Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

1st show of the year :)

What a great day at Glen Oro!

It almost didn't happen thanks to a crazy trailering debacle.  Have never had both plan and backup plan fail within 24h of each other before.  Was a fairly stressful day.  But huge thanks to Amy who rearranged her Sunday to drive us, and also to Cynthia and David who were willing to come pick us up if we ran out of options.  You're amazing!  And hugely appreciated!

Thanks to Amy though we were off on time with no drama.  And that time was a very civilized 9am.  Wow.

Selena and Lesya - thanks for all your help!
We got there and found tons of parking.  Good to go.  Unloaded the ponies and left them with Selena and Lesya -- both joining us for their first time grooming.  Olivia, long term super-groom, also came to help out as necessary :)

Walking XC
Cross country course walk was first as riding times would be tight.  The course was totally friendly and inviting and when the girls were reasonably confident they knew where they were supposed to go, we went back and got ready for dressage.

Ah dressage.  While Olivia's dressage warm-up wasn't *quite* as exciting as it had been at Caledon, it was still a little more than a hack through the park.  hahaha Bella knows the property, and every time they went past the side of the warm-up that boarders the XC course, she'd get uber-excited and express her enthusiasm for xc *sigh*   But Olivia stayed calm and did a great job with her and eventually Bella's brain switched into dressage mode.

Chelsea, on the other hand, had the extreme opposite problem of a super-lazy pony!  Lissy just didn't seem particularly interested in playing the game at all.  But after a while, Chelsea got her forward and relocated the outside rein that had temporarily gone on vacation and got some really nice moments.

And while all this was going on, Paula - a student of mine who has a ton of experience and so didn't need my help for PE dressage *g* - had retreated after being nearly run over by half a dozen different PE riders (none of them my girls -- they did a great job of navigating the w/u!) and was warming up off in her own little bubble.  Looked to be going fairly well though as her superstar green-bean was behaving herself and even starting to relax.
Paula on Ridgetop Cantata in dressage
Paula was first in the ring and put in a superstar test that wouldn't be caught.  Not a bad start to the day!  Chelsea was next in; due to her time being very close to Olivia's, I only got to see bits and pieces of her test, but I was very impressed by what I saw!    First test of the year this year, but I'd say still ranked among or above the best of last year's!  Woohoo!   Then Olivia got to go and other than some slight confusion resulting in an error of course, she did an excellent job of her first off-property dressage test!  Woohoo!

A - Enter Working Trot
Chelsea on Calista
Our supergrooms took Lissy and Bella back to do a quick tack change and let them have a drink, while the riders and I walked stadium.  It was a lovely, fair, open course with very little filler.  Great first outing of the season.  I left Olivia and Chelsea to walk it a second time on their own and shortly after they were done they reconnected with their ponies with lots of time to spare.  Bella was pretty pleased that it was time to jump stuff, and their warm-up went really well.  Lissy wasn't as sure, but after a couple false starts, Chelsea had her jumping confidently.

Chelsea and Lissy, stadium fence 3
Paula again was first in and put in an excellent round.  Cati can *really* jump, but it's only her second HT ever and everything is very new and exciting.  Then it was Chelsea's turn and she did a super job with Lis.  They had one unfortunate stop at an oxer with a downhill approach -- so now we know what we need to practice.  She got her around all the rest of the course beautifully though and by the end were working together like prostars.  And then Olivia went in with Bella and showed us how it's supposed to be done.  Beautiful rhythm, nice lines, and hit every distance.  Not half bad for her first course :)   After show jumping we had Paula in first in the Open division, Chelsea in 5th and Olivia in 8th.   Sweet!

Olivia and Superpony, 2nd last jump on course
Then on to XC.  And lets be honest, that's why we're all here.  Paula went on course as Chelsea and Olivia started to warm up and had an excellent run.  It was a great course for Cati, who doesn't love treelines, as it included several treelines.  They had a beautiful run, with only one fence she even contemplated.  Clear and on time.  Sweet.

Olivia and Chelsea ready for XC
Now in the warmup, Chelsea ran into one of Murphy's horse laws.  About the same time she got her two-minute warning, Lissy pulled a shoe.  Booooo.  She was sound on it, thankfully, but not thrilled about jumping with one foot naked.  We did a couple warmup fences to convince her she could, in-fact, navigate jumps with only one shoe on and then off they went!

