It happens. We make mistakes. We forget what we said or to give someone a message. Miss an appointment or a deadline. We apologize. We’re busy. Life is full, hectic. Some of us make lists, write notes, create reminders. I swear to do better. I’ve tried all sorts of tactics and systems. But the truth is, I’m a panster. Not just with my writing, but with life.
But this is specifically about writing. As I was working on the draft of Wrong Lead, the third book in the Dream Horse Mysteries, I realized I had changed a horse from a mare to a gelding. Not one of the major horses like Vi’s mare, Cali. But an important secondary character’s horse–Dex One’s Ciqala.
I was so proud of myself for catching and fixing this mistake before the book was published!! In On the Buckle, she was a mare, and in Wrong Lead, she is a mare. Whew!
Oh, not so fast. Someone wrote a review. I am SO thankful to people who write reviews. It was a good review on the UK or Canada Amazon site, four or five stars. The reviewer just happened to mention that one of the horses had gone from being a mare to being a gelding and BACK TO A MARE.
What the what?
That could mean only one thing.
I wasted no time searching the second book manuscript. Sure enough, in Run Out, I called Ciqala a gelding. Indeed, this poor horse started out as a mare, became a gelding, then went back to being a mare. Never mind gender politics. This was magic!
But magic that needed to be fixed. And fix it I did before sending the books to the audio narrator. Corrected copies of Run Out are being uploaded to all retail sites as well.
A million thanks to that reviewer for pointing this out. And my apologies to readers and poor Ciqala!
Have you found a mistake? Let me know! Made one you’d like to share? (It would make me feel a little better!) Tell me all about it in the comments section.
We had a serious cold snap here in the midwest this past week. How cold was it? Cold enough that my heated water trough kept freezing over, which I found exceedingly annoying!
We have two angora goats–twins Zeus and Zannice–a guard llama named Pedro, an alpaca named Hazel, and our mini donkey, Ralphie. These are hardy animals with dense fleece (okay, Ralphie doesn’t have fleece, but he’s a tough one). I don’t worry about them in the cold overmuch, but dang, a windchill of -30 is seriously frigid and not exactly what they’re used to. These are the days when I think there ain’t nothin’ between us and the north pole but a couple of barbed wire fences. The wind howls out of the north like to wipe the earth clean.
Hazel, you need to know, is a drama queen. The goats, being butt heads, pick on her a little, especially when there’s food involved, and she and Ralphie have something going on between them that involves making faces at each other, the flattening of ears, and spitting. That is, Hazel spits. Ralphie dodges it. Pedro lords over them all with a benevolent eye, mostly keeping to himself and above their petty disagreements.
We have a large enough barn to accommodate all of them. It is bedded deep with fragrant straw. No one has to be outside in the weather or sleeping on the frozen ground. However, Hazel WILL NOT go in it. Doesn’t matter whether the goats or Ralphie are in or out or if Pedro is inside. Doesn’t matter how cold it is or if it’s raining. She stays out.
Which compelled me to build a windbreak out of square bales beneath the cedar trees for her. She and Pedro made use of it, I was glad to see when I went out to check them on Wednesday morning. In fact, everyone was outside at what had become the all-you-can-eat-hay buffet. As I once again broke the ice on the water trough, I noticed Zannice shivering. She’s the only one who occasionally gets cold, so we have a coat for her.
I went and got Zannice’s coat. By the time I got back, she was out in the pasture. I called her and she came running. Awwww, I thought, she wants her coat! What a good goat.
I was bundled up in my insulated bibs, neck gator, fur hat, etc., but my gloves had gotten a little wet when dealing with the water, so my fingers were numb, and I wanted to get back inside as quickly as possible. No problem! I knew I could slip the coat over her head, and get the part that goes over her chest down between her front legs Velcroed up the sides in a jiffy.
Silly human! Nope! Just kidding!! I do NOT want to put on my coat. Let’s wrestle! <Insert loud swearing from me>
My frozen fingers couldn’t hold her. She pranced off, flaps flapping, tripping over the part that wasn’t done up. I followed. She ran straight for Pedro. Pedro’s eyes bugged at her neon coat and flapping flaps. He skipped sideways. I could just hear him–Get away from me weirdo! I don’t know you.
Hazel’s head came up. Drama? I’m in! She came running to see what was going on. Pedro sidled away as Zannice butted at his legs. Zeus had to get in on the action, too, even though he clearly had no idea what was going on. Ralphie stayed out of it. Morons, he seemed to be thinking, we’re on the grass. Grass is good even when it’s frozen. Eat. Eating is what we do.
They ignored him.
