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...

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