Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Giveaway

Are you a fan of the Jumping Into Danger series? Here's your chance to win the paperback editions of each of the books in the Bestselling Children's Horse series or even win a chance to see your character in the next book-- complete with his/her dream horse! Simply write a review of one or more of the Jumping into Danger books and paste it in the Rafflecopter widget!

Hope you win! Be sure to share this with your friends!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Book!

When Jessica Hartfield was eleven, her family moved to Kentucky. Prequel to Doubletake, this story is our first Special in the Jumping Into Danger series. Read it today on Kindle. Paperback coming soon!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bullying Stories?

Have you ever been bullied cause if your love for horses? Share your story in a comment and you'll be entered to win a copy of my new book, Hidden Treasure on the day it is released!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Horse?

Are you hoping to get a horse for Christmas? Why not give a thoroughbred a new lease on life?

Several years ago my friend and I had our own experience with an OTTB (Off-Track-Thoroughbred). Sterling was one of the sweetest, most patient horses I have ever met. We bought him for a song and were able to find him a great home, in the end.

Rescue!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Horses



Why horses?
 I wish I understood 
A wisp of mane
 the clop of hooves
 romance personified
 in graceful motion 
and all that can be mine
-- Bonnie Lewis

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Here! Introducing Thin Air!


The Haunted Black Forest is full of secrets.

Life is busy for fifteen year old Jessica Hartfield. She has a new horse to look after and retrain, and Treasure, her beloved mare, is expecting a foal at any time.

Her best friend, Kristin, has been invited to take part in a working student program in Germany. Jessica knows she is going to miss her friend, badly, but there is no way she would ever stand in the way of Kristin's dreams.

Then Kristin disappears and it's up to Jessica to try to find her-- before it's too late! Is a tragic ghost story repeating itself?

Thin Air and a Freebie

Some big news!

In honor of Thin Air being released tomorrow, Doubletake is currently Free on Amazon. Feel free to download it, share it, pass it on!

The Jumping Into Danger series is no longer available under the name 'Elizabeth A Reeves' I have decided to separate my horse books from my other writing-- they can now be found under my maiden name 'Bonnie Lewis'.

The book covers have also been revamped. Let me know what you think!

Countdown to Thin Air (Jumping into Danger #4) is starting now! Jessica and Kristin take their adventures to Germany, where they run into a spooky old ghost story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Five Stars for Doubletake (Amazon)



***** 5.0 out of 5 stars
 Very well done September 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I grew up with horses, and when I was young, "Black Beauty" was still one of those books that everyone was recommending to horse lovers. So when I picked up Jumping Into Danger, I was looking forward to a horse book that gave the feel of the horse. I was not disappointed.

I particularly like how the author describes the horses moving. One is described as moving "like milkweed floss beside the heavier Rebel" which is a perfect description of how a horse just floats through the air when confident in taking jumps, and an excellent comparison in the way two horses move. The author's background shows in this book, and she really captures the excitement of meeting a new horse.

The story has a balance of fun and mystery, which builds. And, like your typical kids, the main characters embark on an exploration fit for Nancy Drew (another childhood favorite). It also moves fast, giving a thrilling experience. I also really loved seeing the interpersonal relations, and especially Jessica's sharing of her horse. This book teaches great sportsmanship, a perfect thing for a son or daughter to read since the lessons are so natural.

There was one scene that I want to particularly highlight, which got me a bit teary-eyed. The author does a very good job of depicting a horse that has suffered abuse, and I applaud her for this, because it is a very real issue that needs looking at. This abused horse has been rescued and is being cared for at a farm, in the story, and the main character assists in helping Star (the horse) adjust to her new, safe, life. I won't spoil it by saying just how, but it had my tearing and grinning like a twelve yearold.

I really loved the ending too. She really tied this up neatly. I was on the edge of my seat for the end, straining forward like a racehorse myself.

As with any book out there, I did come across a few typos, but these were extremely minor, and it did not kick in until I was several pages past them, and typos are something that cause a lot of hangups for me when reading. So it really speaks for the storyline that I was able to read over them without any mental bumps. The story flows that smoothly.

Needless to say, I loved this book. So if you are looking for a good short read, this might be what you are looking for. It's got meat, it's got flair, and you can read it in a day if you don't have too many interruptions (I started over again, just to be able to time it).

Monday, September 3, 2012

From the Cat's Mouth


Human post pictures where they look younger, so here is one of me when I first adopted my people.

Hi, it's me again. My owner has been busy working on her other books (something about YA paranormal or something, it doesn't have a cat it it, though it does have a dog, so I am not interested). She has been totally immersed in her project, so she has been out of it more than usual.