Chelsea setting up for a fence in the distance
They cleared the first fence and then were out of my sight as I stayed with Olivia.  Bella was ready to go, and soon enough they too were off!   I got to see her first few fences, before catching Chelsea's last couple.  Chels unfortunately had one stop on XC due to an unfortunate trip a stride before the fence.  Booo on that.  But otherwise they'd had a great run.  And soon enough, Olivia and Bella came back clear!  Woohoo!

This look, right here...  The one when they finish their first ever XC run...
This look is why I teach :)
Final scores of the day.  Paula won her division riding Cynthia Pyper's horse Ridgetop Cantata, Olivia finished in third on Superpony -- not bad for her first show ever!  Well on the way to qualifying for champs :)   And Chelsea ended up in 7th with Lissy.  Awesome job ladies!

Next up:  Myrddin clinic and then Foxcroft CT.

Living vicariously through my fictional characters...

I'm having a lot of fun with my newest project :)   It's based off a flash I wrote years ago that always stayed with me.  The original can be read here if you're interested:  A Summer's Day

Wow - I just realize it was three years ago to the day I published that one.  Eerie.  It's not in first person anymore and the MC had a name change, but the rest is serving as the first chapter *g*

Had to write a scene the other day in which a girl who was terrified of horses, had to ride.  Was an interesting challenge :)   But then it led to getting to write this one, after she thoroughly showed them all *g*

She looked to Marcus whose eyes were following the no longer visible dragon.  She waited until he turned his attention to her before smiling and shrugging one shoulder casually.  “Well?” she asked.

“Your highness,” he knelt before her, one hand at his chest, head bowed, entire body radiating sincerity.  Lissa thought back to how he’d dismissed her in their second meeting.  How very far they’d come.  But she was a lot less comfortable with his subjection than she had been with his disdain.

“Get up Marcus,” she said.  She had to work to keep her tone soft.  “I’m still the same girl who can’t ride a horse.”

He met her eyes and his look contained both awe and humour.  “You fly on the back of a dragon with more ease and skill than the best horsemen have ever demonstrated.  I don’t think you need to worry about riding a horse.”

Well, it amused me anyways :)   I *think* this story's about half way written, and I'm pretty excited about it.  But I really don't know.  Slowing down significantly with show season hitting.  The print copy of my book is just about ready to be resubmitted!  Tomorrow, if I get the barn done in a reasonable amount of time :)  Yeah!

Speaking of show season, my girls were *amazing* at Glen Oro this weekend!  What an awesome start to the season :)  It'll get its own blog post on the GRS blog, probably tomorrow :)

Tired, headachy, and so very unproductive today.  Teaching I couldn't seem to get any words to come out in the right order.  Just not the best of days.  Blah.  And I *really* miss riding my horse.   Bruise is evident on her hoof now, so at least we know what we're dealing with.  But probably another couple weeks realistically. Boo on that.  Also writing this post and rereading old stuff because I'm not thinking clearly enough to write anything new.  Blah.

Oh well - maybe I'll try actually going to sleep at a reasonable hour and see how that works out :)   Or I could write one of the three or four blog posts waiting to be written *g*  Night!

Caledon Clinic

Caledon is somehow always an adventure.

The day started out well enough -- the alarm *did* go off and I actually *did* get out of bed.  Even before the backup alarm!  hahaha if you know me at all, you know the backup alarm is very necessary.  So it's about 4am.  After 3h sleep.  And first thing I do is check my phone to see what chaos has ensued.  

Message from the girl who was supposed to do morning chores saying she can't make it.  Ummmm really?  Frig.  I don't have time for that worked into the schedule at all, and who am I supposed to call at  5am for backup?

So I text Steph who was meeting me at the barn to ask if she beats me there could she please feed everybody and bring in the outside horses.  I figured as long as we got them taken care of before we left, I was reasonably certain I could find somebody to help with stalls later in the day.

All good.  So I'm just about ready to leave and Steph calls me.  Never a good sign when my phone actually rings.  Nobody calls unless something horrible has happened.  Her car is dead.  Not just one car, but TWO cars are dead.  She's stuck.  Fortunately we only live about 15 mins from each other; unfortunately, she's in the other direction.  Really unfortunately, I don't leave a random extra half hour in the am before shows, so we're now going to be *very* late AND have to cover am chores.

*sigh* So before I go to pick up Steph, I send a text to all the riders at the barn.  Can you please bring in *all* the horses???  And, a special one to Kennedy who works for me and knows the system -- can you make up and feed breakfast?

