I write romantic suspense and warm, family relationship type novels, often with a touch of humor. Many of my books have featured animals as key players--dogs, cats, llamas, cockatiels, horses...even our son's pet albino corn snake, Sssssid, who appeared in my first Superromance back in 1999.

Animals have been a big part of my life since I was a child. How about you? I hope you'll become a "blog follower" here (see the right-hand column for a place to click) and will come back often. So...let's talk about our pets!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Author Christmas Home Tour Videos!

If you'd love to visit a number of author's homes, check out the following address---you can go from one author's site to the next, and see the lovely videos, photographs, and hear the Christmas messages to you, too!

You can start here:


Have fun!


Friday, December 11, 2009


The pampered horses of this era might find it a bit difficult to change places with their relatives from the past, if Verne Upmier's recollections are any indication. Verne probably rode more, trained more, and sold more horses during his seventy years in the business than anyone else in Eastern Iowa, and he probably held the records for interesting tales from the past, too.

Forty or fifty years ago, before aluminum four-horse slant goosenecks were even a twinkle in some designer's eye, trailering could be a risky proposition. Verne remembers loading up his horse Copper after an all-day trail ride and heading home after dark. "I felt a little lurch as we rounded a curve," he says, "but I didn't think much about it until we got home. I went back to unload my horse and he was gone!"

Copper had fallen out of the open top trailer. "I turned right around to go after him, and found him calmly grazing by that curve in the road. He apparently hadn't been too rattled by his sudden launch to the asphalt, because he loaded right up again for the rest of the trip home."

Most horses seemed to take the foibles of modern equipment in stride, earlier in the last century, Verne says. "It wasn't uncommon to knot a horse's tail around a length of rope, tie the rope to a small tractor or car that was stuck in the mud, and then use the horse to pull the vehicle to higher ground." Imagine that sort of use for a show tail of today!

Yours truly did something similar, but with almost disastrous results. I was about seven years old at the time, riding bareback, and had ridden under the framework of my swingset. I have no idea about what possessed me to do it, but I caught my old mare's swishing tail and knotted around the upper bar of the swing set.

Maybe Verne's horses of the past were docile about such things, but this old mare was having none of it. She fidgeted. Realized she was caught. and took off across our yard through the orchard---dragging the entire swing set behind her until she hit the hedge. She made it through but the swingset caught up in the bushes and miraculously, the knot in her long tail released without hurting her.

That--many other escapades when I was a child--have always confirmed the fact to me that I surely had a guardian angel working overtime on my behalf. Because now, as a cautious adult, I can see so many times when my foolish moves could have led to my demise!

Another Christmas Gift Idea for any writers in your life....

I love books. Step into my house, and it's obvious, because they are everywhere! And my office--oh, my! Every inch of wall not covered by windows, doors, or the huge bulletin board above my desk is filled with overflowing bookshelves. Fiction of all kinds, of course, and also evidence of my passion for books on writing. I could probably weed all of them down to a dozen favorites...though I'm always on the prowl for new titles that offer someting special. And boy, have I found some great titles lately!

I've come to realize that if James Scott Bell pens a book on writing, I want to be first in line at the store. His Plot & Structure and Revision & Self Editing are two titles that I'd pack if I knew I was going to be stranded on a desert isle. I can't recommend them highly enough. And now, he has come out with a third-- The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics and Exercises with perhaps the most unique approach ever--and packed with excellent information and advice. I love this book! And it's just the right size and price to be a perfect gift for my critique buddies. But shhhhh....don't tell!

So now, I would just love to hear about your favorites! Fiction...nonfiction....books on writing, or not....


Thursday, December 10, 2009

An excellent book on writing....

Outside the realm of "creatures great and small," but...

If any of you are writers, I've come across a wonderful new book! I've been catching up on my reading lately, and discovered an excellent book on writing. Thought I'd share this with you, because I'll definitely be buying some copies for critique friends!

It's Jeff Gerke's The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, and you can find it on Amazon. It's absolutely packed with excellent advice. Reading it was like sitting down with the author and receiving an in-depth workshop in my own home, and it gave me so many new insights on the art of writing inspirational fiction. I would recommend this book to anyone, at whatever place they might be along the spectrum from beginner to advanced!


A serial mystery --check it out!

Hey, if you have a minute and want to join in, stop at the CraftieLadies blog at http://ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com/

This blog is an interesting place to stop anyhow, as its home for a number of romantic suspense authors, and right now, the various authors are writing a serial mystery.

Start at the beginning, with Lenora Worth's first installment, then work up to the current date. None of us have a plan--we just read what the author wrote the day before, and then come up with a new installment on our own. This story is taking some wild turns!

Today, December 10th, was my turn to add an installment...and it was great fun trying to come up with something! If you stop in, be sure to leave comments, because I think all of us are using the ideas showing up in the comments, to help us figure out what to do next!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Have you lost a pet?

People without pets have no idea how much these animals become part of our families. Have you ever lost a pet? Have you ever had to put a pet down? How did you handle it?

I still remember the awful day--many years ago-- that we had to put a beautiful AQHA mare down. It was necessary. It was the best thing for her, as she had severe, advancing neurological problems and could do longer stand steady on her feet--she would fall sideways and struggle to get up, and her two month old foal had already been injured by her when she would crash. But still, it was such a hard, hard day.

What do you think of this article? http://www.tri-cityherald.com/lifestyles/desertliving/story/792651.html (this isn't a live link--you'll need to copy/paste into your address bar.)


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great videos of horses and other animals!

For those of you who enjoy watching cute animal videos, did you know that you can go to You Tube and do a search on just about anything? Horses, dogs, kittens, of course....but I have gotten totally mesmerized by freestyle reining, freestyle dressage, and baby moose. :)

The one of Stacy Westfall is so amazing....it makes me tear up every time. She is shown winning the reining class at the 2006 Quarter Horse Congress, without a bridle or saddle. I can't get hot links up in these posts, but you can copy/paste this address into your web address bar. If the link doesn't work, just do a search of: Stacy Westfall full version:


When I was a kid and riding my horses bareback everywhere, all day long, my friends and I sometime rode with just long leather boot laces that were tied in a slip knot, and the leather looped in our horse's mouths so there was a single rein. How I wish I had horses now that were as dead broke as mine were back then!! But wow--running a reining pattern with no bridle or saddle is just amazing.

Now, there are quite a few You Tube videos of people doing this, but not as great as Stacy (in my opinion, anyway.)

And here is another site by the Purina people, with lots of different pet videos:


I would absolutely love to hear about your favorite videos online!!


Saturday, November 14, 2009


It was such a short time ago that I was posting here about our son's puppy and her fight for life. A wonderful vet and some miracles along the way got her through! The only residual evidence seems to be the interesting white vertical zebra stripe on her left flank, from where she'd been bandaged--which is actually a cool sort of brand, now. Brian could easily identify her if someone took her!

I think she's about ten months old, now, and here you can see her on her first hunting trip in South Dakota. She loved it--and even did her job right!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dogs and Cats....

