Posts Tagged With: horses

Guest Post: Evil Little Ponies

Guest Post by C.S. McDonald

It was a lovely spring day. I was minding my own business. I wasn’t bothering anyone. My husband, Bill, had left earlier in the morning with the horse trailer to haul a cow for his father that he’d purchased. I busied myself in one of my many flower gardens, planting lemon drops around the fountain while my Cocker Spaniel, Harvey, chased after butterflies. All was right with the world.

And then…

I heard the familiar sound of my husband’s truck bumping along the road and up our very long driveway. The horse trailer clanged and the tires ground against the gravel. I waved at him and returned to my work. I heard the ramp of the horse trailer squeal as Bill lowered it, and the trailer doors creak open. The Thoroughbreds in the paddock galloped toward the gate, whinnying.

Hmmm…What did Bill drag home this time?

I peeled my garden gloves from my hands and then Harvey and I made our way toward the barn just in time to witness Bill lead a cruddy pot-bellied little pony off the trailer. His mane was long and shaggy. His tail was bushy and his lower lip hung down away from his upper. He was scowling. But worse—he was a pony.

True confession: I don’t like ponies. They tend to be stubborn ornery conniving little beings that take great pleasure in running off or bucking off children on a whim. C’mon, everyone has a story of how they were taken for a wild ride and then brutally deposited in a mud puddle by a pony.

Evil..they are just plain evil. And yet here one stood in my driveway—scowling at me.

I narrowed my eyes, cocked my head, and asked my husband, “What’s he doing here?”

Bill smiled. “This is George. Kiersten needs a pony for horse camp, so I picked him up.”

Seriously?

There are a billion ponies on this earth and he “picks up” this little troll?

Bill could see that I was not impressed. The right side of his mouth kicked up. “I’m gonna put him in the paddock with the horses. He’ll be fine. You’ll see, Kiersten will love him.”

I had no doubts that Kiersten, our granddaughter, wouldn’t instantly take to him. I was worried what George would do to Kiersten.

Evil—ponies are just plain evil.

Bill proceeded to lead George through the gate into the paddock with three very anxious Thoroughbreds.

George went right to work—bullying the horses who were much bigger that he was. He chased them, nipped at them, kicked at them, and let them know that he was king of not only the paddock but the shade of the apple tree that was located dead center of the area. He had immediately claimed his domain.

George was the boss.

Well, Bill was right. Kiersten loved George. We bathed him, and bathed him, and bathed him. He never came clean—he looked just as cruddy after his bathes as he did when we began.

This is temporary, I told myself. After horse camp, George can go back to where he came from. I found solace in these thoughts.

George was at our farm for two weeks before horse camp. Kiersten rode him in the indoor arena and the outdoor arena—he would plant his feet and refuse to budge, but I was quicker than he was—I gave her a crop.

Yes, the little guy was stubborn, but he wasn’t stupid—as most ponies aren’t—they are shrewd—evil.

Kiersten and George, the grungy pony who inspired GEORGE THE BOSS. Click on picture to purchase C.S. McDonald's book on Amazon.

Kiersten and the real George, the grungy pony who inspired GEORGE THE BOSS. Click on picture to purchase C.S. McDonald’s book on Amazon.

Finally after much anticipation and preparation, the week of horse camp came. Kiersten couldn’t wait. George had no idea what he was in for, and I was filled with apprehension. Would Kiersten get dumped off George’s back at horse camp? Would I be making a trip to the emergency room? I dreaded the week that lay before me.

But, you know what? I was wrong. Dead wrong.

It turned out that George was the one who needed taking care of. It was a hot week and Kiersten decided that she was going to participate in every activity they offered. Walk/trot, egg and spoon, poles, down and back races, and even barrel racing. George simply couldn’t keep up. I found myself sitting in the stall with an over-heated pony, caring for him, nursing him, and genuinely feeling sorry for him. I scolded Kiersten for over-working him and he was not to be taken out of the stall the next day other than to clean his stall and for short walks. I was worried.

During the first few days of the camp something had happened. Could it be that this cruddy scowling stubborn evil pony had grown on me?

The week went by quickly. George won quite a few awards! I know, right? We loaded him in the trailer and took him back to our farm. Bill opened the gate, and George stormed into the paddock, nipping, bucking, scowling, and reclaiming his place at the boss.
I shook my head. To think I was worr—

Wait a minute…

I want straight to my office. I turned on my computer. I typed…GEORGE THE BOSS.

I usually write novels—murder suspense and romantic suspense novels, but I was inspired by a cruddy scowling little pony named George, and now he’s got his first book:
GEORGE THE BOSS.