While I'm doing this, Steph texts me -- she's caught a cab and will meet me at my place.  Saves us 15 mins.  Sweet.

So eventually we get to the barn, forsaking any idea of breakfast on the way.  And I have to tell you, my girls are awesome!  I know what show day nerves do to people, and this was the first outing of the year for girls who are in their first or second year of showing.  So barely controlled chaos was pretty much what I'd been expecting.  It's what would've been normal.  But no, when we walked in, all their horses were ready, haynets and water jugs full, and all the other horses had been brought in and fed.  I was super-impressed!

The trailer was a little late arriving, but not tragically so.  And as it pulled up, we got all the horses turned back out -- fastest turnout ever!  When you have as many hands as horses, it's a really fast job *g*

And it's not yet 6:15am. *sigh*

hahaha ah well.  Horses loaded like prostars.  That was awesome.  Trip to Caledon was uneventful, albeit amusing when the entire train pulled into Tim Hortons on the way :)

Upon arrival, Steph supervised the unloading while I went to check in and find out where they wanted me to be for the day.   I scrounged a pen for my scribe and took some tables, chairs, and labels down to the dressage ring, before heading back to the trailer to check on the girls.  I met Emily and Rowan (who both had 8am starts) on the way so that was a good sign.  Sent them to warm-up and went to touch base with Steph who was covering for me for the day.  Since I'd be coaching all day, she was in charge of everything else!  Amazing :)  Totally made it possible for the girls to be there and for me to focus on what I was doing and not have to worry.

So at 8am, Rowan was in my ring and Emily rode with Jess the next ring over.  Rowan's first test was fairly tense and rushed -- I suspect there were a fair amount of nerves there (I never realized I was so scary! hahaha).  But we worked for a bit and her second test was stunning!  I didn't get to see much of Emily's, but the odd time I looked over it looked like it was going well :)

I was supposed to teach Olivia and then Kennedy, but I asked Jess who was teaching in the next ring to trade with me.  I love teaching my girls, and I don't think they'd have been terribly upset to ride with me *g*   But the whole reason I encourage them to go to clinics is to hear from somebody else!  So she was cool with that and I taught the people who were supposed to be in her ring instead.

I had so much fun.  Have to admit, teaching low-level dressage, especially at a high-energy first-of-the-year clinic, can be painful.  Some years you spend four hours trying to explain the difference between a circle and a corner, or the whole time getting a horse to chill out.  But this year I had really good riders on awesome horses.  Every one of them worked super hard and the difference between their two tests was noticeable   It was so. much. fun!

The down side is, I have only the vaguest notion of what my girls were doing at this point.  Bella was being her absolute evilest pony self to Olivia in dressage.  I saw something that resembled rodeo going on in that ring at one point!  But she dealt with it and it all seemed to be under control, so I didn't worry too much.  Honestly didn't even see Kennedy's dressage.  

Rowan was out on XC at 9 and Kennedy shortly after that, but at Caledon your really can't see xc from the dressage area *g*   I had a short break between classes about 10:30 so I went to the trailer to see how everything was going.  Rowan came back from XC grinning, so that's always good :)  Emily and Margaret were just about to head out.  Back to dressage for another few lessons, which were all as good as the first ones.  Amazing.  And some *really* nice horses.

Then lunch was spent chatting with people.  Let's be honest, food is pretty low on my priorities.  Visited with some old friends who I don't see nearly often enough, stopped briefly in the club house to chat with some of the clinicians - most of whom I know from the show circuit or from other clinics.  Then back to meet my guys -- who were already on their way to stadium.  Stephy, not new here, had grabbed a wrap (yeah Laura!) and coke for me and met me on the way.  So I munched as they warmed up for stadium.   

We chatted for a bit -- apparently both Margaret and Emily had a blast on XC.  It seems both Louis and Charlie were superstars :)   I think Louis loves coming to Caledon with Margaret each year.  He gets so proud of himself.

So yes, I had all five of my own girls in one group for show jumping.  On the one hand, I like them to go to clinics to get other opinions, on the other though -- having all of them together with nobody else was fabulous!  We could do so much more than they'd have been able to do in a normal group because I know them. I know their horses. I know what they know and what I haven't taught them yet.  And I know all the basics are there and solid.  It means we can skip the evaluation, I don't have to do any significant equitation explanations, I can assume basic course knowledge and understanding, and I can make the course a legitimate height without any concerns.  So yes - my girls, who were supposed to be in PE, jumped the highest and most complicated course I taught all afternoon.  hahaha  And they did an excellent job of it!

