All my horse loving friends, giddyap and go check out my website http://www.WandaSnowPorter.com. I have posted a free picture book read., Rodeo Hero.
My latest novel, Ordinary Miracles, will be released September 11. I can't wait to see it in print. I'm so excite. I had to share the beautiful cover and a blurb from the book.
Seventeen-year-old Tobi Mathews is frightened by her ex-Marine father's ominous predictions about the end-of-the-world. Are they true or caused by post traumatic stress disorder like her mother says?
Tobi's father moves the family to an isolated farm to escape the coming calamity. When her mother leaves to find a job to earn the money needed for the farm, his anxiety intensifies.
Afraid her mother might not return, Tobi can no longer deal with her father's endless rants about Armageddon. Led by the dream to go to medical school, she steals her dad's station wagon to escape and live with her mother in Cielo de Ventana.
On the way, the wagon breaks down. A man who is traveling to the town where her mother lives stops to help her. Tobi accepts his offer of a ride there not realizing the serendipitous meeting of this stranger is no mere coincidence.
Doing interviews are difficult. However, magazine editor Sharon Jantzen, with her engaging and friendly personality made it fun. We spent over an hour talking about horses, books, and the town where I grew up. Check out the article published in SLO Horse News at: http://www.slohorsenews.net/historical-fiction-wanda-snow-porter/
In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius chose February 14th to honor Saint Valentine's martyrdom, most likely to replace Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility festival. The patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, and lovers, he is represented in pictures with birds and roses.
Many legends are attributed to this mysterious saint. It is told Valentine attempted to convert Roman Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. In a rage, Claudius demanded he renounce his faith or be beaten and beheaded. St. Valentine refused and was imprisoned. While there he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On his execution day, he left the girl a note signed, "Your Valentine."
Since that first Valentine message, lovers have recited or sang romantic valentine verses, and writers of love songs and poetry have been in demand. Credit for the first modern day Valentine is attributed to Charles, Duke of Orleans, who, while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, wrote romantic verses meant for his wife in France.
In the early 1700s, the exchange of cards became popular in America when Valentine "writers" booklets, a collection of verses and messages that could be copied onto decorative paper, were published in England. Some booklets contained not only verses to send, but also the answers to return.
In the late 1700s, valentines offered religious messages. The Sacred Heart and Angels depicted on those cards evolved into Valentine hearts and cupids. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” began selling mass produced valentines in America. Now, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.
The setting for my novel, Riding Babyface, was inspired by the little farm where I lived as a kid. My old homestead had a mysterious feeling. When I told my friend Sam a treasure might be buried in the barnyard, he got permission to metal detect there.
We hit the trail bright and early. Sam slowed his Blazer, then he turned off the main road. He drove up a dirt driveway to the hill pasture where a barn and bunkhouse once stood.
"Does anything look familiar?" Sam asked.
Not sure of the barn's exact location, I looked for a cement slab that had been inside. It was still there. Then I tried to figure out where the walls had been and found a big rock near the slab. "Sam, look. This old cornerstone must be where the door hung."
Sam unloaded the metal detector from the back of his Blazer. "The bunkhouse site is the best area to look. Where do you think it was?"
I kicked in the dirt about twenty feet from the barn site and found pieces of broken boards. "It's overgrown with sagebrush, but it must be right about here."
"Let me show you how to work this detector." Sam squatted and placed a dime and a penny in the dirt. "Different metals change the sound of the beeps." He held the detector an inch from the ground. Then he skimmed it over the two coins and it beeped. "Listen for the beeping and look at the register. The needle points to silver, gold, or copper and will tell you what you've found. Hear the difference between silver and copper beeps?"
I listened but couldn't tell the difference. Sam's ears seemed to tell him things mine didn't.
"Here, you try." Sam showed me how to hold it, then handed me the detector.
A brace at the top of the detector's handle wrapped halfway around my arm to help me keep it steady. I grasped the handle with both hands but couldn't seem to get the hang of it. The round disk attached to the bottom of the detector kept touching the ground. Treasure hunting wasn't going to be easy.