GEORGE THE BOSS is the first in a series of children's books by C.S. McDonald. Click on Book Cover to visit George the Pony's website, where you can download pages for your children to color!

GEORGE THE BOSS is the first in a series of children’s books by C.S. McDonald. Click on Book Cover to visit George the Pony’s website, where you can download activity pages for your children.

Do I still think that ponies are evil? Yep. But George is a special little…evil pony.

Author CS and granddaughter Kiersten. Click on picture to visit CS's website to view her romantic-suspense titles.

Author CS and granddaughter Kiersten.
Click on picture to visit CS’s website to view her romantic-suspense titles.

About the Author

C.S. McDonald

C.S. McDonald was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. For 26 years she was a professional choreographer; she taught ballet, jazz and tap.  Most recently she has retired to write murder-suspense novels  (which can be found here). Now she has added Children’s books to entertain her four grandchildren.

 She resides with her husband and Cocker Spaniel, Allister on there Thoroughbred farm. George the Pony is based on real pony named George, who lives among the Thoroughbreds.

 

 

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Hot Coco Is Nothing Like Fifty Shades … Except

Today’s post is from Cindy McDonald, author of the Unbridled Series and First Force–Coming Soon! But, today, Cindy is going to tell us about something she shares with E.L. James, the author of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

Hot Coco

Hot Coco is the second installment in Cindy McDonald’s Unbridled Series. It is either hated or loved by readers. (Click on Book Cover to view on Amazon.)

HOT COCO IS NOTHING LIKE FIFTY SHADES… EXCEPT

 

That old adage is oh so true: You can’t please everyone. This is especially true if you’re an author. The fact is that readers are different on many levels. I’m not necessarily talking about genres. Everyone interprets what they have read differently. I find this truly amazing. You can give the same book to five different readers and come up with five different opinions/versions on the very same story.

I suppose a good example of what I’m trying to say is the book FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E L James. Wow! The opinions and reviews for that book are truly diverse. Some readers/reviewers absolutely love the book, while others absolutely hate the story, and there are those who will not read it because of the reviews—good or bad. They simply don’t want to deal with the content—whatsoever.

The fact is that the reviews are pretty split with E L James’ best-selling novel. Well let me tell ya something folks…you don’t have to have a best-selling novel for readers/reviewers to be on different sides of the train track.

In June of 2012 I released the second book from my Unbridled Series, HOT COCO. The first book in the series, DEADLY.COM, was a murder/suspense book, but HOT COCO was a romantic comedy. It is the story of a woman, Coco Beardmore, who is beautiful, wealthy, and a total klutz. She wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. The thing is that Coco is aware that men see her for her beauty and wealth. Coco knows that she’s a train wreck, and she wants so very badly to change.  On the other side of the coin is another woman in the book, Margie O’Conner. She’s not beautiful. Margie is down-right homely, and she has been a victim of her father’s subjugation all her life—she is also illiterate.

The book is about two women’s journey to change:  Coco to become a respected, more in charge woman, and Margie to find the courage to stand up to her father and learn to read and write. Seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it?  Well, I’ve got a total split in my readership. Some of the readers love the book—they love Coco and all of her klutzy debacles—she endears herself to many of my readers—just as I hoped she would.

Uh, oh, but then there are the readers who absolutely hate the book, and Coco, and Coco’s debacles. I had one reader call the book rubbish—ouch!

The funny thing about the book is that most—almost none of the reviewers/readers really ever mention Margie in their reviews. It’s almost as if they totally missed this woman and the courage that she finally found and the change in her relationship with not only the people around her, but with her father as well.

Yes HOT COCO is a romantic comedy, but it is also a book that requires one to read a little more deeply or you will miss what I am trying to show you. You will miss the metamorphosis and the forgiveness that all of the characters are searching for.

When I check my books on Amazon or Goodreads and I see that HOT COCO has a new review I find myself taking a braced breath before I read it, because it’s a love/hate thing. The review will either be wonderful or perfectly awful. Do I regret publishing HOT COCO? Absolutely not!  Like it or hate it, people do read the book, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. I just wish that some of them would read it more closely/carefully—they might find it surprisingly enlightening.

FIFTY SHADES has thousands of reviews—some are glowing and some are down-right nasty.  I doubt that E L James even bothers to check them—I don’t think she really cares, and why should she? I don’t exactly have the same luxury as E L James, but at least I know that I am in good company.

ABOUT THE CINDY McDONALD

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband's hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband’s hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.

I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you.