At the end of that, Olivia headed off for XC and the others went back to the trailer to take care of their ponies.

I was highly amused when I met my next group.  While my first had been all my students, my second was all Marg's.  And since I worked for her for years, it gives me the exact same advantage as with my group.  We teach in a similar manner with emphasis on similar priorities.  I've taught all these riders before and know at least a little about them and their horses.  Their horses were a little greener, so we took it slightly slower, but it was still a blast to teach and we got a lot done.

BUT -- shortly after I started teaching I saw Chelsea off in the distance leading Bella around.  Uh oh.  My heart sank as that's never a good sign, but there was nothing I could do.  I was super excited to see somebody give Olivia a leg up onto the pony though as I figured she must be okay. When her XC group made it's way around so they were jumping next to where I was teaching, I asked if she was okay -- and got a completely blank look... Ummm I'm sure I saw the pony being led around?   Oh, Olivia got off.  On purpose.  hahhaa great relief.  Okay, that's totally fine then :)

My last group was huge and all riders I didn't know -- well except one I'd taught earlier in dressage if that counts?  :)  I enjoyed them though and they all made a solid effort.  A couple horses I would've loved to put in the school in that group :)

At the end of the day I stopped up on the hill to chat with a friend and watch the last group finish off.  Steph took charge of loading and getting the ponies home, so I was able to relax and socialize with the other clinicians for a few minutes.  That's always fun -- it's very much an independent job I do, so every once in a while it's nice to chat with other people doing the same thing, facing the same challenges...

Didn't stay too long though as I did need to get back.  The girls were finishing up with their horses.  Soon enough all was done and the barn was quiet.  Stephy and I did night check and the day was done.

So a day that started out pretty dodgy, ended up fairly amazing.  I had a ton of fun teaching.  It seems all the girls had great rides.  Nobody fell off :)  Always a plus!  And I was really proud of how my girls both rode and conducted themselves in general.  Show season's going to be a blast!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - Walsch

So today I entered an alternate reality. It started with me driving through McDonald's for hot chocolate this am and finding a farmer's market. Seriously. In Oakville. For those who've not had the pleasure, Oakville is the epitome of suburban yuppie-ville. I can say that with the prerogative of one who grew up here >;-P Review my post about pilates class if you have any doubts *g*

So a farmer's market appearing was disconcerting to say the least. Not a bad thing, just a surprise.

Anyways - armed with hot chocolate, I set out on the highway daydreaming and rockin' out all the way.  Turns out I *never* take that particular highway and was enjoying it a whole lot more than my usual highway drives.  I particularly enjoyed the graffiti on the overpasses (no I'm actually not kidding - was friendly, cheerful, Canadian graffiti.  The first one said "Don't worry."  The next one?  You guessed it: "Be happy." :)

Classic Canadian Graffiti
When I got off the highway I was following directions and every time my lane disappeared and would've been really awkward, it turned out I was supposed to exit where my lane ended.  Happened three times.  Very cool.  Somewhat surreal, but very cool.

And then I found where ferris wheels go to die.  Seriously.  Let's have a moment of silence.

Hauntingly eerie
But eventually I made it where I was going.  So, ummmm what exactly was I up to?

Well you see, several weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook that one of my friends posted of her learning to fight with medieval-esque armour and weapons.  So I asked her about it.  Well she's actively involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and she invited me to come see what it was about.

Okay - stay with me here.  First - to put in perspective how welcoming this was of her -- this is a girl I went to high school with, that I haven't seen since then.  And yet she totally encouraged me to come and even offered me clothes :)  Since it's not the first time connecting with a high school friend via Facebook has led to good things, I was reasonably okay with that concept.  Pretty cool of her though -- she doesn't know me any more than I know her; I could've really ruined her day.  Although I hope I didn't! :)

Lend me a dress...  Hmmmm.  I both read and write copious amounts of fantasy, but in reality I'm pretty firmly grounded.  Even my XC colours are pretty tame.  And while I absolutely love getting dressed up for formal events; it almost never happens these days.  So I actually can't remember the last time I wore a dress and it's been even longer since I wore any sort of costume for anything.  And if I remembered correctly from high school, B was taller than I.  I'd feel really horrible if she loaned me a dress and it dragged on the ground all day!