Well, I thought as we made another circle around the pasture, at least we’re getting warm! Not my fingers though. Those were still dead to me. I tried to chase them toward the barn. Nope, not happening. I gave up, went inside and did what I should have done in the first place–got a small bucket of grain and shook it. Zeus and Zannice came running–gamboling–yes yes yes! We get candy because we’re so fun!!!
Once they both had their heads shoved in the bucket as if they don’t even know they have horns, I was able to secure Zannice’s coat flaps and release them back to the field.
We survived the cold snap!
I hope you’re staying warm (or cool, depending on which part of the world you’re in) and enjoying the ride.
I love our dogs, Carlo and Lucy, but they don’t get out much. They really don’t know how to act in public. Yesterday I decided to take them with me into to town to run a few errands because they’ve been bad about staying inside their invisible fence, and I didn’t want to leave them outside unattended.
Carlo is a purebred black Lab. Just as you’d expect, he’s a mellow soul who has never met a stranger. Lucy, on the other hand, is a mixed-breed rescue who probably was abused when she was younger. She has issues such as extreme separation anxiety, a deep distrust of strangers, men especially, and the UPS driver in particular.
They love riding in the truck, so getting them loaded up is never a problem even though most of the time it means they are going to the vet. There was some whining from Lucy when we got into town, but they stayed in the back through the first stop. They must have started getting restless while I was in Tractor Supply. I came out to find Carlo in my seat. I’d prefer he stay in the back, but I shoved him over to the passenger side and decided that was fine. He’s a good copilot.
Tractor Supply was out of the bedding I needed so we went to Orscheln’s. They were also out but I managed to find a couple of other things I needed like a new laser light toy for the cats (seriously, NEEDED). When I came out, Lucy was in the front seat with Carlo in a barking war with a dog in another car.
We stopped for gas and Lucy whined the entire time even though I was standing right next her window. I took them through the drive-up at Lion’s Choice to get them turkey sandwiches because the car wash was next and I wasn’t sure how they would react to that. The girl working the drive-up window said they were cute. I considered telling her that cute is as cute does, but instead just thanked her and headed for the car wash.
As I entered my code, I had a passing thought to shut and lock the windows, but then I saw the sign to fold in my mirrors, and I still needed to stuff a tip in the box for the guys who do the pre-cleaning at this particular place, so I got distracted and forgot.
We started through the car wash and the dogs were pretty calm. But I was, after all, plying them with pieces of roasted turkey and buttered bun. All was going well. Well, that is, until right when the big spinning things were going down the side of the truck it all of sudden got much, MUCH louder. I looked back to see that Lucy had opened the back window ALL THE WAY.
Amidst a spray of soapy water, I quickly shut the window and applied the child locks. It could have been worse, I thought. The silly dog could have jumped out while we were in there, and then I would have had to get out and who knows what sort of mayhem would have ensued. Really, one must count one’s blessings.
On to the horse barn where I planned a quick stop to let Remi know I’m still alive, feed him an apple, and head home. I let the dogs out to sniff around and pee and give them a drink, then loaded them back into the truck, cracked the windows, and went inside.
No more than ten minutes later, I came out. Lucy had locked the truck with my purse, and the key fob inside, of course. She stood with her front feet on the arm rest looking at me happily and wagging her tail. I went back inside, got a mounting block and a dressage whip hoping that would enable me to snag my purse through the slightly open window or perhaps push the button to unlock the doors.
When I got back to the truck, Lucy had unlocked the doors. Just kidding! Ha ha. So funny. I nabbed my purse, returned the mounting block and whip to the barn, and got back in the truck to go home.
Apparently, being naughty is exhausting because Lucy promptly curled up on the front seat and went to sleep.
Is it any wonder where some of my story ideas come from?
The Dream Horse Mysteries have been collected into a boxed set that includes the short prequel, Cold Backed, and all three novels: On the Buckle, Run Out, and Wrong Lead. The set is available as a paperback and as an ebook. You can find this gorgeous omnibus edition at all retailers. Links below.
The Dream Horse Mysteries star Viola Parker, a 29-year-old horsewoman whose attitude and smart mouth frequently get her in trouble with her bosses. As it is, she’s never worked more than a year at one place, but since the famous jumper, Wastrel, crashed to his death with her aboard, no one will even talk to her. Vi binges whipped cream when stressed–chocolate flavored for extreme stress.
When Vi lands right in the middle of a murder mystery, it threatens to jeopardize her new position on a Missouri horse farm, and that could disqualify her from receiving a surprise family trust fund with a requirement she keep a job for one full year by the time she’s 30. Not to mention the impact it would have on the budding relationship with her hunky kilt-wearing boss, Malcolm.
If murder doesn’t qualify as extreme stress, nothing does!