To read excerpts from future books, view book trailers, and keep up with everything that is Unbridled, please visit Cindy’s website at: www.cindymcwriter.com

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Thoroughbreds: My Backdrop, Guest Post by Author Cindy McDonald

Over the past twenty years or so, my life has been marinated in horses. I live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a forty-five acre Thoroughbred farm. My daughters and I spend many years showing horses on the Quarter Horse circuit, traveling all summer long from one horse show to the next, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress that is held each year in the fall in Columbus, Ohio.

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband's hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband’s hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

My husband feeds his hobby by racing our Thoroughbreds at Mountaineer Racetrack and Presque Isle Downs. Ahhh, the backside of a racetrack—now that’s where you will find a collection of characters that is an author’s dream! It is a lifestyle that few witness and even fewer understand.

The backside (the stable area) is a community. Believe me, everyone knows everyone’s business and if you’re a newbie, it won’t be long until they know everything about you—they make it their business. The people of the backside are always waiting for that one special horse that will send them over the top to some fantasy of fortunes that is always one length, or one race beyond their reach. Likewise, there are those who have the means and the horses that keep them head and shoulders above the rest, putting them on a higher social ladder than those who do not. However, the two groups meet on a nightly basis at the starting gate, and that is where it becomes Unbridled.

My husband and I don’t make our living with the horses. They are a hobby, a habit, an addiction—whatever you’d like to call it. That said I’ve spent a lot of time on the backside with the exercise riders, jockeys, and fellow trainers. I’ve watched them diligently for years. The deals, the lies, the scandals, and yes the drugs. My husband calls those who use the drugs “cheaters” and rightly so. Some of the cheaters are more cunning than others.
In 2005 I sat down at my computer and began writing a TV drama call Unbridled. I wanted to bring this lifestyle to the forefront because there was nothing on television quite like it. But I knew that horses and horse racing was a mystery to most of the public. People may not be interested in watching something that they know nothing about. So what is it that television viewers know all about? You got it–murder, suspense, and relationships.

So with the racetrack and a beautiful sprawling Thoroughbred farm called Westwood as my backdrop, the Unbridled scripts took form.

Against the Ropes was released June 1. Click on Book Cover to Purchase on Amazon.

Against the Ropes was released June 1. Click on Book Cover to Purchase on Amazon.

I created a family known as the Wests who were the proprietors of Westwood. The West are wealthy, but they are fair and decent people. I was tired of the shows where there were no redeeming qualities in the characters. No, this ain’t Little House on the Prairie folks, and my characters are far from perfect, but at the end of each show there was a message.

Hokay, it was a bust. While I had many lookers, including Warner Brothers, the show simply didn’t sell. One of my Hollywood script readers said to me, “Cindy don’t be stupid, make this into a book series.” And so I did.

Each of the Unbridled books feature graceful Thoroughbreds—they are not always the main part of the story, but they are always ever present. And yes, some of the situations that the characters get into are actual events that we have experienced at the racetrack—great exaggerated upon of course. For example, I’ve never been murdered.

The first book of the Unbridled Series, Deadly.com introduces the West family, and the farm, and the fact that online romances can be a real killer!

The second book, Hot Coco, is a romantic comedy. Coco Beardmore brings her crazy out-of-control horses to Westwood. The woman is a total train wreck—a fun read.

The third book, Dangerous Deception, is about betrayal. An aged jockey is asked to take an easier position at Westwood. He becomes enraged and entangled in a kidnapping scheme that turns deadly. This book features a secondary storyline with a Quarter Horse rather than a Thoroughbred.

On June 1st the fourth book was released. Against the Ropes features the West’s good-hearted farm manager, Punch. When Punch helps a down-on-his-luck fighter, he begins to question his good intentions, especially when the fighter puts the people that Punch loves against the ropes, and at the very edge of disaster.
So there you have it, a book series filled with murder, suspense, relationships, and graceful Thoroughbreds as they dash hell-bent-for-leather across the finish line—hey, what else could you ask for?

Against the Ropes

NO GOOD DEED SHALL GO UNPUNISHED!

When the West’s good-hearted farm manager, Punch McMinn, stumbles upon Eugene Strom, a down-on-his-luck fighter threatening to jump from an old bridge, Punch takes him under his wing and convinces the patriarch of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, Eric West, to give him a job.

But when the gun-toting mob shows up at Westwood, it’s quite obvious that good ol’ Eugene is hiding a secret—a big one. Punch finds himself questioning his good intentions when the ex-fighter puts the people he loves against the ropes—and at the edge of disaster.