I didn't actually know that she could get even more spacey, but, hey, even cats aren't perfect (don't you dare tell anyone I said that). I learn things new about humans every day.

The other day she actually put the little rat-dog thing in the back yard. That little nuisence was small enough to squeeze out of the fence and ran away.

So, I went and caught the dog and brought her home and yelled at the door until they let us back in the house.

"See?" I told her. "Now I had to save your dog. Do I have to do everything in this household."

She was gracious enough to concede that I had saved her little rat. She said, "Good job, Jade."

Obviously, she forgot I was not a dog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Public Service Announcement from the Cat


I am in the closet, typing on my owner's computer. I have been reading her blog, and I know what she has been saying about me.

Though there is some truth in her libelous words against me, I must clarify our situation.

I lived in a beautiful apartment when I was a kitten. It was complete with an older cat for me to chase, a baby for me to hide from, and an owner who doted on me. I spent my days hiding under the couch.

My owner made the serious faux pas (or, in my case faux paw) or mentioning to the landlords that my mother was a Bengal, that illustrious breed of only semi-domesticated cats that are so much more beautiful, intelligent, and lethal than all the other breeds. The landlords could not take the competition of beautiful me (they only WISH they could purr) and so I put an ad up for myself on Craigslist.

Three people came in response to the ad. Well, three and a half people, actually. The female human was grossly pregnant. I mean, even her feet were swollen. I have no tolerance for humans who let themselves slip like that.

I could see that the man and the two young children desperately needed my help. She wasn't good enough for them. She obviously was too busy popping out hairless kittens to do a proper job of caring for the kittens she had. (I should mention that I should have taken the warning signs and had her spayed right away. We cats need to make sure we spay our females early on!)

So, I adopted them.

I immediately set to raising my young humans. The older boy needed some serious grooming, so I set myself the task of licking him clean as he slept, as any good mother would. She didn't do it. Her idea of a bath was sticking them in a huge basin of water! I am not lying!

The younger of the two needed some serious discipline. Oh, who am I kidding, he looked delicious, so I practiced my hunting skills on him. It's not like they were useful to anyone else.

When I went into heat I bathed myself beautifully, and pranced in front of the handsome and obviously available male, the human man. (Don't judge me, you know what it is like to go into heat.) I could tell he liked me better than the odious female, but he wasn't willing to abandon her with kittens all by herself.

Then She did the unforgivable.

She had me spayed.

Seriously. I was cast into a crate, drugged, cut open, and lost all the dignity and hope for kittens I could have had. It was cruel revenge on her part. I know she saw me snuggling with her mate!

I decided to sit down and give her the real run down. She was only welcome in my house as a pet. She could pop out kittens for me to raise, but the man was mine. The kittens were mine. All subsequent dogs, cats, and chickens were mine.

So, you can take Her spin on it, but what I am doing here is an act of gracious service! I am raising these poor hairless kittens.

It is a thankless job.

I must return the computer before She finishes suckling our latest offspring.

Once he is weaned, he will be mine, just like all the rest.

Purrfully Yours,

Jade

Friday, August 17, 2012

Striding Forward


I got Strider for an English saddle.

The same saddle would have gotten me maybe $60 at the auction. It was a really narrow close contact saddle and was the cause of a hip injury that gave me years of pain. It was also the first saddle I had ever owned. I bought it around the time I brought Pacem, my first horse, home.

Strider was a case of love at first sight. He was huge and shaggy, like a woolly mammoth, not a horse. He was so thin you could have hung horseshoes from his hip bones. His muscles were so deteriorated that he could barely move.

He was headed to slaughter the next day.

I fell in love with him. I had to have him. He was so special, so wonderful.

The broker let me have him for the price of a saddle. He assumed that Strider wouldn't survive the drive to the processor. Strider was, he said, about seventeen years old, and had spent the last several years penned in a tiny stall as the muck pile grew, never getting enough to eat.

He was so huge, he really didn't fit in our trailer, but he was so good and sweet that we got him home in one piece.

Strider was such a sweet boy. When the farrier came to pull his shoes and give him a trim, taking two vertical inches off each hoof, he was terrified. That huge horse buried his face in my chest and closed his eyes. He trusted that I wouldn't let anything happen to him.

Strider was the bottom of the pecking order. Even the tiny Shetland pony we had would boss him around. He was a ham. He would 'give up and die', lying on the ground with his tongue sticking out.

Getting muscle and fat at his age, with the way all his muscles had atrophied, was a huge task. Once he gobbled down his special vitamin and senior feed mix so quickly that he choked. I was frantic. I called twenty-three local vets that night. Not one would come out, not one bothered to tell me that horses won't choke to death. He was fine, eventually.