My friend, Lyn Cote, sent me this link to post on my All Creatures Great and Small blog. Take a look and tell me what you think! Wasn't that thoughtful of her?


How about you--do you have some favorite links? I'd love to see them!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Parasailing & cutting horses--both such a rush!

Hi everyone!

I need to apologize for not posting consistently lately. I'm going to try to be better, and show up here twice a week from now on! I had some writing deadlines and we've also been traveling a bit--five days up in Minnesota, back home for one day, and then we were off to San Diego, where we planned to head out on a five-day cruise to Ensanada and Cabo San Lucas.

My husband occasionally earns trips through his work as a veterinary sales rep, and it's always fun to have a chance to travel! This trip was uncertain for a while--Hurricane Rick, expected to be the worst hurricane to hit the area in forty years, was scheduled to reach Cabo the same time we were. We weren't sure until the second day whether the ship would have to turn back north and go up the California coastline (unfortunate for the many Californians on the cruise!) or if it would still be able to head south.

Luckily, the weather cleared and we were able to complete the cruise as planned. Which led to some cool memories, because I got to parasail for the first time. I am sooo challenged by heights that I avoid railings overlooking central courts in shopping malls, and hotel rooms higher than twenty floors leave me queasy. So parasailing--oh, my! But my husband had already done it--so how could I back out?!

I'm sooo thankful that I dredged up enough courage, because it was just the most amazing experience, floating so peacefully high, high, high above the Sea of Cortez. I thought it would feel windy and fast, but instead, despite the speedboat bucking through the waves down below, it was like flying--amazing. It was rather like the one time I ever got to ride a cutting horse, and felt like the horse was effortlessly dancing beneath me. That was an amazing rush, too!

Sooo...what are some of your favorite experiences, after facing your own fears and going off on an adventure?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Have you ever you been on a trail ride and longingly looked at someone else's horse, wishing it was yours?

In the old days, if Verne Upmier wasn't busy driving a team in the fields, he was most likely on horseback--leading trail rides, breaking colts, or re-schooling the horses that were brought to his farm with bad habits.

He once bought a pretty thoroughbred mare, intending to use her for his livery service. He rode her around the barnyard for a while, and she was so well mannered that he decided to take her out on a trail.

"We'd gone a mile or so, then suddenly she took off at a dead run," Verne recalls. "We flew up and down the hills, crossed one gravel road and then another, passed a few farms and sped around a bend before she finally slowed down. I turned her around and headed for home, expecting that she would run away again, but she worked beautifully the rest of the way."

Verne figured that something must have spooked her, since she had been so well-mannered both before and after her headlong flight across the Iowa countryside. The next day, he took her out again, tested her for a while in the barnyard, and found her to be gentle and willing. So, he took her down the trail once again.

Disaster struck.

She ran away again, and went just as far before slowing down. If anything, she even went faster this time.

"It finally dawned on me," Verne says ruefully. "She'd been a racehorse, and she viewed that ride around the barnyard as her warm up. Once she was warmed up, she was set to go, and she was going to run her race no matter what race track she was on! She would always run for about a mile, just as she had during her racing career. And afterward that she would be fine."

Verne tried hemming her in with a group of other horses and riders to teach her to slow down, but he never did trust her to behave well enough to use for his livery.

One night, he was riding her on one of stable's moonlight trailrides, accompanied by a friend who was also an experienced horseman. The friend complained endlessly about how boring it was to be riding a dumb colt on the long trail ride, and asked if he could ride Verne's horse for a while.

Verne refused, saying that the thoroughbred might run off with him, but the friend kept asking until Verne finally agreed.

"We switched, and things went okay for a while," Verne says. "But then we came up to her favorite starting post along the trail. She was off to the races at a dead run and nothing could stop her once she got going.

"It was pretty dark, but we saw that guy's white shirt flash over one hill, and then another, fly around a bend and then disappear over the horizon. I wasn't too worried, though. I knew he was a good enough rider to stay on, and I knew the horse would stop once she had run her mile race." Verne's eyes twinkle as he recalls the chastened rider's return. "Do you still want to ride her?" he asked.

The fellow was only too glad to get off. "She's nice, but I guess I'll take my dumb colt back and be glad about it!"

And he didn't offer another complaint about his colt for the rest of the ride, either.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I love cats. I am not happy if I don't have one in my house.
I love it when one of my cats comes and lies on my lap
when I'm trying to write.

I got my first cat when I was 10. I have only been
without a cat for the years I was in college and as an adult,
for two brief spells before a major move. The cats of my
adult life have been Professor (the smartest cat I've ever
had), Sheba (a sweet little black cat), and Shadow
(the Siamese mix who was the pet of my children's

After Shadow passed away, I waited till we moved
to Wisconsin before looking for another pet. The week
before our first Thanksgiving in our home in the
northwoods, my dh and I visited the local animal shelter
and picked out two strays. I chose a dainty golden tabby and
named her Sadie (my sweet little lady) and my dh chose a
large marmalade cat that he named V-8. Not after the
juice, but for V-8's mighty purr. We also lovingly call
him our Cadillac cat. He's definitely a full-sized
luxury car.

My dh and I were happy with our two adopted
cats and didn't think we'd see any more. However, when
our daughter came to live with us, she brought her
cat, Tricksey. I always make it clear that Tricksey is a
boy and his real name is Trickster. My daughter doesn't agree
but I don't want my little grand-kitty to be confused about what he is.

So we were up to three cats, something I hadn't done since
I babysat a cat for my sister long ago. Then my mil passed
away. We had promised her that we would take her cat if he
needed a home. So in August, Mootzie, a large male
golden tabby, came home with us. Mutza is Slovenian
for cat so all my mil's cats were Mootzie from the time she
was a little girl. (Her parents had immigrated from Slovenia
right before WWI).

Poor Mootzie had a shock coming. I don't think he had seen
another cat since he left his littler 10 years ago. And here were three.

Predictably Sadie was miffed. She is half the size of the
other cats but rules the roost. She hissed and
attacked Mootzie. So he began to hide. I was worried
he might not eat or drink enough, but self-preservation
has won out.

Mootzie is getting braver and braver. But the breakthrough
was a little catnip. I don't think Mootzie had ever "indulged"
before. I chuckled and watched him even try to start a
play-fight with V-8. And yesterday, he even touched noses
over a bowl of food with Tricksey.

So Sadie still isn't happy about our newcomer, but Mootzie
has become a member of the family. And we love to see him
starting to schmooze with the other cats. It really makes me
smile. Cats are such a joy in our everyday life. We're glad
to have our four. Without them, our home would be no fun.

Right now I'm writing the first book in my new Love Inspired
Romance, A Shelter of Hope, and I've written in a pair of
golden retrievers, Roxie and Dottie. Roxie is namesake for
Roxanne Rustand of course, a dear friend. Shelter of Hope
will be out next fall.

My next release is Her Patchwork Family, a Love Inspired
Historical romance in December. The story doesn't boast
any furry friends, but a woman who is setting up a home
for stray children, orphaned by the Civil War. Hope you'll
take a look at it at your local Walmart.

Thanks for having me as a guest, Roxanne!