What Reviewers Are Saying About Cindy McDonald’s Unbridled Series:

SPELLBOUND!

Wow!! I could not put this book down. This is the first book in the Unbridled series. From the first chapter I knew this series is a keeper. I am spellbound by Cindy McDonald’s story telling and the twist and blind curves this story takes you on. This book really makes you question who you are chatting with online and question our justice system. It’s wise to remember things are not always what they appear. 

Reviewer: Wanted:Readers blog for Deadly.com

FUNNY AND HEART WARMING

Hot Coco is not just a steamy romance novel – but is funny, and heart warming, and really touches the heart.  I love that this story takes place on a Thoroughbred farm.  I love horses!  I love Cindy McDonald’s writing style which is fast, easy, and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.  The characters are believable and totally relatable.  This book is the second book in the series.  I haven’t read the first book, but Hot Coco was good as a stand-alone.  I plan to download the first book in the series – and anything else Cindy McDonald puts out.

Reviewer: Jennifer Golub, Waiting for Sunday to Drown for Hot Coco

PLOT CHARGED WITH SUSPENSE AND DANGER!

Only author Cindy McDonald can deliver a plot so charged and filled with suspense, danger, and surprises to the West family. Dangerous Deception will keep you glued in your saddle until you cross the finish line or read the last page!

Reviewer: Fran Lewis, Review for Dangerous Deception

For more information about Cindy McDonald, visit her website at http://www.cindymcwriter.com/

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Guest Post: A Burden Becomes a Gift by Thomas L. Trumble

Click on Book Cover to purchase at Amazon.

Click on Book Cover to purchase at Amazon.

Today’s guest post is from Thomas L. Trumble, author of Time to Go Home, a fictionalize memoir about honor and comrades during the time of the Vietnam War.

At first glance, Time to Go Home is a collection of war stories, one after the other, many told by ghosts who had served and died, but whose souls have yet to return home. 

But then Trumble takes the reader deeper into an exploration of its narrator, John Rowe.  Amid the story telling, John begins to ask where God was in all of this. Why did the politicians let it happen? Why is death so haphazard; a mortar round out of the sunrise and the soldier on the motor bike becomes a hole in the ground?

Since the opening of Speak the Word Only, a play based on his book, Trumble has observed that many who have seen the play, and now read the book, have commented on how his story has prompted war veterans to talk more about their experiences. “I’ve have people who have seen the play come to me and tell me that their fathers or brothers have served in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam, or even as recent as Iraq, but they have never talked about it.”

Thomas L. Trumble with Royal, one of his gifts.Click to visit Thomas's Facebook Page for more stories from the stables.

Thomas L. Trumble with Royal, one of his gifts.
Click to visit Thomas’s Facebook Page for more stories from the stables.

A story of duty, honor, and being comrades, Time to Go Home tells not only war stories. It is also a collection of going-to-war and coming-home-from-war stories, as well.  “Because war is not an event,” author Thomas L. Trumble explains. “It is a continuum that begins at home and then ends at home.  The soldier does return to join either the quick or the dead.  But John never did come home, not really.  He just sort of settled in. That’s the hardest story to tell, when you’re an old man standing in a graveyard far from home, just talking with ghosts.

A Burden Becomes a Gift

Truth be told I did not want horses. Thought they’d just be a big burden. But, Ann wanted them. Said she’s wanted horses since she was 10 years old. Not me, I wanted a Maserati when I was 10.

“You got your Maserati”, she said. “Now I want my horses.” So we got em.

I knew that that they’d be expensive. You would faint if you saw the cost of restoring the barn, putting up 5 and a half acres of fencing, and installing a freeze-proof watering system. And this doesn’t include the cost of the hay and the vet bills and the Gower-12 horse feed.

I knew that they’d be lots of work and Ann wouldn’t retire until mid-January. Twice a day, every day, feed and muck and water. Tote those hay bales, lift that feed bag. Damn near everything about a horse weighs 50 pounds. Except the horses. They weigh about 1200 pounds; 1200 pounds coupled with the mind of a 6 year-old; a mischievous kid who has OD’d on Curious George while main-lining Red Bull.

But you know what, the horses were a wonderful gift. I’ve lost 25 pounds since Suzie and Royal arrived. And they gave the barn back its soul. But they gave me the best gift of all: new things to learn and new skills to master. I know how to pick a hoof and how to load hay on an F150. I know what the 12 is in Gower-12. I know how to design a horse barn and how to create a pasture. I know how to worm a horse and to count the flakes on a bale of hay.

And now I know the difference between a burden and a gift. And this is important for my family to know as well. I’m not getting any younger.

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