He improved. I would climb on a stack of hay bales to get into his saddle. I would just wander around with him. We trusted each other. I'm barely 5'2", he was 19hh of fuzzy Belgian... we must have seemed an odd pair, but we understood each other.

Eventually Strider was adopted by someone who fell in love with him as hard as I did. He took one look at my boy and whispered, "Who is THAT?"

It was meant to be.

Months later I got a call. Strider had a stroke. He was paralyzed. They had to euthanize him.

On the phone, this stranger and I wept together, me a twenty year old girl, him a man in his forties. Both of us had just loved this horse.

Sometimes I wonder if I will see him after I die. I was only part of his life for a few months. I hope I will get to see him healthy and happy.

He will bury his face in my chest and I will scratch under that thick golden mane. It will feel like home.



When Dogs Look Like Rats to Cats


Korra
Harold


Harold: DIIIIIEEEE RAT!
Korra: I am not a rat, I am a dog.
Harold: Are you sure? You look exactly like a rat.
Korra: I am sure. See? I can growl.
Harold: So can I.
Korra: I am a dog. I swear. I can chase you if that will prove it.
Harold: That won't be necessary.
Korra: So? You believe me?
Harold: DIIIIIEEEE DOG!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Korra

This is Korra. Please excuse her pound mugshot. My two year old decided our camera needed swimming lessons in the kiddie pool. Don't recognize the name? You're not familiar with the REAL Avatar (as in Airbenders, not blue people)? Off you go, don't come back until you can tell me who Korra is, and... um... why there are conveniently a lot of flying bison all of a sudden.

Back? Good.

Korra came from the pound. She was a birthday wish from my boys and supposedly could help with one son's anxiety. So far it looks pretty good. He now has a way to calm himself when he worries. He just holds her and feels better.

She's a Chihuahua/Min Pin cross, which means she doesn't shake all of the time (just some of it) and she is really social.

She's also currently very sick. She got kennel cough at the pound. That's really common. I don't think I have ever rescued a pet from there who hasn't ended up with kennel cough.

There are mixed feelings about her in the family. Jade, the cat, is all for keeping her. Harold, the orange cat, suspects she might be a ROUS. The two big dogs think she is an evil alien from the planet Zurg.

The cutest thing about her would probably be her tail. It curls just like a pig tail. In fact, I wanted to name her Peppa or Miss Piggy, but I was vetoed. In the end it was between Toph, Kitara, and Korra. (You still don't know what I am talking about? For shame!)

Korra won. It's kind of hilarious because now #2's First Grade teacher things we named our dog after her...(Corrie).

 So far she has pretty much just been a really sick little dog. She sleeps in our (dirty) laundry basket. She also apparently doesn't eat or go to the bathroom. We have been tempting her with all kinds of good thinks, but it was an empty effort until today.

Eventually she will "go" outside when we are on our frequent outings.

Not in the back with Beauty Lightyear and Buzz Red, of course. They would destroy her and her home planet.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Regarding the Cat...

Ah, the baleful gaze of my cat. No matter how many times I tell her that she is my cat, she insists that I am nothing more than a surrogate producing 'kittens' for her because she is spayed.

Jade loves my husband. She cuddles him and grooms him. If I touch him when she is near, she gives me the 'look'.

I offend her.

She loves her 'kittens', which are my sons, our other cat, and, most recently, our min-pin cross. She even grooms and makes nice with the big (huge) dogs.

She sleeps with my oldest son, and licks his hair. She snuggles him and purrs.

I am the one that found her, who adopted her, but she will never love me.

"Mine," she says. "MY husband, MY kittens, MY dogs."

She doesn't even care enough to hate me. I'm just there. Occasionally she will deign to let me stroke her, but she gets bored and runs off to let my two year old ride her like a pony.

When we had chickens, Jade and the silkies would conspire together. I suspect they were forming a fuzzy mafia.


Even Harold, our other cat will hesitate when I express affection for him. "I have to check with Jade," he tells me. "Get a referral and I will get back to you."

Sigh.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quincey: The Horse Who Broke Me



I was fifteen years old and taking lessons at a stable about twenty minutes away from my house. My trainer was a nice woman, but she had a really bad habit of giving the horse I rode in my lessons sugar every time he ignored me and went over to her. She laughed and said that she was his 'Sugar Momma.'

This, of course, created a huge problem for me. I was trying to get better at riding, but the horse was being trained to disobey me.

His name was Quincey. He was a big Quarter Horse gelding with great conformation. He had a history with abuse, which is why my trainer was so set on spoiling him.

I often had my lessons at night, as I live in southern Arizona and it can be too hot during the day to do any serious riding. For once my dad had come to watch me ride. He had never seen me ride and I was eager to show him what I could do.