"Just listen, and you can tell," Sam reassured me. "Keep it close to the ground and wag it back and forth where you think the building was. Just slowly cover the ground."
My arm got tired running the detector back and forth, and it yielded nothing. I wanted to switch arms, so Sam readjusted the detector for my left hand. Again, back and forth, back and forth, but still nothing.
Sam shrugged. "Let's try the area around the barn."
We walked to where I believed the barn door had been. I repeated my efforts. Suddenly, the thing started to beep. Excited, I tracked the detector over the spot where the beeping was the loudest.
"We've picked up something. Sounds like iron. Let's see." Sam bent down on one knee and scraped the topsoil with a digging hoe. Then I ran the detector over the area again and the signal grew louder.
"Yeah, that's the spot." Sam scraped deeper, found a big rusty hinge and handed it to me. "You're right. This was the doorway."
The old hinge stirred my imagination. I sensed the presence of people who had lived here: farmers who built the barn, ranch hands who occupied the bunkhouse, even the little girl who wandered here, riding Babyface.
"Your first find. You should save it." Sam's voice pulled me back. He took the hinge from me and strolled to the Blazer and put it in the back seat.
Again, I wagged the detector over the ground, excited by my "find." A loud beep, beep, beep, told me to stop, look here.
Sam retrieved his hoe and said, "Okay, let's dig."
Did we find a treasure? Not unless you think a rusty hinge, a few nails, and a spent bullet are great finds. Sadly, we found no pot of gold, but Sam said if we did find one, "Only a fool would tell."
I've been invited to join the Meet My Character Blog Tour
and introduce a character from one of my novels. Thank
you FM Kahren for the invitation. Frank has written some great novels. Learn more about his books at: http://www.fmkahren.blogspot.com
Now, I'd like to introduce my character, Winna Beckman. She
rides tall in the saddle on the pages of my newly released novel, Riding Babyface.
She is fictional, but the names and personalities of her dog and horse in the story are real, inspired by my childhood pets. With some changes, the story setting is based on the town and house where I grew up.
I'll stop jabbering and let Winna introduce herself.
Hi, everyone. Nice to meet you.
My name is Winna Beckman.
It's the summer of 1957 when my family moves to a small farm near Arroyo Viejo on California's central coast. I'm fourteen, and I'll start 9th grade at a new school this fall. I dread going to high school. Maybe I'm not smart enough. Maybe I'll flunk out.
Besides worrying about bad grades, I won’t know anyone except my older sister, Veronica. She calls me a pesky tag-along, and says hanging out with her is a definite no-no.
Oh well, making friends is never easy, real ones, not the kind that whisper about you behind your back. Perhaps it is an advantage no one knows anything about me or my family.
More than anything, I want a horse. I'm thrilled down to my
toes, when Daddy buys not just one, but two mares. One is named Snafu, and is due to foal soon. I sooo look forward to that. The other mare, Babyface, is a brat, and not so easy to ride.
If I'm going to be the best horseback rider ever, and train horses for the circus someday, I've got to practice my riding skills.
Despite Babyface's frequent misbehaviors, riding her is my favorite thing to do in the world. Mama says I'm horse crazy.
Then Ben moves next door and makes my heart flutter. I never expected to act goo-goo over a boy the way my sister does.
Problem is, Ben seems to like my scheming sister, and doesn't seem to mind the attentions of the other neighbor girls, Trudy and Jenny Lee, either. Dang it all. How can I get him to fall for me? I'm sort of a tomboy and don't know how to flirt, or do all that girly stuff like paint my fingernails. Even worse, my mother's drinking problem may spoil any hope I have of winning Ben's heart.
Read more about Winna
Available in print and ebook at:
Desert Breese Publishing
Next week, keep following the Meet My Character Blog Tour and join these authors.