Friday, October 9, 2009

This is a creatures blog, but...

I know...the promise is that this blog is devoted to creatures, great and small. But I just couldn't help myself, here...and there is a llama photo! I got back from a long weekend in northern Wisconsin on Monday, and just had to share some of my photos with you. Every fall, Pat Burkett Roby, a food writer/photographer friend and I leave our husbands at home and head for Wisconsin to see our mutual friend, inspirational author Lyn Cote, and her family.

Lyn and her husband are the best hosts...and their home on a lake is so lovely. What a glorious place it is this time of year--with endless numbers of beautiful lakes reflecting trees just starting to blaze with fall color, and no perfume could rival the crisp scent of pine in the air. This year we had lots of drizzly rain, but the dampness just seemed to make the colors more vivid. it was so gorgeous!

And I loved coming across a pasture of llamas. One of them came up to the fence and hummed to us. Did you know that llamas hum to each other? It sounded a bit like a gentle, reassuring chorus going on in the herd.

But as breath-taking as all of the scenery is, sharing a weekend with writer friends is always the best part of all. By day we take jaunts all over the area, or go out on their boat with Lyn's husband at the wheel. The evenings are a bit like a pajama party, as we sit and brainstorm plots, talk about writing, and simply enjoy the fellowship of fellow writers. And Lyn is one of the best--I can't think of a person who is more generous with her time, more thoughtful, or more willing to help. She is a blessing in my life!

Life is so busy, with careers, and family, and all of the many commitments in our lives...but how about you--are you ever able to get away for a weekend retreat with your friends, fellow writers or readers, or other groups for camaraderie? Or even for just an afternoon? I hope so! If so, have you found it helpful? What kinds of benefits did you reap? And what sorts of things do you do to make it a more valuable time for renewal?

For those of you reading this on Facebook, there are lots of blog posts to read here at the "All Creatures Great and Small Blog" at http://roxannerustand.blogspot.com. I'd love to have you visit me there!

Wishing you a wonderful fall season,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Verne Upmier was the man to see about horses in Eastern Iowa for seventy years, and his roots certainly went deep in Iowa soil. His farm was homesteaded by his great-grandfather William, a farmer and spinning wheel craftsman, who was one of the first white settlers in the area and who built his home along the busy route of a four-horse stagecoach line.

Transportation, mail delivery and the government's ability to process information had definite limitations in those days. When William applied for a homestead abstract in 1838, the paperwork went by horse to Philadelphia, which was the nation's capital at that time, and the final documents didn't get back to William until 1843. The farm has remained in the Upmier family since then, and Verne, his father, and grandfather were all born in the house that is still in use to this day.

The land has seen many changes through the years. Verne recalls that during the 1930s, a well-broke horse was worth $35, pasture board was $10 per month, and owners were charged $20 a month for a box stall. Draft horses and mules remained a valuable commodity on the smaller farms until the mid-1940s, when the use of tractors became universal.

Still, the well-prepared farmer often kept a harnessed team tethered nearby, ready to pull his new-fangled tractor out of the mud during spring plowing.

Verne chuckles as he describes one of his first tractors. "It was a new 1941 9N Ford, and it came with a blade, scoop, and a plow. It cost me $841, and when it had its first overhaul in 1982, the charge was $1,150!"

Modernization eliminated a lot of the potential excitement that could occur when a farmer had to rely on horses and mules. "Before the mechanical corn picker was invented, we used a pair of mules to pull a high-sided wagon through the fields," he remembers. "We would have to walk down the rows, pick the corn by hand, and toss it up into the wagon."

This laborious task involved minimal risk of equipment failure, though it now and then the mule power failed.

"We had to cross a creek to reach one of our fields," Verne says. "The team would stop in the middle of the creek to drink, and then go on. One year, we had a pair of mules that must have held a business conference before going to work for the day. We got to the middle of the creek, they stopped for a drink, and then they both went on strike. My dad and I tried everything, but they wouldn't budge. Finally, we had to wade into the water to un-harness them, lead them out, and hitch up another team to take the wagon up onto the bank. We then re-harnessed those mules and they worked just fine for the rest of the day."

The obstinate team must have been satisfied with the results of their mid-stream strike, because the next day they balked in the same spot. Verne's dad decided that he'd put up with the pig-headed mules long enough. He got his Model T truck, the one with the famed "Ruxall Rear End" that could gear down to one mile per hour, and drove back to the creek with a couple lengths of log chain. The mules hadn't moved an inch, so he snapped a neck chain on each one, hooked the chains to the truck, and drove off at a snail's pace. He didn't look back, he just kept going.

"Well, those mules weren't going to give up, either. Their necks stretched and stretched and stretched--until they must have decided that the issue wasn't worth dying over, because they came on out of the water at a good clip. They apparently learned their lesson too well, though, because afterwards, that team always rushed through the creek, and wouldn't even consider stopping for a drink."

"And," Verne adds with a smile, "they had the last laugh. Because after that, we had to haul water out to the fields for them, every single day."

Friday, September 25, 2009


What a week for little Abby. She romped into the vet clinic Monday morning, as boisterous as a pup could be. Many hours later she was still struggling to fully come out of anesthesia. Our vet used the same combination of drugs that are used for thousands of spays across the country every day without a problem (my husband is in the veterinary pharmaceutical business, so he knows.) But just like people who have general anesthesia, there's always that rare chance of an unexpected result.

Such a roller coaster. She looked awful Monday night, with labored breathing and a look in her glazed eyes that said she wasn't long for this world. The vet gently said that the outcome probably wouldn't be good. He stayed up all night with her, adjusting her IV's and careful doses of Lasix, monitoring her labwork.

On Tuesday morning, she tried to lift her head to look at us, but could barely move...she looked almost comatose, and she still hadn't been able to urinate. Her labwork was worse, showing worsening acute kidney failure. Then at noon, the Lasix finally worked--and I've never been to happy to see an animal pee!!! At least her kidneys were finally letting the fluids go through--even if they weren't really functioning correctly.

Her labwork was still critically high on Wednesday morning, indicating kidney damage that could still take her life...and then, a miracle: her creatinine improved Wednesday night, and really improved Thursday morning. A stunning, fast change that means she's now on the road to recovery!

Our whole family is so happy for Brian and his puppy. If she needs special food and special care the rest of her life, she'll always get it. It's just so wonderful to know that her huge spirit of energy and excitement and enthusiasm for life hasn't been lost. My mom and I prayed so hard for her, and I know some of the readers here did too, because they let me know. Thanks so much!

I know that there are people suffering terrible tragedies in their lives--heaven knows that I have, too, including the devastating loss of a precious child-- so a little lab puppy might seem insignificant in the whole scheme of things in this world. But she is part of our family, and I'm just so happy that we'll get to enjoy the gift of her life for (hopefully) a long time to come.

And to me, our vet is such a hero, for not giving up on her, even when he thought she had very little chance of surviving...and for staying at her side throughout that first, awful night!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


What is the value of a life, when all is said and done? A record of good deeds, or great accomplishments? Being known for honesty, a loving heart?