I always loved riding under the arena lights. I liked to imagine that I was riding in a competition or under a spotlight. Quincey was so beautiful that he could have been a star. Despite our issues, I adored him. I wished he was my horse.

My trainer had put Quincey in side reins because he had a horrible habit of tossing his head back and smashing his rider in the nose. She said that it would teach him to carry himself correctly. I could tell though, that it was doing the opposite. He would lean on the side-reins, which would mess up his top line and make his gaits choppy and uncomfortable.

My dad was watching from the fence as I urged Quincey into a trot and started a figure eight. Quincey pulled at the bit impatiently, trying to turn his head to face my trainer. As always I corrected him. I took a firm hold of the reins and used my legs to keep him on track.

Before I knew it he was bucking underneath me. The side reins snapped under the force of his tantrum. He reared and plunged and twisted. I flew out of the saddle with such torque that I manage one and a half rotations before I hit the ground-- face first. The brim of my helmet crumpled. My nose was crushed by the impact.

I gasped for breath and rolled onto my side, only to see Quincey above me, driving his forefeet straight towards my head. His eyes were rolling and his ears were pinned back. There was nothing there to remind me of the horse I cherished.

My trainer had a lunge whip in her hands and it took her lashing him across the face to get him off of me. He nearly trampled me to death.

All told I had three cracked ribs, a broken nose, black eyes, and huge bruises around my knees. The arena dirt had skinned my face and hands. I looked like I had been in a fist fight.

I didn't give up riding. My dad certainly wasn't much of a fan of my riding now, of course.

The next time I went to the barn for my lesson Quincey was gone. They had sold him as dangerous.'

I still feel guilty. Quincey misbehaved because of what my trainer had been teaching him, not because he was a dangerous horse. Yes, he snapped. Yes, I know he honestly tried to kill me, but I still wish he had been given another chance.

Years later I found out they had sold him to slaughter.

So Quincey is the horse that broke me-- both physically and emotionally. Embarr, in Crash Course, is very much a tribute to a horse that could have been rehabilitated if anyone had been willing to put the time and effort into him.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Horse Names: For Fun

Arabesque
All or Nothing
Ado
Amber Waves
Saffron
Nowhere Fast
Court Jester
Sweetheart
Yin-Yang
Koi
Shimmer
Fleet Shadow
King Midas
Marquis
Cholla
Something Special
Glimmer
Mystic Moonlight
Sonoran Sunrise
Dusk Romance
High 'N Mighty
Sybil
Cougar
Vigilante
Inferno
Holy Terror
Bliss
Avalon
Mystique
Origami
Serenity
Flare
Blade
Uma
Iseult
Summer
Vapor

More later :). What names do you like?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Horse Games: Legs and Hooves



When I first got Pacem we played a lot of games. Just like with people, games are a great way to train horses.

Pacem was very young and also a very 'hot' breed of horse. He was barely three years old when I got him, and was a (rather inbred) pure Polish Arabian. He had energy to burn. It would have been a huge mistake to treat him roughly in any way. He had had very little human contact prior to me getting him, and his first contact with me was when a family friend literally picked up his hind quarters and pushed him into the stock trailer.

One of my favorites was a game to teach Pacem to pick up his feet nicely.

1)I spent a lot of time playing the first part of the game. I would touch Pacem's legs and feet gently and stay there until he stood absolutely still. Then I would walk away. I got to the point where I could rub his belly (which he loved) and he even got good with his hind legs. One leg I had to rub with a stick for a while before he would let me touch it with my hand, but it was still basically the same game.

2) I would run my hand down Pacem's leg and touch the hoof. If he stood still, I would walk away.

3) I would run my hand down Pacem's leg, touch his hoof, then tickled the back of his fetlock with my finger.  I kept tickling him there until he picked up his foot (even a tiny bit) and then I would walk away. At first I would just accept the shifting of weight away from the foot I was touching.

The game ended when Pacem lifted up his foot anytime I ran my hand down his leg and touched his hoof.

It was really fun, actually, and he became a champion for hoof cleaning!

I never got upset or blew up at him, even if he got rowdy. Sometimes I had to go back to Step one and go from the beginning again. Through me staying calm and not punishing him when he got hot, we formed a really strong bond, which eventually led to me being able to 'ski' around the dirt in the arena being pulled along by his tail... but that was after a few more games!




