Imagine my surprise when I discovered Julia Barrett has given me the honor of nominating me for the Liebster award.  It’s sort of a blogging award. I think it was to pay me back for tagging her in the #777 game.

I have met and follow so many talented and friendly bloggers that it will be hard to pick just five, but here goes:

Dianne Solberg - I'm completely wrapped up in her serial story of the Clysm Wars, and her tales of daily life when she was a child. Besides, she's tough enough to live in North Pole, Ak.

Johanna Harness Johanna has the most amazing mix of writing craft and writing fun. Her blog gives a unique spin on the world and usually makes me smile.

Gem State Writers This blog is run by a fantastic group of writers from Idaho. Their subjects range from dealing with life's problems to the fun and craft of writing. Some are published authors and some are about to be published. All are warm and welcoming.

Paty Jager  Paty's site is filled with all kinds of information on the old west, the new west and the romantic west.

Jacquie Rogers Jacquie's site is filled with a unique mix of cowboys and fairies. You don't find that on your run of the mill blogs.

Oh, the rules for you award winners if you choose to accept this challenge (no pressure) -
1.  Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them.
2.  Nominate up to five other blogs for the award and let your nominees know.

Lucky Seven-Tied to a Dream

Here are the rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know
  ”What does your family think about you riding bucking horses?” Frannie asked.
 “Since I was big enough to know what she meant, Mom has always preached that I should do whatever makes me happy. That lasted until I chose to do something she didn’t like.  By the time I wanted to become a rodeo cowboy, she didn’t have much to say about what I did as long as it was legal. She’s never let me forget she’d be happier if I was a painter or an artist. Rough stuff isn’t her style.” Rob pulled another piece of pizza from the box. 

The tagged authors are Jennifer Kellie, Dianne Solberg, Ciara Ballintyne, Laurie London, Amity Greys, Lady Jai, Julia Barrett


How to Give a Cat a Pill

Disclaimer: This is a joke. No cats were hurt in the making of this blog.

When my sister sent me this email, it reminded me of all the times I doctored my cats. As I raised short-legged Munchkins and curly-haired LaPerms, I became an expert at administering meds. If you decide to try medicating your own kitty, you could find yourself in a situation similar to this joke. And I guarantee, the cats always win. The Munchkins (see bottom picture) were very calm and took most things in stride. The LaPerms, however, had a mind of their own. The picture below is Big Bad Ricky and Sweet Lucy. Ricky was actually a total cuddle bug. He liked to pretend to be tough from time to time to keep the dog in its place.

How to Give a Cat a Pill

1.     Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm, as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth.
Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.  Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
3.  Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.
4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5.  Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse in from the garden.

6.  Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth.  Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7.  Retrieve cat from curtain rail. Get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit.
Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9.  Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans and drink one beer to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard, and close door onto neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch.  Pour shot, drink.

Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect.

Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom .

12. Call fire department to retrieve the #$%^&* cat from the top of the tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat.
Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Using heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed, tie the little *&#%^'s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour two pints of water down
throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

 15. Arrange for RSPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

And for you dog owners, I included this.

 How To Give A Dog A Pill

1. Wrap it in bacon.

2. Toss it in the air.

3. All done!


Romance With Real Live Horses

Reading a book about a barrel racer trying to make it to the National Rodeo Finals was one of the main factors in my decision to write. The author had a likeable, determined heroine, and her hero, well, any sane woman I know wouldn’t mind having him hang around the barn. The problem? The author hadn’t taken the time to research her subject. She knew the craft of writing her book, but she clearly hadn’t spent any time with a professional barrel racer. So, having never written anything before, I thought, “How hard can this be?” I decided I could write a better book. 

When you’re done laughing, I’ll continue.

I’m still waiting . . . Okay then.

Three years later, I’m revising that original book. I’ve spent countless hours writing then rewriting as I continue to learn all that I didn’t know. The rodeo and horse training information shows the reader a good view of reality, but I had to learn the writing craft, in particular, romance. It turns out writing is every bit as hard, if not harder, than training a champion barrel racing horse.
For some reason, authors who write about cops, Navy Seals and even time travel put a lot of effort in researching their subjects, but when it comes to cowboys and horses, they just put in any old thing they think sounds good, and that’s too bad. Most good trainers or riders will be more than happy to let you into their world and explain any questions. Barrel racers love to talk about their horses and lifestyle.
As I thought about most of the rodeo books I’ve found, I came up with ten facts many writers miss when including horses in their stories.

1       1.. Know the difference between a halter and a bridle. A halter is for leading a horse, and a bridle is for guiding and control of your horse when riding.

2.     2. Stalls are bedded down with straw or shavings, not hay. Hay is fed in specific amounts according to the horse. The porky ones need less than the nervous ones.

3    3. If your heroine is riding a top-rate barrel horse, don’t have her make fast runs ten times a day to practice. Real reining, rodeo or cutting horses are athletes. To keep them focused, calm and confident, trainers work them slowly and rarely run at full speed except during an event.

4.      4. Learn the terms of the tack used on your horse. A cinch or girth is used to secure a saddle, not a strap.

5.     5. Finished (trained and hauled) horses are comfortable riding long distances in today’s trailers and even sleeping in them. They don’t need to sleep in their own stall at night.

6.    6. Most of the time when horses sleep, they remain standing and only lay down for short periods. Their brains are active when they lay down to protect against predators.

7.    7.  Well-trained horses will stand tied to the trailer quietly while the rodeo or horseshow bustles around them, although sheep will sometimes provide a negative response.  (I have personal experience with this one.)

8.    8. Unlike in the cowboy movies, real horses don’t whinny at danger. The only times most horses make noise is when their buddy is taken away. They are very herd oriented.

9.     9. Horses aren’t afraid of snakes. They don’t rear and throw their riders off at the sight of a snake in the road. They usually don’t notice them.

      10.  Rodeoing is one of the most unique and exciting sports in the world, but it is also hard work. It involves all night drives, lack of sleep and taking care of your horse before yourself. You make split-second decisions to help your horse by giving the right cues, all while running at top speed. A winning run at a professional rodeo is under 17 seconds. Winners work hard and treat it as a business.

I hope this has been of some help. I’ve spent most of my life around horses and wouldn’t change that for the world.
Oh, one more thing. When your heroine starts into the arena to make her run at the BIG rodeo, don’t have your hero take the microphone from the announcer and ask, “Will you marry me?”
She won’t stop her horse, get tears in her eyes and say yes, as the crowd stands and cheers. She’ll try to regain her concentration enough to complete her run then she’ll hunt down the hero with murder in her eyes. It kind of ruins the Happily Ever After.

I’m just saying…