This is Abby, our five-month-old grandpuppy. She is fighting her her life right now. She went in to be spayed on Monday, but reacted badly to the anesthesia, and then her blood didn't clot normally--even though her pre-op blood tests were good. The vet thought she might be seeping blood somewhere, but she couldn't have exploratory surgery and risk anesthesia again. By evening, her labwork wasn't looking good, and the stress had sent her into acute kidney failure. There was thought of doing a transfusion, but that can bring its own risks for severely stressed puppy.

We are so blessed to have an excellent, dedicated vet. He stayed with her all night at the clinic, adjusting meds, checking her labs. This morning she looked awful--so edematous that her back legs looked like balloons and it was hard for her to move. Her labwork was worsening. The Lasix wasn't working. This morning I prayed so hard for her to improve....for her kidneys to start working before it was too late.

The vet did more labwork and gently warned us that things weren't looking good at all....but finally, the most recent dose of Lasix worked. She started peeing like crazy, which is just what she needed to do. Hallelujah! But she isn't out of the woods yet. She's diuresing, but her kidneys still aren't working right, and could fail altogether. She is still under close veterinary supervision. And I am still praying that she can overcome this to return to her wildly joyous, boisterous puppy ways.

The experience, over the last twenty-four hours, has me thinking. What is the value of the life of one of our pets? Whatever it might be to someone else, to me there is no measure. You can have a terrible day and come home feeling miserable about yourself, but your dog still loves you without reservation--with his whole heart. Just by appearing, you fill his life with joy. All he wants, to make his life complete, is to be with you always--24/7 if possible. And how often do you find such pure, honest, unshakable love like that? Our Elmo will sit on my husband's lap for hours (an interesting feat, since he's a long, lanky Border Collie mix) and the two of them watch football and baseball games together, completely content. And Harold, our other Border Collie mix, is just as desperate for love and attention.

These two, and now little Abby, who visits our house a lot and often has sleepovers when our son has to travel, hold such a big place in my heart. She is so young, has so many years ahead of her--years of absolute devotion, and love, and companionship. I know that she is receiving the best of care, but I'm also praying for her....and giving thanks for the dedicated vet, who has now had to go through a full day of work with no sleep at all. He is a hero, in my book.

How about you...have you been through some tough times with your pets, but still had a good outcome? It would be nice to hear some uplifting stories!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

INTERVENTION by Terri Blackstock

Though not in the animal theme of this blog, there's a book I just have to tell you about.

Terri Blackstock's new book Intervention was inspired by her personal experiences with her daughter's addictions. Six years ago she became aware that her daughter (then in her early twenties) had a severe prescription pill addiction that was killing her, and she hired an interventionist to convince her daughter to go to treatment. That's when this book was born.

For a much longer description, go to www.shoutlife.com/roxannerustand and click on the "Intervention"" blog.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cake Toppers & author Teri Wilson

I recently added a new puppy to my household. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I really had no choice in the matter--my only child just went off to college. (sigh.) So, you can see why that new puppy was a must.

Her name is Bliss and she is the cutest puppy ever born. I know that sounds like something every new puppy owner says, but she really does give new meaning to the word adorable. Look at the picture, and see what I mean!

Being a writer, I've naturally been writing all about my new puppy. She's all over my blog and website. The website also has a blurb about a free novella I wrote for White Rose Publishing called Once Upon a Collar. The heroine of the novella, Emilie Bonner, is a wedding cake topper artist.

The combination of the phrases Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy and Wedding Cake Topper Artist has brought an interesting mix of people to my website. When I look at the website stats, I've recently been inundated with visitors who found my site based on the following search terms "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wedding cake toppers."

Who would've guessed?

I immediately began to wonder if such cake toppers actually exist. So I did a little digging. And look what I found! See the picture above.

Aren't these the cutest? Well, maybe not as cute as Bliss, but pretty darn close. If Emilie, my heroine, ever finds her Prince Charming, maybe they should have a cute doggy topper on their wedding cake!

My novella, Once Upon a Collar, is available free in weekly installments at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WhiteRosePublishing
or for more information, come visit Teri at www.teriwilson.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This is just so hauntingly beautiful...you've got to listen. I know you've already heard the wonderful story of Susan Boyle, this sweet, middle-aged woman who rose from obscurity to become an overnight sensation, but this is her new song. I cannot wait to buy her first release in November!


If this doesn't work it's posted on my Facebook page (just go there and search my name) or go to You Tube and search Wild Horses Susan Boyle. The one by "Tommy" has lovely photos with it.

Monday, September 7, 2009


As a child, I owned a horse named Cherry. He was a 17-hand Thoroughbred-Clydesdale cross, evidently the result of an intention to produce a heavy hunter, but for me he was just a great kid's backyard horse--one I rode bareback all over our part of the county and took to open shows.

He had the gentleness, height and color pattern of a Budweiser draft horse, and the narrower body of a thoroughbred. He wasn't born with a lot of jumping talent. In fact, he often escaped our pasture by laying down and wiggling under the fence, leaving broken lower boards behind. Like a cow, he must have figured that if he could get his head through a fence, the rest of his body could surely follow.

One moonlit night, he made his escape, and happily roamed our suburban neighborhood until becoming fascinated by the lights streaming from someone's bedroom window. He tramped down ornamental bushes at the side of the house to take a closer look, and--being 17 hands--he was tall enough to press his nose against the screen window.

The people inside saw only a big white shape (his Clydesdale blaze) hovering in the darkness, and what appeared to be two strangely glowing orbs...his eyes. He looked for all the world like some sort of space alien out of a 1950's comic book. In shock, they frantically called the police, who found my gentle giant watching the family's panic with great interest.

Cherry executed numerous escape plans, before his wanderlust was finally curbed by a double row of electric wire on our fences, but his last adventure was the most unforgettable.

My horses were stabled in a small barn added to one side of our garage. One day, when I was 11, I decided to name my barn "Bittersweet Stable" after the bittersweet vines that grew up along the walls. The name sounded so grand to me that I used some raspberry picking money to send away for return address labels with Bittersweet Stable added to my name and address.

I was so excited when those impressive labels arrived that I stuck them on everything: brushes, pitchforks, fly spray cans--and I even put a dozen or so on Cherry's rump. His big swishing tail swept most of them off during the day, but those along his croup stayed firmly glued. The photo here is of a cartoon I drew of him, way back then.

That night, Cherry escaped his pasture and was long gone by the time I went out to do my morning chores. Dad and I were in the car, ready to head for Cherry's usual destination--a wooded area with a nice grassy meadow--when Mom called outside to say that a police officer was on the phone.

She was bursting with laughter when she handed me the receiver.

Cherry had gone a whole new direction this time, and had been found several miles away by someone who had notified the police. The police officer was calling to say that my errant horse had been captured...

And that this was the first time he'd ever been able to identify a loose horse by the return address labels so conveniently attached to its rear!

Sooo...what about you? I'd love to hear some of your animal stories, too!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Author Linda Ford: KITTENS!

We live on a farm. We always have cats. My granddaughter, who loves cats, lives in the city with a little dog and she can’t have cats. This is a girl who says when she grows up she is going to write books and paint pictures and sell them so she can afford to adopt all the cats who don’t have homes.