Children's Horse Books and Series Worth Reading

1. Marguerite Henry-- all. Especially King of the Wind and Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West
2. The Black Stallion series (anything Walter Farley)
3. National Velvet
4. Ann Sheldon's Linda Craig Mysteries
5. Fly-By-Night by KM Peyton
6. Star of Shadowbrook Farm by Joanna Campbell
7. Battlecry Forever by Joanna Campbell
8. Timber Ridge Riders series by Maggie Dana
9. Summer Pony by Jean Slaughter Doty
10. If Wishes Were Horses by Virgina Vail
11. The Crumb by Jean Slaughter Doty
12. Dark Horse by Jean Slaughter Doty
13. Jinny at Finmory series by Patricia Leitch
14. Dream of Fair Horses by Patricia Leitch
15. The Ultimate Horse Book
16. The Perfect Distance by Kim Ablon Whitney
17. Thoroughbred Series (while Joanna Campbell wrote them)
18. Saddle Club Series by Bonnie Bryant
19. The Money Creek Mare by Patricia Calvert
20. The Stone Pony by Patricia Calvert

What are your favorites?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rollkur, Abuse, and Real Horse People

So, here we all are, watching the Olympics, and what finally bring Dressage into the limelight is like something out of Crash Course: abusive training and riding practices. In this case it is the rollkur in Dressage.

(For the record: Horse people know that Dressage is not 'horse ballet'. It is more like horse gymnastics, or martial arts. In fact, it is exactly like that. Dressage was designed to train war horses. Look up Xenophon. He was the father of Dressage.)

The rollkur is an abusive practice. It makes the whole equestrian world look bad. (Like Brianne in Crash Course we are in danger of people saying that all human and equine contact is abusive.)

Saying that riding is an abusive sport is like saying baseball is only about steroids.

People cheat. And they tarnish the respectability of the whole arena.

There are no real short cuts in horse training. Abusive practices lead to damaged horses, physically and mentally.

Ever horse person has a responsibility to stop the abuse. We all have to prevent the Embarrs and the Alydars.

Abuse casts a long shadow, obscuring the real horse people, those of us who give our equine counterparts our hearts and dedicate our lives to undoing damage that has been done. We don't have the impact of these stories of abuse, but we are the ones that will clean up the mess when the horses get hurt. For some we will be too late.

We deserve better. The horses deserve better. Equestrian sports deserve better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Please Adopt

I just filled out a foster adoption-- at my nearby shelter.

Most of the animals I have owned have been rescues. It's just what I have always done. My heart breaks when I think of all the animals that have lived only to die because their owners did not care enough to spay or neuter them.

If I could, I would adopt them all, and find new homes for them.

Right now we have four pets in our household. We have Red (Clifford the Big Red Dog) who was from the shelter. He's about a year old and a big red golden retriever. When we got him he was really skinny, so he's weird about food. He'll share, he has no aggression in him at all, but he... well, he's not skinny anymore.

Beauty, our other dog, is a lab something mix. We don't know what the something is, but she doesn't bark. She's also from the same shelter. She does howl on occassion, and her skin is really really loose. She's high energy, just having turned one, but we love her. She is SMART. She can open a sliding glass door, so we keep ours locked.

Then we have the cats.

Jade came from an apartment complex that was kicking her out because she was a bengal cross. She is a very high-energy cat and we had to relax our 'indoor only' rules for cats with her, because, well, if she doesn't get to go outside, she hunts my second son. Why him? We really don't know. Maybe because he's a fast enough runner to be a real challenge. She's three years old.

Harold, our other cat, is a big orange, shy guy. It took him a year to come out from under the bed after we brought him home from the shelter. Now he comes out to greet visitors with very little hesitation. His favorite person in the whole world is my two year old. They are best buds. My two year old could do anything, literally, to Harold, and the cat would love it. Once we caught the two year old attempting to cut off the cat's tail with (thankfully dull) scissors. Harold was all for it. We rescued him anyway and had a long talk to the pair about tails being a good thing.

I just have to help. I can't stop here. I need to do what I can to help the animals out there that are in need.

Hence the foster contract. This way I can help the sick or elderly ones that need the most help, despite my lack of finances.

Please, please, spay and neuter all your pets. Don't breed. Rescue! Foster, if you can't make a long term commitment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nature's Art


Fleet of foot

And bright of eyes
Silver mane
And Golden heart
Across the sky
As fleet as flame
My horse is nature's
Work of art

-- Bonnie Lewis
(aka Elizabeth A Reeves)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heartbreak

Sonora


It is the nature of animals to break our hearts.

They just don't live long enough.They can be tough, but also incredibly fragile. One tiny thing can take them away from you.

Just ask any girl who has walked their colicky horse for hours, waiting for the vet to arrive. Or the girl who is forced to put down her horse, who survived a horrible accident, only to be severely injured tripping over a stick.

It is almost guaranteed that the one time you let someone else ride your horse they will come back lame.

