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!

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