So what’s a grandma to do?

One year I gave her a cat of her own for her birthday. She understood the kitty would have to live at Grandma and Grandpa’s and she was okay with that. It was the cutest, fluffiest, blackest kitten ever.

It was also female and by the time granddaughter came to visit the next summer she had kittens—3 solid gray with 3 different lengths of fur. And all female, which presents a quandary and forces little granddaughter to face some harsh truths. Either they have to be neutered—a pricey job—or given away. We negotiated. She could keep one and the mommy cat.

By the time she visited the following summer we had two new batches of kittens. Each cat had four. The litters were born within a few days of each other and the two mommy cats shared mothering duties. It was sort of sweet.

However, eight more cats was not acceptable.

So granddaughter got to visit with them and enjoy them, but then had to face a few more hard truths. Some had to go. She chose to keep the two grown cats. All but one of the others has been given away. One is being adopted by the next door neighbor who happens to share the same yard.

So we still have two grown mommy cats. I told granddaughter she could keep them, and I get double the pleasure by providing cats for my granddaughter to enjoy!

My newest release with Love Inspired Historicals, Dakota’s Child, is out in September ‘09 and yes, cats play a role. In fact, you might enjoy the unique role they play in this story.

website: www.lindaford.org

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Old Horse Trader #5: HOW TO TRAIN A ROPING HORSE--NOT!

Verne Upmier looks back over his lifetime as a horse trader with a sense of satisfaction, and is sure that he wouldn't have exchanged his career for any other. "The horse business treated me pretty good," he says, "and it sure gave me some interesting experiences."

Years ago, Verne and his friends enjoyed roping. The roping part went okay, but the horses that worked well at home often forgot their job at rodeos,while taking an inordinate interest in all of the surrounding festivities. One day, Verne was at a rodeo and noticed a roping horse that worked to perfection. It never wavered as it faced the calf and kept the rope taut.

Verne approached the owner. "How do you do it?" He asked. "My horse just wants to stare at all the people in the grandstand."

The man's answer was memorable. "Well, I get on a horse and rope a good-sized bull. Then I get off the horse and go to town and play cards."

"What?" Vern asked in surprise.

"Well, if I stayed home, I'd be watching and worrying, and I'd want to go out to rescue the horse. So I leave. By the time I get home, that horse will have figured out that the only way to stay safe is to keep that rope tight, and stay as far from the bull as possible. If he's got any sense, he'll have turned into a darn good rope horse. And you can bet he'll never take his eyes off of anything at the end of a rope!"

It goes without saying that Vern never tried this system for tuning up of roping horse, and that this method will never make the pages of a book on training. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, to me too!

Verne may have owned a few horses that didn't show much interest in a useful career, but he remembers others with an amazing amount of heart. "I had one little gelding that was the handiest, toughest horse you can imagine," he recalls. "He'd been injured in a trailer and one of his back legs had permanent damage. The weak leg barely supported any weight at a walk or jog, but on three legs he could still run and buck all over the pasture, and he never seemed to be in any pain. He worked better than most any horse that had all four wheels."

The disability wasn't apparent at a lope, so that's how Vern would enter an arena for reining classes. The gelding could do flying lead changes, slide, and spin with the best of the competition, and did very well at shows. "It must have been disconcerting to judges, though," Verne adds with a smile, "To see their first-place horse gimp into the ring on three legs to pick up the trophy and blue ribbon!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

I know, I know...this blog is about things with fur, feathers, fins, hooves...but I just have to ask.

Not being a gardener since I failed miserably at it years ago (great at growing weeds, never got any produce--not even zucchini, and that's a monumental testament to having a black thumb) I now have a small terrace with tomatoes and green peppers. Such fun! But...some of the veggies out there look, well, just plain weird.

Does this tomato look like anyone you know? I swear, it's the image of my organic chemistry professor back in college, when he was trying to get through to the class...poor man.

Except maybe his hair wasn't green....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rain, rain, rain....

Has anyone seen Noah lately? I'm thinking that he is going to appear at our door any day now and say, "Grab the animals--it's time to get on the ark!"

I just ran outside to take a picture. Can anyone tell me why Tucker is standing in the middle of puddle, over fetlock deep, instead of heading for higher ground?!

My rain gauge was at 5 inches yesterday morning. It has rained buckets since then, and even now, on Thursday morning, the sky is dark, rain is falling, and the Doppler pattern on the local news channel's internet page doesn't look promising for the rest of the day. We've gotten another 3 inches in the rain gauge since last night!

Which means it's a "Cat in the Hat" day for the two dogs, who have to stay inside and who are looking exceedingly glum.

And the barn cats are Not Happy. They parade up to the house every morning and plant themselves in my Hostas to stare at the door, as if magical thinking will make me appear faster. Once I appear, they happily wind around my legs to see which one can send me to the hospital instead of down to the barn to feed them--which could only make sense to a cat, but there you are.

But today--they were a bedraggled, damp, flat-eared lot, their soft little mitten feet muddy, their fluffy, upraised tails sodden. And from their narrow-eyed glares, they seemed to hold me personally responsible for the weather.

We all squished across the lawn together, six wet cats winding around my ankles, me slipping and sliding across that waterlogged green sponge...and then across the slick-as-silcone sloppy mud in the barnyard. Luckily, I didn't fall and flatten a cat, but it was close.

But ahhhh, the barn. The lovely sound of rain spattering on the roof. The cozy smell of new hay, and cedar shavings, leather and horse. Is there a better constellation of scents anywhere? When I was young, nothing was more perfect on a rainy day than to go out into the barn with a stack of Black Stallion books, and stretch out on the back of a horse in a box stall, or to go up and sit on the hay to read. So this dreary day brought back golden memories.

How about you--are you part of this crazy, heavy rain pattern as well? And what are your best memories of rainy days?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Do you remember the 1930s and 40s, the glory decades of silver screen westerns, when our heroes were cowboys and simple justice always prevailed? Or, if you're a bit younger, do you remember hours spent in front of an old black and white TV, following the adventures of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and all the others who thundered across the prairies in weekly pursuit of the latest desperados? Maybe you're younger yet, and remember the old re-runs.

Many a holster-clad young fan of that era would have traded his (or her) favorite six-shooter for the privilege of meeting one of those stars. Most would have been green with envy had they known of the friendship between Verne Upmier and Roy Rogers.

During the early 1940s, Rogers, accompanied by Trigger's trainer Glenn Randall, traveled throughout the country performing at rodeos, state fairs, and major expositions. Often, the distances between performances were too great to manage in a single day, so Roy established various locations for overnight stabling. Iowa was an ideal midpoint for both his east-west and north-south routes.

Rogers and Randall contacted a friend of Verne's, Roy Gaddis, for stabling in Cedar Rapids, and the men usually went out for a "night on the town" whenever Rogers came through the area. Verne remembers several times when Trigger was brought out to entertain the foursome with a sampling of his amazing number of tricks, after they returned from late-night dinners.