I don't think I'll ever truly recover from the losses of some of these near and dear animals. Sonora, whose jumping talent went awry the moment she took herself off for a gallop, only to be struck and killed by a hit and run driver. (Who hits and runs a horse?) Or Strider, who made it through years of neglect and abuse, only to die a month after being adopted by a wonderful family, of a stroke that left him paralyzed.

Sometimes I dream I am with them. I beg their forgiveness, that I didn't do more, that I couldn't prevent what happened to them. All the 'if onlys' fill my mind. If Only the fence had been higher. If Only we had rescued Strider sooner. If only it hadn't been so hot that day. I feel the weight of their loss on my conscious, on my heart. Was there something I could have done to make their lives better? Longer?

Owning a horse, any animal, is such a dire responsibility. We have such power and control over their fates. We are the ones that, much of the time, have to decide at that last moment whether we will let them suffer on as we try to save them, or if we will let them go, with bleeding hearts.

"It's not fair," we shriek. "Why does this always happen to me?"

It's just the way it is. It is the nature of life. Animals will always break your heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Interview With Peg Lewis


Peg Lewis is author of such coming of age stories as Triple Divide and Haymarket:A Sharley Adventure.

Where did the inspiration for Triple Divide come from?

Interesting settings always start the juices flowing. I discovered the unique nature of Triple Divide Peak while camping and hiking at Glacier National Park. Here’s a single not very spectacular mountain where rain that falls on it may end up in one of 3 different oceans. Of all the peaks in Glacier Park, it’s this one single one that has that attribute! And then one thing led to another….

Is the story biographical?

No more so than any other story. Naturally we pull from our personality and experience, probably unconsciously much of the time. That’s true about this story. Other than the very basics, this is not my story.

Sharlie is a very independent child for her age. Why did you write her that way?

Sharlie responds to a complex tragedy in her family structure in her own way. At first she just had to be independent: no one was there for her to lean on. But I understood later, while writing/reading “Haymarket: A Sharlie Adventure”, that she had always been somewhat that way. I think it must come from her being a first child, a creature halfway between a child and a parent. Sometimes she’s one, sometimes she’s the other. And on that tipping point the whole story evolves.

The setting is very important in this story. Have you been to Triple Divide?

I have been to the environs of Triple Divide but not on the hike itself. Of course I have read about it, including the hike descriptions of people who have been up there. But it was too hard a hike for me to attempt. I’d like to go back and do it now, that is now that I know Sharlie has attempted it.

What role do parents play in your books?

Parents are complex creatures with roles and interests other than those related to their kids. And when tragedy strikes, they react as people and not necessarily as parents. I have cast Sharlie’s parents as people responding to their circumstances as the complex people they are, which in the early days (see “Haymarket”) means as parents, and then after the tragedy, as their own needy selves. How this impacts their kids is a good part of what this story is about: how they actually impact them, and how the kids respond, and then how the parents react to that response.

But these responses are painted with a broad brush. They remain complex characters, all of them. By their nature they are not predictable, either to themselves or to each other.

Are you going to revisit the characters from Triple Divide in the future?

Is it too corny to say that these characters are alive and will probably continue getting themselves into challenging situations that we might want to visit? I know for a fact that Sharlie at age 6 is quite eager for a bicycle (a real two-wheeler). Where is that going to lead her? And her dad is keen on boats…. I doubt we’ll be able to stay away from young Sharlie. As for Sharlie and Sissy as they grow up, we know that such passionate (or opinionated) girls are going to be ready for relationships that take them beyond the family circle. I want to be there when that happens.

Why children’s/YA novels?

All the promise is built into children and only a bit is lost in the young adults they become. Each minute in a young life is a crossroads. In a YA novel we get to watch the decision process that takes our characters down a path that we know is full of uncertainties. We know that they’ll face obstacles and challenges and dangers and joys that they will have to grow to deal with. I want to be part of that process as my characters go through the growth spurts of their being. I want to watch their emerging courage and character develop. I’m not so sure I want to be there for the scary parts, but if I’m on this journey with them I have little choice. And I do want to be on this journey with them. After all, they become us, one or another of us.

What next?
I have other series in the works, some ready for dusting off, some only in development. Most of these are YA novels or series of novels, or like the Sharlie Adventure series, a combination of stories and novellas and novels. But there’s one book I’ve worked on for several years that is about a tiny girl who grows within the story to late middle-age. Not a word has been put on paper but all but the but the parts that will yet surprise me are worked out in my head. It will have a great deal of love in it, some passion, some sorrow, and a lot of character.
Beyond these, I have some collaborations that I may do with my husband John S Lewis. The complex epics we’ve worked out together will require a great deal of research, and to tell you the truth, I’d rather be writing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Adventures With Ponies

I started riding when I was twelve.

