Friday, July 21, 2017

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I purchased the three big beautiful raspberries at a grocery store known for its produce. The handful of small berries came from my backyard. If given a choice one might be tempted to reach for the large plump berries. The reality is that the small less-than-perfect berries taste like heavenly little drops of sweet goodness, while the large berries had very little taste at all. Not only have my imperfect raspberries been a surprising treat, but they have reminded me of a couple of old adages we should always keep in mind—don’t judge a book by its cover and looks can be deceiving.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cussler’s Classic Cars



Whether you are a classic car enthusiast or a fan of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, I highly recommend a visit to the Cussler Museum located in Arvada, Colorado. The museum showcases approximately 70 of the 100 cars in its collection, and the cars rotate annually, so if you keep coming back you’ll eventually see them all. Cars which have appeared in Dirk Pitt novels are identified by a copy of the novel and a brief note in the car’s description placard. Even though I don’t know a lot about old cars, there was no mistaking the quality of this amazing collection. For more information visit www.cusslermuseum.com.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Contemporary Western Cowboy

What good is a contemporary western adventure without a smoking hot cowboy that makes the reader cheer for a happily-ever-after ending. In Big Horn Storm, Niki finds herself in a fight for survival with her childhood infatuation, Deuce. Here’s a short excerpt from when she arrives at the ranch.

Niki couldn’t see Robert Mitchell Blackburn II, known to friends and family as Deuce, but his deep voice gave away his location. No doubt his tall muscular frame stood just inside the barn door, concealed in the shadows. Even though he was hidden from view, she could describe every detail of his unruly hair peeking out from under his beat-up and sweat-stained straw cowboy hat, the scrutinizing look in his hazel eyes, his tanned complexion, and the scuffs on the heels of his boots where his spurs had worn on the leather. Dark stubble would shadow his chin and above his lip, and his sleeves would be rolled up on his denim shirt. She hated the fact that not only could she see him clearly in her mind now, but she could picture him just as clearly nearly every day of her life no matter how hard she tried to keep him out of her head.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Horse vs Dirt Bike

Today, I thought I’d give you an excerpt from Big Horn Storm that would have been tough to write without a little real life experience to back it up.
With a prayer and a swift kick, Niki informed Storm it was time to run for their lives. The horse sensed the danger and cleared the edge of the ravine before the men could react. Niki held on as tight as she could and leaned back to help the horse keep his balance as he lunged down the slope. Rocks dislodged under the fury of his churning hooves as he barreled down the embankment.
They had nearly reached the creek when the first series of shots rang out. Storm shied and turned to follow the creek downstream rather than plunging into the water with its slick bottom at an uncontrolled speed. Another barrage of gunfire pelted the ground, narrowly missing Niki, but hitting nearby rocks, spraying the horse with sharp stone fragments.
A slight bend in the ravine took them out of sight of the shooters and soon the slope was much less intimidating, making it easier for Storm to cross the creek and climb out of the ravine.  Niki released a sigh of relief and encouraged the horse to take it easy as he began his ascent. They had just reached the top when Niki heard the unmistakable sound of two dirt bikes’ engines firing up.
“I hope you have a little more left,” she whispered as she leaned over Storm’s neck, flattening herself against his steaming body.
Her position was all the encouragement the horse needed. Storm stretched out to a full run. His speed and endurance amazed her, but she knew they needed to reach the cover of the thick forest on the other side of the clearing as quickly as possible. Storm had already been galloping for hours before they had even reached the tower, so she doubted he would be able to outrun the dirt bikes for long or dodge the bullets that would come once the soldiers reached the flat meadow.
Niki stole a glance back. The bikes had cleared the ravine’s lip and were rapidly closing in. She looked ahead and estimated they were still a quarter of a mile from a dense stand of trees. Several bullets landed well to the right of Niki, doing no damage, but the noise spurred another burst of speed from the gelding. She fought the urge to look back again—it would serve no purpose. Instead, she kept herself low and her head down to help Storm as much as possible and to minimize the size of target her body presented.
The distance between her and the trees narrowed, but the bikes sounded closer. Another shot narrowly missed as Storm dove into the thin stand of pine. The horse slowed slightly, having to navigate through an old blow-down as if it were an obstacle course. She knew the fallen trees would slow the dirt bikes even more since they would have no choice but to find an alternate route around the jumble of timber, resembling a giant game of pick-up-sticks.
Niki remained low to the horse’s neck as he wove in and out of trees, branches slapping violently, threatening to dislodge her from Storm’s back. He stumbled several times as he maneuvered through the erratically strewn timber, but regained his footing and continued to run. She clung to the horn, hoping the horse knew what he was doing, doubting she still had the ability to think quickly or clearly enough to make a good decision, nor did she want to risk a look up for fear of being stabbed in the eye by a low-hanging branch.
Storm leapt over logs and wove his way around everything he couldn’t clear. His nose was stretched out as if reaching for the finish line at the Kentucky Derby. His breathing huffed above the pounding of his hooves and the breaking of branches and Niki hoped his strength and endurance would last until they were safely away from the armed men.

As the horse finally managed to put distance between them and the sound of the bikes, Niki took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. The noise of the engines had all but faded when she dared her first glimpse up since entering the trees. The sight brought a gasp from her lips. The sheer drop off was the last thing she saw as Storm launched himself over the edge without hesitation.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How to Write Western Action

Life embellished has been essential in writing certain scenes in my novels, especially for Big Horn Storm. When I was a teen, my dad and I were helping friends drive their cattle to a high grazing lease for the summer. By the time we reached the steepest, last big push, the cows were getting tired and a few decided it would be easier to slide back down the mountain than to keep climbing. My dad was on a green-broke colt which wasn’t as surefooted as my palomino gelding, and she was getting a little tired with her heavier load. To make a long story short, my dad told me to go after them. I looked at him like he was mad, but nudged my horse, assuming he wouldn’t go if he thought it was too steep. He was a good cow horse, so he didn’t hesitate to plunge over the edge after the cattle. The slope was too steep and the dirt too loose to stop and I ended up beating the cows to the bottom. As calmly as possible with one’s life flashing before her eyes, I gathered the cows up and herded them back to the dirt road where my dad was waiting to help me guide the cows up the hill to the rest of the herd. I still occasionally have those, “Man From Snowy River,” flashbacks, but the experience did help me write a couple scenes in Big Horn Storm.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Horseback Adventures - Real vs Fictional

Growing up, I spent my summers on horseback. When my dad wasn’t in a rodeo we were riding in the stunning mountains of Wyoming. I probably didn’t appreciate all the trail rides and pack trips at the time, but looking back I guess I was lucky. We rode all over the McCullough Peaks, in the mountains of the North Fork and South Fork of the Shoshone River, in the Sunlight Basin area, and in the Bighorn National Forest. So, I thought I’d share a couple posts from real life and of the fictional lives of the characters in Big Horn Storm. My story began at a very young age. Here my pony and I are doing a good job keeping up with the pack horse while crossing the Shoshone River. Check back in a few days for more on factual and fictional horseback adventures.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a fun and festive Fourth of July holiday with friends and family. Celebrate your independence and be safe.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Amazing Animals of Patagonia

Not only do I love to travel and see the world, I enjoy watching travel shows. Recently I stumbled onto a travel series hosted by a couple young men from Canada called Departures which ran for three season from 2008-2010. The show has taken me back to some of my most memorable journeys and reminded me why I can’t get enough of exploring the world. I just finished with an episode on Patagonia and the scenes with penguins made me smile and I wanted to share my happy memories with everyone. I hope you enjoy these enchanting creatures.