In 1944, there was a 65-mile competitive trail ride through Iowa. Roy was in town at the time, so Verne took him to the trail ride dinner. Roy politely declined when asked to sing, saying that his contract prevented him from singing in public unless he was backed by The Sons of the Pioneers. Instead, he entertained the audience with a long and colorful talk about his experiences in the movie industry.

"Rogers said he wasn't an experienced horsemen before becoming a movie star," Vern recalls. "He had grown up on a farm, and went to Hollywood to try to break into the movies. His agent recommended that he become a singing cowboy, since this was very popular at the time, but for that he needed a horse. So, he found a well-broke palomino and then hired Glenn Randall to continue the horse's training."

During the early years, Randall would cue the horse from beyond camera range. Verne is quick to note, however, that Roy eventually became an excellent rider, and also learned to give the trick cues himself. There were a lot of cues to learn, for the horse had been trained to do to dozens of tricks.

Some of the tricks were quite dramatic. Those who watched the 1950s television series may remember how Trigger often "rescued" Roy from the bad guys by racing a considerable distance with his ears pinned and teeth bared. He would appear to bite and stomp the hoodlums he caught, but of course he never actually touched them.

One of Trigger's more unusual abilities was that, prior to performances on stage, he could be cued to eliminate, thereby avoiding any awkward moments during the show.

Trigger occasionally appeared on stage with a flaxen-maned pony owned by a distant relative of Verne's. The pony appeared as a diminutive sidekick of Trigger's, and would mimic Trigger's act. "He knew at least 30 or 40 tricks," Verne says. "Cued by a subtle hand movements, he could pull the correctly numbered card from a rack to 'answer' math problems, he would lay motionless on his back, with all four feet in the air until cued to get up, and could do just about any trick you could think of."

Though children of that era repeated and pondered the incredible rumor that Trigger was--gasp!--a mare, the horse was indeed a stallion. There were, however, five "Triggers" who were used for filming. The original, who traveled with Roy to all the rodeos and fairs, was the horse who had the vast repertoire of tricks.

This Trigger was used for all of the close-up shots in the movies and TV shows, and was the one mounted for display in the Roy Rogers Museum after the end of his long life of stardom. He was a Tennessee Walker, but his gaits were never seen on the screen because his stand-ins were used for the action shots such as running, falling, and racing down steep slopes. It wasn't easy for Rogers to find the other four palominos, Verne says, because horses with the necessary wide blaze often have glass eyes, and the blue color wouldn't photograph well.

Even at the height of his stardom, Roy was a very likable guy, according to Verne, and never seem to let his fame affect his easy-going nature. One year, Verne and a number of friends took a trip to Mexico. En route, they noticed a show bill announcing a performance by a world champion cutting horse at a State Fair, and decided to stop. They didn't have advance tickets, and the show was sold out, so they decided to wander through the fairgrounds before continuing their trip.

They hadn't walked far before noticing Roy Roger's large trailer. "Let's see if he remembers us," joked Verne.

Roy did remember, and when he heard that the Iowa group couldn't get tickets, he promptly arranged for a set of the best seats in the house, then offered seats for the next show as well.

To childhood fans of that smiling, singing cowboy on the flashy Palomino, it must be gratifying to hear that Roy was just as congenial in real-life as he appeared on television so many years ago, and that even in real-life, he deserved to wear a white hat.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


We've all seen pickup trucks going down the road with a faithful dog sitting nonchalantly next to the driver. Perhaps you have one of those heart-and-soul companions who happily rides with you to your every destination.

Verne fondly recalls the years when he had a horse that rode shotgun in his pickup--though he admits with a grin that the horse didn't quite fit in the cab.

"He was a gray, part-quarter horse," Verne says. "I needed weight in the back of the truck if the roads were bad or if I had to be in and out of the fields, and every now and then it was handy to have a horse available. So on those days, I just loaded that gelding in the morning and he rode around with me all day."

Verne had more horses than stalls at the time, so each night he parked his truck in the barn. After the little gelding was fed and watered, Vern would untie him and the horse would trot back to the pickup, jump in, and settle down for the night, content to use the straw-filled bed of the pickup in the most literal sense. In the morning, the gelding would jump out at feeding time and then be ready to go down the road once again.

A horse buyer from Chicago stopped at the stable early one Sunday morning. He bought a few horses, and then lingered to shoot the breeze for awhile. The man told Verne that he enjoyed showing his horse, a pretty palomino, but he sometimes missed a horse show because the horse was so difficult to load.

Verne couldn't resist.

"I reached over, unsnapped the gray's lead rope, and gave him a swat on the rear," Vernon recalls with a grin. "Then I told him to go get in the trailer. He trotted clear across the barn and hopped in the truck, and waited for me to shut the gate."

The visitor was stunned. "How did you do that?" he asked in disbelief.

"I told him to," Vern replied, and then added thoughtfully, "Maybe your horse doesn't load because you forget to tell him to get in."

Vern offered to demonstrate on the man's horse if he would bring it to Iowa, but the guy never did show up. And for all we know, Verne says, the guy is still in Chicago, and still can't get that horse to load.

Friday, August 14, 2009

If you like animals....

Save the Last Dance, my August book release (for the Everlasting line, shelved with the Superromances) is in the stores now--Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target, KMart, you name it! Or, you can find it online at www.eharlequin.com by simply typing "Rustand" in the search box. Actually, all three of my 2009 books are available there...and you can read the back cover blurbs to see what you think.

This story involves a veterinarian, a romance, suspense, and the most...unusual...hero I've ever done. :) If someone here reads it, I would love to hear what you think!

I just helped unload a hundred-twenty bales of hay into our barn tonight--and tomorrow, get to clean stalls. Ahhh, the glamorous life of a writer!! :)
Animals are a big part of my life, along with the writing, and a love for our four-footed family members made writing this book, involving a veterinarian's life, a lot of fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Old Horse Trader #2: A Trail Ride to Remember

Verne Upmier was in the business of training and trading horses long before many of us were born. He was one of the early distance trail riders, too--he rode on many of the first 65 -100 mile rides held in Iowa back in the 1940s. You'd think those rides would be memorable mainly for the sore muscles afterwards, but Verne says that some of them proved unforgettable in unexpected ways.

In 1944, fifty-two riders came out to his stables and saddled up for a sixty-five mile round trip ride between Cedar Rapids and Marengo. The day was pleasant and all went according to plan--until the final leg of the trip. The fateful moment came when the tired riders were served a nice trailside lunch near the Amanas before continuing their jaunt back to Cedar Rapids.

Vern was in the back third of the group. "It got to be kind of strange," he recalls. "We kept coming across horses tied to trees and fence lines, with no riders in sight. The closer we got to home, the more of these horses we saw. We figured the riders were just worn out and had quit."

When Vern finally got home, he discovered that the missing riders were suffering from problems far more acute than saddle sores. "There were people laying all over the yard, and cars were taking load after load of them off to the hospital," he says. "The riders had tried to get as close to home as they could on horseback, but once the illness hit they were soon too miserable to continue."