My trainer had me jumping within a half hour, before I knew how to canter a horse and right after learning how to post. Don't get me wrong, it was wonderful. I loved every minute of it.

At twelve, I believe I was pretty short. Like, looks right on and 11hh pony short. My trainer had given up riding, and her daughter, who did ride, was six feet tall, so they were pretty excited to see tiny little me.

Immediately began the parade of ponies who hadn't been ridden in a while. First, Pacman, who was lazy as could be until he saw a jump, then he would get super excited, stop acting his age (21) and act like a five year old. He was a welsh pony cross, gray, and only 11hh tall. There was no way anyone could get hurt on him... well, unless they looked down while jumping.

I did... once.

Then there was Elsie. She hadn't been ridden in three years. Elsie was the name I called her. My trainer called her something else entirely. A word I wasn't supposed to say.

She was a cute little saddlebred/shetland cross, which meant she was hot, willful, intelligent, stubborn... She was quite a character.

We actually really hit it off. She liked me, because I adored her. (It's a mare thing.) I had a bunch of mishaps with her, which included crushing my leg between her, the fence, and another horse. Then, there was the time she smashed through the arena gate with me, shattering the heavy wood in half, because she was late for dinner.

Ponies.

Then there was Cricket. It was a disaster from the start. She was a four year old green pony. I was a new rider. It had been raining. Puddles were scattered here and there in the arena. Most of the footing was fine, but there were random spots where the sand gave way to clay.

Right before one jump was one of those spots. Cricket tripped, stumbled over the jump, and bolted.

We flew around the arena, until I lost my seat. I landed, hard, on my elbow, slid eight feet (trainer measure it later), broke the bill of of my helmet, and skinned myself up pretty badly.

My arm really hurt, but I did what riders have to do, I got back on, jumped the course again, ended on a good note, and then went to Urgent Care with my parents.

It wasn't a bad break. Actually, the bone bruise was probably worse than the actual hairline fracture. I had a sling, though, and happily used it to skip PE for six weeks.

The worst part was not riding for six weeks.

I have always gotten along great with ponies. We short folks have to make up for stature with personality. Perhaps this is also why stallions absolutely adore me.

Mares don't, but that's another story.


Haymarket by Peg Lewis: My Review

I read a new book yesterday, around the time it was published, luckily, and I had to share. It's currently free on Smashwords and it will be free on Amazon, too, just as soon as they catch up with the fact that it is free elsewhere.

One of the things that makes this story so special (other than the fact that it's free, and always will be) is that it was written by a grandmother with a remarkable gift of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, not just any child, but a real, believable, independent five year old. Where does she get such insight to children? Perhaps it was while raising her own six children and subsequent thirty-odd grandchildren.

Haymarket is a short story prequel to Peg Lewis' Triple Divide. In it, we get to meet Sharley's father and their very special relationship, after the birth of her baby sister, Sissy.

Only 3450 words, this book is still packed with adventure, tension, and the reader cannot help but get attached to this independent and strong little person, who is the main character, Sharley.

Written for children and all the way up, this is a must-read for families. If you read it, please let me know. Or you can go to the author's blog.

My five year old and seven year old both read and enjoyed this book. So did I. I highly suggest reading it.

I give it Five Stars.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Contest



If you enjoyed reading the Jumping Into Danger books, here's your  chance to be in one. One reader and his/her horse (or dream horse) will appear in the next book in the series: Thin Air.

Ways to Enter:
*Email me the 3rd line of the 3rd chapter of each book For 5 entries each. (issylthesthlia at gmail dot com)
*Write a Review of any of my books on Amazon for 10 entries
* Like my Facebook Page for 5 entries
*Blog a review for any of these books and link here (under comments) for 20 entries
*Write to me about you and your favorite horse and an adventure you have had together for 5 entries (put in the comments section or on my facebook page)

Be sure to let me know what you have done in the comments section! Please do not post the requested lines from the books on this blog, as it is to verify that you do, in fact, own or have read the books.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Finding My Courage

Me and Pacem, my first horse
In my books, Jessica is a bold and rather fearless rider. I, however, am not. In fact, when I was fifteen I had a riding 'accident' that resulted in me deciding that I wanted to own horses, but I would never ride again.

I did ride again, of course, but I stayed in my trotting comfort zone for years.

As a nervous rider, I actually had a huge calming effect on the horses I rode. Someone once said that I was so nervous, and spooked at everything so much, that a jumpy horse had to go bombproof in self defense.

With a series of falls an accidents in my past, it took a very special horse to help me get my nerve back.