When Wastrel begins haunting her dreams and dead bodies start piling up, the question isn’t whether she can earn a reference, but whether she’ll live long enough to get it.
As Vi says, “Despite having been my favorite horse to ride when alive, as a dead messenger, Wastrel never brought glad tidings.”
To take the Dream Horse Mysteries for a trial run, you can download the short prequel, Cold Backed, for free. See links below.
Praise for On the Buckle
A fast-paced and enjoyable suspense tale featuring funny and likable Vi Parker. Carrabus has created a strong heroine in Vi, who is somewhat scarred by her parents foisting her on her aunt and uncle and the tragic loss of a horse she was competing on. She’s definitely not shy about what she likes: including shots of whipped cream straight from the can, and the sight of a chiseled, well-muscled manly torso. There’s also a first-rate mystery in On The Buckle as Vi, Malcolm, and his friends try to figure out who killed Norman and why.
This is a very strong book with a compelling protagonist and a tension filled plot. There are great emotional motivations for Viola to be the way she is…. Her relationship with the handsome owner is believably fraught and the mysteries keep mounting when little accidents start piling up. A very strong and enjoyable novel.
Wrong Lead, Dream Horse Mystery#3 will be out in just a few days!
OMG. Thrilled. Each new book is a little like the birth of a child–not usually quite as painful and sometimes–often–much longer than nine months in the making.
Following is your third excerpt. I hope you enjoy it! You can still preorder Wrong Lead for only 99c. After the release, the price will go up.
In this excerpt, Vi is visiting her cousin Penny on Long Island when Dex One comes to pick her up for dinner.
As I finished and opened the bathroom door, I felt the change—a rich fullness saturated the air, and not from the blubbing percolator.
On sock feet, I padded the hall in silence, afraid something had happened with the baby. But Penny wasn’t in the bedroom. I heard a masculine throat getting cleared toward the front of the house and reversed.
And there, in the living room, taking up more space than he had a right to, stood Dex. In a navy suit, white button-down shirt, maroon striped tie and matching pocket silk. I’d seen him in a tux once, but never a suit. Dex was of medium build and at first glance, not especially handsome, not in the heart-stopping, life-guard way Malcolm is. Nor was he just-stepped-out-of-a-Ralph-Lauren-ad beautiful like Harry. That is, until you noticed his eyes. The intensity there changed everything. In the tux, he’d been man candy on a stick. The suit did not diminish his yumminess. Which Penny’s slack-jawed stare attested to. I glanced over my T-shirt and jeans.
“You didn’t tell me we were dressing up.”
Dex’s eyes were all warm molasses as he drawled, “It’s Saturday night in New York, Miss Parker. I didn’t think I needed to.”
A snore drifted up from the basement. Penny didn’t appear to notice. A twitch of Dex’s eyebrows was the only indication he heard. I swept by my cousin and whispered, “Close your mouth, Sis-co.” Louder, I said, “Penny, meet Dexter Hamill, retired mounted cop and sometime PI. You can call him Dex.”
Dex’s thick, white-blonde hair was swept back from his forehead. When I first met him, he sported a military-severe crew cut. Since then, he’d let it grow long enough to brush his collar. Ashort beard only added to his allure. He took Penny’s hand. “At your service, ma’am. Rumors of Miss Parker’s cousin’s beauty were not exaggerated.”
Penny continued to stare, and if I didn’t do something soon, she’d start drooling worse than Isabella. Maybe motherhood had short-circuited her brain. I’d heard that could happen. I’d never seen her struck dumb by a man before. Although I had to admit, if Dex had sauntered into the barn like this the first time I met him, I might have been a little tongue-tied, too. Clearly, Penny wasn’t getting out enough.
“Dex, would you excuse us a minute? There’s coffee in the kitchen. Help yourself.”
I pinched Penny’s arm and dragged her to the bedroom.
Once there, she put her hands to her head. “Oh my God, Vi, you didn’t tell me there were more gorgeous men out there.”
“They grow like weeds.”
“Does he wear a kilt, too?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Those eyes. Did he call me beautiful? He did, didn’t he?”
I took in her flat hair and sweats. Despite looking tired, her skin glowed. “You are beautiful. Don’t ever doubt it.”
Wrong Lead, Dream Horse Mystery #3 releases in ONE WEEK on September 4th, 2018. ONE WEEK!! I’m super excited! Here’s your second excerpt.
In the following, an acquaintance from Malcolm’s past–Martina–has shown up at Winterlight with two new horses. She knows nothing about them or equines in general. This scene is her first time trying to work with one of them.
Martina stood on her toes as Eli walked a circle around her. She flashed a grin at us—at Malcolm—and shook her hair back, every inch the confident horsewoman, as if she’d done this a million times, as if she weren’t clueless. Clearly, she’d studied the art of fake it til you make it.