Nearly all of the fifty-two riders were sick to some degree with food poisoning, and twenty-four were hospitalized. The ham served for lunch was later identified as the cause. "There weren't too many of us who weren't sick, so it took quite a while to fetch all those horses tied along the trail route," Vern remembers. "I didn't mind a bit, though, because the alternative was so much worse. I was just happy that I hadn't felt like eating lunch!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Old Horse Trader.....

I got my first horse at the age of six, and have never been without one since. I first had an ancient bay mare, and then as time went on, I would ride down three miles of Minnesota gravel roads to visit the local horse trader. He and I would dicker, and I gradually "traded up" to younger and better horses. He was an honest horse trader, but when I got into my teens and could earn money from part-time jobs, I got into registered quarter horses... and then I started to encounter people who were not quite as honest as old George. "Buyer beware" was certainly a phrase to take to heart!

So when I eventually got married and moved to another state, I wasn't nearly as trusting as I'd been in grade school...but then I met a busy horse trader in the area. Verne Upmier was one of those rare, good souls who was truly honest, and who stood behind every deal he made.

If a match between horse and new owner didn't work out, he would go out with his trailer to pick up that horse, give a refund, and take the horse. Not many old time horse traders were like Vern! And going to his farm was exciting business, to be sure. In his heyday, he had horses coming and going in a constant stream, because everyone knew about him. And if you went out there, saw a good horse and thought you wanted it, you had to be quick! If you didn't take it, you could bet that it would be gone in a day or two to someone else.

Verne was not only an experienced horseman, but he was a wonderful storyteller with a wry wit and a delightful twinkle in his eye. Back in the mid 1990's I wrote a series of articles about him for The Horse Show Times, a Midwest regional horse magazine, and never ceased to be charmed by the stories he told. He died a few years ago, and his passing was a true loss to the horse community in our part of the state.

I was cleaning out my office closet this afternoon and came across a stack of those old magazines, and found myself caught up in his stories once again. They were written on a Packard Bell computer--a wonderful gift from my friend Judy, who owned the magazine--and on with Wordstar (anyone here remember that one?) Those computer files on the giant floppies are long gone. I'm going to start posting some of his stories here, as I get them re-typed, so those of you who are horse lovers can enjoy a taste of an old-timer's recollections of days gone by as a horse trader. So stay tuned!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Horses, kids, and hot summer days....

Down memory lane....

It's been hot here. Hot and humid and stormy. I am really, really looking forward to a cool spell! The weather got me thinking about those long, endless days of summer during childhood...when the span of time between the last day of school and September seemed too long to even imagine. Now, I seem to be in an alternate universe, where Memorial Day and Labor Day are just a breath apart.

What are your favorite summer memories?

I got my first horse when I was six years old. What an exciting summer that was! Jeannie seemed tall as an elephant to me. She was supposedly part Welsh, part quarter horse and around fifteen years old. I'm guessing she was closer to thirty, but she'd basically "been around the world" and was the perfect first horse.

My dad talked to George Boyd, the local horse trader, who said I shouldn't have a saddle until I'd ridden for a couple years so that I'd really learn to stay on, so I rode her bareback everywhere. It was like giving the keys of a car to a six (almost seven)-year-old. Ah, the freedom! Especially after I started meeting up with other kids who had horses in a several mile radius, and started tagging along with them.

Have you seen those westerns where the cowboys leap up on a horse from the rear? That never worked for anyone I knew! In fact, most of my riding buddies had to mount by grabbing a chunk of mane and swinging up. Didn't work for me, though, because I was too little. I basically had to grab some mane and shinny up her leg...until I learned to just let her graze. Then I'd sit on her neck, just behind her ears, tug a rein, her head would come up, and I'd slide into place...backwards. (smile) That helped until I was a year or so older, and could swing up like everyone else.

My mom would be quite perturbed when I was supposed to be practicing the piano and had eight faces peering through the window at me--four friends sitting on their horses--waiting for me to join them. It wasn't conducive for concentration!

I look back and think it's a wonder I survived some of the adventures that came along, often far from home. If my parents had only known!

Being a little pipsqueak had disadvantages other than mounting--it was mighty hard to reach things up high.

My old horse had trouble with dry, cracked hooves, and the farrier recommended an economical alternative to hoof dressing through the winter: plain ole lard, slathered on the hooves right up along the coronary band (where the pastern stops and the hoof begins.) My dad brought home several gallon pails of it.

Keeping the stable clean (really, our "stable" was an addition added to our garage, with a box stall and a tack area) was like playing house. I loved to pound nails for hanging things and keeping things "just so." The following summer, while I was cleaning out there, I reached up for a forgotten container well above my head.

I still remember that hot summer day.

The way that heavy, nearly full gallon pail slowly, slowly, slowly rotated within my grasp.

How I teetered precariously on a step stool.

My surprise when I realized the lid was gone...

And a millisecond later, the horror of feeling warm, melted, rancid lard dump over my head. Complete, mind you, with an ample supply of flies that had drowned in it through the summer months. The slime in Ghost Busters has nothing on melted lard!

My clothes had to be thrown away.
Shampoo couldn't cut through that thick grease.
We tried vinegar, and lemon juice, and more shampoo.
My hair hung in dark, limp, stinky strings for a good week.

Maybe it didn't look quite as bad as the Jell-O incident....but that's another story!

So...have any good summer memories to tell from your childhood?! We'd love to hear them!

Incidentally, thanks to everyone who has been stopping by. The visitor numbers have been increasing a lot, and it's great to have you here!

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lazy, hazy summer days...death for kids and pets

How much do you love your pets...and your children? Beware!! Your car is no place for them, on a summer day.

We all know that, of course, but it can seem like "only a few minutes" when you have to run into the drugstore or a fast food place, or to pick up dry cleaning. But add in the patrons ahead of you, a slow cashier or other small delays, and those "few minutes" can be deadly. The heat of the sun can turn your car into an oven--and the windows act as an insulator to help it build.

"On a warm, sunny day, the temperature in a parked car can reach dangerous levels, 120ยบ in minutes, even with the car window partially open. A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke when trapped in these high temperatures, " according to the Humane Society of the United States. Learn more at: http://www.hsus.org

The temperature in a car can rise to 200 degrees, depending on the outside temp, angle of the sun, and how long it sits there, and even parking in shady spot with the windows cracked isn’t safe. NEVER leave pets and small kids in the car. Passers-by probably won’t hear signs of distress, either...as the child or pet is likely to be quiet while being overcome and slipping toward death. Call 911 if you see a child or pet in this deadly situation!

And this is no time of the year to leave pets outside without shade and plenty of water, either. Today, the heat index is 100-105 where we live...which can also be deadly for a pet left tied out in the sun without the relief of shade and fresh water.

On nice days, our dogs often have the run of the deck that runs the length of our house, and though it offers shady spots, soft rugs--their "sleeping bags", my husband says :) --and I keep water out there for them, that deck is no place for them on a day like today, due to the "urban heat island effect." Just step out there in late morning through late afternoon, and the intense, radiating heat rising off the deck is evident.