I've heard of SCA before -- could hardly get through a degree in medieval lit without it. But I've never been to an event or had anything to do with it.  And I have to admit, it's far enough outside my comfort zone that I was somewhat nervous about going.  I have no problem galloping a four-year-old mostly unbroke TB at solid obstacles but dress up and socialize with a large group of people I don't know in an unfamiliar environment?  Yeah, not so high on my priority list.

But...  You're not new here :)   You see "I got up, went to work, came home" just doesn't make for entertaining blog posts.  Well, it my world sometimes it does, but you know what I mean *g*   Basically though, I approach most things with a general "it might be fun, try anything once" attitude.  And once I'd decided, the nerves balanced with excitement and tbh, a fair degree of disbelief.  Even *I* couldn't picture me doing this.

The time and place were set -- I had a cell number and we arranged where to meet.  Before I left that am, I even made an effort to do up my hair all medieval *g*   And by that I mean, two thin braids holding the rest of my hair back.  hahaha but it looked acceptable and didn't involve a scruchy or a headband so I figure it was a reasonable effort.

When I pulled into the parking lot I took a few minutes to check in with the girls covering for me at the barn (thanks Amy and Ashley!  You women are awesome!).  While I did, I saw numerous people coming and going -- all entirely decked out.  Oh dear.  Nerves returned in serious force.  But really, what can you do at that point?  Take a deep breath and walk in.

B was right at the entrance, so that was no problem.  She had two dresses I could pick from and one top that would be worn over jeans -- potentially I'm not the first nervous newbie she's introduced to her hobby :)  But go hard or go home right?  I picked a dress and with the aid of a strategically placed belt was able to keep it from dragging on the ground.  Looking around, I was glad I'd vanished the scrunchy -- all the other women either had their hair done up or covered.

Now most of the time fitting in is pretty low on my priority list, but when I'm completely out of my element, the chameleon factor can provide some false confidence *g*   It didn't help that I'd apparently randomly turned into a clutz too.  So uncoordinated.  Which is not particularly like me, so I wasn't thrilled at that development.  And even when I was dressed in a way that blended with the rest of the crowd, either it's a really close-knit group or my tension still showed because everybody knew I was new *g*

Have to add - I *want* a cape like this next winter.
Everybody was super welcoming though.  They patiently answered my million and eight questions and tolerated my camera-happy tendencies.  The tournament was intense -- I don't know what I was expecting, but the reality was stronger and faster than anything I'd expected.  Chatted with the unofficial official photographer, A, for a while and got an idea for where I could and couldn't go and how/where to be out of the way :)   Felt a lot more comfortable when I knew how not to disturb things *g*

My fav battle shot of the day

Midday we had lunch which was cheap, super tasty, and a huge portion.  Really worth the drive just for that *g*  Snagged it and sat out side watching the tournament while we ate.  Everybody brought their own wooden dishes and utensils.

So I'd been watching the archery on and off all day, but B hadn't brought her stuff and I didn't feel up to just going up to ask if I could play *g*  But then I was talking to another person who said they'd tried it for the first time ever today, which I was definitely jealous of, but it also led me to believe this might be a possibility :)  B had introduced me to somebody earlier and I was chatting with him when his wife mentioned she was going to do some shooting, so I put on my big girl panties and asked her if I could come watch :)

Fortunately for me, instead of being particularly repulsed by being stuck with an impudent visitor who just invited herself along, she seemed eager to share her hobby.  We chatted on the way to the range and then she introduced me to one of the men managing it, who set me up with a loaner bow and arrows, gave me the run down on the range rules, and a lesson on archery 101.

O.M.G. So. Much. Fun!  hahahaha oh dear.  I definitely spent most of the rest of the day shooting.  hahahha I wandered back to the tournament every so often -- especially when they switched weapons or when the only person I'd met who was competing was fighting (he made it to the 2nd-last round).  But I kept getting drawn back.  Ridiculously addictive.  It was crazy windy, but my arrows were almost always straight -- makes me wonder if I'm actually way crooked *g*   I had a hard time judging height -- over and undershot the target a lot *sigh*  Although have to admit I was always amused when it went past the target -- even though that's technically not the goal >;-P   But I was pretty good about steering -- they were almost always centered.  Just not always at the target.  hahaha minor detail.