A Clydesdale something cross of of a Navajo reservation, Atlas only topped off at about 14hh. He was stubborn, level-headed, smooth to ride, older, and he was very picky about his riders. If his rider didn't cue him impeccably he wouldn't do anything.

I didn't own Atlas, but he needed exercise and I loved him, so I got to ride him quite a bit. I would throw a bareback pad over his ultra-boney spine and we would go on little trail rides, along dirt roads and through the wash (a dry river bed). Before I knew it, he had given me wings. I was galloping around bareback on Atlas before I ever even cantered my own horse.

Atlas was that special horse that reached out and touched my heart. We bonded in a way that was unique to the pair of us. The confidence and courage he taught me, the ability to trust in my horse, carried me forward. There is something of him in every horse relationship I've had since.

Life Changers

Cactus
Sonora and Mystic
When I was 21, instead of hanging out and partying like so many of my college peers were doing, my friend and I formed a horse rescue. We payed out of pocket and went to auctions, buying up horses that would have otherwise ended up going to slaughter. We often saw stock trailers packed full of horses heading for that very fate.

It was a really challenging time. Because the property we used had no running water, at least twice daily we would transport huge kegs of water down to the horses in my Cherokee. My best friend, Amanda, with the strength of a goddess, would lift two jugs out at a time and poor them into the awaiting troughs. I, made of weaker, more mortal, material, could only carry one at a time.

Strider
The whole experience sort of forced me to grow up. We had cases of colic. We had one particular incident where the love-of-my-life horse, Strider, tangled himself in part of the fence, and decided to play dead. It took us thirty minutes to convince that ham that he didn't need to lie on the ground with his eyes shut and his tongue sticking out-- he was absolutely fine! The fence had hardly touched him.

The neighbors of the property didn't want there to be horses there. They didn't want anyone there, and they quietly sabotaged us in any way possible. I distinctly remember an occasion where I caught a woman letting her dog chase the horses around and around the pasture.

Midnight
Despite all the challenges, I will never regret what we were able to accomplish. We didn't make money doing it, but the riches of experience are something that can't be bought and sold.

So, here's remembering the horses that touched our lives that year:

 Mystic
Sonora
Fun N' Fast ("Cactus")
Poco Marco Doc ("Midnight")
Missy Durango ("Shadow")
Strider
Evenstar
Cherry
Sazha
Evenstar
Dikki
Impossible
Tioqwua
Valentine
Orion
Cassie
Sterling
Jester
Gypsy
Apollo
Roany

And, not to forget, Yoda, our one goat rescue.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Story Of A Quote

Once, long ago, half my lifetime ago, in fact, before marriage and years of change, I was a girl called Bonnie Lewis. I did then as I do now, I wrote and read constantly, mostly about horses.


And I wrote a poem.



My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears


These days, you can find that poem quoted just about everywhere. It is so unbelievable to me to see that, one little thing I did, as a young teenager, has touched so many people. I love that I have somehow reached the understanding hearts of horse-lovers, who have turned, like me, to equine companions in times of difficulty.

Thank you for sharing my words and giving them meaning.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Horses

When I was sixteen I did what so many young horse-crazy girls do. I scraped together all my babysitting money and bought myself a horse I could afford. In my case, this horse was an almost three year old Arabian stallion from off of the range. I named him 'Dona Nobis Pacem', which is Latin for 'Give Us Peace'.

I had so many hopes and dreams tied up in Pacem. I had visions of us sweeping around the Arizona desert together. I knew he would be my soul mate forever. He would obey my every request and we would be magic together.

At sixteen, I was little more than a green rider. I had taken lessons off and on for four years, just enough to have my nerve thoroughly shattered by soured lesson horses. I had my spills, my scars, and I didn't even know how to canter a horse on purpose, while maintaining control.

Looking back, I had absolutely no business owning a horse that wasn't even halter trained.

I spent the first few months in bliss. I groomed Pacem for hours at a time, until he learned that it was best to just doze away when I brought out the brushes. He did more to train me, than I did to train him. I learned that he hated carrots, and that he would only eat apples if they were cut up first.

I never even attempted to introduce him to tack or anything, I just spent hours loving on him, and then turning him out into the arena, where he would bolt around like a wild flame.

I loved him.

Eventually, the woman who owned the barn where I boarded Pacem decided that we needed to be taken in hand. It was time for Pacem to earn his keep.

I still treasure all those days with Pacem. He was so much more than I ever bargained for. Like Jessica and Treasure, there were times with Pacem that I had my hands more than full. In one particular accident I ended up having my front two teeth put back into place after being on the receiving end of a hoof in the mouth.

First horses are like first loves. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they go, but you never forget your first horse.