The heat island effect refers to hard, modern surfaces like asphalt, shingles--and the dark wood of our deck--which absorb heat and can create an island of temperature 50-90 degrees hotter the current temperature that day. In contrast, damp earth and grass under shady places will be far cooler.

Hope you and your pets are all keeping cool!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Author LENORA WORTH.....and Cujo!

WIN A FREE BOOK!! Lenora will draw the winner from those who leave comments here. Stop back next Tuesday, to see if you won!

If you ever watch a cat in action, you can learn how to write suspense. Cats are notorious for lurking about, missing in action, or just hiding for hours on end.

I have a black cat named Cujo. Yes, Cujo. She is thirteen years old this year. Cujo got her name because she has never liked humans very much so she buddies up to them then hisses and scratches at them--a bit rabid at times! But we love her anyway (and we named her that because my daughter is a Stephen King fan.) But being around Cujo
has taught me a lot about plotting.

She loves to chase me up the stairs, attacking my feet and legs much in the same way a panther might be chasing me through the jungle. So I know what it feels like to know a bad guy or vicious animal is after me. She likes to hide behind the chair and jump out and scare me, so I know what it might be like to think a prowler was in my house. She also likes to wake me up in the middle of the night with a mournful wail, because she wants water out of the bathroom sink. So I know the feeling of hearing something sinister howling in the dark. She also knows how to alert when she hears a noise, so I can understand being alert in a tense situation.

I've learned a lot from my cat. She will chase anything, whether she can catch it or not. And she will run really fast when she is being chased.

Now that summer is here and we have May flowers, Cujo likes to lounge out on the patio and sneak drinks of water from the pool. She stalks birds, squirrels and even the rabbit that comes to visit each spring. She has taught me patience, how to be stealth and silent and how to attack without notice--all things I can use in my writing. But she's also taught me to laugh, to cry, to run in the wind and to snuggle up in a cozy chair when it's stormy outside. She's shown me the coolness of a hero and the sassiness of a heroine.

I never know what to expect with Cujo. And that's the way I want my readers to feel--as if they can't wait to find out what's around the corner. If you want to learn about suspense, just watch a cat. And think like a cat, too. That should do the trick.

Lenora :)

From Love Inspired Suspense:
The CHAIM series:
Heart of the Night (January 2009)
Code of Honor (April 2009)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Early this winter we went to Puerto Rico for the first time...just for a long weekend. Good timing--a nice trip before having shoulder surgery. I loved Old San Juan. The forts were just amazing--massive walls and such interesting structures, overlooking the ocean on a windy promontory.

That day there were hundreds of local families having picnics on the grounds and flying kites. Many of the kites were so high that you could barely see them. Beautiful kites in all shapes and sizes--red planes, intricate origami shapes, brilliantly colored butterflies, dragons.

The historic town was fun to visit, but the creatures on the island were interesting, too. :) I loved the giant iguanas...one of which dropped from a high tree overhanging the hotel swimming pool, and landed with a huge belly flop amongst the swimmers. It was about four feet long from stem to stern, and f it had landed ON someone, it could have done some serious damage! It happily paddled around the pool for a while, then climbed out to sun itself amongst the sunbathers.

The beaches were beautiful...though the repercussions of enjoying them weren't quite as lovely, as you can see! I love walking on beaches and wading in the waves. I was truly careful about watching out for trouble, but missed seeing a jellyfish in the waves. Above, you can see a photo of my lumpy, swollen feet five days later. Ouch! Jellyfish are now one of my least favorite creatures!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another author visitor--Ruth Axtell Morren!

Ruth is offering a FREE copy of her newest book---the winner will be drawn from the names of those who post a comment here!

Our local paper usually has an ad in the classified section for the animal shelter. Each week there's a photo and write-up of one of their dogs or cats. I had resolved not to have any pets for a long while. We'd recently moved back to the U.S. from the Netherlands, and our two cats stayed behind where they enjoyed a good life.

But suddenly, I saw a photo of a cat whose doleful eyes just stared out at me, saying "Adopt me!" Creighton was a cream-point Siamese mix who'd been dropped off at the shelter along with his 4 brothers, due to the "uncertain economy."

I tore out the ad and put it on my desk, deciding to do nothing rash. A few days later I showed it to my 15 yr-old daughter. She immediately said, "We've got to go visit the shelter."
When we arrived there, there were so many cats that we no longer knew which one to choose. Creighton and his brothers were beautiful, with their creamy colored fur and their pale blue eyes. But there were other lovable cats who also needed a home and had been at the shelter a lot longer. One was named "Alley Anna," a small 6 yr. old who'd been at the shelter the longest of all, about three years. She didn't stand out from the other, more assertive or friendlier cats, but the staff assured me she was a dear cat.

We finally decided we had to take both her and Creighton home. They were both quite shy the first few days, hiding under my bed or in my walk-in closet. Little by little, they have ventured out. Alley Anna is the sweetest cat, and I feel bad how easily an animal can be overlooked at a shelter because its personality doesn't shine in the few minutes one is there. Creighton, who's only 1 1/2, and had never seen Alley Anna before we brought them home, since they were in different rooms at the shelter, immediately bonded with her. Wherever she found a hiding spot, he'd tag along after her, as if she was his mother.
Here they are on a shelf in my closet.

www.Ruth Axtell Morren.com
The Making of a Gentleman, Steeple Hill.,Aug.'08
A Bride of Honor, May '09

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We have a visitor--Author Missy Tippens!!

Author Missy Tippens is joining us today as a guest! And here she is...


I just love my four-legged babies. And they are literally like my children. When we got our first puppy, a chocolate lab, nearly nine years ago, she was 8 weeks old. And she missed her mother. The first night, we closed Libby in our bathroom with lots of newspaper, and she cried and cried. I couldn’t bear it. So I went in the bathroom and lay with her on the floor. She was perfectly happy to snuggle in with me and went right off to sleep.

Well, I wasn’t so young anymore, and sleeping on Linoleum didn’t feel too great! So the next night (and basically the next month), I slept on the couch with Libby on my chest. Each time she would start to wiggle, I would take her out to potty. And in about a month, she would sleep through the night.

Sounds kind of like a baby, doesn’t it? :)

Well, three years later, I headed to Petsmart with my three kids (mistake number one) to get a guinea pig. And we went on a Saturday (mistake number 2), adoption day. So along came Duke! Instead of a guinea pig, we went home with a new puppy. He’s a spotted mix (a rescue dog, so we have no idea what he is). This time I skipped the bathroom floor and started out on the couch with him on my chest. And again, in about a month, we had a dog well trained and sleeping through the night.

These days, Libby sleeps on the floor all around the house (snoring very loudly!), moving from one bedroom to another, and Duke sleeps on a pillow near our bed. They’re all grown up now, well past the puppy stage, and I’m so glad! I can’t imagine starting out with another “baby”. But then again, someday, I’ll walk back into Petsmart on pet adoption day…

Missy Tippens
Newly released! His Forever Love from Steeple Hill Love Inspired
ISBN: 0373875347


Her Unlikely Family, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Still available!
His Forever Love, SHLI, June 2009
A Forever Christmas, SHLI, November 2009