A native of Chicago, author Bonnie Kelly has also called Michigan, Arizona, Washington and Hawaii home. Over the last forty years, she has lived throughout California and finally settled on the Central Coast in Northern Santa Barbara County. Bonnie has worked in various arenas such as folding billboard posters, working as a file clerk and waitress, stocking shelves, hairdressing, bartending, as a flight coordinator, being a housewife, and as a certified structural welder in the Boilermaker's Union. She published a small town newspaper for over five years, and earned an A.S. degree in Library Science.
Bonnie writes westerns under the name, B.A.
Kelly, and has had two a western novels published.
Blessings, Bullets and Bad Bad Men (which was nominated for a Peacemaker Award as the best new western of 2011)
and Wild Justice. She's also had a short story, Reflections, published in an anthology, Scattered Hearts.
They are all available as ebooks and in print at Amazon.
Her website is http://www.bonniekelly.org
Barbara M. Hodges
Barbara M. Hodges lives in Nipomo, California. She is the author or co/author of nine published works of fiction. The Blue Flame, The Emerald Dagger and The Silver Angel are the first three books in her young adult fantasy series. Return of the Ancients is not part of her series, but takes place in her fantasy land, Daradawn.
Aftermath contains three pieces of shorter fantasy fiction written for adults. Barbara has also co-authored two suspense novels, Ice and One Last Sin, with Randolph Tower. A Spiral of Echoes, written with Maggie Pucillo, is a paranormal romance set in Baja, Mexico. Shadow Worlds, co-authored with Darrell Bain is pure science fiction. Barbara also has short stories in three anthologies.
Barbara shares her life with her husband Jeff, two basset hound scamps, Hamlet and Heidi, as well as with a sassy ginger-striped feline, Wallace. When she isn’t writing she likes to design and create jewelry. She is a member of San Luis Obispo, California Nightwriters, Sisters in Crime and Public Safety Writers Association. Her critique group, The Santa Maria Word Wizards, is celebrating its twentieth reunion this year. She is a founding member.
Barbara also hosts a monthly program, No Limits, on Blog Talk Radio, where she talks with those involved in the field of writing.
All of her books are in print and electronic format and can be purchased on the Internet and other brick and mortar stores.
Beverly Stowe McClure
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Thank you, Mom, for making/encouraging me to practice. Her cats do not appreciate good music and run when she tickles the ivories. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues
butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
Beverly has several articles published in leading children’s
magazines. Two of her stories have appeared in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL anthologies. She also has nine books for children and teens published, with four more under contract.
May is National Pet Month. Studies say loving, nurturing, and stroking a pet keeps us healthy. I happily live with three very intelligent pets, a cat and two horses. Early to bed and early to rise is supposed to be good for your health, and my cat, with his amazing awareness of time, wants me to stay healthy so makes sure I rise early. Since my cat alarm clock woke me before six o'clock, at sunup I trek out to the corrals to feed my pasture pets. Glad to see me, my horses greet me with loud whinnies, knowing breakfast hay will soon be served. My cat and horses' companionship lift my mood, and early rising, fresh air, and exercise is good for my health.
Over the years, I've been lucky to have loved many wonderful pets, and true stories about them often sneak into my novels. The horse in my latest novel, Riding Babyface, was named after my first horse, who pulled many of the shenanigans mentioned in the story. I got the name Puppy, the loyal dog in the story, from a pet who really belonged to my family, and like Winna in the story, Puppy saved me from a vicious dog attack.
Pets have always been a huge part of my life. I'm blessed by their friendship. Memories of them are precious, and I'll never forget the lessons they taught me.
Spring has sprung. After the prayed-for rain, the grass is finally green and birds that carouse in my bird bath flash brighter colors. The only thing I hate about this time of year is the buckets of winter hair I brush off my horses. Since April is poetry month, inspired by my now shedding horses, with an apology to real poets, I will share a poem I wrote.