Note the grin the first time I hit the target :)
But wow -- if I could *find* a bow and arrow, I could so see setting up a random hay bale target in a field somewhere.  It was the most frustrating and yet satisfying challenge.  But I can already feel my shoulders...  XC schooling a greenbean at nine am tomorrow may prove entertaining.  But that'll be it's own post :)

Huge thanks to B and all her SCA friends for a highly entertaining day :)   Greatly appreciated!

Callie comes to camp

So Callie came to camp this week and it was all sorts of fun.   I think maybe I should start offering that as a thing *g*   Callie's person, Rebecca, is a good friend of mine and she was planning to bring Cal for the weekend when she came to teach our braiding clinic.  Then she decided to come to the Waylon clinic as well. And so it was decided that she'd stay the week and do boot camp.

They did the Waylon clinic on Sun, lessons Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat and went home on Sunday.  It was a little intense *g*  I rode Callie a few times this week -- she's a lovely mare.  She hasn't really been ridden by anybody other than Rebecca, so she wasn't always thrilled with me and what I was asking her to do (engage hind end and bend -- all at the same time!), but she tried really hard and started to get it.

Part of the goal was for her to put on her big-girl panties.  So go away from home, work without a meltdown, eat, drink and survive.  hahaha by the end of the week, the hunter princess who wouldn't go through a puddle was jumping water jumps.  She who didn't bend left, was, in-fact, bending left.  And ADD101 managed to stay focused during the supremely insane interruption lesson -- hurricane type wind outside, soccerball dogs darting through the ring, random person appearing at the back of the arena, another horse being ridden at the same time -- and leaving!  Horses being turned in and out.  And all sorts of stuff going on in the barn.  It was chaos.  Almost show-ring worthy.  And Callie kept it together and did her job.  Woohoo!

Overall it was a ton of fun, and I think they even learned a thing or two :)

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." ― Saul Bellow

YEAH!!!!  It's real!  My book is real!  Like I can hold it in my hand, real. You have no idea how excited I am about this.  Omg.

hahaha yeah, I'm pretty excited :)

Ebooks are available now, hard copy after I finish proofing and sign off -- probably another week or two.  Pretty stoked that I can type my name into Amazon or Chapters and have it pop up.

And when I posted it on Facebook, the response was amazingly supportive!  Wow.  I'm a little overwhelmed by that.  It's almost as heartening as all the people who showed up for our spring work party -- I almost don't even know how to respond.  Thanks seems insufficient.  Amazing.

So anyways -- I have it sitting next to me.  Am totally thrilled with how it looks.  LOVE the cover.  So yeah, all-round excited.

Of course since launching it last night I've found half a dozen typos *sigh*  But one of the advantages of e-books is that you can update with fixes :)  And by the time the print one is out in a couple weeks, it should be set!

It's been an interesting experience.   Writing it, well...  The first chapter was my second ever Friday Flash and it kinda went from there.  I learned really quickly that if the story comes to me and I write it down when it does (there's a reason there's a pen and paper next to my bed!) it'll flow well and not need too much help.  If I try to "make something up"?  Less good.  Where said story comes from -- I have no idea.  Just sometimes the characters tell me what's up and other times they don't.

Anyways -- eventually it was written, in large part due to nanowrimo a few years back.  Then it was ignored.  And I started a new business.  And it was ignored some more.  And every once in a while I thought of it, but mostly...  Well...  It was ignored.

But then I randomly decided it was time to do something with it.  So I pulled it up and reread it and was rather appalled.  hahaha but I fixed it and got a few people to read it and fixed it some more.  And then it was time to find an editor.  Somewhere along the way I'd become facebook friends with another author (India Drummond) who's been quite successful but also seems very willing to help out the newbies of the world.  She connected me with an article she'd written on finding an editor and, more than that, gave me contact info for hers :)

I did a fair amount of research, talked to several editors, got samples from a few.  One I had high hopes for really didn't end up working for me at all.  And in the end, went with Susan Gottfried -- who India had previously recommended :)   And this was the really fun part of the experience.  Because it turns out, I've never had any actual writing instruction.  All the writing I've ever had critiqued has been academic; I can write a really solid academic paper.  Turns out academic and fantasy don't bled well *g*

Not once in uni did I take any form of creative writing, and when I started this project I wasn't really connected with any other writers online I could bounce things off of.   Susan went all out on my manuscript and I learned so much from her.  But even more impressively, not only did she gently -- and sometimes not so gently >;-P; I swear I could see her eyes roll from the other side of cyberspace -- critique the work and offer suggestions on how to fix it, but she did it in such a way that *I* rewrote it.   She didn't take it over or re-write it for me or insist it had to be a certain way (as was occurring with the first person), but instead would tell me what the issue was and leave me to my own devices on how to fix it.  Or occasionally "How about X?" where X would be something so simply brilliant it made me wonder how I didn't see it in the first place.

