Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Don't Call Me A "Sidewinder"

Rattlesnakes. Just the very word makes a lot of people uneasy and anxious. As a western historical writer, nature lover, and all around information geek, I’m fascinated with the critters, so when Dearest Husband attended a Continuing Education meeting (required to maintain his veterinary license) that had a lecture on rattlesnakes living in Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Colorado (same general area I wish I lived), I grabbed his lecture notes as soon as the meeting was over. 

There are more than 24 known species of rattlesnakes in the US of which the Mohave Rattlesnake is the most venomous. It has venom which can kill a person if antivenin is not administered. These rattlesnakes are aggressive toward humans and will bite without provocation. Although rattlesnake venom isn't as deadly as some other snakes, the volume of the injected venom makes rattlesnakes particularly dangerous. The venom is haemotoxic, meaning that it prevents blood from clotting and destroys tissue.

Most of what I write is set in what was the Wyoming Territory—now the great state of Wyoming. Only two rattlers live in Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Department of Fish and Wildlife: the prairie rattler and the midget faded rattler. The prairie rattler can be found just about everywhere in the state below 8000 feet. The midget is found only in the Flaming Gorge area and is endangered.

Of the two, the midget (what’s midget about a venomous snake that can be as long as 20 inches fully mature?) is much more venomous, more prone to bite, and definitely aggressive. It is an absolutely gorgeous snake—liver and orange colored.

The prairie rattler, on the other hand, has a huge distribution area. These snakes are robust, less aggressive than their midget or Mohave cousins, and aren’t as venomous. Unless cornered or actually threatened, they’ll just slither away through the sage brush and grasses. Most mature prairie rattlers will also prefer, if forced to strike, to deliver a warning, dry bite. (And if I’m ever in a situation where I’ve accidently cornered a prairie rattler and receive a dry bite, I’m still dead because the heart attack will kill me.)

Now, I’m off to go research rattlesnakes in the Big Piney area of Texas for my next romance novel.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Devotional ~ Finding Peace

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
Horses are prone to worry and anxiety. When their life is unpredictable or they are dealing with pain or stress, they can develop nervous habits like pacing and even end up with ulcers or other health related problems. It is the handler’s job to notice when the horse is suffering from stress, because the horse has no voice and can't tell the handler when he is having a problem. A good handler will notice, root out the source of the problem, alleviate it, and restore peace in the horse's life. A bad handler will only treat the symptoms, such as the ulcers, and never get to the root of the problem.
The human body deals with stress in similar ways. If we allow worry and stress to overcome us, ulcers, nervous ticks, high blood pressure and other health issues are likely to occur. Often, we, like bad handlers, will treat and mask our symptoms instead of looking to the source of our lack of peace. When we focus on God, the best handler, He can provide the peace that passes all understanding. 
We have a voice and can tell God about our troubles and pains through prayer. He is waiting for us to bring our burdens to Him.

Howdy all! I visit each Sunday with a horse-related devotional for you to read and reflect upon. This is Day 14 of my devotional for horse lovers, Faith in Training. Hope you enjoy learning about how our relationship with horses can help us learn more about our relationship with God as well. Thanks for reading! ~ P. Creeden

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Devotional ~ Salt and Light

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)
Salt is necessary for the body to function properly—it controls water intake as well as the function of muscles and the nervous system. While in captivity, horses are given free-choice access to salt in the form of a block of minerals. Licking the salt block for long stretches at a time is usually one of their favorite things to do. But if the salt block is dirty or corrupted in some way, the horse will turn his nose up at it.
As Christians, in the world, we are supposed to be salt and light. But if we lose our flavor or become corrupted with sin, we'll stop being what the world needs to function. To keep our witness and our testimony clean, we must maintain a working relationship with Christ. Prayer, Bible study, and spending time in prayer and worship will help us stay in tune with the Holy Spirit. 
Our focus must be on our relationship with God to keep us from becoming hypocrites and Pharisees, which are more worthless than not being a Christian in the first place. The world will turn their nose up at a false witness, so we need to stay focused.