Or maybe this small act made her feel as if she’d accomplished something. Baby steps.
Eli walked around her a few times, keeping to the end of the line as he should. She watched him intently, and I sensed a coiling inside her, as if she struggled to fetter a dark force within—like Eli—pretty on the surface, but muddled within by conflicting desires and goals.
I thought she’d quit after this mild success, but instead, she lifted the whip, clucked, and shouted, “Trot.”
“What the hell?” It really irritated me when people ignored my instructions.
“Didn’t you tell her to keep him to walk?” Malcolm asked.
Eli charged into a ground-eating trot. Martina tucked the loops of line under her arm, clapped, and shrieked “Good boy.” Then, inexplicably, she somehow cracked the whip.
Eli’s tail went up, his muscles bunched, and he leaped into the air with all four feet, performing a spectacular capriole before landing and taking off, bucking like a bronc straight out of the gate.
I started running. Malcolm vaulted the gate right behind me.
Gone was the gelding’s meandering zig-zag. Gone was the barely jogging Western pleasure gait. He shot toward the far end of the ring. I’d shown Martina how to hold the line, how not to put her hand through the handle, but not when to let go. The line snapped taut. She jerked into the air and landed with a thud and a yelp. I wouldn’t have been surprised if her shoulder was dislocated. She hung on as Eli dragged her straight toward…Oh. My. God.
“Let go,” I yelled.
My thoughts spun to Eli hurting his legs as he bolted right into the swamp hole. Desperate to avoid disaster, I telegraphed a message to him, a warning of the danger, an internal shout to stop, but he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, hear me.
Wrong Lead, Dream Horse Mystery #3 releases on September 4th, 2018.
I’m so excited about this book! It brings together characters and events that have been woven into the story since the prequel, Cold Backed. Today, I want to share a short excerpt to whet your appetite. If you haven’t already preordered your copy while the ebook is only 99c, get it today. Universal link to all outlets. And Amazon
Wrong Lead, Dream Horse Mystery #3 Excerpt
It was when I turned to retrieve my purse that I felt the weird shift, went cold at what it meant.
Shit. Slamming my eyes closed, I sent up a quick prayer that when I opened them, I wouldn’t see a horse in the cow pasture or anywhere else nearby. Not because equines don’t sometimes share fields with bovines. It was one horse in particular I didn’t want to see. The one who used to haunt my dreams. Last time I’d seen Wastrel, he’d manifested right in front of me while I was fully awake. Despite having been my favorite ride when alive, as a dead messenger, he never brought glad tidings.
I cracked one eyelid. A shimmer surrounded us. Noire whimpered and leaned against my leg. He snorted. Wastrel, that is. Even without looking, I’d know his scent, that mix of a chocolate milkshake, lilacs, bacon frying, freshly-turned earth, new-mown grass, a just-washed baby, and the air on top of a mountain or at the sea that somehow combined into something delicious and peaceful and uplifting unlike anything you’d ever smell on Earth.
I sighed and stroked his cheek. Each time he showed himself, I hoped it was the last. Maybe for a change he was bringing good news, or an answer to the questions swirling in my mind like the tornado that’d hit west of us the week before. He stood right in—through—the wire fence separating me from my purse, which, I noticed, had landed just a scooch shy of a wet cow patty.
“What do you want?” I asked, but not with anger. I could never be mad at Wastrel.
Noire licked my hand.
“Not you, sweetie,” I said, resting my knuckles against her muzzle. “This guy. Can you see him?”
She thumped her tail but gave no indication one way or the other about the big bay. Perhaps she simply accepted the appearance of a ghost horse as normal. Perhaps I should begin to think that way, too. Wanting him to go away hadn’t done me any good.
Wastrel tossed his head. The shimmery light coalesced into a dense fog, muffling light and sound as surely as a padded cell. I stepped closer, put my arms around his neck, leaned into his warmth, closed my eyes again.
And saw what he’d showed me in dreams several times a few months back. Us riding a jump course at a horse show—that jump course—the one where he crashed and died. Crashed and died on purpose, nearly taking me with him to oblivion.
As in the dreams of last summer, something feels off, like he’s lame, or the footing is bad, and he can’t find his balance. But I wouldn’t ride him if he were hurt or the ground was too hard or slippery. His owner would have tried to force us to compete no matter what, but I would have refused. Small wonder I was fired as often as I was hired back then. If only there had been a reason to say no that day.
Get caught up on the Dream Horse Mysteries today. Start with the prequel, Cold Backed (always free). This universal link provides links to get Cold Backed everywhere it’s available, but here is one for Amazon as well.
I hope your summer is going beautifully. As always, enjoy the ride!!