Anyways -- suffice to say it significantly tightened up my writing and turned it into something I could be proud of.  I also find I hear her voice (ummm the one I made up of course since we've never actually spoken) in my head as I'm writing now.  "Show don't tell" is a favourite.  And "Just use 'said'" hahaha oh dear.  Looking forward to the next level of help whenever I send her my next project.  I'm pretty sure she's also taking new clients at the moment, so if you need an editor -- give her a shout.  She's great with newbies :)

So then I had a book to work with.  Or rather, a stack of papers with writing on them.  Well if you have a book, you need a cover.  Ummm right - remember any artistic ability I have comes in the form of words...  Creating a cover?  WAY beyond me.  But there's a fantasy artist I've been following on Facebook for a long time -- Claudia McKinney.  So I contacted her and sure enough before too long I had a cover.  And I LOVED it.

BUT...  It had no text.  So Claudia put me in touch with Ashley who for typography and soon I had a cover!

Then it was on to learning how to format for various ebooks, more proofing, getting a print copy (still proofing that), learning about US tax numbers, signing a variety of contracts, and all sorts of fun.   I'm quickly seeing why so many authors are going to ebooks only -- significantly better royalties :)  Which of course makes logical sense but there's still something about actually being able to hold a book in your hand.  So I'm doing both :)

But finally, the end result, is up!  Woohoo!!!  And I gotta say, the whole journey has been *amazing* and I've met -- well online met -- so many incredible and totally supportive people as a result...

This whole post could actually be summarized in one word:


Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -- Groucho Marx

Really wasn't interested in going to agility class today -- tried and distracted with other things.  But Sash really likes it and I've paid for the lessons, so at the last second I got my butt in gear and got us to class (only like 5 min late -- oops!)

Sooo glad I went though.  What a blast.  The first half of the class was skills.  Sasha picked up one we've never tried before on about the third try -- super-smart puppy!  It's so fun to watch her figure stuff out, and she gets soooo proud of herself, trotting around with her frisbee *g*   Then she did all the weave poles with only one wire on!   Woohoo!  She seems to quite like those -- if I'm not paying attention she'll randomly go wander through them or over the dogwalk.  hahaha   The teeter-totter otoh is still a little scary, but she's doing it now.  Just still nervous about it.  More practice needed!  Sadly I lack a teeter-totter at the barn *sigh*  Ah well.

Then the second half of the class was course running -- and it was almost all jumps, which Sasha loves.  So always highly entertaining.  Esp now that she's jumping them at height (they seem huge to me since she can easily walk under them, but she doesn't seem to care).  Had a great lightbulb moment in handling for this one which'll hopefully make us a little more successful *g*   She's super-eager but sometimes her enthusiasm and speed outdistance my handling abilities *g*   Hahaha ah well, we'll get our act together some day.

First draft of new book is done!  Woohoo!  Now to convince myself to ignore it for a couple weeks before looking at it again.  hahaha we'll see.

Other book...  So very close!   Look for official launch soon!  Super stoked about that!

Waylon Roberts Clinic

Clinic today was amazing!  Perfect weather, great horses, excellent riding!  All-round good day :)  All of the schoolies participated and we had several horses come visit from outside.  Yeah!

Waylon's focus was on the quality of the canter and maintaining a rhythm.  All the groups started out with trot and canter poles and eventually built up to jumping courses.  He got on one horse that was quite hot and schooled it up, which was great to watch :)

I rode a client's greenbean, who was absolutely lovely.  I was super proud of her.  Was disappointed Lexi hurt her foot yesterday and so couldn't play, but such is life.  *sigh*

Was really happy with my students.  They all did an amazing job!  Even the ones riding challenging horses or catch riding something they don't usually ride, all stepped it up and pulled it off.  And seemed to have fun doing so :)  Woohoo!  Great job ladies!

Also happy with the audience turnout.  Almost everybody stuck around to watch the other groups and several riders who weren't participating still came to watch.  Really happy to have such an involved group :)

Honestly, couldn't've asked for a better day.  Even the pizza was good.  What more can you ask?