Howdy all! I visit each Sunday with a horse-related devotional for you to read and reflect upon. This is Day 13 of my devotional for horse lovers, Faith in Training. Hope you enjoy learning about how our relationship with horses can help us learn more about our relationship with God as well. Thanks for reading! ~ P. Creeden

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Where Do Characters Come From?

A question authors often get asked is where do their characters come from?

We've all seen the disclaimers at the beginning of books--All the characters described in the story are fictional. 

***cough*** ***cough*** Of course they are! 

As I said a few months ago, the mind is incapable of coming up with a totally original idea. We take things we've seen, heard, felt, touched, or tasted and transform them into our own stories. As Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun." And that includes our characters.

We may base our characters on people we've seen on television, read about in stories, or (yes, we do it) have met in real life. We may combine these characters together and form new characters, but all characters are based on someone, whether we remember them consciously or not. 

So, where do my characters come from? To tell the truth, most of the time I don't know. My characters reveal themselves to me a little at a time. It's like meeting a person. I don't know much about them until I hear their story. 
Characters come as mere shadows, revealing themselves slowly.

Yes, I hear it or, you could say, I daydream it. The story plays out as a movie in my head. I often push pause and rewind, but the stories eventually unfold as I watch and learn about my characters. 

Me, hard at work, dreaming my stories.
Often in this process, I begin to see where my mind came up with a particular character. Sometimes I never know. However, my first stories were based on people I actually knew/know. Shhh ... don't tell them. 

And it's usually the cover designer who gives me the physical qualities of the characters. I'm one of those authors who prefers my book covers be made before I write. Seeing the models allows me to weave their features onto the characters playing out the scenes. 
Wait! Weren't you my fifth-grade teacher?

To my knowledge, I've never based a character on an actual actor or other celebrity. (Oops, I have! Sayid from Lost. You'll have to read all my books to see if you can spot him!)

But, usually, only my subconscious actually knows. And if it was my subconscious basing a character on an actual person, yes, it was accidental. ***cough*** ***cough*** Yeah, right.

~Abagail Eldan
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Devotional ~ Trusting When We Can't See

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The trainer only has complete control of the horse when the horse is surrendered to her. But to give this surrender, the horse must trust her completely. This is faith in the horse world— complete trust and belief the trainer will do what she said she will do. And at the end of the training session, a reward reinforces that faith. Sometimes compensation isn't much more than a break or time off. Other times, the reward is exactly what the horse has desired (typically, food). But regardless, the horse trusts the trainer to not ask more than he is ready to handle. And that leads to a benefit in the end.
The faith a person needs to have in God is similar. If we believe Him and trust Him, we will work harder and surrender our will to Him, knowing He will reward us in some manner. Life is easier for us when we give up our will and take on our Lord's. It's not easier if He spoils us. This world and what we think we desire in it will harm us in the end. An alcoholic who drinks all he wants is killing himself in the end. So is the obese person who eats all she wants. That's how the world harms us. But living in the will of God is a surrendered will—where He is in control, and we look to Him for our reward. 
We need to trust that He will not give us more than we can handle. And that leads to a benefit for us in the end, even if we can’t see it right now.

Howdy all! I visit each Sunday with a horse-related devotional for you to read and reflect upon. This is Day 12 of my devotional for horse lovers, Faith in Training. Hope you enjoy learning about how our relationship with horses can help us learn more about our relationship with God as well. Thanks for reading! ~ P. Creeden

Friday, April 27, 2018

Becoming a Writer Vol. 3

Lately I’ve been suffering from writer’s block and ADHD. There’s been a lot of staring blankly at the computer screen. Everything distracts me, and I rarely manage to complete anything that I’ve started. I get frustrated when the words won’t come to me, so I think “I’ll just take a short break.” I can find a plethora of things to amuse myself with on Facebook. My love for funny animal videos is no secret. My friends and I have had some pretty legendary meme/GIF/emoji wars. I’m completely hooked on quizzes. Who comes up with these quizzes? It’s like they are reading my mind.  Of course, I want to know “what Hogwarts house do I belong to?” I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but “what kind of animal am I?” Hmm… “what does my taste in ice cream say about me?”