Horses Change Coats
Before winter clouds plump in the sky,
before snowdrifts pile up too high,
before the sun with its bold, bright light
falls asleep longer each night,
long fluffy hair appears
on muzzles, fetlocks, and pointy ears.
During the winter horses wear,
a thick warm coat of shaggy hair.
When the sky becomes bright and blue,
when spring flowers begin to sprout,
when birds build nests and fly about,
horsy hides turn slick and sleek
as the sun shines longer and hotter each week.
Preparing for summer’s fiery glare,
horses lose their winter hair.
Horses must keep a watchful eye
on the sun’s yearly travel across the sky
as it changes places every day,
climbing and dipping along the way,
letting mares and stallions know
it’s time for their winter coat to grow.
Or perhaps to warn instead,
it's time for their hairy coats to shed.
Now that our daylight hours lengthen, here in California time springs forward, so don't forget to set your clocks.
Dressage tests are performed in a 20 x 60 meter (about 66 feet x 198 feet) arena, and require specific movements be executed at letters placed around the arena. Each movement is scored from 0 to 10 with a remark. When riding a test, my goal was to achieve a score of seven or above on each movement. To do this, my horse and I had to work as a team, precisely and well—no easy
Though I rarely attained the score I wanted, I enjoyed training
my horse for dressage events, and learned a lot from those competitions. If I made a mistake during a test, I learned to keep my cool and ride each step, because the whole test was judged, not just that one error. I learned to accept criticism. The dressage judge not only pointed out my mistakes, but also gave positive comments for improvement. This gave me a goal and inspired me to work on my riding skills.
Improvement in dressage only comes through wet saddle blankets, the rider’s dedication to practice, and a don’t give-up-even-though-I’m-sweaty attitude, much like a writer needs to finish a writing project, or deal with the disappointments and difficulties encountered in getting published.
Years ago, I took an English class that edited a book to be
published by Hancock College. The students in the class also critiqued each other’s stories. The rules were to say something positive and give constructive comments. The experience of having my horse’s every stride scrutinized by a stern judge gave me an appreciation for the benefit of accepting someone else’s
opinion. Even so, scrutiny is never easy; for some reason, the pleasure of a multitude of positive remarks doesn’t seem to take the sting out of even a tiny negative one. It was the first time a group critiqued my writing. I was nervous. My voice quivered when I read my story to them. But the many times I had halted at X in the center of the arena at the end of a dressage test taught me you-can-do-it-if-you-stick-to-it.
Now, even after having a few books published, I still belong to
a critique group. By sharing my writing, I test my story for weak spots, and get ideas and remedies for my story’s glitches. Best of all, I get to hang out with a bunch of interesting people who love to write.
After I earned my Bronze Medal Award, my Morgan horse, Luis, and I retired from showing at dressage competitions. Over the years, he has been a
dependable friend who has taken me on many trails and roundups. He is now thirty-one-years old, and along with Mick, my younger horse, enjoys napping in the shade of the oaks on our back acre.
The Porter Ranch’s fall roundup went well. The weaned calves
have been auctioned, and the cows are awaiting the birth of their new calves.
The hay has been mowed, baled, and stacked in the barn. Long
summer days wane. Soon the fields will again be disked and prepared for planting in anticipation of winter's life-giving rain.
Labor Day signals my vacation is over; it is time for me to go to
work on a new novel. For inspiration, I am reading Practical
Tips for Writing Popular Fiction by Robyn Carr. This enjoyable writing guide advises: read extensively, gain a working knowledge of written English, write what you love to read, write what you know and what fascinates you, and invest time in learning to write well.
All good advice.
Of course, there is no magic formula. No amount of reading how-to books will improve writing skills. That only happens by writing, by searching for the right words to describe a scene or reveal a character’s inner turmoil, by being open to critique, and revising. The challenge to write a good story with great characters takes work and is often frustrating. Yet that’s what hooked me on writing. No matter how many books I write, stretching my skills to create outstanding characters and interesting stories is what makes writing engrossing and fun.