall and stay calm.

Awhile back the Amber Allure writers got together and did a PAX called Heavy Petting. I had a dog story in it. When another was planned, I jumped in and decided to do a mule story. Because of my Alaska trip, I got it in a bit late and five other authors beat me to the punch, so my story wound up being released as a stand-alone tale. More on that next time.

Meanwhile, here is the cover shot from Mules and More Magazine, March 2014 issue. Yes, that is your intrepid author in her late teens on a mule named Beano --'cause he was spotted like a pinto bean--in the rough foothills of central Arizona's Black Hills Range. It lies along the west side of the Verde Valley, renowned as the locale of Sedona's famous red rocks. The pictured rocks were on the opposite side and white rather than red, and also rougher than Hades! Lots of cactus, too; a big inducement to be sure you stayed in that saddle! Most of the time I did, even on the wilder and unreliable mules, but Beano was a good little guy and was eventually sold to a lady who did a lot of trail riding. She loved him.

This same photo also appeared in an advertisement in Western Horseman Magazine when we were selling mules for trail riding etc. Mules are now a big fad and they are a lot slicker and fancier than the ones I knew but still very impressive animals. I tried to make the mule characters in The Mule Man just as true to type and real life as I could!
I hope you will enjoy them and the mule man as well, totally a figment of my imagination but I would have liked to meet him, even if he isn't into girls...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Mule Man is coming!

It's less than a month now until my new story, The Mule Man, will be released! I'm excited about this one because of a number of reasons that I will be sharing in the next week or two but right now I want everyone to see the fabulous cover the very talented Trace Edward Zaber has created for this story!

I swear that man is a genius and he must read my mind because he gets stuff so perfectly right about 99.9% of the time! The background looks soooo much like the real area I visualized as the setting for my first hero's ranch! Now how could he know that? I am sure he has never been to Cliff/Gila New Mexico!! And they are pretty obscure little bergs, too. All the mules in my story are not red (sorrel) but one key one is, like the first one on the right side there. Her name is Penny...

So here it is. I'll be telling you about me and mules in a prior life (not literally but it sure feels that way) and very likely doing an interview with my two heroes in this tale, Orr and Jase. I recently discovered that in many equestrian circles mules are now the "in thing" which delights me no end. They are doing jumps, dressage, racing, and of course trail riding and gymkana. How cool is that? I am a real mule fan, right after trains and sled dogs!! Yee-haw!!