It’s hard to get back to writing after learning that I’m a “Hufflepuff, cat, who likes the finer things in life.” I’ll get a few sentences down before I wonder “What am I going to make for supper?” After digging through the pantry and freezer, I write a few more lines. I click on the annoying little envelope icon in the corner of my screen. “Goodness! I have 200 unread emails!” I get back to working after organizing my inbox and deleting spam. It’s not long before something on the floor catches my attention. “Geez! The floor needs to be vacuumed. I could make another cat out of all of this fur floating around. Where are the cats? I think they need to be forcibly snuggled.”

I sit back down at my desk after angering the fur babies. A couple of minutes later, I decide that I’m hungry. “What do I have to snack on?” Snack acquired, I start writing at a feverish pace. I’m in the zone. “Snacks must help me focus.” Then I notice that I’ve already polished off that bowl of snacks. I briefly contemplate getting a refill but think “Good grief. How much weight am I going to gain sitting here typing and eating all day?” I work a few more minutes before I start to get restless. “I need to stretch.” I get up and go to the next room. “Why did I come to this room again?” I shrug and sit back down at my desk.

It’s not long before I decide that it’s too quiet. I turn on television. “Ooh! Gilmore Girls. I’ve only seen this episode a few dozen times. On second thought, maybe I better watch Gunsmoke. That counts as research, right?” I decide that watching a western will help set the scene for my book. Five minutes into the show I realize I don’t know nearly enough about horses. I search online and purchase a horse encyclopedia and some random pens that look like quills. I close that screen and stare at my manuscript. I yawn and realize I’m tired. I need a nap! What I write while I’m sleepy won’t make much sense anyhow. I save the document and notice the word count. “1,000 words! That’s not nearly enough. I might not ever get this published.”  I feel slightly panicked. Sleepy[AL1] , but panicked. Then I tell myself “It’s ok. I will do better tomorrow.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Using Pictures as Inspiration

Hello everyone! It's Christi Corbett, one of the Brokken Road Romance series writers. Today I'm going to talk a bit about my writing process...
I’ve always struggled with envisioning how my characters look, or for that matter, how anything looks. The blinking cursor mocks me when it comes time to describe a character’s hair/eye color, what they are wearing, or the layout of a house/land.
But, I’ve got a really good way of looking at something and then incorporating it into my novels. So, I use pictures or actual items to solve my problem.

Here’s an example of a silver set that is of major importance in my debut novel, Along the Way Home. It originally belonged to my main character’s mother, who then passed it along to her daughter, Kate (the main character), who then takes it along with her on the Oregon Trail.
The comb/brush set are used several times during scenes where Kate cannot get all the snarls out of her filthy hair, and the jewelry box with the red velvet lining is mentioned quite a few times as well.
When I wrote certain scenes, I wanted to be able to portray the weight of the brush in Kate's hand as she picked it up from the dresser, to see for myself how long it would take for the brush to work through a snarl (hint…it took a LONG time), and feel the lining of the jewelry against my fingertips. I really wanted my descriptions to be authentic.
But I had one big problem…
All I ever had growing up was the “ballerina spins to music when the lid is raised” variety of jewelry boxes, so I had no clue of what an actual silver set would be like, look like, or feel like.
So I bought a set off Craigslist, brought it home, and thoroughly checked it out. Now I know for certain that the entire set will in fact fit nicely into a saddlebag so I know that Kate will be able to take it along on the trail.
And my daughter gets a really nice silver set when she’s older.
What books have you read recently with detailed descriptions?
I love to hear from readers! Find me on the following sites:

Email: christicorbett@gmail.com
Twitter: @ChristiCorbett
Instagram: @ChristiCorbett

Don't Call Me A "Sidewinder"

Rattlesnakes. Just the very word makes a lot of people uneasy and anxious. As a western historical writer, nature lover, and all aroun...